My new years’ resolution for 2017 is to make even more trips to Venice. To help me decide on when I will go, I have made an overview of the main events for the upcoming year. I gladly share this with you in this post. There are large events, such as the Carnevale di Venezia or the Art Biennale. There are also plenty of local and traditional festivities, such as the Festa della Salute or the Regata Storica. Finally, there are again a wide range of interesting exhibitions and sports events that will be organized in the city.
Some of these events last a couple of weeks or months, so you can easily pick a date where you can combine several activities. Alternatively, if you want to visit Venice in a relatively quiet period, you can use these dates as a no-go period. Because in the end, just wandering around in Venice is more than enough reason to book a ticket.
I have moved the events which have already taken place to the bottom of the article. Hence, you will find the current and upcoming ones at the top.
5. Damien Hirst. Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable – Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana
Exhibition April 9 – December 3
Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana will present a new project by British artist Damien Hirst (born 1965). It is the first time that the two venues will be dedicated to a single artist. Damien Hirst is known for conceptual art, installation art and painting. His latest project has been ten years in the making and it promises to be great. The exhibition is curated by Elena Geuna, who was in charge of the exhibition on Sigmar Polke in 2016 at Palazzo Grassi. This will be the first major solo show dedicated to Damien Hirst in Italy since 2004. The exhibition shows 180 works of an (imaginary) long lost collection discovered at the bottom of the ocean, the ancient wreck of a vast ship. You can watch some of my pictures on my Facebook page by following this link.
Exhibition May 6 – September 10
The first comprehensive exhibition on the American painter, poet and composer Mark Tobey (1890-1976) will include approx. 80 paintings from the late 1920s until his last works of the 1970s. His distinctive and original work has been influenced by his trips to Europe, the Middle East, Mexico and Asia. Over time, his works became more abstract in line with the artist’s meditative and contemplative lifestyle. He belongs to the most important precursors of the American Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition will afterwards be shown at the Addison Gallery of American Art.
9. Art Biennale
Event May 13 – November 26
The 2017 Art Biennale of curator Christine Macel promises to be a very exciting exhibition. ‘Viva Arte Viva’ will put the artists at the forefront. There will be several new initiatives to give the visitors an opportunity to better understand the artist and the way he/she creates art. Examples are a ‘Weekly Open Table’ where the artist and the public can talk over lunch, the ‘Artist’s Practices Project’ with short videos made by the artists to illustrate their universe and their way of working and ‘Unpacking My Library’ with an overview of the favorite books of the artists.
As usual, the main venues are Giardini and Arsenale. The national and collateral events across the city of Venice are also worth a few days extra. You often get the opportunity to enter sites which are otherwise closed to the public. I will again publish several detailed articles on the Art Biennale, as well as previews of most of these pavilions on my website in the months. You can find all of these on my Art Biennale page. If you want to be up-to-date, you can subscribe to my biweekly newsletter. For your information, the installation in the banner on top of this post is ‘Crash – Passive Interview’ of Hajnal Németh, which was on display in the Hungarian Pavilion at the 2011 Art Biennale.
Finally, several exhibitions will run in parallel with the Art Biennale, such as Intuition of Axel Vervoordt in Palazzo Fortuny and Shirin Neshat at Museo Correr (sala delle Quattro Porte).
13. David Hockney – Ca’ Pesaro
Exhibition June 24 – October 22
David Hockney (born 1937) was a pioneer of the British Pop Art movement in the early 1960s and is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Hockney made prints, portraits of friends, and stage designs for the Royal Court Theatre, Glyndebourne, La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. His art varies from playful and enigmatic to contemplative and perceptive. Hockney focuses on realism and the identity of people and places. I will add more information on the exhibition as soon as it is available.
Event August 30 – September 9
The Venice Film Festival was established in 1932 and is the oldest and one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. The line-up of movies is very long, as is the queue of movie stars on the red carpet. The festival takes place on the island of Lido with screenings in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi and in other venues nearby. With the exception of the opening night and some premieres, you can relatively easy get tickets to attend the movies. Alternatively, you can watch the parade of movie stars on the red carpet, which is an event in itself.
