Lured by sailboats and megayachts, urban street art and Romero Britto — and, of course, the lack of snow — thousands of visitors are expected to pour into Miami-Dade this holiday weekend.
The activities started Thursday morning with the opening day of the 72nd annual Progressive Miami International Boat Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Yacht & Brokerage Show on the Indian Creek Waterway. Art Wynwood kicked off with a VIP preview Thursday night. And the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, in its 50th year, opens its gates on Saturday.
Combined, the events expect nearly 250,000 attendees over Presidents’ Day weekend — many of them from out of town.
“Presidents’ Day weekend is the busiest weekend here in South Florida,” said Nick Korniloff, founder and director of Art Wynwood. “It’s when the 30 five-star resorts are at the highest occupancy, when the Europeans and South Americans and Northeast residents come here. It’s a very diverse, well-cultured audience.”
Expecting similarities in audiences interested in yachts and art, Korniloff will have shuttles running between Art Wynwood in the Midtown Miami neighborhood and the Yacht & Brokerage Show near the Fontainebleau.
In its second year, the fair features 70 dealers from around the world, many representing urban street artists or selling Latin American and Asian art. That’s a jump from last year’s 53 dealers. Korniloff said he expects about 30,000 attendees this year, up from 25,000 at the inaugural event.
At the boat show, which includes locations in Miami Beach and downtown Miami, organizers anticipate more than 100,000 visitors. About 40 percent are from outside the state and a quarter of visitors are international, said Cathy Rick-Joule, show manager and vice president of the boat shows division for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
“We’ve definitely seen a continued influence of Brazilians; you hear Portuguese spoken everywhere,” Rick-Joule said, adding that Russian, Chinese and Korean visitors have also been increasing.
Monty Trainer, president of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, has been busy publicizing the 50th year of the event with pop artist Romero Britto, who designed this year’s festival poster and will attend at some points during the weekend.
“This is the best year for all our exposure,” Trainer said. “Romero Britto is going to be a big draw.”
The show will feature 380 artists this year, 30 more than last year, when about 118,000 people attended. Of those, nearly 40 percent were overnight visitors who came to town for the festival.
Trainer expects this year’s activities to draw a bigger crowd — with a caveat.
“If this weather holds up, we’re in business,” he said. “But if you get bad rain, all your promotions are out the window.”
On that front, the forecast is mixed. The National Weather Service calls for a 60 percent chance of rain in Miami on Friday, dropping to 20 percent for Saturday with a high near 77. Sunday should be sunny and cool, with a high only in the mid-60s. By Monday, the weather should be just about perfect for February: sunny and topping out around 74.
“When other folks unfortunately have it bad, we have it good,” said Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I think the country as a whole, with the exception of us, has been experiencing severe weather. It bodes well for our hoteliers and frankly bodes well for our winter season. We’re hearing very, very good things.”