Worldwide icon-chevron-right The 40 most exciting things to do in the world in 2020
The Lume, Melbourne
Photograph: Phillip Williams The Lume, Melbourne

The 40 most exciting things to do in the world in 2020

Stunning new art, epic museum openings, unmissable events: these are the coolest things happening anywhere on earth this year

By Time Out editors, Time Out contributors and James Manning
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For more than 50 years, Time Out’s experts have been hunting down the best things to do in the world’s greatest cities and coolest neighbourhoods. Every year brings more brand new attractions, events and things to do around the world than anyone could experience in a lifetime. Our local editors and contributors make it their mission to scope out the very best experiences out there and add them to their local DO List: the essential guide to the best things to do in every city, country and region we cover. These clued-up writers know their patch better than anyone. So who better to ask about the best things to do all over the world in 2020?

Welcome to the Time Out DO List. These are the things that are getting our editors excited in cities as far-flung as Miami, Melbourne and MadridFrom massive new museums to breathtakingly intimate music festivals via one-of-a-kind exhibitions and immersive artworks, this is your guide to the 40 very best experiences of their kind taking place anywhere in the coming 12 months.

We asked our local experts for unique experiences you simply couldn’t have elsewhere, taking place throughout the year and on every continent (okay, not Antarctica – maybe next year?). If you happen to have a year off work and an infinite supply of cash, we strongly suggest you try and tick off all 40. If not, you’ll find any of them is worth planning a trip around. And if you only manage one this year, we think you’ll leave with a big fat grin on your face and an enviable new post on your Instagram feed. Happy travels!

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

Discover the best of the city under one roof

Photograph: Lorenzo Tassone

Time Out Market

Time Out Market

For 50 years, Time Out has discovered and championed the best of city culture. Now that curation has leapt off our magazine and web pages and into physical reality as Time Out Market – a place where you can immerse yourself in the best stuff in your city, all with our expert editors’ Time Out seal of approval. We’re in Lisbon, New York, Chicago, Miami, Montreal and Boston, with more cities coming soon.

The very best things to do in the world in 2020

Agripolis, Paris Expo Porte de Versailles
Agripolis, Paris Expo Porte de Versailles
Photograph: Valode et Pistre Architectes ATL

1. Drop in and dine out at Paris’s epic urban farm

Paris, France

What is it? The future of urban agriculture. On May 1, the biggest rooftop farm in the world will open, boasting more than three acres of growing capacity atop Paris’s historic Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. Run by urban farming experts Agripolis, the farm (dubbed ‘NU’ or ‘Nature Urbaine’) is eventually expected to yield a daily harvest of nearly 1,000 organic fruits and vegetables, which will be harvested by 20 market gardeners.

Why go? The farm will be a social enterprise, hosting workshops and renting out land so Parisians can dig for victory. It will also supply produce to nearby businesses and food schemes. But this place is not just about introducing nature back to the city: it’s a place to get lunch, too. You’ll be able to taste the fruits (and veg) of this farm’s labour at a restaurant and bar run by the excellent Le Perchoir team, who run a clutch of Paris’s best rooftop bars. You’ll find their new eatery on the panoramic terrace of Pavilion 6, with idyllic views over the man-made meadows. Houssine Bouchama, Time Out Paris

Discover 101 more of the best things to do in Paris

Grand Egyptian Museum, opening 2020
Grand Egyptian Museum, opening 2020
Photograph: Djehouty, CC BY-SA 4.0

2. Check out King Tut’s enormous new pad

Giza, Egypt

What is it? When it finally opens this year, the Grand Egypt Museum (GEM) will be the biggest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilisation. It’s located in Giza, within snooping distance of the great pyramids and a 40-minute drive from the capital, Cairo. The foundation stone was laid in 2002 and its was hoped that the ribbon would be cut in 2015 – but the Arab Spring of 2010 created widespread unrest and work was put on hold. An army of builders is now back on-site round the clock, working towards a 2020 opening.

Why go? Costing $1 billion, this megastructure won’t be far off the size of the Louvre in Paris. The museum’s rotating display will comprise 50,000 artefacts, with that number again in storage. Most importantly, this will be the first time that all 5,000 pieces of King Tutankhamun’s funerary treasure will be displayed in the same place – death mask included. Following nearly a decade of uncertainty, Egypt is relatively safe again, receiving an increasing number of tourists with confidence, and the opening of the museum marks an exciting time for Cairo and Giza. Visit in 2020 and you’ll feel optimism in the air. Damien Gabet

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Dorothy's Slippers at the Academy Museum
Dorothy's Slippers at the Academy Museum
Phorograph: Joshua White

3. See Dorothy’s slippers at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Los Angeles, USA

What is it? After a couple of false starts, the Academy – of Oscars-hosting fame – is finally slated to open its monument to motion-picture history in 2020. Filling a Streamline Moderne former department store in Los Angeles with six stories of exhibition galleries and event spaces, they’re also tacking on a theatre in a massive Renzo Piano-designed orb. 

Why go? The chance to see Dorothy’s ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ or Jack Nicholson’s corduroy jacket from ‘The Shining’ might be reasons enough for cinema obsessives, but the opening exhibition is a real standout: a Hayao Miyazaki retrospective that dives into the animator and director’s 11 films through concept images and production cels, many of which will be on display outside of Studio Ghibli’s Japanese offices for the first time. The rest of the museum promises made-for-Insta moments thanks to a panoramic rooftop terrace and a virtual, flowery waterfall. Michael Juliano, Time Out Los Angeles

Discover 37 more of the best things to do in Los Angeles

The Edge Viewing Platform
The Edge Viewing Platform
Photograph: The Edge NYC

4. Gaze from the highest viewpoint in the western hemisphere

New York, USA

What is it? If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Spiderman without the feeling of impending doom that you’d most likely have from scaling an actual skyscraper, Edge is as close as you’re gonna get. Opening in March, this triangular platform at the top of New York’s new 20 Hudson Yards building will have panoramic views of the entire city, giving patrons the chance to peer down on their fellow New Yorkers walking below like ants. It’s also set to become 2020’s latest proposal hotspot – weddings, not business planning, but this is Manhattan so you never know.