17. Venice Marathon
Sports October 22
The Venice Marathon is a second opportunity to have a spectacular run through Venice. It exists since 1986 and has become one of the most popular international marathons. The race is flat and fast and crosses 11 bridges. It starts in Stra, a small town west of Venice, before stretching through many small towns and the industrial estates near Marghera. After crossing the Ponte della Libertà, the best part of the race is a tour in the historical centre of Venice. The finish line is at Riva Sette Martiri. If the 42 km is too long, you can also opt for the shorter distances or the family run. More information on this event can be found in my post ‘The Venice Marathon is one of the major sports events’. You can find more details in my post ‘The marathon and other major sports events in Venice’.
18. Festa della Madonna della Salute
Tradition November 21
The rationale behind the Festa della Salute is similar to the Festa del Redentore. It also commemorates the end of a plague (this one in 1630-1631) and the construction of a church to thank for this. The procession starts at the San Marco basilica and crosses the Canal Grande from Campo Santa Maria del Giglio to La Salute via a temporary pontoon bridge. All along the route, there are stalls selling cakes and candles to light inside the church. It is a very local event and hardly attended by tourists.
Now that you have an idea of what is happening when, you can take your agenda and decide when to make your next trip(s) to Venice. I will publish more details about these events closer to their start date. If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe to The Venice Insider newsletter or follow The Venice Insider on Facebook or Twitter.
For more details on these events or last minute changes, you can click on each title to access their site or go to the website of Venezia Unica, the tourism agency of the city.
Exhibition Until March 13
The Italian artist Tancredi Parmeggiani (1927-1964) was one of Peggy Guggenheim’s protégés. He even had his studio in her Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, which is now the museum. He is considered to be one of the most original and singular personalities in Italian art of the 20thcentury. The retrospective shows 90 works, starting from his early years at art school and his first essays in lyrical color. It ends with his collage-paintings made between 1962 and 1963. The Hometown Diaries (Diari paesani) and the Flowers 101% Painted by Me and by Others (Fiori dipinti da me e da altri al 101%) are the major revelation of this exhibition. These works mark the end of his extraordinary career, which ended very early when he died at the age of 37.
Exhibition Until March 27
This exhibition reflects on the extraordinary artistic and historical heritage of the Cadorin family. It illustrates the intense activity of at least three generations of artists, architects, musicians and photographers in the 19th and 20th centuries. This Venetian family of artists includes the sculptor Vincenzo, the photographer Augusto Tivoli, the Fiorini lute-makers, the architect Brenno del Giudice and the painters Guido Cadorin, Livia Tivoli, Ida Barbarigo and Zoran Music. The exhibition consists of more than 200 works carefully selected by Jean Clair. It does not only show you the fascinating studios of a dynasty of artists, but it also immerses you in the lively intellectual context of the city.
Tradition February 11 – February 28
The Venice Carnival is one of the best-known carnivals in the world and attracts approx. 1.5 million visitors per year. It originally started in 1162 to celebrate the victory of Venice against the Patriarch of Aquileia. Over time, it has appeared and disappeared. Since 1979, it is in place as the event we currently know it.
The Festa Veneziana in the first weekend is mainly attended by locals, and certainly worth a visit. From February 18 onwards, it will be very crowded for the Festa delle Marie and the Volo dell’Angelo (flight of the angel). The Vollo dell’Aquila (flight of the eagle) and the Svole del Leon close the Carnevale di Venezia on February 28. You can find a detailed overview of all the events in my post ‘Exciting events at Carnevale di Venezia 2017’. In between all these events, you will constantly be surrounded by fabulous costumes and masks all over the city. More information on the history behind these costumes and where you can buy or rent them is written down in my post ‘Glamorous masks and costumes at Carnevale di Venezia 2017’.
4. Hieronymus Bosch and Venice – Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Apartment)
Exhibition February 18 – June 4
After the exhibition in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in 2016, the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) gets another exhibition in Venice in 2017. Bosch is a world-class artist and is known for his unique imaginary and surreal fantasies. His characteristic works full of illusions and hallucinations, bizarre monsters and devilish nightmares depict the major themes of his time: seduction, sin and judgment. His combination of reality and fantasy was entirely new at that time. We see saints, devils, landscapes and non-existent beings brought together in bizarre new worlds. The exhibition shows not only spectacular masterpieces of Bosch, but also almost 50 other contextual works from important public and private international collections. You will even be able to enter the work ‘Visions of the Afterworld’ virtually and immerse yourself in the nooks of Hell and bright visions of Paradise thanks to a modern multimedia installation.
