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Event Category: Arts Festivals

The arts are as vast and varied as humanity itself. Our cultures and religions, and hopes, fears and desires are all expressed through the myriad forms of art that, just like us, keep evolving and expanding. No wonder then that arts festivals are major events in a country’s calendar.

Whether it’s just to keep yourself entertained, or to enrich your understanding of a destination and its people, festivals of art will often leave you with richer and more memorable travel experiences.

Arts and Art Festivals

Sometimes arts festivals are understood as encompassing the arts at large, whereas events which tend to focus on the visual arts are often called art (in the singular) festivals or art exhibitions – or lowbrow art versus highbrow art. At Travel Begins at 40, we are no brow at all and love everything. From the fine, visual and plastic arts to the performing and decorative arts and architecture, and from ethnic and religious arts to avant-garde and experimental arts, let yourself be surprised, amused or challenged wherever you travel.

Fringe festivals

Fringe festivals are events where the style or subject matter of the arts presented are experimental, and it’s the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of the world’s largest arts festivals, where the term comes from. Fringe festivals can now be found all over the world such as the Rainforest Fringe Festival in Borneo.

Art Biennale and Triennale

Occurring only once every two and three years, an art biennale and triennale sometimes make for the largest and most important art gatherings in the world, such as the famous Venice Biennale. But also some of these lesser known rare events are much worth attending, of which the Setouchi Triennale in Japan is a case in point. Make sure you plan them into your travels well ahead of time because if you miss one, it’ll be a long wait.

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May 2019

Venice Biennale 2019 (La Biennale di Venezia)

May 11 - November 24
Venice Venice,Italy
Venice Biennale Italy

From May to November, the Venice Biennale (la Biennale di Venezia in its original Italian, and in English also called the Venice Biennial) is one of the world’s most prestigious cultural happenings, famous for displaying new trends and launching the international careers of many an artist and architect. For every new edition, the management of the Venice Biennale select top curators from all over the world to organise the Biennale's pioneering art exhibitions. The first Venice Biennale was held in…

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July 2019

Setouchi Triennale 2019, Japan

July 19 - August 25
Setouchi islands Japan
Setouchi Triennale Japan

Every three years the Setouchi Triennale, one of Japan’s biggest festivals of modern art, takes place in the south-west of the country. Come spring this exceptional celebration...

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August 2019

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019

August 2 - August 26
Edinburgh Fringe Box Office, 180 High Street
Edinburgh,EH1 1QSUnited Kingdom
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Edinburgh Fringe

One of the largest arts festivals in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival takes place in the Scottish capital from 2 to 26 August, 2019. Marking its 72nd anniversary, this year sees some 3,841 shows performed in the world’s oldest fringe festival, that runs alongside the Edinburgh Festival 2019. Expect theatre, cabaret, musicals, circus, comedy, dance, spoken words and more than 700 free performances (as well as 404 pay-as-you-like shows), with just over 2,000 premieres, as the world takes to…

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Edinburgh Festival (Edinburgh International Festival)

August 2 - August 26
Edinburgh Festival The Hub, Castlehill
Edinburgh,EH1 2NEUnited Kingdom
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Edinburgh Festival

Featuring 2,600 artists from 40 countries, the Edinburgh Festival, or Edinburgh International Festival, kicks off on 2 August, 2019. This year’s...

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Eugene O’Neill Festival, Danville, California

August 24 - September 29
Tao House Danville,CA94526-0402United States + Google Map
Eugene O’Neill Festival

Each autumn the town of Danville in Tri-Valley, California hosts the Eugene O’Neill Festival to celebrate the works of America’s premier playwright and Nobel prize winner...

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Venice International Film Festival 2019

August 28 - September 7
Lido, Lido di Venezia
Venice,Italy
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Venice International Film Festival

The Venice International Film Festival, officially called Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica, is the world’s oldest film festival. Every year you can indulge here in the best of international cinema while rubbing shoulders with silver screen celebrities. This year’s 76th edition of the Venice Film Festival will, as usual, take place on the Lido, the little island next to Venice. With its first edition going back all the way to 1932, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest one in the…

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September 2019

Derby Festé 2019, Street Festival

September 27 - September 28
derby derby,derbyshireUnited Kingdom

The streets of Derby will resound with dance, music, comedy and contemporary circus this September, as Derby Festé hits the ground running for a thirteenth successive year. Some 30,000 people expected to flock to the city for the festival. Viewed as one the largest cultural street parties in the Midlands, Derby Festé is renowned for its innovation. For its 2019 edition, the festival will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing, coinciding with the new moon that falls on…

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Durga Puja Festival 2019, India

September 29 - October 8
All over the Indian subcontinent
Durga Puja Festival India

Durga Puja, one of the most important festivals for Hindu Bengalis, is the biggest yearly event in Kolkata and known as the Carnival of the East. Usually taking place in September or October, this multi-day festival celebrates the victory of good over evil with elaborate displays of the goddess Durga, colourful processions, artfully crafted clay idols and sumptuous meals. Reminiscent of the spectacular Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, people place elaborately crafted idols of the 10-armed goddess Durga at prominent places in…

