HomeJournalWhy Visit Now: Venice

Why Visit Now: Venice

A new season of contemporary art is starting in Venice. Find new reasons to visit in 2024, with our comprehensive list of unmissable events in the Floating City.

Angelo Zinna
Jun 03, 2024

Venice is transforming. After decades of dealing with over-tourism, the city is attempting to change how millions of visitors experience its historic heart, limiting flows of people to avoid the negative impacts of excessive traffic and development.

Twice, in 2021 and 2023, UNESCO declared its intention to put Venice on the “World Heritage in Danger” list due to both the effects of human intervention and climate change on the city — to avoid the label, the government first introduced a ban on big cruise ships navigating past St. Mark’s Square and the Giudecca canal and later implemented a ticket system for tourists entering the city.

The first experimental run of the new system will begin in spring 2024 when tourists will be required to purchase a 5€ ticket online to access Venice's historic core. The effects of such a move will be seen in a few months — whether Venice will become a more liveable city or turn into an exclusive holiday destination is yet to be determined.

“Foreigners Everywhere” at La Biennale di Venezia 

Founded in 1895, this bi-annual exhibition has evolved into a kaleidoscope of creativity, showcasing some of the most innovative works from international artists and architects. Each year a different theme sets the tone — in 2024 the event will reach its 60th edition, titled “Foreigners Everywhere” by curator Adriano Pedrosa, who wants to provide an opportunity to discuss and reflect on ideas related to migration, travel, borders, and conflicts.

Sculptural installation by Jaume Plensa during Venice Art Biennale inside San Giorgio Maggiore church
During the Biennale, Venice turns into an international museum filled with future-driven installations. Photo: Don Mammoser

The Biennale sprawls across various venues, with the Arsenale and the Giardini housing the central pavilions. Each pavilion represents a different participating country and its unique take on the event's theme. Particular attention will be given to Ukraine’s space, which will be presenting the project Net Making, tributing the collecting practice of weaving camouflage nets. During the Biennale, which runs from February to November, artists, critics, and art lovers converge on Venice, drawn by the opportunity to witness cutting-edge exhibitions and the exchange of ideas that push the boundaries of artistic expression. 

The Carnival That Never Ceases to Amaze

standing woman wearing mask standing in front of fence
Elegance in disguise: A woman embraces the mystery and tradition of Venice's Carnival. Photo: Graham Guenther

Despite Venice’s attempts to reduce the flow of visitors, Carnival continues to attract tens of thousands of people to the floating city — for good reason. During the second week of February, Venice turns into a living spectacle where opulent costumes move against the backdrop of the city’s architectural masterpieces. Italy’s most famous Carnival transforms the city into an open-air theater where parades, balls and musical performances take place. The 2024 edition is made even more special by its theme — this year, Venice’s Carnival tributes its most famous explorer Marco Polo with a series of events dedicated to his discoveries in the Far East.

Venice for Film Buffs: Mostra Internazione del Cinema

The world’s oldest film festival is also one of the most important events for the global film industry. The Venice International Film Festival, also known as Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica, took place for the first time in 1932 and has hosted an endless list of superstars on its red carpet since then.

Venice Film Festival
Camera shutters form the soundtrack of Venice’s Film Festival, one of Europe’s most important industry events. Photo: Shutterstock

Held between late August and early September in the aptly named Palazzo del Cinema, right on the Marconi waterfront, the Venice International Film Festival will reach its 81st edition in 2024, following a previous edition filled with controversy. The writers' and actors’ strikes that took place in the US last year affected the program in 2023, together with protests linked to the premiers of films by Luc Besson, Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, three directors accused of sexual assault. What will happen in 2024 is yet to be seen.

The Medieval Atmosphere of the Regata Storica di Venezia

Regata Storica di Venezia
A celebration of Venice’s maritime golden age takes place on the Grand Canal during the Regata Storica. Photo: Sergii Figurnyi

Historical reenactments hardly get better than in Venice, where the Regata Storica is held yearly on the first Sunday of September on the city’s Canal Grande. It’s unclear when the first regatta of this kind took place — some historians believe that tradition to be over 1,000 years old, linking to a pirate invasion of the city that happened in the 10th century.

The race became a regular event in the 13th century when large, colorful boats gathered on Venice’s main water course at the end of summer for a spectacular race. Today the event is one the most enthralling moments for Venetians, who reach the Canal Grande to celebrate the city’s long-standing relationship with the sea. In 2024 the Regata Storica will be held on September 1.

