The Dubai Art Season is already well underway, and there’s so much more to come! But first, what exactly is the Dubai Art Season and why is it a culture vulture’s dream come true?
Kicking off its fifth edition this year, the Art Season is a two-month long, Dubai-wide celebration of all things cultural, across a variety of media and forms, from literature to manga. A Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) initiative, it kicked off with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature at the beginning of March and will end in April. With so much happening across the city, here are some of the Dubai Art Season events that you can look forward to:
Sikka Art Fair
Located in one of the city’s most well-known heritage sites, the SIKKA Art Fair is back for the eighth year in a row. This art fair aims to celebrate and provide a platform for artists who are based in and around the UAE, by providing them with the opportunity to showcase their work across a variety of art forms, from installations to paintings and more. SIKKA (as artsy types refer to it), is also known for its programme of performances, workshops, film screenings and live music, enjoyed from the comfort of cosy beanbags and upcycled seating. Running for ten days, head to SIKKA and get lost in the winding alleys as you discover new artworks at every turn, or simply wear something comfortable and chill out in the main courtyard as a local musician strums the day away.
A helpful tip is to leave the car at home! Public parking is limited, so hop on the Dubai Metro, hop off at the Al Fahidi stop and amble down Mussalla Road for about eight minutes. Alternatively, book a Careem and get 15% off two rides with the code SIKKA2018 (terms and conditions apply). There’s always plenty of workshops and activities for kids (it’s the exact opposite of a snooty and stuffy art fair!) so bring the young ones.
SIKKA also marks the start of Art Week in Dubai, seven days of art events across the city!
SIKKA Art Fair location: Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood
SIKKA Art Fair dates: 17 to 26 March 2018
Art Dubai is a globally renowned fair with a focus on the best contemporary art from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and other untapped markets from across the world. Now in its 12th edition, Art Dubai will showcase 105 galleries representing 48 countries in the main galleries, while Art Dubai Modern returns with its museum-grade pieces from the region and a programme of talks. Other returning features of Art Dubai include The Abraaj Group Art Prize (celebrating its tenth anniversary), Global Art Forum, Campus Art Dubai and a series of themed commissions. This year, Art Dubai will welcome a new gallery, Residents, that will host artists who will showcase work that they have completed during their residency in Dubai.
The fair will also have a series of workshops and guided tours for young children and teenagers alike, as well as special installation aimed solely at engaging children with art. Visit the Art Dubai website to book your place. As with SIKKA, parking within Madinat Jumeirah tends to fill up fast, but organisers usually have dedicated parking nearby and offer regular shuttle buses to fair-goers.
Art Dubai location: Madinat Jumeirah
Art Dubai dates: 21 to 24 March 2018
ART NIGHTS at Al Serkal Avenue and DIFC
Art Week continues with the traditional show openings at the two gallery hubs in the city – Al Serkal Avenue and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). While the shows do run for longer than Art Week, Art Night is a fantastic opportunity to visit the galleries on opening night (when they stay open for longer than usual), meet and mingle with the artists (many of whom will be present and more than willing to talk about their work with you), special pop-up installations, entertainment, interesting f&b options and more. Art Night is one of the art community’s favourite events and a wonderful way to interact with art in a fun and vibrant environment.
Art Night location: Al Serkal Avenue and DIFC Gate Village
Art Night dates: 19 March
Middle East Film & Comic Con
Keeping to their promise of celebrating all forms of art, the Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC) is another event under the Dubai Art Season 2018 initiative. This weekend-long event is a pop-culture lover’s dream, a place where you can get your hands on both popular and rare or limited editions of graphic novels, comics, manga and more; lovers of fantasy card games such as Magic: The Gathering can take part in tournaments; gamers can try their hand at the latest releases (as well as battle it out against their peers) and oh so much more! Previous years have also seen con-goers be treated to life-size displays from famous movies such as Iron Man and Star Wars and have their choice of film, TV and comic merchandise that is usually hard to find in Dubai. Comic Con Dubai also welcomes stars from the world of film, television and comics, that conduct panel discussions, talks and are available for photos as well. If comics aren’t quite your scene, however, it’s still worth visiting Comic Con to enjoy some of the fantastic cosplay by visitors…and maybe come in costume yourself and be a superhero for a day!
Comic Con location: Dubai World Trade Centre
Comic Con dates: 5 to 7 April
For design and ad professionals, students and enthusiasts in Dubai (and in fact, the region) there is no better event that -ING Creatives. The festival is an inspirational and educational three day long series of talks and workshops by some of the creative masterminds that are shaping our world. This year, the festival is set to welcome bigwigs from the likes of Nike, Walt Disney, National Geographic, Sagmeister & Walsh, JWT, Dreamworks, Google and Instagram (to name just a few) who will bring their inimitable knowledge, experience and opinions to Dubai. There will also be a Creative Market running alongside the talks and workshop programme, hosting stalls by upcoming artists from around the world while previous years have seen speakers also display and sell their works, or simply hang around for a chat!
-ING Creatives location: Dubai Design District
-ING Creatives dates: 11 to 13 April
World Art Dubai
If all the art and culture is making you feel like starting your collection (or simply picking up a piece for that space in your living room!) head to World Art Dubai. This fair brings affordable contemporary Middle Eastern (and global) art to Dubai, with pieces that range from 100$ to 20,000$. World Art Dubai features over 140 exhibitors (representing over 300 artists) from five continents, with works ranging from sculpture to digital art, photography and even wearable art, along with the more traditional forms of calligraphy and paintings. There will also be live entertainment during the fair, as well as live art demos, talks and workshops. In fact, head to their website to check out some of the pieces that will be on offer, along with prices.
World Art Dubai location: Dubai World Trade Centre
World Art Dubai dates: 18 to 21 April
Other Events Happening Around the City
- Van Gogh Alive: This interactive Van Gogh exhibition has been around the world and is stopping off in Dubai to allow the city to engage with the iconic Dutch painter in a whole new way! A must for both fans of the painter and to view firsthand how technology is shaping the way we interact with art. 11 March to 23 April, Dubai Design District
- Hamdan International Photography Award (HIPA): This prestigious photography competition attracts entrants both locally and internationally, all shooting according to certain themes, resulting in breathtaking and powerful photographs. March 2018
- Art Emaar: A set of curated and immersive installations that aim to engage the public with art. Until 23 March, Downtown Dubai
- Apple: The lifestyle, tech and creative platform that is the Apple brand will bring a series of creative programmes to Dubai, covering a range of digital media and disciplines. Until 23 March, Apple Dubai Mall
We still have two weeks left to go in March, so why don’t you check out these other events happening in the city? Or take advantage of the fantastic weather and enjoy some of these outdoor activities in Dubai Marina!