Venice is famously crowded with tourists year-round, and August is no exception. Many art-lovers and celebrities flock here for the Venice Biennale and the world-famous Venice International Film Festival, which usually takes place at the end of August.
If you plan on being in Venice in August, you'll likely get caught up in some of the activity around the month's famous and lesser-known events. If there's something you don't want to miss, then be sure to reserve your hotel room, transportation, and event tickets well in advance.
The Venice Architecture Biennale which would have taken place in 2020 has been postponed to 2021, and the Art Biennale which would have taken place in 2021 has been postponed to 2022.
The months-long contemporary art extravaganza that is the Venice Art Biennale begins in June during odd-numbered years and runs through November. The entire city comes alive, with art exhibits, installations, lectures and happenings in venues across the city. In even-numbered years, the Biennale is dedicated to architecture, and large-scale installations appear all over the islands.
This national holiday, held on August 15, marks the peak of the summer holidays for most Italians. Ferragosto, which falls on the religious holiday of Assumption, is the time when local Venetians head to the beach, lakes, or mountains to escape the heat and mosquitoes that the height of summer brings. While most of Venice will remain open for the tourist business, you might find some smaller restaurants, bars, and shops closed during the week or two before or after August 15.
Venice Jazz Festival
The Venezia Jazz Festival has been postponed this year and will take place from October 26 to November 6, 2020.
There's always a major headliner at the prestigious Venezia Jazz Festival—past luminaries have included Sting, Pat Metheny, and Wynton Marsalis. Ticketed events are held across the city, but watch for impromptu jam sessions on piazzas and in bars and restaurants.
Marghera Village Estate
If you find yourself on the mainland on a sultry summer night, head to Piazza Mercato in the Marghera section of mainland Venice. Throughout the month of August, Marghera Village Estate hosts outdoor films in their summer program Cinema Sotto le Stelle, or "Movies Under the Stars." Many of the films shown even include those which are premiering at the Venice Film Festival.
The 2020 program has yet to be released as of July 10, 2020, but city officials have announced that it will take place this year. To get to Marghera from Venice, take the train from Santa Lucia Station on the island just one stop to Mestre—a 10-minute trip that costs about $1.50. From the Mestre Station, it's just a 15-minute walk to the Piazza Mercato in the town center.
Venice International Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world and also one of the most important. It starts in late August or early September, and stars turn out in full force on gondolas, water taxis, and red carpets. The prize given for the winning film is the prestigious Leon d'Oro—the Golden Lion—and past recipients have included Akira Kurosawa, Gillo Pontecorvo, Robert Altman, Ang Lee, and Sofia Coppola.
The festival itself takes place on the island of Venice Lido and tickets to screenings are tough to come by. But even if you don't see a premiering film, your chances of spotting a celebrity in Venice are markedly higher during the festival.
This year's festival takes place from September 2–12, 2020, so if you're visiting in August you'll just miss it.