Since 1895, Venice has been hosting La Biennale, one of the biggest and most prestigious contemporary arts expositions in the world. By way of its name, La Biennale is supposed to happen every two years. However, as the expo has grown over the years to include dance, music, theater, and more, the timing of La Biennale has become quite elastic.
The main part of the Biennale - the forum that showcases contemporary works from artists all over the world - takes place from June to November every other year in odd-numbered years. The site of the Biennale is the Giardini Pubblici (the Public Gardens), where permanent pavilions for more than 40 countries have been set up for the occasion. Other exhibitions, performances, and installations associated with the Biennale also take place around the city in various art spaces, museums, and galleries.
In addition to the arts expo, the Biennale umbrella includes a dance series, a kids' carnival (February), the Venice International Film Festival (September), a contemporary music festival, and a theatre festival. Since 1980, the Biennale has added the design world of architecture to its repertoire. The Architecture Biennale is held every two years in even-numbered years.
If you're visiting Venice when La Biennale is not in session, you can still see a lot of the works that have been featured in past expositions. Visit the Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande, where you can see displays of past exhibits and Biennale catalogues. Additionally, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, located in a grand villa in Dorsoduro, contains a trove of contemporary works from many artists that have been featured in past Biennales.
For more information on La Biennale, including exact dates of all of its different installments, visit the La Biennale website. In depth information on up-and-coming artists, which includes a blog, a forum, and video, is also available on the La Biennale Channel.