Sports April 29
The participants of this urban trail run 16 km through the historical centre of Venice. They cross 51 bridges and pass all sestieri from Santa Croce on the west side all the way to Sant’Elena on the east side. If you like to run, this is probably one of the most magical runs you can imagine. So far (end of 2016), more than 2,200 participants have already registered. Alternatively, you can just cheer for the runners when they pass by.
8. Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow by Bryan Mc Cormack – San Giorgio Maggiore
Exhibition and research project May 12 – August 13
The installation by the Irish artist Bryan Mc Cormack (born 1972) is part of the contemporary art season at San Giorgio Maggiore. It sounds like a very intriguing project in the current economic and political times. The heart of the work is the visualisation of the European migrant crisis and the beginning of a research project to collect, preserve and interpret the visual data. The artist spent time in several refugee camps asking each person to draw three sketches on three sheets of paper with coloured pastels. They were asked to sketch their past life (Yesterday), their present life (Today), and to imagine their future (Tomorrow). The drawings will be gathered together, used as visual blocks for the centerpiece of the installation. If you want to discover the San Giorgio Maggiore island after you visited the exhibition, you can find more information in my post ‘Why San Giorgio Maggiore is worth your visit’.
10. Festa e Regata della Sensa
Tradition May 28
The Festa della Sensa is an ancient celebration of the relationship between Venice and the sea. The highlight of the day is a symbolic wedding ceremony, in which a golden ring is thrown into the sea. The celebration includes a large procession at sea, headed by the Serenissima boat in which mayor Luigi Brugnaro takes on the traditional role of the Doge. It is followed by colorful parade boats from the rowing associations of Venice. The procession starts in front of San Marco, moves towards Lido and finally north to San Nicolò where the ceremony takes place and a mass is held.
Event June 4
The Vogalonga regata is a non-competitive race where rowers in all types of colorful boats, from canoes to dragon boats, take over the lagoon and canals. The race is a protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice and the damage they do to the historic city. It already exists since 1975, so even before the huge cruise ships entered the lagoon. The 2016 edition reached the maximum limit of 1,800 boats. More than half of the participants come from abroad.
Participants gather in the Bacino di San Marco in front of the Palazzo Ducale. They sing hymns to San Marco and begin the race. The 30km course extends over the northern lagoon, past the islands of Sant’Erasmo, Burano and Mazzorbo and through the centre of Murano before returning to the finish in Venice via Cannaregio and Canal Grande.
Event June 17
Art Night gives you the opportunity to attend many events, in one way or another linked to culture, all over Venice and for free. The 2017 date and program isn’t available yet, but you can expect visits to palazzos and other historical buildings which open exceptionally, meetings with authors in bookstores, guided tours, concerts, light shows, activities for children, and many more. The main difficulty is to choose what to attend as it only lasts one night.
Tradition July 15-16
The Festa del Redentore celebrates the end of the plague of 1576, which killed 50,000 people. Every year, a pontoon bridge is built across the Guidecca canal to remember the pilgrimage of Doge Sebastian Venier to the Redentore church. On Saturday, the locals get ready for a full day of party with family and friends. The Bacino di San Marco fills up with boats of all kinds, festively decorated with balloons and garlands. Thousands of Venetians await the fireworks while dining on the boats and along the Riva. The fireworks last very long and are very impressive. The religious celebrations take place on Sunday and include a mass and a procession. The festivities end with a regata. More information on the different events and the historical background can be found in my post ‘Enjoy the Festa del Redentore with these insider tips’.
16. Regata storica
Tradition September 3
The regata storica is a combination of a historical parade and several rowing races. The historical procession commemorates the welcome given in 1489 to Caterina Cornaro, the wife of the King of Cyprus, who renounced her throne in favour of Venice. Ornate boats with rowers in 16th century costumes carry the Doge, the Doge’s wife and all the highest ranking Venetian officials up Canal Grande in a brightly colored parade. The locals are however mainly interested in the four boat races that follow the parade: the champions’ regatta in gondolini, the regatta in caorline, the women’s regatta in mascarete and the young rowers’ regatta in pupparini. More information on the different events and the historical background can be found in my post ‘Don’t miss a thing of the Regata Storica’.
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