Why go? The 1,131-foot-high-observation deck makes this the tallest man-made viewing platform in the western hemisphere, and unlike the Empire State Building or One World Observatory (which can sometimes feel a little bit cramped), this new venue is all about prioritising outdoor space. If you’re wary of heights but still want in on the action, there’s a champagne bar inside on the hundredth floor, where you can sip cocktails with the same 360-degree views of NYC but less vertigo. Collier Sutter, Time Out New York

Discover 101 more of the best things to do in New York

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Les Bassins de Lumieres
Les Bassins de Lumieres
Photograph: Erich Lessing

5. Enter a submarine base full of digital art

Bordeaux, France

What is it? When the Germans were forced out of France in 1945, they left their huge Atlantic Wall submarine bases behind them in Bordeaux. These massive, indestructible concrete buildings are set to turn museum from April 17, when the Bassins de Lumières takes up residence. A brand new digital art centre, it will display the works of major artists on the walls and across the four huge pits of this monumental structure. It’s set to be a completely immersive experience that includes gangways, water and going ‘ooh’ a lot.

Why go? Culturespaces, the art organisation behind the Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence and the Atelier des Lumières in Paris, is pushing its digital art expertise and creativity even further forward at this historical building. Covering a huge expanse of walls and water, Bassins de Lumières will be the largest digital art centre in the world. Starting with a one-year long digital Gustav Klimt exhibition, the new digi-gallery will also host a dedicated space to contemporary artists specialising in immersive arts. Go on – take the plunge! Elisabeth Blanchet

Discover 23 more of the best things to do in France

Nick Cave
Nick Cave
Photograph: Gosha Rubchinskiy

6. Celebrate an icon at the Nick Cave exhibition

Copenhagen, Denmark

What is it? A multimedia exhibition that delves deep into 50 years’ worth of work and creative output from Nick Cave: singer, writer, alternative rock frontman and total counterculture hero. There’s a treasure trove of over 300 things to gawp at – both Cave’s personal items and stuff from collectors and archives – including original artwork, handwritten lyrics, literature, photos and videos to make Cave fanboys and girls swoon. It all takes place across eight rooms in the aptly named Black Diamond, Copenhagen’s Royal Library, from March 23 until October 3.

Why go? It’s the first exhibition to peek inside the creative mind of one of contemporary music’s most beloved and imaginative songwriters. The show will also feature large-scale installations and the chance to hear brand new music by Cave and Warren Ellis, his right-hand man from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, composed especially for the exhibition. It’s set to be a sonic and visual voyage that explores both Cave’s past and his present. If you’re a devotee, you can’t miss it. Daniel Dylan Wray

Discover 17 more of the best things to do in Copenhagen

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Tacones Manoli
Tacones Manoli
Photograph: Lighuen Desanto

7. Enter Madrid’s flamenco fever dream

Madrid, Spain

What is it? It’s only been open for a hot minute, but no one in Madrid can talk about anything else but Tacones Manoli: an amazing immersive theatre show that takes place in a three-storey palace in the city centre. Following in the wake of internationally successful immersive theatre shows such as Punchdrunk’s ‘Sleep No More’, Tacones Manoli mixes flamenco dance and guitars with extravagant costumes and imagery from the poetry of Federico García Lorca. On arrival, you don a white mask to become an anonymous voyeur among the hallways, stairways and rooms, where wild surprises await. We don’t want to throw any spoilers your way, but you need to go along and experience it for yourself.

Why go? Flamenco is an integral part of Spain’s cultural heritage, and a big draw on the tourist trail – but Tacones Manoli wants you to experience it in a different way. When you set foot in the red foyer and see a coffin in the middle of the room, alongside three skeletons staring at you from the top of a pendulum clock, you’ll know that this is no bog-standard flamenco show. And if you’re not already convinced, Tacones Manoli is brought to you by LETGO: the production company behind Medias Puri and Uñas Chung Lee, two of the hottest clubs in Madrid. Josep Lambies, Time Out Madrid

Discover 55 more of the best things to do in Madrid

Galway Bay
Galway Bay
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Evangelos Kalampokis

8. Get cultured on Ireland’s west coast

Galway, Ireland

What is it? A year-long programme of musical performances, workshops, exhibitions and theatre events – making for a great excuse to visit the picturesque coastal city of Galway. Highlights include a conversation with Margaret Atwood on International Women’s Day, a light installation in a stunning Connemara landscape by Finnish artist Kari Kola, and a tour of the city’s windswept beaches accompanied by readings from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’. It’s all because Galway has been named European Capital of Culture 2020.

Why go? You’ll find yourself trying things you never thought you would, from a tightrope-walking workshop with Galway Community Circus to sheep-shearing with Project Baa Baa. And Galway is popping off right now: with a 20 percent student population, its vibrant, bohemian atmosphere is infectious, and the nightlife is buzzing. Take a walk to the breezy beach at Salthill in summer or cosy up beside a roaring fire at one of the city’s many excellent pubs in winter. Just don’t ever mention that Ed Sheeran song. Rebecca Hastings

Discover 21 more of the best things to do in Ireland

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Arctic Bath
Arctic Bath
Photograph: Anders Blomqvist

9. Brave the icy water at a floating Arctic hotel

Swedish Lapland, Sweden

What is it? Rising out of the water like a pile of artfully arranged logs, the Arctic Bath is utterly unique – and not just because of its striking design. From 2020 you’ll be able to find this floating hotel and spa – which promises luxury, comfort and a holistic approach to wellness – in the heart of Swedish Lapland on the Lule River. Local wood and stone give a relaxed, homely air to the various cabins and suites, while the in-house treatments, focussing as much on the mind as the body, make this 2020’s hottest opening for eco-conscious pampering.

