The Eiffel Tower’s new glass floor
In October the world’s most Parissy thing unveiled a brand new way for Parisians to look down on people. The Eiffel Tower’s shiny new glass floor, part of a £24 million upgrade project, has been a spectacular hit with visitors, despite being a mere 200 feet up the ‘Iron Lady’ (that’s around petticoat level).
Hamlet world tour
All the world’s stages
To celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, in April London’s Globe Theatre dispatched a touring production of ‘Hamlet’. Its mission: to stage the tragedy in every single country on the planet before 2016. Time Out London Theatre editor Andrzej Lukowski said at the time: ‘It’s a classically overambitious British wheeze… It’s hard not to root for [their] sheer chutzpah.’
The ‘Globe to Globe’ project is currently hopping the production around South America, and has already been or not to been in more than 60 countries. Just 145 to go. Get thee to a Burundi!
Umbrellas of defiance
What began as a handy bring-along to defend against tear-gas-happy riot police has unfurled into democracy’s new logo…
Time Out Hong Kong editor Anna Cummins: ‘As the Occupy Central protests gripped the city, amid the clashes and tension arose something slightly more unexpected – art. The streets in Admiralty are filled with chalk drawings, a ‘Lennon Wall’ full of motivational messages has sprouted organically and the cardboard ‘Umbrella Man’ [by 22-year-old artist Milk Tsang] has become one of the most photographed symbols of the movement.’
One hundred pictures of hot, naked men (with red hair), hotly being nakedly happy
London | New York | Sydney
How to kick an absurd playground prejudice in the pods. Photographer Thomas Knights has been spending the past year ‘rebranding the male ginger stereotype’ from something negative into something shirtless, ripped and smoking hot. Throughout 2014 he took his ‘Red Hot’ portrait series on tour, making a splash in London, New York and Paris – and raising thousands for anti-bullying charities on the way.
In London and want to see more? Thomas Knights’s new ‘Red Hot Box’ pop-up exhibition is in Covent Garden Tue Dec 16-Wed Dec 31.
Instant auto-knitwear generator
Time Out London Shopping & Style editor Katie Dailey: ‘London start-up Knyttan have invented an algorithm that turns any digital image – be it a photo, print or pattern – into a knitting pattern in an instant. This can feed directly into a commercial knitting machine – meaning a unique, bespoke knit in an hour. It’s like a 3D printer for jumpers, and it’s a very, very good idea. Although it may put a lot of grannies out of work.’
Daytime fireworks in the home of fireworks
New York-based artist Cai Guoqiang created this spectacle in negative over Shanghai’s Huangpu River in August. His trademark Pantone plumes were the first daytime fireworks display to be held in mainland China, and included pleasant flying jellyfish…
… some angels going about their business…
… and an unstoppable cauliflower of death.
Yet another What the-? How the-? video by OK Go
The jury’s still out on the Honda Ubi-Cub bum-scoots they’re riding (those are due to launch in 2015), but OK Go showed they’re not done yet with inventive tracking shots and mega-choreography in their video for ‘I Won’t Let You Down’: shot in Japan, using a helicopter-drone-mounted camera and with a jaw-dropping pixelated finale…
The vagina data-log
‘We love it when someone is brave enough to break the rules,’ says editor at Time Out Tokyo Annemarie Luck of artist Megumi Igarashi. Or more accurately, of Megumi’s genitals. They escaped from their owner as a faithful 3D data map earlier this year, and have since re-materialised in scrupulous detail as, among many other things, a cartoon character called Manko-chan (manko is a less-than-demure word for vagina in Japanese). Oh, and a canoe. They also got Megumi thrown in jail for violating Japanese obscenity laws. Naughty genitals.
Turning one of the world’s biggest bridges into the world’s biggest graphic equalizer
The Bay Lights’ 25,000 individually programmed LEDs were strung across the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge back in March 2013. But it was this year that Leo Villareal’s 9,260ft light show became a global sensation, with its fascinating, undulating patterns that took the spotlight away from that other famous San Francisco bridge whose name currently escapes us.
Summertime snowball fight
Ordinarily this is a terrible idea. But in Palace Square’s July heat St Petersburg passers-by couldn’t help but get stuck in to Pavel Braila’s ‘Cold Painting’ – snow gathered from the Sochi Winter Olympics and intended to symbolise Russia’s melting public finances. The silly-but-serious fun was all part of the epic European Biennial of Contemporary Art, aka Manifesta – which, with St Pete playing host, turned into a platform for artists to express their views in an increasingly chilly climate for political dissent.
Time Out’s hipster paradise in Portugual
You’ll have to excuse the shameless blowing of personal trumpets, but in May this year the clever, clever staff of Time Out Lisbon transformed the long-derelict Mercado de Ribeira into what has quickly become the headquarters of hip for the city (we’re blushing now, but it’s true). The Mercado’s cavernous gourmet food court is filled with 35 stalls, cafés and top restaurants – all vetted by Time Out Lisbon food critics – and its upstairs annex is poised to become one of Lisbon’s best music venues. Anyhow. Just sayin’.
