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Everything You Need to Know for Attending Art Basel

November 10th, 2016

Are you looking for a new way to engage in the contemporary art world? Whether you are an experienced collector or casual admirer of modern art, Art Basel is a must-attend event, offering everything from museum masterpieces to up-and-coming artists. Keep reading to find all the Art Basel news and information you need for a world-class art experience.

What Is Art Basel?

Art Basel hosts modern and contemporary art fairs annually with a focus on art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The organization aims to represent all forms of visual arts and often adapts the format to include new artist platforms as they emerge. This vision toward developing art forms keeps Art Basel on the cutting edge of the visual arts, making it popular among collectors, galleries, curators and critics.

The goal of the annual art fair is to connect the various participants in the international art community. The event incorporates both art displays and cultural events to support connections between gallery owners, curators, artists and collectors.

Art Basel quickly grew from its inaugural show. Check out the highlights of Art Basel’s history:

  • 1970: Three art gallerists in Basel started the first Art Basel show, with an impressive 16,000 visitors viewing the 90 galleries featuring 30 publishers from 10 different countries.
  • 1975: Art Basel quickly grew to reach its current size featuring about 300 exhibitors from 21 different countries. Attendance grew to about 37,000.
  • 1989: The art show became one of the leading platforms for photography.
  • 1995: Art Basel incorporated the Art Video Forum.
  • 2002: The first Miami Beach edition of Art Basel took place.
  • 2004: Discussion panels became a part of Art Basel, connecting attendees with the art experts.
  • 2013: The Art Basel Hong Kong show began.

Art Basel Locations

Modern art lovers have three opportunities each year to attend Art Basel. The event takes place in Hong Kong, Miami Beach and Basel at different times each year.

Hong Kong may be the newest Art Basel location, but it does not lack in appeal. This modern metropolis plays a dynamic international role. Art Basal in Hong Kong features a heavy emphasis on art from Asia and Asia-Pacific, with about half of the participating galleries hailing from those regions. The festival takes place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Miami Beach offers a rich, dynamic location with Art Deco architecture as the backdrop to the annual art fair, which is held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The infusion of Latin American culture and the general diversity of the area mesh well with the inclusive vibe of Art Basel. Miami Beach boasts world-class art museums, offering even more art experience for Art Basel attendees. Known for its nightlife, Miami Beach plays the perfect host for Art Basel parties for even more entertainment. The annual art fair welcomes about 70,000 visitors every year.

Basel is the location that started it all. Situated on the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany, Basel draws about 98,000 people throughout the show, the largest number of all three locations. The annual art fair happens at Messe Basel, the largest exhibition site in Switzerland.

When Art Basel Is Held - Art Basel Dates

When does Art Basel start? That depends on the Art Basel location you choose. The Art Basel dates take place at different times.

Art Basel Hong Kong Dates

The Hong Kong show takes place first, typically occurring in March.

Art Basel Switzerland Dates

Art Basel Switzerland in Basel takes place next, usually toward the middle of June.

Art Basel Miami Beach Dates

The Art Basel Miami Beach show rounds out the year with dates falling at the beginning of December.


Each show usually lasts several days, with exhibits and special events spread throughout the duration. The opening days of the show are private, with entrance available by invitation only. The remaining days are considered public days.

Is Art Basel Free?

Art Basel is not a free art show. It requires a ticket for admission. Art Basel tickets are available online or at the event. Purchasing your tickets ahead of time can shorten the wait at the venue.

You can purchase a single-day ticket or a permanent ticket valid for all public days of the art show. The Art Basel entrance fee varies depending on the location and ticket type. A one-day ticket for the 2016 Miami Beach show costs $50, while a permanent ticket costs $105. Reduced-price tickets are available for students and seniors.

The Art Basel VIP program offers exclusive services to leading patrons and galleries in the art world. If you are a private collector, museum director, curator, art advisor or internationally known artist, you may have access to the special services to enhance your Art Basel experience.