Why go? As its name suggests, Arctic Bath’s bathing holes are carved directly out of the frozen river in winter, perfect for an invigorating, post-sauna dip. But if gazing at the Northern Lights after an hour-long massage feels a little indulgent, those seeking a more active break are catered for too. Think husky sled tours, ice fishing, cross-country skiing and getting immersed in Sámi culture. And if you visit in summer, the 24-hour daylight allows midnight bear spotting, moose safaris and nature hikes in the adjoining forests and mountains. Extremely cool. Derek Robertson

Discover 21 more of the best things to do in Sweden

The Pyramid Stage Glastonbury Festival
The Pyramid Stage Glastonbury Festival
Photograph: Jason Bryant

10. Mark 50 years of Glastonbury

Somerset, UK

What is it? Otherwise known as the greatest festival in the world (sorry, Burning Man, but you’re still nowhere close), this year the mighty Glastonbury is celebrating the big five-oh. Run by father-daughter duo Michael and Emily Eavis, Glasto is truly a family affair, and (unlike many mega-fests) is deeply committed to sustainability, environmental causes, helping out a bunch of brilliant charities and all attendees being excellent to each other. It also does all of that while half-cut on psychedelic pear cider, which is pretty impressive. 

Why go? Everyone needs to experience the wild, wonderful and ever so slightly unhinged wonderland that is a weekend at Worthy Farm at least once in their lives – and what better time than its fiftieth anniversary? Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift and Diana Ross are some of the big names already set to play, but if music isn’t your bag you’ll always find something here that is. Gong baths? Check. Fine dining? Check. People talking ’bout a revolution? If you’re in the politically charged Left Field, mega-check. There’s even a rumoured naked sauna field, a Glastonbury unicorn that veterans talk of in reverential tones. And if you don’t have tickets yet, you could still get lucky: there’s a final release of returned tickets in April. Set your phone reminder now. Leonie Cooper

Discover 31 more of the best things to do in England

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Torlonia Marbles
Torlonia Marbles
Photograph: Fondazione Torlonia

11. Wonder at a long-lost collection of classical sculpture

Rome, Italy

What is it? The Torlonia Marbles are a group of incredible marble statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi dating from the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. They’ve been hidden from public view for decades, but now nearly 100 marble sculptures and other artifacts from this fabled private collection are going on display for the Capitoline Museums’ blockbuster exhibition,’ The Torlonia Marbles: Collecting Masterpieces’, which runs from March 25 to January 10, 2021.

Why go? Because it’ll be simply stunning: the marbles represent some of the most outstanding examples of classical art from across a millennium. After its showing in Rome (taking place in the museum’s Palazzo Caffarelli), the exhibition will go on an extended world tour. But this could be your once-in-an-era chance to see these long-sequestered masterpieces in their home city. Elizabeth Heath

Discover 22 more of the best things to do in Rome

Nyege Nyege Festival
Nyege Nyege Festival
Photograph: Tweny Moments

12. Party at an abandoned resort in Africa

Jinja, Uganda, Africa

What is it? The ultimate way to tap into East Africa’s fast-rising music scene. Uganda might be one of the last places on earth you’d expect to find the best new festival of recent years, but that’s exactly what makes Nyege Nyege – which translates as the uncontrollable urge to dance – so special. For the last few Septembers, at an abandoned hotel resort at the source of the River Nile, Kampala-based label Nyege Nyege Tapes have assembled a truly radical fusion of contemporary and traditional acts from all over East Africa and beyond.

Why go? The festival has started to attract ravers from all over the world. Xylophone ensembles? Balinese gabba? Tanzanian rave? Step right this way. Sure, it’s a long way to travel from pretty much anywhere – after you fly to Entebbe, you have to go three hours by car down to the festival in Jinja – but that only heightens the sense of adventure. You can camp, but it’s better to get a room at one of the many lodges in the area and take a motorbike taxi down the bumpy roads to the site each day. Nyege Nyege is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s a transcendental experience – and that includes its food offerings. Once you’ve tried a ‘rolex’, a typical Ugandan post-rave snack, you’ll never want a kebab ever again. Kate Hutchinson

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Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A
Image: Alice at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Illustration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by John Tenniel, 1865 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

13. Go down the rabbit hole at a celebration of Alice

London, UK

What is it? Apart from Dracula, there can’t be many Victorian novels that have permeated our culture like ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland’. Lewis Carroll’s book and its sequel, ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ (along with John Tenniel’s famous illustrations) have cast their spell on Salvador Dalí, Walt Disney, Tim Burton and many other visionary types. Now London’s Victoria & Albert Museum – known to all as the V&A – is mounting a major, immersive ‘Alice’ exhibition to draw together all those strands into something worthy of Carroll’s strange imagination.

Why go? With blockbuster exhibitions dedicated to David Bowie, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior and Pink Floyd, the V&A has spent the last decade delving into different imaginative worlds – and, along the way, redefining what a museum exhibition can be. ‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ is just as ambitious, looking at the stories’ impact on film, theatre, ballet, fashion, art and beyond. It’s the most comprehensive ‘Alice’ show ever mounted, and it should be a spectacular dive down the rabbit hole. Just try not to lose your head. James Manning, Time Out London

Discover 101 more of the best things to do in London

Kanamara Matsuri
Kanamara Matsuri
Photograph: Joshua Hawley, Shutterstock

14. Have a willy good time at Japan’s penis festival

Kawasaki, Japan

What is it? It’s hard to know where to start with Kanamara Matsuri, Japan’s yearly celebration of… well, the dick. It all happens on April 5 in Kawasaki, an industrial city to the south of Tokyo, and its roots are more serious than you might think: the festival commemorates the sex workers who stopped through Kawasaki to ask for protection from STIs at the city’s main shrine. Technically, the name translates directly to ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’ – so if you want to tell your mum you’re off to Japan, perhaps stick to the original Japanese. 