The Lagoon Lights Up for Festa del Redentore

Festa del Redentore
The night sky lights up during the Festa del Redentore, held on the third Sunday of July. Photo: Shutterstock

Commemorating the day when Venice was declared free of the plague in 1577, the Festa del Redentore brings together the whole city on the third Sunday of July for a grandiose celebration. Running continuously for over four centuries, the core of the event is on the Giudecca island, where the Venetian State built the Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore, following the end of the plague that had killed over a third of the city’s population.

The highlight of the event, which attracts tens of thousands of people each year, is the traditional fireworks shows on the water, a unique and exciting moment to admire the Venetian lagoon lit up by colored sparks.

Jean Cocteau at Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

One of Venice’s most renowned art institutions, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection has long functioned as the city's contemporary art hub, showcasing the collection that belonged to Peggy Guggenheim and a rich program of shows dedicated to 20th-century masters.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Step into the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to discover contemporary masterpieces during one of the institution’s many temporary exhibitions. Photo: Shutterstock

In 2024, the museum announced the largest retrospective to ever be held in Italy dedicated to Jean Cocteau, the French poet, playwright, novelist and film director best known for Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Les Parents Terribles (1948). Starting in April, the museum will exhibit over 150 works by the experimental artist, from sketches to documentaries collected over the course of Cocteau’s four-decade-long career — an opportunity to enter the mind of one of the most influential figures in early 20th-century art.

Taste Something New at Venice Cocktail Week

Venice Cocktail Week
The city of the Spritz cocktail showcases its creativity during the Venice Cocktail Week. Photo: Shutterstock

Following in the footsteps of other famous Italian cocktail weeks, Venice Cocktail Week has now reached its fourth edition, hosted in many of the city’s top bars in October. International guest bartenders will reach the city to participate in this growing event celebrating cocktail culture, with open competitions to determine who has the most innovative ideas when it comes to mixing drinks. This is a chance to tour the 30+ bars that contributed to the Venetian cocktail scene and discover flavors you didn’t know existed. Check out the map of the event at Venice Cocktail Week’s website and follow the trail of events that will take place in established and underground locations scattered around the city.

New Luxury Hotels Are Opening

Venice’s attempts to deal with mass tourism by applying some restrictions to the flow of short-term visitors do not seem to have affected the luxury sector. The city continues to attract high-end developments, with several new luxury hotels opening their doors, enhancing Venice's reputation as a premier destination for those seeking an exclusive and opulent experience. In fact, new high-end hotels are opening throughout the city in 2024 and 2025, offering dreamlike hospitality in the heart of the historic center.

Housed inside the Art Nouveau building of Venice’s former stock exchange, Nolinski is the latest addition to the city’s hotel offering, blending old charm with a modern spa, Mediterranean restaurant and cocktail bar in its 43-room palace. Scheduled for next year is also the Langham Hotel, which will add 138 opulent rooms to the island of Murano, known for its centuries-old glass-making workshops.

Sustainable Design at Venice Fashion Week

 Venice Fashion Week
Not just masks: Venice’s dedication to fashion goes beyond Carnival. Photo: Shutterstock

Set against the backdrop of the city’s breathtaking architecture, Venice Fashion Week captivates with a unique fusion of fashion, art, and culture, distinguishing itself from other global fashion weeks for its commitment to highlighting the work of emerging designers dedicated to sustainable fashion from all around the world.

The last week of October is punctuated with runway shows, exhibitions, and workshops held in some of Venice's top hotels. In conjunction with Venice Fashion Week, now at its 11th edition, the city’s many artisanal ateliers are open to the public, allowing visitors to take a peek at the creative process behind many historic crafts — tailors, goldsmiths, typographers, paper artists and glassmakers invite people inside their workshops to showcase how century-old traditions are kept alive, offering a unique glimpse behind the scenes.

Run the Venice Marathon

Venice Marathon
Venice’s elegant architecture guides runners to the finish line during the city’s annual marathon. Photo: Alexander P Bell

The first Italian marathon to be internationally recognized, the Venice Marathon gathers sports enthusiasts for a race through some of the city’s most fascinating sights each year in October. The challenging race departs in Stra and stretches to Venice’s city center — the final miles are especially memorable, as athletes run along the waterfront promenade, offering breathtaking views of the Venetian lagoon before reaching the finish line in Riva dei Sette Martiri. After running over historic bridges across the canals and entering Piazza San Marco via a platform built for the occasion.

Angelo Zinna
Angelo Zinna, Florence-based writer/photographer, authored 'Un Altro Bicchiere di Arak,' contributes to Lonely Planet, BBC, New Lines, Condé Nast Traveler, and has explored Europe, Asia, Oceania, the Caucasus and Central Asia.