Miami's Top Free Annual Events

Things to do in Miami

By: Ginger Harris

When it comes to events in Miami, here’s a list of annual events that don't have a high price tag.

While Miami boasts some of the most high-end, prestigious fairs and festivals in the country, not everything has a high price tag. In fact, there are numerous wallet-friendly events throughout the year, many of which truly reflect the spirit and essence of the Magic City. Whether it’s a salsa-infused street party or an artsy experience in Wynwood, you can explore Miami’s scene without spending a dime.

Part mini Art Basel, part street fair, the Wynwood Art Walk occurs on the second Saturday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Crowds flock to the art district to soak in the graffiti-clad walls, cutting-edge art galleries and dynamic people watching--all of which is free. View every expression of art, from photographs and paintings to sculptures and video installations in this industrial and edgy community. Independent galleries line the area between N.W. 20th and N.W. 36th Streets, west of North Miami Avenue and open their doors to the crowds as well.

Art Deco Weekend in January on Miami Beach

As home to the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world, South Beach is the perfect backdrop for Art Deco Weekend. Taking over a good portion of Ocean Drive, this annual outdoor festival celebrates the architecture, jewelry and culture of the Art Deco era. Held over President’s Day Weekend every year, there is always a unique theme with corresponding lectures, movies, walking tours, musical acts and parties. Even if you aren’t knowledgeable about pastel buildings and terrazzo flooring, it’s still fun to stroll down Ocean Drive and take in the booths, colorfully dressed passersby and period cars. You’ll also find street food, vintage clothing and knick-knacks at the booths at this fair.

Carnaval on the Mile in March in Coral Gables

This lively, two-day block party draws more than 120,000 people to celebrate Latin music, art and food. Culminating each March, Carnaval on the Mile benefits The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, which funds youth programs in Miami. This family-friendly gathering includes three stages of Latin jazz and funk music. At the Fine Arts Village, find children’s entertainment, paintings, sculptures, photography and crafts from more than 120 artists. Hungry? Sample Miami-inspired fare from local restaurants. There are even cocktails to toast this soiree.

Dade Heritage Days Held Throughout the City each Spring

This two-month celebration of Miami’s history and architecture reaches every corner and aspect of our majestic city. While not all of the events are free, there are numerous tours and lectures that are open to the public each year, including a complimentary walkthrough of the 17-story Freedom Tower, which was built in 1925 and once served as a Cuban refugee center. Another option is a tour of the grand Biltmore Hotel, which was erected in 1926 and is one of our finest pieces of architecture. Even Everglades National Park throws open its gates for Dade Heritage Days. Additionally, there are concerts, cemetery tours, waived admissions to local area museums and re-enactments. It’s all part of a major undertaking to honor and remember Miami’s not-so-distant past.

Fireworks Celebration on Miami Beach for the Fourth of July

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than on South Beach, where the party never stops. Each year, the City of Miami Beach throws an extravaganza to honor the Fourth of July with live music, fireworks and the best view in town. Throughout the day, revelers gather near Eighth Street and Ocean Drive with coolers, food, blankets, beach chairs and umbrellas, taking dips in the ocean to stay cool. While the celebration is officially underway by late afternoon, it’s best to get there early and stake out a spot on the sand. The fireworks display starts promptly at 9 p.m. each year, with pyrotechnics that light up all of South Beach. This family friendly event features local jazz bands to create the perfect soundtrack to the show in the sky.

DWTWN Art Days in September in Downtown

The three-day festival, which takes places in September, includes a multitude of free events, like live music and viewing cultural arts. Bring the kids and see artsy films, get the scoop on the WLRN Arts Radio Project, the Wolfson’s Archive Open House, Fifties Cocktail Party, even "First Draft: Sticky Fingers Edition", an event where you write short stories while eating sticky buns and sipping mimosas.

Free Movies at the New World Center on South Beach, October - May

Catch a free movie with the family on the lawn. Head to New World Center, home of the New World Symphony, designed by Frank Gehry, for SoundScape Cinema Series. Held on the ExoStage, a giant screen, family flicks are shown seven months out of the year—rain or shine. A schedule of movies can be found online and show time starts at 8 p.m. sharp. You can also text MBFilm to 91011 for weekly reminders and updates.

King Mango Strut Parade in Coconut Grove in December 

From politics to Old Florida flavor, this event showcases what Miami is all about. Since 1982, the King Mango Strut has taken over Coconut Grove in a wacky homage to our city’s melting pot with an anything-goes parade. The unusual spectacle began as an alternative to the Orange Bowl parade, which formerly called Miami home. Today, the parade highlights homegrown talent with a rowdy promenade through the streets of Coconut Grove. Not only is it free to watch, but entering the parade is gratis, too. Expect people in elaborate or comical costumes, often poking fun of our local politicians and scandals. The Strut takes place the last Sunday in December and is a cheerful jumble of colors, music, humor and irreverence done as only Miami can.

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