A crescendo in each year’s fine arts circuit, Art Basel Miami Beach anchors an extravagant week of fairs, sales, cocktail parties, and performances. It’s also the wildest of the three prestigious Art Basel iterations (with siblings in Hong Kong and Basel, Switzerland), drawing some of the world’s most sought-after galleries and devout collectors, as well as an accompanying bevy of critics, observers, and socialites. Following the money, brands activate from South Beach to Little Haiti and Brickell to Bal Harbour. Year after year, the level of excitement escalates along with the number of attendees.

But it’s not just fun and games; major works shift hands, new artists forge reputations, and art lovers enjoy a crash course in the contemporary art market and its antics. At the end of each day, Miami offers visitors a chance to enjoy its cultural and culinary offerings—or fall asleep to the lapping of the Atlantic waves. Here are eight reasons to pay a visit.

Nothing comes close to Art Basel Miami Beach with regard to quality, quantity, or pedigree—and yet at least a dozen other fairs run concurrently. Occasionally, artists will overlap, though gallerists never do. Several fairs, including Untitled, rise up in tents on the sands of South Beach and are worth a visit for their location alone. NADA—short for New Art Dealers Alliance—provides access to the freshest talent. Pulse (December 5-8), Art Miami (December 3-8), and Scope (December 3-8) each approach the art world from different angles. Seeing them all provides an elaborate, eagle-eye view of the year in contemporary art.

(c) Douglas Elliman Insider