Visual art shows bring a city to life. Artists from across the country—and around the world—bring their latest and greatest masterpieces. A sprawling display of myriad styles takes over the ho-hum or ordinary city life. The population swells as eager visitors converge upon vibrant creations of shape, texture, and color. Food trucks and local caterers come out in droves to feed the artistic-minded guests with all manner of local delicacies.
For college students, art shows add even more culture and excitement to the semester. Check out the schools near our top picks of annual art shows:
Art Basel (Miami Beach, Florida)
For a week each year, more than 250 of the world’s leading galleries participate in Art Basel, an exhibition of top tier paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, films, and editioned works. With nine sectors of work and talent features from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America, spread between public installations and galleried displays, Art Basel offers a premier glimpse of the worldwide modern and contemporary art scene.
Nearby colleges: Everest Institute, Saint Thomas University, Florida Memorial University, Florida International University, Millennia Atlantic University, Florida National College, Johnson & Wales University-North Miami, Carlos Albizu University Miami, Fortis College Miami, Barry University, University of Miami, Miami Dade College, Brown Mackie College Miami, Al Miami International University of Art and Design
Artisphere (Greenville, South Carolina)
This annual weekend festival welcomes the summer heat with an open-air showcase of local, national and international talent. Artisphere includes exhibits of award-winning pieces, musical performances, children and youth art projects, and a celebration of international and multicultural harmony in Greenville. The festival’s goal? To bring the community together through the arts.
Nearby colleges: Furman University, Bob Jones University
ArtPrize (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Among the world’s most-attended art events, ArtPrize spans across 170 venues and is entirely free and open to the public. Two grand prizes, each valued at $200,000, are awarded every year; one decided by public vote, one awarded by a panel of jurors. The competition is open to any artist 18 years of age or older, meaning the works displayed—usually around 1,500 individual submissions—range from high-end gallery pieces to kitsch and playful folk art. ArtPrize describes itself as “unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike.”
Nearby colleges: Calvin College, Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Valley State University, Aquinas College, Cornerstone University, Davenport University
King Street Art Festival (Alexandria, Virginia)
On a fall weekend, the historic downtown of Alexandria, Virginia, transforms into an artist-class gallery of international paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, ceramics and more—like 82 open studios for observing artists at work, dancing to live music and getting creative using DIY materials. King Street Art Festival attendees may view, purchase and create artwork among the company of those accomplished in the art world.
Nearby colleges: University of Maryland, Washington Adventist University, George Mason University, Stratford University, University of the District of Columbia, Trinity Washington University, Potomac College Washington, Catholic University of America, Howard University, Gallaudet University, American University, Marymount University, The Art Institute of Washington, Georgetown University, George Washington University
POW! WOW! Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Pow Wow—a Native American term for a gathering that celebrates culture, music, and art. Each Valentine’s Day week, more than a hundred local and international artists descend upon the Kaka’ako district of Honolulu to create murals across and every surface for Pow! Wow! Hawaii. The project has grown across media, cities, and nations to become an annual worldwide celebration of public art and sculpture.
Nearby colleges: University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University of Honolulu
Three Rivers Arts Festival (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Arranged as a free, public display and environment for creativity, dialogue, ideas, and participation, the Three Rivers Arts Festival showcases multidisciplinary visual and performing arts. The festival, running for more than 50 years, encourages impactful, artful experiences that contribute positively to the quality of life across the community. Guest artists include local talent and world-class prestige—past featured artists include The Black Keys and poet Allen Ginsburg.
Nearby colleges: Oakbridge Academy of Arts, Robert Morris University, La Roche College, Chatham University, University of Pittsburgh, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Sanford Brown Institute Pittsburgh, Point Park University, Everest Institute Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University, Carlow University, Bradford School
If you’re an artist yourself, or simply an art-lover, consider schools located near world-class art festivals. You’ll find rich cultural opportunities not only during the festival itself but year-round. For many cities, art appreciation is built into the very framework of the community.
Interested in any of these schools near these festivals? Use our free college match tool to check out your acceptance odds at these and other colleges around the country!