Why go? The festival has swollen in recent years to a remarkable 30,000 visitors, and this year there will also be an extended English-language programme explaining the historical significance of the event, so non-Japanese-speaking visitors can, er, bone up. There is the undeniable allure of Instagrammable candy weenies and cock-themed cosplayers, but this is a festival with a serious soul: proceeds go to HIV and AIDS research, while the famous ‘pink phallus’ that leads the celebration was donated by Tokyo’s top drag bar, Elizabeth Kaikan. Dave Whelan

Discover 14 more of the best things to do in Japan

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National Museum of African American Music, Nashville (render)
National Museum of African American Music, Nashville (render)
Photograph: National Museum of African American Music

15. Pay tribute to musical gods in Nashville

Nashville, USA

What is it? Nashville’s museum game is already pretty strong – check out the super-impressive Johnny Cash Museum and Country Music Hall of Fame if you haven’t already – but the city’s latest addition is all about redressing the balance when it comes to the huge importance black musicians have had on the sound of America. Innovative, boundary-pushing and hugely necessary, the National Museum of African American Music will truly celebrate what it’s really like to be part of one nation under a groove.

Why go? Opening summer 2020 in downtown Nashville, this enormous space will take a deep dive into gospel, blues, jazz, country and hip-hop, looking at estimated 50 genres of music via interactive tech, stage costumes, instruments, memorabilia and artifacts. There’s also a stage, so it looks like there’ll be live music there too to bring the place to life. Dancing in museums? We’re down. Leonie Cooper

Discover 20 more of the best things to do in Nashville

Dubai Expo 2020
Dubai Expo 2020
Image: HOK

16. Glimpse the future at Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai, UAE

What is it? That’s a good question: this six-month event is so big that it’s not easy to pin it down. Is it an exhibition? A theme park? Entertainment? Education? Actually, it’s a little of everything. The Expo is the modern-day successor of the World’s Fair, first held in London in 1851, and used over the decades to reveal major inventions including the telephone (in 1876) and the ice cream cone (in 1904) to the public. Back in November 2013, Dubai won the right to host Expo 2020 – the first city in the Middle East, Africa or South Asia to do so. And this being Dubai, the plan is to make Expo 2020 bigger, shinier and better than any before.

Why go? Move over, Hugh Jackman: Expo bills itself as ‘The World’s Greatest Show’. Nearly 200 countries will be hosting pavilions, all under one of three themes: sustainability, opportunity and mobility. We’re promised food from the chefs of Michelin-starred restaurants, concerts from the planet’s top singers and innovations including the world’s first ropeless elevator. Judging by the launch in October – when Mariah Carey launched the one-year countdown while fireworks exploded from Burj Khalifa – it’s going to be massive. Oh, and we’ve got a little innovation of our own: with Time Out Market Dubai also opening in late 2020, you’ll be able to check out the best of the city under one roof while you’re here. Boom! Holly Sands, Time Out Dubai

Discover 21 more of the best things to do in Dubai

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Androgynous Egg at Glasgow International
Androgynous Egg at Glasgow International
Photograph: Lewis Ronald

17. Discover Scotland through the eyes of artists

Glasgow, UK

What is it? One of the fastest-rising and most respected young biennial visual art extravaganzas in the world, Glasgow International returns in 2020 – and it’s been worth the wait. Comprising around 100 shows (split between a Director’s Programme of large-scale commissions and exhibitions and an ‘Across the City’ open-source showcase of the best of Glasgow’s freelance artists and curators), it takes place at venues both mainstream and offbeat. You’ll be hitting up everywhere from established galleries such as GoMA and the CCA to unconventional spaces such as converted shops and even people’s homes. The festival opens on April 24 and runs until May 10. Most importantly, the whole thing is free.

Why go? To see Turner Prize-winning artists past and, most likely, future too, judging by the festival’s track record for presenting cutting-edge works way ahead of the curve. It’s the perfect place to take the temperature of the art scene in a city which, with the ever-productive Glasgow School of Art at its heart, is one of the most energetic and innovative in Britain. New solo commissions come from Ana Mazzei, France-Lise McGurn, Yuko Mohri, Nep Sidhu, Duncan Campbell, Martine Syms and Jenkin van Zyl. The theme for 2020 is – hey you, put your phone down when we’re talking! – ‘Attention’. Malcolm Jack

Discover 21 more of the best things to do in Glasgow

teamlab supernature macao
teamlab supernature macao
Photograph: teamLab

18. Enter a galaxy of immersive art

Macau, Macau SAR

What is it? Best known for casinos and Portuguese custard tarts, Macau has got a new attraction coming to town. Setting up shop at The Venetian Macao from March, teamLab SuperNature is a one-of-a-kind ‘body immersive’ museum complete with bright lights, flower blossoms, floating clouds, graffiti forests and much, much more. Spanning a cavernous site with impressively high ceilings, the exhibition will be centred around a complex series of fully interactive artworks, including teamLab’s signature Infinite Crystal Universe and a labyrinth-like flower installation, in which visitors can play with a stunning digital display of flowers growing, blossoming and eventually fading away.

Why go? To check out Future Park, an educational amusement park where visitors have the chance to experience the world of creativity through co-creation, and Athletics Forest, a multi-dimensional space that invites everyone to jump on bouncy floors, collect waterfall droplets and hopscotch their way through different shapes to create an ever-changing art space. Founded in 2001 by five ambitious university graduates, teamLab has held countless exhibitions across the globe. But if you have yet to experience what this Tokyo-based digital art collective has to offer, don’t miss this chance. Jenny Leung, Time Out Hong Kong

Update, February 21: due to concerns around the spread of COVID-19, the teamLab SuperNature launch has been postponed. New dates have yet to be announced.

Discover 14 more of the best things to do in Macau

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Grace Jones
Grace Jones
Photograph: Andrea Klarin

19. Dive into the creative world of Grace Jones

London, UK

What is it? Every year, the excellent annual Meltdown arts and culture festival at London’s Southbank Centre picks a superstar guest curator. This year it’s visionary singer-songwriter, actress and fashion icon Grace Jones. Her Meltdown will take place from June 12 to 21, giving Jones ten days of gigs and cultural happenings to make her own. We don’t know who’s going to be on the line-up yet, but it’s guaranteed to be something very special.

