High season in Miami Beach now begins in November with an all-nighter.
Sleepless Night, a citywide celebration of art, music and dance, traditionally runs from sundown to dawn on the night of the autumnal time change (thus forgoing the extra hour of sleep for fun). This year that falls on Nov. 5.
The idea began in Paris in 1984 — with Nuit Blanche, or White Night — and has since spread to 11 other major international cities, including Rome, Madrid and Montreal.
"Art Deco Weekend was the start of it all 35 years ago, but then came Art Basel 10 years ago, and now we've got Sleepless Night. Thanks to these three events, the cultural scene here has exploded," says George Neary, the associate vice president of cultural tourism for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Statistics suggest he makes a fair point. Last year, Sleepless Night attracted 130,000 people, with an estimated 27,000 coming from outside the area. Art Basel drew 46,000 people, with an estimated 10,000 from outside Florida. And Art Deco Weekend, the granddaddy of the celebrations (actually the grandmother since the event honors Barbara Capitan, credited with saving the Art Deco district from demolition) draws 200,000 visitors, 40,000 of them from out of state.
Sleepless Night was begun to give art and culture lovers a reason to come to Miami Beach in early November, when business is slower. This year the celebration begins Saturday. Art Basel follows Dec. 1-4. Art Deco Weekend is Jan. 13-15.
A case also could be made that Sleepless Night, the neophyte in the group, has become Miami Beach's signature arts event.
Internationally appealing singers, dancers and performance artists perform alongside such award-winning local favorites as the Florida Grand Opera, the Miami City Ballet and the Miami Symphony Orchestra, as well as local standouts such as internationally known jazz vocalist Nicole Henry.
For this one night on Saturday, Miami Beach is more than South Beach as the city is divided into four cultural zones, which encompass 80 venues such as the Bass Museum and the New World Symphony.
This year's schedule includes Sarruga, a Barcelona-based street theater group that will provide huge dancing fish puppets; Brazil's Livio Tragtenberg, who will present "The Cabinet of Dr. Strange," a "composer" in the form of an extinct animal; "The Carpetbag Brigade," a group from San Francisco that utilizes acrobatic stilts, physical theater, modern dance and circus arts; and "Project Bandaloop," an aerial dance troupe, which has performed on the cliffs of Yosemite National Park, and will perform its new work "Bound (less)," using the city's new Frank Gehry-designed New World Center.
All of the cultural performances are free. Museums waive their admission fees. Luxury bus coaches transport people from place to place, with onboard entertainment and films shown on the vehicles as well.
Finally, those who stay up all night will be treated to breakfast on the beach as the sun comes up.
Charlotte Libov is an award-winning author, photographer and travel writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Florida Travel + Life and numerous other publications. She lives in Miami Beach.
Editor's note: This story was first published by VISITFLORIDA.com.