Miami Design Preservation League's Art Deco Weekend

By: Jennifer Agress

Dating back to the 1930s, the Art Deco buildings on Miami Beach are an indelible part of South Florida history. On South Beach, they even formed the nation’s first urban, 20th-century Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Despite its bright colors, playful shapes and hard-to-miss glam, the Art Deco movement in Miami went virtually unnoticed for a significant part of the 20th century. That all changed in 1976, however, with the creation of the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) - a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and promoting the architectural, cultural, social and environmental integrity of Miami Beach.

The year it was founded, the Miami Design Preservation League also launched the first-ever Art Deco Weekend. Created as a way to bring more people to Miami Beach at a time when tourism was low and preserving Art Deco history wasn’t a priority, this three-day celebration of art, architecture, history, culture and entertainment is now one of Miami Beach’s most popular annual events. Returning Friday, January 18th to Sunday, January 20th, 2019, the 41st annual Art Deco Weekend remains the longest-running, free community cultural festival in Miami Beach.

Events & Tours

Attendees can take advantage of more than 85 unique events during Art Deco Weekend. The Jazz Age at Art Deco VIP will return for the second year with an opening night soirée, dancing under the stars, and live jazz from Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, Troy Anderson's Wonderful World Band, Edison Farrow’s Cabaret, ragtime pianist Elliot Sneider and more. The ever-popular Bark Deco Dog Show, sponsored by Blue Buffalo, will come back for the third year in a row, bringing with it a mini dog show for puppies up for adoption, as well as prizes, ribbons and special treats for Miami’s talented furry contestants. The Retro Fashion Show, directed by vintage lifestyle enthusiast and pin-up model Angela La Muse, will bring a curated runway show with vintage, indie and retro reproductions from designers around the world.

Sponsored by the Original Miami Beach Antique Show, the Antique & Design Promenade will have vendors selling antique decorations, furniture, art and jewelry. All along Ocean Drive, find antique cars, trucks and motorcycles from the 20th century all on display as part of the Classic Car Show. Films like It Happened One Night and Midnight in Paris will play at Soundscape Park at New World Symphony, and various lectures about the history of Art Deco and Miami Beach, including one by author and actor David Leddick, will be free and open to the public. Outside of that, guests can go lindy-hopping at Art Deco Dance, listen to live music, watch street performers, shop or visit the Miami Design Preservation League’s (MDPL) Preservation Tents to learn more about historic preservation efforts in South Florida.

Can’t decide what to do? Hop on one of Art Deco Weekend’s 14 tours. Divided into three categories—architecture, people and culture, and cocktail tours—they cover everything from Ocean Drive, Mediterranean or Lincoln Road architecture, to homes in Flamingo Park, photo tours, Miami Beach film and TV sets, Jewish history in Miami Beach, Miami Beach’s criminal past and even the connection between mojitos and Latin history.

Food & Drink

All along Ocean Drive, there’s no shortage of trendy cafes, bars and restaurants where you can get your fill of food and drink. In addition to this, from 6th Street to 14th Street, Art Deco Weekend will have a bevy of specially-marked food booths, food carts and specialty dining areas with classic festival foods, upscale cuisine, craft foods, healthy dining options and more.

Of course, what would a weekend in Miami be without a refreshing cocktail to wash it all down? On festival grounds, guests can take their pick from four pop-up lounges. At the VIP Lounge, on 11th Street and Ocean Drive, attendees will get live jazz performances by top musicians, Prohibition-Era cocktails and dancing. If you want to feel like you’re on an island, head to Malibu Beach Shack, on 9th Street and Ocean Drive, for a strong mojito and a one-man steel drum band. At World Lounge, on 10th Street and Ocean Drive, sip cocktails and mingle with members of The Miami Design Preservation League and Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association to find out everything you want to know about Art Deco. Sitting right on The Promenade at 11th Street and Ocean Drive, The Speakeasy will give guests the opportunity to sip Prosecco while listening to strolling sax and string players, or browse through the art pieces, vintage works and antiques at the adjacent Antique & Design Promenade.

The Deco Kids Club at Art Deco Weekend

At this Art Deco festival, art lovers of all ages can have some fun! The Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) will be on hand to help kids make festival posters inspired by artistic elements from the Art Deco, MIMO and Mediterranean periods, as well as Miami Beach’s beautiful beaches. Through “Art with PAMM,” young artists can create their own masterpieces with family art-making classes led by teaching artists from the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). In addition to special opportunities like these, there will be karaoke and dance performances from the Fantasy Theater Factory, live jazz and storytelling, a poster-making competition, the “Kid’s Art Deco Tour” led by a Shirley Temple impersonator, The Kids Market Place, stilt walkers, magicians, strolling characters, acrobats, giant puppets, face-painting and more.

Kids can even combine art and education with the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, which will have representatives onsite to help kids make their own art with green, upcycled materials. Along with that, for the first time this year, Fienberg Fisher K-8 will host a PTA Carnival Fundraiser! Kids of all ages can enjoy a rock climbing wall, an obstacle course and a bounce house.

The Deco Kids Club will be located in Lummus Park, at the intersection of Ocean Drive and 13th Street. It will be open to kids on Saturday, January 19th, and Sunday, January 20th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All activities and entertainment are free and provided by local nonprofit organizations.

General Information

The festival will run from Friday, January 18th, to Sunday, January 20th. Opening hours are as follows: Noon to 10 p.m. (Friday), 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Saturday) and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Sunday). This festival is free and open to the public. Ocean Drive will be closed to vehicles throughout the event.

Art Deco Weekend 2019 will take place at Lummus Park, which runs along Ocean Drive, between 6th Street and 13th Street. For more information about hotels and parking, visit the Art Deco Weekend website.

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