Why go? At 71, Jones is still slaying festivals across the world with a set that includes ten-plus minutes of her signature hula-hooping. Not only is she an incredible performer, she’s a genuine original with a creative vision to match past Meltdown curators like David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Robert Smith, MIA and Nile Rodgers. She’s also a real wild card, so it’s next to impossible to predict what kind of acts she might bring to the South Bank next year. Suffice it to say that Meltdown traditions include a centrepiece concert by each curator and a ton of parties, free gigs and offbeat fun alongside the performances. We can’t wait to see in what direction Ms Jones takes the festival. Time Out London editors

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Palácio Gustavo Capanema
Palácio Gustavo Capanema
Photograph: Alexandre Macieira Riotur

20. Gawp at Rio’s jaw-dropping architecture

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What is it? A year-long celebration of Rio de Janeiro’s incredible array of colonial, European, belle époque, Art Deco, modernist, brutalist and contemporary architectural styles. Though it’s best known for stunning natural landscapes such as Sugarloaf Mountain and Ipanema beach, Rio’s diverse man-made constructions are now set to take their turn in the spotlight, after the city was chosen by Unesco to become the very first World Capital of Architecture. Rio is also the host city for the 27th World Congress of Architects in July.

Why go? Out with Gisele and Ronaldo, in with Niemeyer, Macedo Soares and the Roberto brothers: architects are the new names to drop in Brazil’s so-called ‘marvellous city’. Central neighbourhoods such as Catete and Flamengo tell the story of Rio’s 500-year past, via the 1608-constructed Colonial Santo Antônio monastery, the art nouveau Theatro Municipal, the modernist ABI Press Association and the hyperrealist Petrobras skyscraper as well as the regenerated twenty-first-century waterfront. And, while official diary dates are still being confirmed, you can book ahead for an architectural walking tour with Insight Architecture to learn more about some of Rio’s 2,000 listed buildings. Sorrel Moseley-Williams

Discover 20 more of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

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Midnight Sun Film Festival
Midnight Sun Film Festival
Photograph: Juho Liukkonen

21. Watch a film under the Arctic midnight sun

Sodankylä, Finland

What is it? What dies it take to lure legendary directors like Jim Jarmusch, Francis Ford Coppola and Terry Gilliam to the tiny town of Sodankylä, just inside the Arctic Circle in the far north of Finland? Answer: the annual Midnight Sun Film Festival, which celebrates both cinema and the extraordinary 24-hour sunlight that shines here during the summer. From June 10 to 14 2020, this sleepy town will be transformed: old circus tents and schools become cinemas where screenings take place back-to-back as day turns into extremely well-lit night. 

Why go? Last year, more than 30,000 people came to Midnight Sun, and for its thirty-fifth year, things are bigger and better than ever. There’ll be lots of new Finnish cinema on show as well as favourites like ‘Moulin Rouge’ (complete with karaoke) and Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘The Law of Passion’, which will be screened at 3am. The atmosphere is unlike any other film festival: stalls selling Finnish beer and local food can be found next to volunteers hand-drawing film posters. Just before midnight the sky turns a glorious pink, and stays that way in a suspended sunset until the sun rises again – while the films play on. Bre Graham

MassArt Museum (MAAM) Boston
MassArt Museum (MAAM) Boston
Photograph: Peter Vanderwarker

22. Marvel at Boston’s new (and free!) art museum

Boston, USA

What is it? Boston’s newest destination for contemporary art is the MassArt Art Museum, on the campus of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Opening on February 22, its first exhibitions include the US premiere of internationally-renowned artist Joana Vasconcelos – who made her name with a chandelier made of 14,000 tampons – as well as a group exhibition titled ‘Game Changers: Video Games & Contemporary Art’ and site-specific installation by the innovative duo Ghost of a Dream.

Why go? Unlike many US museums, MAAM will offer visitors free admission, fulfilling a commitment to making contemporary art truly accessible to all and showcasing temporary exhibitions from both emerging and established artists. As MassArt’s teaching museum, MAAM will also educate students about contemporary art and act as a vital resource to the community, offering a sleekly curated pathway to education in the arts. Eric Grossman, Time Out Boston

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Lisbon landscape
Lisbon landscape
Photograph: Shutterstock

23. Turn green in the Portuguese capital

Lisbon, Portugal

What is it? A full year of carbon-neutral celebrations in Portugal’s stunning capital city. For 12 months, Lisbon will be bringing its commitment to eco-sustainability to life with a packed calendar of events – which should leave the city even greener in the long run. Why? Because Lisbon has won the title of European Green Capital 2020: the first time a southern European capital has scored the nod.

 Why go? Nearly all of the city’s best cultural venues, like the Science and Natural History Museum, are getting involved with themed programmes which will celebrate the environment all year long. Don’t miss a visit to the glorious aquarium, which is hosting an immersive exhibition about oceans, and check out Time Out Lisbon for more highlights as they’re announced. Renata Lima Lobo, Time Out Lisbon

Discover 33 more of the best things to do in Lisbon

Ambiente Sedona Landscape Hotel
Ambiente Sedona Landscape Hotel
Photograph: Ambiente Sedona

24. Stay in a magical American ‘landscape hotel’

Arizona, USA

What is it? Sedona, Arizona’s mesmerising red rock buttes attract visitors from far and wide, but now guests will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in this natural playground even more. Debuting in December 2020, Ambiente will be North America’s first ‘landscape hotel’: a modern work of hospitality and art that aims to honour the land’s unique natural features with long-term sustainability in mind. Each of the 40 guest rooms are elevated above ground to reduce the hotel’s physical impact on the landscape, while metallic and tinted glass exteriors will reflect and mirror Sedona’s stunning backdrop, making the hotel virtually disappear into the landscape.

