The 40 best things to do in the world in 2020 have been revealed by Time Out, and the top spot goes to Nature Urbaine at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, the world’s biggest urban rooftop farm, opening this spring. It is followed by the long-awaited opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures coming to Los Angeles.
The Time Out DO List features the 40 very best experiences, events and new openings in the world in 2020, curated by Time Out’s global network of local expert editors and contributing writers. Celebrating the most unique, authentic, timely, cultural and simply brilliant things to do this year, the result is the essential bucket list to help people go out better, anywhere in the world: timeout.com/best-things-to-do-in-the-world.
Trends brought to light by The DO List include exhibitions shining the spotlight on real and fictional heroes, with Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition in Copenhagen and Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser in London; light imitating art with immersive, multi-sensory digital art experiences taking over huge spaces in Bordeaux, Melbourne, Macao, Mexico City, Singapore and Moscow; and the opening of some seriously impressive spaces years in the making such as the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the National Aquarium in Abu Dhabi.
James Manning, Global Projects Editor at Time Out, says: “The Time Out DO List is our essential guide to the best things happening in 2020 around the world, chosen by Time Out’s expert editors and independent local writers, whose everyday mission is to help people go out better. It includes stunning new museums and attractions, long-awaited comebacks for much-loved festivals and venues, once-in-a-lifetime chances to view incredible artwork and more. This is the only list you need to discover the world’s coolest cultural experiences in 2020.”
Time Out, the global media and leisure brand that has helped people go out better since 1968, today curates the best things to do in 327 cities in 58 countries across websites, mobile, magazines, live events and Time Out Market.
1. Nature Urbaine at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles – Paris, France
The biggest urban rooftop farm in the world will open this spring on the rooftop of Paris’s historic Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. The social enterprise will host workshops and rent out land, as well as supply produce to a restaurant and bar run by the renowned Le Perchoir team.
2. Grand Egyptian Museum – Giza, Egypt
Set to be the biggest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilisation, this colossal museum has been under construction since 2002. It will be home to 100,000 artefacts, 50,000 of which will be on a rotating display – including all 5,000 pieces of King Tutankhamun’s funerary treasure.
3. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures – Los Angeles, USA
The Academy - of Oscars fame - will finally open its museum dedicated to motion-picture history in 2020. Guests will be able to see Dorothy’s ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ alongside Jack Nicholson’s corduroy jacket from ‘The Shining’, as well as an Hayao Miyazaki retrospective.
4. Edge – New York, USA
Opening in March at 1,131 feet high, Edge will be the tallest man-made viewing platform in the western hemisphere, giving visitors panoramic views of New York City from a triangular platform at the top of the 20 Hudson Yards building.
5. Bassins de Lumières – Bordeaux, France
In April, Bassin de Lumières will turn an abandoned submarine base in Bordeaux into the largest digital art centre in the world, covering a huge expanse of walls and water in immersive works from major artists.
6. Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition – Copenhagen, Denmark
From March 23 until October 3, Nick Cave fans - and those wanting to learn more about the rockstar, writer and cultural icon - can explore 50 years’ worth of artwork, handwritten lyrics, literature, photos, videos and more at Copenhagen’s Royal Library.
7. Tacones Manoli – Madrid, Spain
This immersive theatre show takes place throughout 2020 in a three-storey palace in the city centre, where guests are given a white mask on arrival to become an anonymous voyeur of the mix of flamenco dance and guitars, extravagant costumes and imagery from the poetry of Federico García Lorca.
8. Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture – Galway, Ireland
2020’s European Capital of Culture, Galway will embrace the theme of ‘Making Waves’ by hosting a year-long programme of music, workshops, exhibitions, theatre and much more, including a conversation with Margaret Atwood on International Women’s Day.
9. Arctic Bath Hotel – Lapland, Sweden
Arctic Bath will be a unique, luxury floating hotel and spa in the heart of Swedish Lapland on the Lule River, with a focus on eco-conscious indulgence and bathing holes carved directly out of the frozen river in winter. Visitors can gaze at the Northern Lights, take a husky sled tour, go ice fishing and much more when it opens later January.
10. Glastonbury Festival – Somerset, UK
Celebrating 50 years since the very first Glastonbury Festival, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Diana Ross are some of the headliners already announced, with a final release of returned tickets in April.
11. Torlonia Marbles exhibition – Rome, Italy
Nearly 100 marble statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi - dating from the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD - that have been hidden from public view for decades will go on display at the Capitoline Museum from March 25 to January 2021.
12. Nyege Nyege Festival – Uganda
Perhaps the best new festival of recent years, Uganda’s Nyege Nyege – which translates as the uncontrollable urge to dance – takes over an abandoned hotel resort at the source of the River Nile in September, for a truly progressive fusion of contemporary and traditional acts from across East Africa and beyond.
13. Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser – London, UK
From June, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum will be home to a major immersive exhibition dedicated to Lewis Carroll’s Alice. The most comprehensive Alice exhibition ever, this dive down the rabbit hole will uncover the books’ impact on film, theatre, ballet, fashion, art and beyond.