What to Expect

The Art Basel show features several sectors, each with a different purpose. Art Basel events are spread throughout those sectors, giving you plenty of entertainment options at the art show. The sectors change occasionally as Art Basel evolves. You might also find different sectors at each of the different show locations. Your experience at Art Basel in Hong Kong could be completely different than a trip to the Miami Beach show.

Examples of sectors for the show include:

  • Galleries: The Art Basel galleries host the artwork of thousands of artists from hundreds of galleries from around the world. You’ll find a wide range of artwork, including film, photography, video, digital art, paintings, sculptures and installations. 
  • Nova: Visit the Nova sector to see fresh work from artists. Galleries use this sector to display work created in the last three years. 
  • Positions: In the Positions sector, new artists each present one major project as a way for curators and collectors to find new talent.
  • Edition: Publishers who produce editioned work, prints and multiples create displays in the Edition sector.
  • Public: This sector creates a public display of artwork. For the 2016 Miami Beach show, the Public sector includes more than 20 sculptures and installations in Collins Park. Some of those works will remain for a few months after the show.
  • Film: The Film sector presents selected films throughout the show’s duration. In Miami Beach, many of those films are shown on a huge outdoor screen. 
  • Talks: Art Basel presents talks through the Conversations and Salon programs. Conversations connects the audience with artists, curators, critics and other important people in the art world. Audience members get a different view on creating, collecting and displaying art. The Salon program incorporates a variety of formats, including artist talks, performances, panel discussions and lectures.

Getting There

All three cities offer public transportation options. With such large attendance numbers, this option is often the easiest way to get close to the venue without dealing with parking hassles. Another option is to stay in a hotel near the venue so you can walk to the event.

The Basel show offers parking in Exhibition Square near Messe Basel, with a multi-story car park featuring room for 1,200 vehicles. When this car park fills, other nearby car parks are available. Basel also offers trams and buses as part of the robust public transportation system. The system is known for being reliable, so this is a viable option for those wanting to avoid driving.

In Hong Kong, the Mass Transit Railway system is a popular and safe way to arrive at the Art Basel site. The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre offers a nearby parking lot if you choose to drive. The location also offers a drop-off zone for convenient access to the entrance.

For Miami Beach attendees, a special shuttle service coordinated by Miami and Miami Beach provides a free transportation option to reach the art show. The goal of the free shuttle service is to alleviate traffic congestion in the area, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of the service. If you choose to drive, look for a spot in the Convention Center Drive municipal parking lot or the parking garage about a block away from the Miami Beach Convention Center on 17th Street.

What to Wear

You may not have artwork on display at Art Basel, but you can create your own work of art with your wardrobe. You’ll see a wide range of outfits at Art Basel from art-gallery formal to quirky casual clothes with a creative twist.

Not sure what to wear? Follow these tips to create your Art Basel outfit:

  • Show your style: Modern art is about expressing yourself creatively. The eclectic environment at Art Basel gives you a chance to step outside your normal wardrobe options with edgy, fun looks. Whatever you choose, make sure it expresses your personality so you feel confident.

  • Accessorize: Just like art comes down to the details, your outfit really comes alive with the right accessories. Have fun with a vintage statement piece or other attention-worthy accessories.

  • Carry a clutch: A small clutch keeps your essentials close without getting in your way of enjoying the art.

  • Wear comfy shoes: If you plan to explore at Art Basal, you definitely need comfortable shoes that can stand up to all the walking. Choose a cute flat or sandal. 

Eating and Drinking Your Way Through Art Basel

While all three cities offer a rich and varied culinary scene, you don’t need to leave the official event to enjoy delicious food options. The offerings typically range from casual to upscale dining to give you varied options.

The Miami Beach Convention Center offers self-service restaurants, food markets and cafes. One option is the Garden Café, an outdoor dining spot in the Botanical Garden near the convention center. If you prefer a meal at a seated restaurant, head for the Collectors Lounge.