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October 2019

Turner Prize 2019 at the Turner Contemporary

October 1, 2019 - January 31, 2020
Margate, Rendezvous
Margate,CT9 1HGUnited Kingdom
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Turner Prize at the Turner Contemporary Margate

The prize and the gallery that were both named for artist J M W Turner will be brought together in 2019, when the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate hosts the prestigious Turner Prize. Turner Prize Nominees Four of the most exciting artists working right now will be shortlisted based on an outstanding exhibition that has taken place the previous year; the names of the artists have not been announced yet, but it is expected that a statement will be made…

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Cheltenham Literature Festival, 2019

October 4 - October 13
cheltenham, 109-111 Bath Road
Cheltenham,GL53 7LSUnited Kingdom
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Cheltenham Literature Festival

Could there be a more appropriate setting for The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival than the historic Regency spa town of Cheltenham? Originally held in the town hall, the festival was the world’s first literary festival. It forms a key part of the Cheltenham Festivals season. The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019 Highlights This year, marking the 70th anniversary of one of the UK's leading literary festivals, will see some 900 writers, including…

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Isle of Wight Literary Festival, 2019

October 10 - October 13
Isle of Wight isle of wightUnited Kingdom
Isle of Wight Literary Festival

Now running for eight years the Red Funnel Isle of Wight Literary Festival is a major literary event in the south of England. Over four days, in excess of 60 writers will present their latest works. In the past the event has attracted such luminaries as Andrew Marr, Dame Jenni Murray and Val McDermid hopping to the Island.   Topics range from crime to travel, and history to current social and political issues. First time authors will share tables with seasoned…

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Nabana no Sato Winter Light Festival Japan 2020

October 15, 2019 - March 31, 2020
Nabana no Sato, 270 Urushibata, Komae
Kuwana City,Mie511-1144Japan
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Japan light tunnel

Nabana no Sato, a botanical garden in the Japanese prefecture of Mie, is home each year to one of the country’s best and biggest winter light festivals. During several months, magical light tunnels, animated light shows and millions of LED lights immerse Nabana no Sato into an endless sea of light. Nabana no Sato flower park and botanical gardens The popular Nabana no Sato flower park comprises of several sections each dedicated to flowers. Its impressive number of flower varieties…

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Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2019

October 23 - October 27
Various venues in Ubud Ubud, Bali,Indonesia
Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Bali

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (often called the Ubud Writers Festival), one of the best literary festivals in the world, is held in the central Bali town of Ubud in October and will celebrate its 16th year as what has become Southeast Asia’s leading festival of words and ideas. A yearly pilgrimage for word lovers worldwide, the Ubud Writers Festival transcends cultural and physical borders, inviting both artists and audiences to enjoy and participate in public discussions, intimate literary…

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November 2019

White Temple Thailand (Wat Rong Khun) Light Fest 2019

November 22 - December 22
Wat Rong Khun, ตำบล ป่าอ้อดอนชัย อำเภอเ มืองเชียงราย
Chiang Rai,Chiang Rai57000Thailand
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White Temple Light Fest Thailand

Thailand is pulling out all the stops from 22 November to 22 December when the inaugural Wat Rong Khun Light Fest will light up northern Thailand’s already very bright White Temple with a world-class multimedia laser extravaganza.  Dubbed one of the kingdom's most recognised Thai temples, Wat Rong Khun will soon become even more recognisable. In an illuminating effort to attract more tourists to the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai, its famous landmark White Temple will be the subject…

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Amsterdam Light Festival 2019

November 28, 2019 - January 19, 2020
Amsterdam Amsterdam,Netherlands + Google Map
Amsterdam Light Festival

The streets and canals of Amsterdam will once more become illuminated with the seventh Amsterdam Light Festival this winter...

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December 2019

Wonderfruit Festival 2019,Thailand

December 12 - December 16
The Fields, Siam Country Club
Pattaya,ChonburyThailand
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Wonderfruit Festival Thailand

Within just a few years, the Wonderfruit Festival has risen to become one of the most anticipated festivals in Thailand blending music and gastronomy with wellness...

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Harbin Ice Festival China 2020 Extravaganza

December 25, 2019 - February 25, 2020
Harbin Harbin,China + Google Map
Harbin Ice Festival

Once mostly a regional affair, the Harbin Ice Festival, China - or the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival...

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February 2020

Hong Kong Arts Festival 2020

February 13, 2020 - March 14, 2020
Different venues in Hong Kong Hong Kong + Google Map
Hong Kong Arts Festival

International top artists giving world class performances ranging from the classical to the avant-garde, and the familiar to the surprising – the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2020 is this vibrant city’s premier cultural happening. Organised since 1973, the festival is now in its 48th edition and has grown into the territory’s biggest arts event of the year drawing thousands of spectators. What is the Hong Kong Arts Festival? During the four weeks of the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2020, leading…

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