With spring in full bloom and a calendar full of events, May is set to be one of the year’s best months to travel. The art and design worlds will, of course, flock to the Venice Biennale, which celebrates its 58th edition this year. Bucharest and the Austrian city of Graz will each host a design festival, and in Japan, the Setouchi Triennale will draw a bevy of art and design aficionados to the picturesque Seto Inland Sea. Meanwhile, Vivid Sydney returns to transform this Australian metropolis into a hub for digital art, music, design, and more. If you haven’t starting planning a trip yet, this is the time to do so. Read on for AD's tips on where to stay, what to do, and where to play.
May 11 marks the official kickoff of the Biennale di Venezia’s 58th International Art Exhibition. Titled “May You Live in Interesting Times,” this year’s edition will include 91 countries, five of which are participating for the first time. As part of the festivities, the Giudecca Art District will launch as the city’s first permanent art quarter. We recommend staying on Giudecca Island at the iconic Belmond Hotel Cipriani, which is partnering with Uruguayan artist Pablo Atchugarry for a special sculptural installation. The picturesque pink property is blissfully removed from Venice’s crushing tourist crowds, but just a seven-minute ride away via the hotel’s private boat.
Vivid Sydney—the massive annual festival of light, music, and ideas—returns to the land Down Under with a host of events that will draw culture vultures and design enthusiasts from around the world. This year, Spike Lee will share movie-making insights, concerts by The Cure and FKA Twigs will rock the city, and light projections will turn the Sydney Opera House into a giant work of digital art. If you go, check into the hip, new Paramount House Hotel, which recently opened in the old Paramount film studio headquarters in Surry Hills. For dinner, book a table at Bennelong or one of Sydney’s other high-design restaurants.
Austria’s second-largest city and UNESCO Cities of Design is putting on its annual Design Month Graz from May 10 through June 9. This year’s focus will be on Women and Design, with an aim of rectifying the misunderstandings and clichés about gender in the design industry. If you go, you might want to extend your stay in Austria and spend a few days exploring Vienna or Salzburg, which are just two and three hours away, respectively.
You might not think of Bucharest as a design destination, but Romanian Design Week draws 30,000 visitors every year for presentations by more than 100 designers. This year’s event will take place from May 17 through May 26. In addition to the main exhibition, there will be lots of satellite events hosted by design studios, showrooms, boutiques, art galleries, and creative hubs. Bucharest once had a reputation as the “Paris of the East,” and though not much of the original Art Nouveau architecture in the Old City remains, you can still find some of the city’s charm at the Cismigiu Gardens. Also be sure to visit the Palace of the Parliament, which is the largest parliamentary building in the world.
Japan’s Seto Inland Sea is coming onto the map in a big way this year. We named it one of the top 20 places to travel in 2019, all because of the Setouchi Triennale. It technically kicks off on April 26, but we recommend going in May, when it will likely be a bit calmer. Taking place across three seasons and spread across 12 islands, including Naoshima, it aims to transform the region into a “sea of hope.” We recommend going with InsideJapan Tours, which will help guests arrive in style via yacht charters.