Giving teenagers the vote
The campaign for Scottish independence electrified the nation’s engagement with politics in 2014, and caught a complacent British establishment well and truly off guard. Especially involved in the debate were Scotland’s 16- and 17-year-olds, who were being allowed to vote for the first time in a UK national election.
Time Out Edinburgh digital producer Niki Boyle: ‘Far from proving right those detractors who claimed teens wouldn’t vote out of either apathy or Brand loyalty, Scotland’s newly enfranchised displayed an inspiring level of maturity and engagement.’ (And for future reference, Westminster: it’s been estimated they voted ‘Yes’ to independence by some 70 per cent.)
Spanish design collective Boa Mistura found profundity in the pedestrian – with poetic lines painted on to Madrid streets. According to Time Out Madrid editor Marta Bac, ‘the locals loved it’. And, on some level, who hasn’t thought: ‘I felt like a lost astronaut in your moon-like beauty spots’ when gazing deep into an amber traffic light?
Or ‘My soul helms the wind of your breath’ when running for a bus?
Or ‘Sleep less and dream more’ while struggling with children and heavy shopping?
Or ‘We went to make love and it seemed as though we’d returned from war’ while making love during the middle of the day on a busy Spanish street?
Is it soupy noodles, or noodly soup? No matter. The staple Japanese broth (let’s call it broth) was causing a stir (CAUSING A STIR!) everywhere this year: Time Out Group Food editor Guy Dimond reported hour-long waits at hot new ramen bars in central London; hyped-up pop-ups and food trucks were ladling it on in cities across the USA; and, back on home turf, Tokyo went even more ra-mental than usual…
Portrait visible from space
Throughout October a tract of DC’s National Mall was given over to a portrait created from dirt and sand by artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada. National editor at Time Out North America Lauren Berger: ‘No question, “Out of Many, One” was a looker. The portrait could be seen from the top of the Washington Monument (and outer space). But just for one month?’
Modern Sky Festival
New York | Beijing
Time Out Beijing editor Lee Williamson: ‘The outdoor event in Central Park this October saw some of Beijing’s finest bands – Re-TROS, Second Hand Rose and Queen Sea Big Shark – play alongside big-name acts such as Cat Power. Needless to say, we’re all proud as punch that our budding music culture, which is still so young and wobbly-legged, is starting to make waves worldwide.’
A war memorial to remember
In this, the First World War’s centenary year, the Tower of London provided a stately canvas for the magnificent ‘Blood-Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation. In the weeks prior to Armistice Day on November 11, ceramic poppies began to bleed out from the castle walls, with the full company of 888,246 flowers – one for every British and Colonial serviceman who died in the conflict – eventually filling the moat with crimson. Paul Cummins and Tom Piper’s memorial struck a chord with the nation, with an estimated 5 million people visiting the piece during its 14-week lifetime.
Rotating gondola at Titlis ski resort
Yeah, but who knows why. To offset the vertigo with seasickness perhaps. To add a touch of centrifugal frisson to James Bond’s next Swiss ski-lift fight, maybe. Or possibly, as Time Out Switzerland editor Celeste Neill suggests, just ‘because nobody does a ski resort quite like Switzerland does’.
Burning all the ivory
Ivory destruction is controversial as a strategy – but this year China, end destination for some 70 per cent of the world’s contraband ivory, showed it meant business in eradicating the illegal trade in tusks. Following Beijing’s destruction of six tonnes of ivory in January, in May Hong Kong began its own bonfire of the vanities, incinerating 30 tonnes of tusks seized from smugglers – the world’s largest ever wholesale ivory-destruction project.
‘It’s meant to send a strong message to poachers and smugglers,’ says Time Out Hong Kong editor Anna Cummins, ‘although there’s a long way to go in combating the legal ivory trade that still thrives in the city.’
Awarding Steve McQueen and ‘12 Years a Slave’ the Oscar for Best Picture
Because, for once, it was. ‘This is not a black movie or a white movie,’ British director and producer Steve McQueen told Time Out London on the eve of his film’s Oscar-night success. ‘Now everyone knows the name Solomon Northup. His book is on the bestseller lists. It’s sold more copies in the past six months than it did in 150 years. I’m very proud of that.’
Scottish terriers at the Commonwealth Games
The opening ceremony of July’s Commonwealth Games came in for a fair amount of criticism (see ‘2014: The year in bad ideas’). But saving the day for the organisers was the bit where each participating nation was represented by a Scottish terrier – the tiniest-legged, least-athletic, most unable to keep up with their owners of all dog breeds.
Seven-mile human flag
In recent years Catalonia’s national day, September 11, has become the platform for imaginative protests for Catalan independence. This year saw record numbers – an estimated 1.8 million, who pulled off something a little bit miraculous. Demonstrators lined up for 11km along Barcelona’s Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and Avinguda Diagonal to form a Catalan flag that stretched to the horizon. With mass-mobilised artistry on this scale, no menacing Guy Fawkes masks were required. But the point was still made: the two lines converged on the central square, Plaza Glòries, to make a giant ‘V’ – for vote and victory – imprinted on the Barcelona grid.
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