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What is the Venice Biennale?

The Venice Biennale is one of the most famous and important cultural events in the world. Since its foundation in 1895, it has been committed to promoting all the latest artistic trends in all forms of expression. So, there are not only art and architecture events, but also dance, music, theatre, and cinema festival. The first film exhibition in the world was held as part of this festival in 1932.

Although it is called a "Biennale", the events actually take place every year. The only events that take place every two years are the Architecture Exhibition and the Art Exhibition, which are also the most popular!

Last year, the Art Biennale enjoyed a record turnout. 800,000 visitors flocked to the festival from all over the world to celebrate the best of contemporary art. Here are the main things you should see!

What is there to see at the Biennale?

Every year, the Biennale completely takes over Venice, with hundreds of side events such as concerts and exhibitions taking place throughout the city.

However, the exhibition has two principal centres: the Gardens and the Arsenal.

The Biennale Gardens

The Venice Biennale Gardens were opened at the beginning of the 19th century at the request of Napoleon Bonaparte, and have hosted the famous international contemporary art exhibition since 1895.

There are 29 pavilions for each of the participating nations, each of which is an icon of modern architecture.

In the pavilions, each country exhibits its own artistic installation based on that year's theme, so visiting the pavilions is like taking a little world tour!

The Arsenal

Since 1980, when the first Architecture Exhibition​​ was held, the Arsenal has been the Biennale's second exhibition centre. This space was originally used during the Republic of Venice as a shipyard and warehouse for storing weapons and ammunition.

The kilometre-long Arsenal houses a large number of works including paintings, sculptures, and video and performance art.

Biennale 2023: the dates

The Biennale takes place from spring to autumn, but the specific dates vary depending on the type of event. As previously mentioned, the Art and Architecture Exhibitions alternate every year. Therefore, 2023 will be the turn of the Architecture Exhibition!

Here are all the scheduled dates:

On the pages with details of the exhibitions, you can find out how to reach the venues, their opening hours, and the price of tickets.

10 Practical Tips for Visiting the Biennale

Now that you know what there is to see and when to visit the Biennale, all you have to do is go! We have prepared 10 practical tips for your visit to the Exhibition, so that you can enjoy it to the full!

  1. Split your visit between morning and afternoon:the Venice Biennale is huge. You should divide up your day or visit it over several days.
  2. Buy tickets in advance to avoid long queues at the entrance.
  3. Schedule your itinerary based on the pavilions and artists you want to see.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking.
  5. Take a bottle of water with you. There will not always be bars and refreshments nearby.
  6. Bring a packed lunch if you want to avoid the crowded bars and restaurants.
  7. If you want to take photos, first check the exhibition rules. Some may not allow photography.
  8. Follow a free group guide in Italian and English, or browse the catalogue.
  9. If you want to visit the Biennale with children, check if there are any activities or workshops for them.
  10. Approach each work with an open-mind and without any preconceived notions. Dig deeper into what you are looking at using guides, brochures, and the official exhibition websites and compare your experience with other visitors.

We also recommend that you travel by vaporetto to save time and energy. From Garden Paradiso, you can reach the Biennale Gardens and the Arsenal in a few minutes, taking a ferry from Punta Sabbioni!

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