Why go? Year-round, Sedona has a mild climate that’s perfect for exploring natural canyons by day and soaking in colourful sunsets during cocktail hour. Tapping into this breathtaking scenery, the Ambiente Landscape Hotel’s luxurious digs are (says the hotel) purpose-built to protect and celebrate the neighbouring vegetation and sensitive landscape. The modern design will focus on sustainable elegance, with double-sided fireplaces, deep bathtubs and rooftop stargazing decks. You’ve never stayed in a hotel like this before. Lori A May

Discover 20 more of the best things to do in Arizona

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Goulandris Foundation Museum
Goulandris Foundation Museum
Photograph: Christophoros Doulgeris

25. Get lost in Athens’s slick new art museum

Athens, Greece

What is it? The product of 30 years of collection by shipowner Basil Goulandris and his wife Elise. When they bought their first painting – El Greco’s ‘Veil of Veronica’ – in 1956, it was the start of a love affair with classic and contemporary art. Travelling between their various homes around the world, the couple would carry their priceless treasures with them, often hanging the pictures before unpacking their bags. Now a vast, new 11-floor museum is opening in Athens, offering the chance to see hitherto rarely exhibited works – as well as an art store, a well-stocked library and a gourmet restaurant. Basil and Elise would be proud.

Why go? It’s a paean to the couple’s passion for art and each other. In the pipeline since 1992, the long-awaited opening of this world-class gallery in the Acropolis city’s hip and gritty Pangrati district is not to be missed. A mammoth, rarely-seen collection of more than 800 paintings, it includes the work of well known Greek artists alongside international favourites such as Van Gogh, Monet and Roy Lichtenstein. These masterpieces will rub frames with rarely seen gems, including Marc Chagall’s portrait of Elise Goulandris herself. The icing on the cake comes in the shape of short documentaries that focus on individual artworks within the collection. Heidi Fuller-Love

Discover 28 more of the best things to do in Athens

James Turrell Passages of Light
James Turrell Passages of Light
Photograph: Florian Holzer

26. See the latest from the king of light art

Mexico City, Mexico

What is it? Some use paint, some clay and others collage. James Turrell, though, works with light. Beloved of Beyoncé, Drake and Kanye West, the American artist is best known for his epic large-scale works that you can step inside and do a full body swoon at, filling your field of vision in rooms made up of saturated colours that seem to go on forever. A trip to Mexico City now comes with the chance to take in highlights – pun very much intended – of his work, with new pieces from some of his ongoing projects on display at Museo Jumex. It’s all on display until March 29. 

Why go? Because art is rarely this fun. Looking at the relationship between light, space and colour, Turrell’s work is deceptively simple but all about impact. Take off your shoes to enter the ‘Ganzfeld’ installation’s limitless near-religious womb-like room and, for a tasty bit of contrast, the hazy ‘Dark Space’ lets your own mind do the work when it comes to just what you’ll end up seeing. You’ll also learn all about Turrell’s ongoing ‘Roden Crater’ project in Arizona. Leonie Cooper

Discover 25 more of the best things to do in Mexico City

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Rob Thorne playing at The Unconformity Festival
Rob Thorne playing at The Unconformity Festival
Photograph: Jack Robert-Tissot

27. Get your rocks off at The Unconformity

Tasmania, Australia

What is it? A party like no other, taking place on Tasmania’s west coast in October. A biennial celebration of contemporary arts held in the mining settlement of Queenstown, The Unconformity is named after a kind of geological fault but also gives a knowing nod to the distinctive character of this increasingly creative community. Once one of the richest mining towns in the world, and still home to Australia’s most feared football oval The Gravel, Queenstown is a place of paradoxes. The stark landscape, heavily scarred by copper mining and mass logging, is the perfect setting for a festival that asks attendees to look both backwards and forwards into deep time.

Why go? The descent into Queenstown requires careful driving down a narrow road with more than 90 bends – meaning that from the very outset, it’s clear just how unique an experience this festival really is. The program of music, visual arts and performance has been curated and created specifically for the location and all works are site-responsive. In previous years, venues have included a limestone quarry, a mineshaft, and a footbridge over the town’s Queen River. For 2020, festival director Travis Tiddy has plenty more surprises in store. The one guarantee is that it won’t be boring. Ruth Dawkins

Discover 13 more of the best things to do in Tasmania

Al Qana Aquarium
Al Qana Aquarium
Photograph: Al Qana Aquarium

28. Marvel at the Middle East’s mega-aquarium

Abu Dhabi, UAE

What is it? Something fishy going on? Well yes, actually. Opening by the end of 2020, this will be the largest aquarium in the Middle East. Developers say the utmost care has gone into sourcing the creatures that will live inside and that they’ve all been found ethically with conservation and education in mind. The National Aquarium will make up part of the Al Qana development that will also include restaurants, shops and a cinema.

Why go? Well, what about the chance to say hello to a 23-foot python? As well as the chance to gawp at a monster-sized snake, there will be 10 different zones and more than 250 species. Visitors will get the chance to find out how the ecosystems that exist in the world’s waterways operate, as well as learning more about the animals – all 33,000 of them. Paul Clifford, Time Out Abu Dhabi

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Reggae Sunsplash Festival
Reggae Sunsplash Festival
Photograph: Melinda Nagy, Shutterstock

29. Hit up the comeback of Jamaica’s most iconic reggae festival

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

What is it? Launched by four reggae heads in the late 1970s, the week-long Sunsplash Festival in Montego Bay swiftly became Jamaica’s go-to for good vibes, providing a platform for pioneers such as Bob Marley, Burning Spear and Toots & The Maytals. And while it’s dancehall that has dominated international airwaves in recent decades, the festival’s return after 14 years looks set to put reggae back on the map.