14. Kanamara Matsuri – Kawasaki, Japan
Japan’s ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’ takes place on April 5, and its origin is more serious than visitors might think, commemorating the sex workers who stopped through Kawasaki to ask for protection from STIs at the city’s main shrine. This year will see an extended English-language programme explaining the event, with plenty of Instagrammable moments.
15. National Museum of African American Music – Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Opening in summer 2020, this major new museum will explore the huge importance African American musicians have had on the sound of America.
16. Expo 2020 Dubai – Dubai, UAE
Kicking off on October 20, this huge, six-month event billed as the world’s greatest show is the modern-day equivalent of the World’s Fair, and the first time an Expo will be held in the Middle East, Africa or South Asia.
17. Glasgow International – Glasgow, Scotland, UK
One of the fastest-rising and most respected young biennial visual art extravaganzas in the world, GI includes around 100 shows from April 24 until May 10.
18. teamLab SuperNature Macao – Macao
At The Venetian Macao from January 21 to the end of March, SuperNature is a typically immersive, ‘gram-worthy art experience from Japan’s teamLab collective.
19. Grace Jones’ Meltdown – London, UK
The annual Meltdown arts and culture festival at London’s Southbank Centre will this year be curated by visionary singer-songwriter, actress and fashion icon Grace Jones. Taking place from June 12 to 21, the line-up is yet to be confirmed but will surely not disappoint with Jones at the helm.
20. Rio: World Capital of Architecture 2020 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro has been chosen by Unesco to become the very first World Capital of Architecture in 2020, and will see architectural walking tours, the World Congress of Architects and more throughout the year.
21. Midnight Sun Film Festival – Sodankylä, Finland
This small town in the Arctic Circle celebrates cinema and 24-hour sunlight from June 10-14, with screenings throughout the day and night.
22. MassArt Art Museum (MAAM) – Boston, USA
A new contemporary art destination opens on February 22 in Boston, offering free admission to make established and up-and-coming artists’ work accessible.
23. Lisbon: European Green Capital 2020 – Lisbon, Portugal
Bringing Lisbon’s commitment to eco-sustainability to life with a packed calendar of events and carbon-neutral celebrations during 2020.
24. Ambiente Landscape Hotel, Sedona – Arizona, USA
North America’s first ‘landscape hotel’, a work of art and hospitality that virtually disappears into Sedona’s iconic red rocks.
25. The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation Museum – Athens, Greece
An 11-floor contemporary and classical art museum, recently opened in Athens to showcase the impressive collection of shipowner Basil Goulandris and his wife Elise.
26. James Turrell: Passages of Light at Museo Jumex – Mexico City, Mexico
Best known for his large-scale works filling whole rooms with colourful light, this exhibition showcases James Turrell’s career highlights and new projects, on display until March 29.
27. The Unconformity – Tasmania, Australia
A biennial celebration in October of contemporary arts where visitors are encouraged to look both backwards and forwards in time through music, visual arts and performance.
28. The National Aquarium – Abu Dhabi, UAE
The largest aquarium in the Middle East will open by the end of 2020, with ethical conservation and education front-of-mind when sourcing the inhabitants.
29. Reggae Sunsplash – Jamaica
The return of the legendary ’70s Jamaica festival in November after a 14-year hiatus, celebrating today’s vibrant reggae scene and icons of the genre.
30. Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival – Joujouka, Morocco
A micro-festival from the Sufi trance musicians who pass their skills from generation to generation, and inspired Timothy Leary and Brian Jones in the ’60s, running from June 5-7.
31. ElBulli 1846 – Girona, Spain
Following its 2011 closure, one of the most innovative restaurants in the world is back in February – this time as a centre of culinary research rethinking gastronomy and exploring the future of food.
32. AREA15 – Las Vegas, USA
An entertainment, retail, dining and art space anchored by interactive art collective Meow Wolf, featuring axe-throwing, a mixed-reality arcade, cocktails and more.
33. NBA All-Star 2020 – Chicago, USA
Watch squads made up of the league’s superstars pitted against one another, either courtside or at one of many All-Star weekend parties around Chicago in February.
34. The Lume – Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne’s new digital art gallery is set to open in autumn 2020, with a local team bringing immersive art projections to a 2,000-square-metre space.
35. Babes Ride Out – California, USA
The largest gathering of female motorcyclists in history: a celebration of friendship, discovery and adventure, in October.
36. Circle of Light – Moscow, Russia
The world’s greatest light designers and audiovisual art experts take over the city each September, covering the city’s biggest cultural landmarks, parks and rivers with projections and more.
37. La Paloma – Barcelona, Spain
The reopening of a century-old dancehall after 14 years, La Paloma is set to reclaim its place as the quintessential Barcelona party hub.
38. #futuretogether at Gardens By The Bay – Singapore
Running from January 16 to March 31, the #futuretogether art exhibition will take over Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay nature park with multisensory installations and more.
39. Ultra Music Festival 2020 – Miami, Florida, USA
This three-day outdoor party (returning to its original home for 2020, March 20-22) blends live performances and DJ sets with eye-popping illuminated displays.
40. Porthcawl Elvis Festival – Wales, UK
Attracting tens of thousands of revellers to the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl in September, this loveable eccentric festival celebrates all things Elvis with tribute acts galore.