The Miami Book Fair International is the largest literary event in Miami and one of the largest in the country. The event began as a two-day affair called Books on the Bay, sponsored then, as it still is, by Miami-Dade College and hosted at the college’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. Since then, the Book Fair has grown into an eight-day span of events culminating in a public street fair in late November.
The most high-profile part of the Miami Book Fair is the “Festival of Authors,” which begins a week before the public street fair. More than 300 authors from around the world come to participate in a series of readings throughout the week. Frequently, they hail from Latin American countries and write their books in Spanish. Big-name English personalities have appeared, including John Waters, Patti Smith, and even George W. Bush.
All of the events are open to the public, and many are free, but the most in-demand require advance purchase of tickets, which typically go for around $10. The Festival of Authors also includes a number of writing workshops hosted by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, which also require advance registration and a fee.
Also starting early during the week is the fair’s Comix Galaxy, a subsection focusing on the art of comic books, many aimed at younger audiences. The earlier part of the week usually includes an exhibition of comic art, where starting Thursday and Friday, there are classes for comic-drawing and writing, and a miniature comic convention for kids.
The last three days of the Miami Book Fair fall on a weekend, from Friday through Sunday. The author readings continue into this weekend, but the focus here is on a massive open-air fair set up across the college’s Wolfson campus and the surrounding blocks downtown. Thousands of people attend — for a small admission fee — to browse blocks and blocks of books. These include vendors of books in foreign-language (again, many in Spanish), independent presses, authors of self-published works, and antiquarian book dealers.
The street fair also offers live music daily on a central stage, and a special corner aimed at children’s books and activities. Typical festival food vendors also abound.
Thanks to its central downtown location, the Miami Book Fair international can be reached easily by taxi from South Beach, or by Metro-Rail and Metro-Mover from points along those lines.
Consider strongly reaching the fair by public transportation, even if you have access to a car. (If you’re starting from further north or south in Miami-Dade County, you can always park at a Metro-Rail station and then ride.) Downtown Miami is dense and the area’s for-profit garages and parking lots can charge steep prices during special events such as this one. Conversely, the festival is reached easily on foot from the College Bayside or College North stops of the Metro-Mover, to which you can connect for free from the downtown Government Center stop of the Metro-Rail.
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