An overabundance of bikini-clad models will take over Lummus Park at Eighth Street and Ocean Drive for the inaugural Sports Illustrated Swim Beach. For two days, there will be a mixture of model appearances, Q&As and autograph signings, live performances, DJs sets, and lots of parties, all celebrating the launch of the magazine's 2016 Swim issue.
Since debuting in 1964, Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit issue has become a pop-culture phenomenon. The annual issue is considered the Oscars of swimwear and has launched the careers of its cover girls in TV, fashion, business, and film — including Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Kate Upton, and Chrissy Teigen. The official launch of this year's Swim — which will span print, digital, video, mobile, and social media programming — will happen during Swim City in New York City today, two days before the fan festival takes over Miami Beach.
"Swim Beach really provides an opportunity to experience what Sports Illustrated Swim is all about," says Brendan Ripp, publisher of Sports Illustrated Group. "It'll give people the opportunity to get up close to the incredible cast of SI Swim 2016 models."
The idea for Swim Beach was sparked two years ago during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. As part of the SI activation, Ripp organized a lighthearted beach volleyball game between a group of chefs and models. "The game ended up generating a lot of attention," he says. "Large crowds came out to watch... and it really inspired us to create a bigger and more interactive experience to bring SI Swim to life [in Miami]."
Besides hotly anticipated model appearances and DJs spinning throughout the day, there will be a barbershop, sponsored by Schick Hydro, where old-fashioned barbers will be replaced by an SI-approved bikini-wearing young lady. Photo booths, social sharing opportunities, games, food, and drinks will also be offered.
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The fan festival, which is free and open to the public, launched last year in New York City as Swim City. It drew more than 65,000 fans and created a summer-like beach experience in the middle of Manhattan. Ripp says he expects similar numbers to attend Swim Beach in Miami.
"We realized there was a larger opportunity to engage many people out there who are eager for more of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit," he says. "We debuted two festivals last year — the one in New York City and one in Nashville, Tennessee. They were a huge success, so we're excited to bring the event this year to Miami."
For Ripp, it was a no-brainer to take the festival to our fair city because it pairs perfectly with what the event is all about. "With Swim City, we bring the beach and heat up in the city in one of the coldest times of the year. In Miami, the beach setting is just a prime spot for all things SI Swimsuit."
Sport Illustrated's Swim Beach
The event will be held at Lummus Park at Eighth Street and Ocean Drive Wednesday, February 17, and Thursday, February 18, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public. For more information, visit si.com.