Art Basel Miami Beach begins Thursday

Not the death of Fidel Castro, post-election angst or the Zika virus could stop Art Basel Miami Beach from descending on South Florida on Thursday.

The 15th edition of Art Basel is back, a beast of tourism, contemporary art, blue-chip collectors and big-ticket canvasses, holding court at the Miami Beach Convention Center. This is the granddaddy art fair, where wide-eyed locals and VIPs go to congregate, a flurry of celebrities (actor-painter Adrian Brody and tennis star Venus Williams are expected this year) mingling with the public in a 250,000-square-foot space. About 77,000 people stuffed the Convention Center in 2015, Art Basel organizers reported.

This year, the Convention Center, about halfway through a $615 million facelift that started after last year's Art Basel, will feature 269 galleries from 29 countries. The big fair kicks off Thursday and continues through Sunday.

But Art Basel Miami Beach is really the nucleus of Miami Art Week, a citywide festival of air-conditioned, white-tent satellite fairs in Wynwood, Midtown and elsewhere, all orbiting the Convention Center.

Here's what to know before you go:

Fairs: There are 25 satellite art fairs this year, an impossible-to-conquer tangle of events spread out from downtown Miami north to Bal Harbour. There are four newcomers (Faena Art, Now or Neverland Art Fair: Urban Uproar Edition, Art Concept and Conception Art Fair) and familiar faces (Art Miami, Context, Aqua).

Music: Rocker Courtney Love ($85) will perform at various times through Dec. 11 in the musical "Kansas City Choir Boy" at the Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Kendrick Lamar ($65, open to American Express cardholders only) will perform 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at Faena Art Dome (3300 Collins Ave., Miami Beach).

Weirdness: Miami Art Week is full of bizarre encounters, and this year hardly disappoints. Artist-conservationist Kevin McHugh will showcase his Swarovski crystal-encrusted lionfish in an environmental-themed display at White Dot Gallery (174 NW 23rd St., Miami). For his "Whole Glory" installation at Juxtapoz Clubhouse (2400 NW Fifth Ave., Miami), Scott Campbell will tattoo, at random, patrons who shove their arms through a hole in a fence. The project is anonymous: Campbell never meets the patrons, and patrons only discover what tattoo they received after Campbell is finished.

Getting around: Download Miami Parking Authority's Pay-by-Phone app (iPhone, Android, Blackberry) for painless metered street parking anywhere in the city. Parking is ample and cheap at Perez Art Museum Miami (1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; $2 per hour), one of many art hubs this week.

The Miami Metrorail loops around downtown Miami, while the Miami Trolley loops from Northeast 15th Street north to Nortwest 29th Street, the Wynwood Art District's northern end. Parking is rough around the under-construction Miami Beach Convention Center, but try the 17th Street Garage (17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.; $1 per hour) if commuting early.

pvalys@southflorida.com or 954-356-4364

If you go

ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH

When: 3-8 p.m. Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon-6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive

Information: 305-674-1292 and ArtBasel.com/Miami-Beach

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