At the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Art Basel attendees have the choice of seven different restaurants. The options range from café-style dining for a casual experience to fine Chinese dining.

The exhibition halls of the Basel show include multiple cafes and restaurants. If you want greater variety, venture into the city, where you can find diverse cuisine offerings, including Chinese, Japanese, Moroccan, French and Italian.

Where to Stay

Stay close to the venue for your selected Art Basel event to have easy access to activities.
Miami Beach offers an assortment of boutique hotels within close distance to the Miami Beach Convention Center. Check out these options:

  • Nautilus: This luxury boutique hotel is the official hotel partner for Art Basel. It is just a few blocks from the convention center, offering easy access.

  • Riviera Hotel South Beach: Another luxury hotel option near the convention center, the Riviera Hotel South Beach offers a range of room options, including apartment-style rooms including kitchens, dining areas and living spaces.

  • Catalina Hotel and Beach Club: This upscale hotel offers close proximity to Art Basel with a fun European vibe and plenty of luxury services.

  • The Raleigh: Enjoy beachfront luxury in the Raleigh for world-class amenities with an unpretentious vibe.

If you’re heading to Art Basel in Switzerland, expect a wide range of accommodations, from large to small, including boutique hotels. Try one of these options:

  • Aparthotel Adagio Basel City: Enjoy apartment-style accommodations with an upscale feeling within close proximity to the venue. 

  • Dorint An der Messe Basel: This hotel offers another accommodation option close to Art Basel. Cheery rooms, gardens and an on-site restaurant keep you comfortable.

  • Hotel Alexander: If you want to be right near the action, Hotel Alexander is an option. It’s located right across the street from Messe Basel. The hotel offers simple accommodations for a comfortable stay.

  • Hotel du Commerce: The Hotel du Commerce is another accommodation option directly across the street from Messe Basel. The hotel offers modern accommodations, including some apartments, and private underground parking.

The international flair of Hong Kong provides varied accommodation options for your stay during Art Basel. Consider these options:

  • Mandarin Oriental: As the official hotel partner for Art Basel, the Mandarin Oriental is a smart choice for your trip. The five-star hotel offers quality service with luxury, style and comfort that makes your experience unforgettable.

  • Grand Hyatt Hong Kong: The Grand Hyatt is another five-star hotel option near the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Contemporary rooms offer luxurious accommodations. Grand harbor views are available from many locations in the hotel, including a terrace garden.

  • Gloucester Luk Kwok Hong Hotel: This hotel is another option within walking distance of the Art Basel Venue.

  • Empire Hotel Hong Kong: The Empire Hotel offers luxurious accommodations in the same general area as the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Tips for Attending Art Basel

Art Basel is a popular art fair with thousands of visitors each day. Knowing what to expect and how to navigate the event is important. This Art Basel information helps you better enjoy your time at the art fair:

  • Skip large bags: You’ll have to leave large purses, backpacks, briefcases and even umbrellas at the coat check. Leave those larger items in your hotel room to save yourself the hassle. Smaller bags are allowed, but expect to have them inspected.

  • Take personal photos only: Art Basel has strict rules on photography. You are only allowed to take photos for personal use. Leave the flash off, and don’t bring a selfie stick, tripod or similar extendable device.

  • Prepare children: Kids are welcome to Art Basel, but it’s important to teach your child how to behave around all that expensive artwork. All kids under 16 need an adult present at all times. Remind your child to never touch the artwork and to walk through all areas of the show. Take advantage of special kids’ art activities and tours

  • Take a guided tour: All locations offer guided tours. This option gives you more insight on the works.
Are you ready to pack your bags for the next Art Basal? Let Quintessentially People supply a driver to make your Art Basal experience relaxing and worry-free. Stay current on luxury lifestyle with Quintessentially People.

Page Updated September 21, 2017