Why go? Sunsplash’s first event since 2006 taps into a vibrant new wave of domestic artists flying the flag for Jamaican music (and turning the heads of musical magpies like Drake and Ed Sheeran). While headliners are yet to be confirmed, it looks like today’s generation of roots reggae stars, which includes Koffee, Chronixx and Protoje, will make a strong showing. The backdrop provided by a brand new location near Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s north coast is also sure to outshine any festival experience you’re likely to have outside the Caribbean: think pristine beaches and palm trees swaying to the music. Ben Olsen

Discover 20 more of the best things to do in Jamaica

Master Musicians of Joujouka
Master Musicians of Joujouka
Photograph: Syd Howells

30. Marvel at Morocco’s mystical master musicians

Joujouka, Morocco

What is it? A micro-festival in the tiny Moroccan village of Joujouka, dedicated in 2020 to the memory of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones. It’s hosted by the Master Musicians of Joujouka, whom acid godather Timothy Leary called a ‘4,000-year-old rock ’n’ roll band’. They’re a group of Sufi trance musicians who pass their skills from generation to generation in their home village, nestled in the southern Rif mountains of Morocco. They were much loved by the Beat Generation for providing a suitably trippy soundtrack back in the days when everyone wanted to join Crosby, Stills & Nash riding the Marrakesh Express.

Why go? Last year was the fifthieth anniversary of the death of Jones, who often played with the Master Musicians of Joujouka and did more than anyone to publicise their music in Britain. They’ve dedicated 2020’s event (running from June 5-7) to keeping the Rolling Stone’s mythical memory alive in song. Want to go? Act fast: with numbers strictly limited to just 50 total visitors, it’s a truly remarkable and unbelievably intimate experience. Kevin EG Perry

Discover 13 more of the best things to do in Morocco

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Ferran Adrià
Ferran Adrià
Photograph: IM

31. Get reacquainted with the gastronomic wizards of elBulli

Girona, Spain

What is it? The return of elBulli, known until its closure as 2011 as the most innovative restaurant in the world. It returns not as an haute cuisine dining hotspot but as a centre of culinary research: legendary chef Ferran Adrià will work with various experts – from fishermen to architects – to rethink gastronomy, conjuring up new theories and techniques in the ever-expanding universe of food.

Why go? Though it certainly won’t be a traditional restaurant, the public will still be able to have a life-changing experience at elBulli 1846. Adrià says he was inspired by the Watermill Center in New York, a centre of innovation and research with public exhibitions but also residencies for multidisciplinary artists. Adrià and his team were the stars of the last global culinary revolution, and this experimental new project in the excellently named town of Roses is a must-visit for curious food fanatics. Ricard Martín, Time Out Barcelona

Discover 26 more of the best things to do in Spain

AREA15
AREA15
Photograph: Meow Wolf

32. Explore the world’s weirdest mall: AREA15 Las Vegas

Las Vegas, USA

What is it? The black building in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip which bears the words AREA15 has stoked curiosity since it first appeared in 2018. This spring, all will be revealed. Located on Desert Inn Road, AREA15 is an entertainment, retail, dining and art space anchored by Meow Wolf, an interactive art experience. Set foot inside the colossal AREA15 (yes, it’s a reference to the Nevada desert government installation) and experience a cocktail bar built around an LED Japanese maple tree, an axe-throwing lounge, a mixed reality arcade and exhibitions from local and global artists.

Why go? AREA15 may not be a familiar name yet, but Meow Wolf is a fixture on the desert art scene. The collective hails from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where its immersive installation House of Eternal Return deposits visitors into a dreamlike dimension of neon-lit secret passageways. In other words, if you like weird stuff in the desert, you should be excited by the fact that Meow Wolf is the anchor tenant at AREA15. The accompanying installations and dining and retail options promise to be just as surreal. Krista Diamond

Discover 31 more of the best things to do in Las Vegas

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NBA AllStars
NBA AllStars
Photograph: Ververidis Vasilis, Shutterstock

33. Join the NBA frenzy in America’s sports capital

Chicago, USA

What is it? Every basketball fan wishes they could be sitting courtside during the NBA All-Star 2020, where squads made up of the league’s superstars are pitted against one another at the United Center. Coming to Chicago for the first time in more than 30 years, the epic three-day event features a slam-dunk contest, celebrity game and fan festival at Navy Pier, all leading up to the marquee game on February 16. 

Why go? This is one of the only places where you’ll be able to see the NBA’s most prominent personalities – think LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo – sinking shots in the same arena. Even if you can’t swing tickets to the big game (they’re not exactly cheap), you might be able to attend the Rising Stars game on February 14 or see a concert during the NBA Crossover Fest at Navy Pier. And you’ll definitely be able to catch the flashy dunks and missed free-throws at countless All-Star weekend parties throughout Chicago. Zach Long, Time Out Chicago

Discover 59 more of the best things to do in Chicago

The Lume
The Lume
Photograph: Phillip Williams

34. Smell Van Gogh’s sunflowers at a new immersive gallery

Melbourne, Australia

What is it? Ever looked at a Van Gogh painting and dreamed of walking into a world made up of his swirling, colourful brush strokes? Well now you can do just that – all you need to do is get yourself to Melbourne’s new immersive digital art gallery, set to open in autumn 2020. Much like Paris’s incredibly popular Atelier des Lumières, The Lume will sprawl across 2,000 square metres of exhibition space and use 150 state-of-the-art projectors to surround visitors with art –  the first museum of its kind in Australia. 

Why go? Because you’ll be able to literally stop and smell the sunflowers. The Lume will use a sonic soundscape and whiffy aromas pumped into the gallery to conjure up a multi-sensory experience that truly brings the artwork to life. The project’s instigators, Melbourne-based Grande Exhibitions, have been touring larger-than-life art exhibitions in cities all around the world for 15 years – but The Lume is their first permanent space, and an eagerly awaited addition to their home city. Rebecca Russo, Time Out Melbourne

Discover 101 more things of the best things to do in Melbourne

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Babes Ride Out
Babes Ride Out
Photograph: Andrey Armyagov, Shutterstock

35. Bike across the USA with Babes Ride Out

California, USA

What is it? A glorious coming together of women who love – and live – to ride motorcycles, Babes Ride Out sees amateurs and lifelong devotees hopping on two wheels to traverse North America every October. Formerly taking place in the Joshua Tree desert, in 2019 it moved to an equally stunning location on California’s Central Coast, and 2020 should be even more special. A celebration not just of humming, throbbing machinery but of friendship, discovery and adventure, Babes Ride Out culminates in a massive party with booze, tattoos and bands.

