Culture24 picks out some of the top art biennials and festivals for 2010

By Ben Miller | 02 January 2010
A photo of a graphic showing letters in flames

Culture24's picks of the biennials, festivals and events to watch out for in 2010…

BUTA Festival, various venues, London, January 12 – March 7 (above)
Azerbaijan is a country most Europeans know little about, so the BUTA Festival of Azerbaijani Arts has been busily bridging the knowledge gap with an extensive and unusual programme – it's taken cross-cultural jazz to the Southbank Centre and overseen poetry and book readings inspired by the oil which sustains the Eurasian land's economy so far.

It resumes on January 12 (visit the Festival online for a full schedule) and features a series of concerts and an exhibition of work by Tair Salakhov, the visionary artist who introduced modernism to Russia.

A photo of the inside of a large building with people milling around

London Art Fair, Business Design Centre, Upper Street, London, January 13-17
The snow will have barely settled on 2010 by the time the doyens of UK art herald the first major date for the diary.

Opening the New Year in style with a fitting curtain-raiser is the London Art Fair (above, January 13-17).

After a record gallery turnout last year, more than 100 modern and contemporary venues will be descending on the Business Design Centre in Islington, which will welcome an estimated 22,000 visitors to the multi-disciplinary showcase.

Art Projects, a collection of 25 groups of emerging artists offering new work, features up-and-coming galleries from New York, Dresden and Munich this year, and Photo50 will host dozens of photography pieces.

A picture of a robotic light installation

Kinetica Art Fair, P3, London, February 4-7
The vivid robotic dream that is the Kinetica Art Fair (left) returns for a second year with another utterly atypical cast of creations, including a "family" of holographic light beings, an orchestral milk float, a giant vertical electronic wave and work from some of the sharpest minds in the kinetic art business.

Deutsche Borse Photography Prize, Photographers' Gallery, London, February 12 – April 18
British artists Anna Fox and Donovan Wylie are joined by American Zoe Leonard and France’s Sophie Ristelhueber on the shortlist for the £30,000 award.

Glasgow Festival of International Visual Art, various venues, Glasgow, April 16 – May 3
A torrent of biennials spring up as the year progresses, including this early one in Glasgow. Returning for a sixth year, the programme in Scotland's arty city is usually a vibrant one – keep an eye on the Festival website for details.

Alternative Fashion Week, Spitalfields Market, London, April 20-24
Alternative Fashion Week does exactly what it says on the tin by presenting 15 shows a day by new and undiscovered designers at Spitalfields Market (shows at 1.15pm daily).

It's played a key role in the regeneration of the Market during the last 15 years, weighing in with some exotic stalls full of clothes, textiles and "must-have accessories" (11am-5pm).

A photo of a circular hut in a forest covered in snow

Tatton Park Biennial, Tatton Park, Knutsford, May 8 – September 26
Tatton Park's Biennial of contemporary art (right) is a surefire open air highlight, placing up to 20 specially-commissioned works in the lush 1,000-acre Cheshire surroundings they’re inspired by.

Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Fesitval, St Paul's Church Gardens, Bedford Street, London, May 9
2010 marks the 348th year since Samuel Pepys created the idiotic Mr Punch clown, so self-styled "professors" of Punch and Judy are heading to St Paul's Church for the big day itself (10.30am-5.30pm, admission free).

A photo of a sculpture of an elf holding a tray

Whitstable Biennial, various venues, Whitstable, June 19 – July 4
The popular Biennial (left) returns with its heady mix of unusual locations, art installations, interventions and oysters in the well-to-do Kent seaside town.

Edinburgh Art Festival, various venues, Edinburgh, July 29 – September 5
2009 Turner Prize winner Richard Wright makes a special artwork in the towers of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art's Dean Gallery, and 2001 winner Martin Creed forms a permanent work on the Scotsman Steps for the expansive traipse through Edinburgh’s reverential trail of excellent galleries.

Art Lates, the after-hours programme which enjoyed notable success last year, is also worth staying out for.

Liverpool Biennial, various venues, Liverpool, September 18 – November 28
The organisers of Liverpool's all-conquering Biennial will be looking to lure the likes of Tracey Emin again. An announcement on the lineup is anticipated in the Spring, promising art which "affects body, spirit and mind" under the heading of Touched.

A photo of two orthodox Jews sitting at a table in a colourful, Bohemian-looking kitchen

Brighton Photo Biennial, various venues, Brighton, October 2 – November 14
New Documents is the theme chosen for the Brighton Photo Biennial (right) by curator Martin Parr, who's been scouring Europe, Asia and the Americas for a festival which will pin images all over the city to "reflect the immediacy of contemporary photography".

"This festival will be about the process of discovery," he adds, promising "exciting" and "cutting edge" contributions with a strong sense of adventure.

Check out Culture24's guide to art exhibitions coming up in 2010 and don't forget to keep up to speed with all the festivals, biennials and exciting events across the UK in 2010 with Culture24.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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