Why go? BRO, as it's known to its many regulars, was kickstarted in 2013 and has been getting bigger and bolder every year since – it now holds the title of the largest gathering of female motorcyclists in history. Lots of women learn to ride especially for the event, so if you don’t know how to rev up but are already eyeing up leathers and helmets, then you’ve still got time to join the iron horse cavalry. Easy, rider. Leonie Cooper

Discover 15 of the best places to visit in California

Moscow Circle of Light
Moscow Circle of Light
Photograph: Shutterstock

36. Watch Moscow get lit

Moscow, Russia

What is it? Attracting the world’s greatest light designers and audiovisual art experts every September to Moscow, Circle of Light is nothing less than spectacular. Fabulous installations are presented on the city’s biggest cultural landmarks and parks are taken over for multimedia shows that incorporate huge lasers and legendary fireworks. It’s won four Guinness World Records, such is the scale of the event.

Why go? Public light art is taking over many cities around the world these days, but nobody else does it at quite this scale. Even the city’s rivers turn into portals to a different reality, with fire constructions and wild light projections taking place right by the water – which is probably a sensible idea considering all those flames. Even a casual stroll down a seemingly unshowy alleyway during the Circle of Light has the potential to impress you: during the month-long event every walk turns into a journey through geometrical illusions and shimmering spectacles. Мarina Likhacheva, Time Out Moscow

Discover 11 more of the best things to do in Moscow

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La Paloma, Barcelona
La Paloma, Barcelona
Photograph: Maria Dias

37. Dance at Barcelona’s resurrected party hotspot

Barcelona, Spain

What is it? The return of La Paloma, century-old dancehall that’s reopening its doors after 14 years of closure. This beautiful club first opened its doors at the beginning of the twentieth century, and until it shut in 2006, the dancing only stopped once: during the Spanish Civil War. Its ornate baroque decor instantly transports you to another time, making it one of the city’s most beloved spots. Now it’s hoping to reclaim its crown as the quintessential Barcelona party hub.

Why go? From 2000 until its closure, La Paloma offered a mix of the latest electronic music and concerts from international artists, as well as ballroom dancing and full orchestral performances. The venue closed in 2006 after the neighbours took issue with noise from the club, and has spent 14 years adapting to city requirements. It is set for its big comeback in early 2020 and we can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store this time. Ricard Martín, Time Out Barcelona

Discover 36 more of the best things to do in Barcelona

Autonomous Resonating Life on the Water and Resonating Trees, Dragonfly Lake
Autonomous Resonating Life on the Water and Resonating Trees, Dragonfly Lake
Photograph: teamLab

38. Step into a fusion of art, tech and nature

Singapore

What is it? A feast for the senses at Singapore’s stunning Gardens by the Bay nature park. The art exhibition #futuretogether runs from January 16 to March 31, dominating both the outdoor and indoor spaces with captivating digital art installations and multisensory exhibits that combine technology and art. It’s all in honour of the Singapore Bicentennial, and (no surprises here) it’s run by pioneering Japanese digital art collective teamLab.

Why go? To stop and smell the outdoor roses and watch the floating ovoids on the Dragonfly Lake change colours and sounds as you touch them. Or, for the polar opposite, step into an abstract space where you’re surrounded by traditional Japanese sho (calligraphy) before the experience culminates with a transcendental take on the passing of time. Intense? Yeah, but all the better for it. Cam Khalid, Time Out Singapore

Discover 120 more of the best things to do in Singapore

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Ultra Music Festival
Ultra Music Festival
Photograph: Alive Coverage

39. Attend a mega-fest’s homecoming party

Miami, USA

What is it? One of the largest EDM parties in America, Ultra Music Festival is back for its twenty-second edition this spring – and it’s returning to its decades-long home in Downtown Miami. The extrasensory experience mixes live performances with DJ sets, all of which are set to brilliant, illuminated displays. A three-day outdoor party, it attracts electronic music lovers from all over the world.

Why go? To witness the fest’s redemption after last year’s disastrous move to Key Biscayne’s Virginia Key Beach. The 2020 pyrotechnic setup is poised to be its largest one yet, and fans can also expect a bigger, star-studded line-up that includes Flume, Gesaffelstein and Major Lazer. Veteran DJ Carl Cox, who has commanded the Ultra stage since 2005, expands his signature Resistance Megastructure set-up to all three days, while Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren marks his tenth annual appearance. Virginia Gil, Time Out Miami

Discover 23 more of the best things to do in Miami

Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Photograph: Mike Venner

40. Meet drag Kings at the Welsh seaside

Porthcawl, Wales

What is it? An eccentric weekend bash that regularly attracts over 35,000 people to the brilliantly tacky seaside town of Porthcawl in Wales, for one reason only – to celebrate all things Elvis Presley. Elvises (or should we say Elvii?) of all shapes, sizes and abilities flood the pier, arcades and fish-and-chip shops, wearing diamanté jumpsuits, quiffs, and thick black sideburns.

Why go? Because this year, for the first time, the world’s greatest competition for Elvis tribute acts includes a ‘Best LGBT+ Elvis’ category. We’re hoping for some gender-busting takes that’ll tap into the international drag revival and turn the King into the Queen. You really don’t need to have a massive crush on the king of rock ’n’ roll to get a kick out of these two days of Elvis-mania: this festival is such an essential experience because it’s so unique. It probably wouldn’t work anywhere else apart from unpretentious Porthcawl, or without the support of the town’s unflappable, fun-loving population. For utterly silly, unaffected fun, book your heartbreak hotel, pack your blue suede shoes and let your guard down at this weird and wonderful Welsh weekend. Sammy Jones

Discover 13 more of the best things to do in Wales

Now discover the best places to travel in 2020

Beirut, Lebanon
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best places to travel in 2020

Travel

On our travel bucket lists for the coming year you’ll find gorgeous landscapes, up-and-coming cities and quirky events among tried-and-true favourites. The only problem is deciding which trip to take us up on.

See more of the best things to do across the globe

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