The arrival of 2020 heralds not only a new year, but a new decade, with all of the sparkling promise that this can bring. And what better way to reinvigorate your bucket list than to check out the places, attractions and box-fresh new experiences that will have their moment in the spotlight for the first time, or exclusively, in 2020. Happy planning!

1. Get cultured in Galway

Three buskers performing music on the streets of Galway.
Buskers performing music on the streets of Galway © Helioscribe / Shutterstock

Galway becomes a European Capital of Culture in 2020, putting it at the heart of cultural and artistic life across Europe. The Irish city features in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2020, where it is described as "brilliantly bohemian". Visitors can expect street performances, live and digital art as well as world-class music, theatre and dance, with brightly painted pubs heaving with live music and cafés offering front-row seats to watch buskers perform. Vivid and vibrant, brimful of imagination, Galway in 2020 is home to a year-long, city-wide arty party and you’re invited.

2. Be wowed by women in Baltimore

Photographic artwork 'Le déjeuner sur l'herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires' (2010) by Mickalene Thomas, showing three women of colour sitting on colourful fabrics surrounded by flowers.
'Le déjeuner sur l'herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires' (2010) by Mickalene Thomas © The Baltimore Museum of Art

August 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in the US and, in honour of that, the Baltimore Museum of Art in Maryland will be dedicating a year of exhibitions and programmes to the presentation of the achievements of female-identifying artists. Called 2020 Vision, the initiative will include 13 solo exhibitions, seven thematic shows and the reinstallation of several of the Baltimore museum’s galleries to emphasise the depth and diversity of women’s artistry through time. You'll come away inspired.

3. Bump around Odyssey of the Seas

The Seaplex deck on the Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship, with bumper cars and screens showing various sports.
You can whizz around on bumper cars on Odyssey of the Seas © Royal Caribbean

Cruise fans are eagerly anticipating the launch of Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship in November 2020. It will set sail on eight- and six-night itineraries from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and will come complete with Seaplex, the fleet's most action-packed top deck to date and the largest indoor activity space at sea. Guests can whizz around in bumper cars, play glow-in-the-dark laser tag and hang around in an arcade offering everything from classic games to VR experiences. Catch a wave on the FlowRider surf simulator, or hit a new high point on the Sky Pad bungee trampoline. You might not want to leave the ship.

4. Get down with digital in Bordeaux

A view of the digital installation of Gustav Klimt's 'Jardin paysan avec fleurs de tournesol' at Les Bassins de Lumières in France.
Les Bassins de Lumières will be the world's largest digital art centre when it opens in April 2020 © akg-images / Erich Lessing/ Heritage Images / Fine Art Images 

Multimedia fans should check out a former WWII bunker in France that is being converted into the world's largest digital art centre, with displays projected over illuminated pools of water. Les Bassins de Lumières is a new digital art centre set to open in April 2020 in Bordeaux. Culturespaces – the company bringing it to life – calls it the largest multimedia installation in the world. It's contained in what used to be one of France's biggest WWII bunkers, used by Germans to house U-boats. A striking space of raw concrete, steel, water and darkness, four of its watersheds will host permanent exhibitions and you'll be dazzled by it all.

5. Luxuriate on the Orient Express

An interior view of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train; the luxurious lounge carriage is decorated with sumptuous deep blue soft furnishings.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will be getting three new grand suites in 2020 © Belmond/Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

If you're a lover of luxury trains, why not take a trip on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express? Its atmosphere transports guests back to the first decades of the 20th century, and it will be adding three new grand suites in 2020, drawing inspiration from the romance, adventure and style of the city each suite is named after. The Prague suite will have hues of golds and maroons, with a theatrical feel and cubist-inspired mosaics. The Vienna suite will evoke the "imperial nature" of the city with gold and emerald green colours and romantic details. Finally, the Budapest suite will capture the essence of both sides of the Danube, inspired by both Gothic and Ottoman architecture.

6. Take Time Out in Dubai

People dining inside the Time Out Market food hall in Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon.
The Time Out Market food hall in Dubai will be a similar concept to the one in Lisbon's Mercado da Ribeira © Radu Bercan/Shutterstock

Diners looking to sample all the food Dubai has to offer – without wandering too far – will have that chance as the new Time Out Market opens in the city. The concept may be familiar to travellers who have been to Lisbon, where the historic Mercado da Ribeira was transformed into a trendy food hall. The new market will open in the Souk Al Bahar complex and will bring together 16 of Dubai’s top chefs and restaurateurs. There will be three lounges, cultural experiences and about 670 seats for guests to hang out and enjoy the food on offer.

7. Check out Michelangelo's chamber

An image of a bare chamber in the Medici Chapels, Florence; its walls have charcoal sketches by Michelangelo on the walls.
A secret chamber reportedly once used by Michelangelo will soon be open to the public © AFP / Stringer

Art lovers may want to head to the Medici Chapels in Florence; there's a secret chamber hidden deep inside, where Michelangelo was reportedly holed up during the siege of Florence from 1529-30. Sketches in charcoal were unearthed in the narrow cellar when it underwent restoration in 1975.  The Bargello Museum, which manages the chapels in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, aims to open up the chamber by the end of 2020, raising great enthusiasm among those who are hoping to get a glimpse into the life of the man who painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

8. Zip around the Super Mario track

An artistic rendering of the Super Nintendo World theme park at Universal Studios in Japan; the brightly coloured scene has been made to look like footage from the iconic game.
The new Super Nintendo World theme park will open in Universal Studios, Osaka © Universal Studios

Video game aficionados should make a trip to Osaka, which will celebrate Nintendo’s heritage when the Super Nintendo World theme park opens in Japan’s Universal Studios. With state-of-the-art rides and interactive areas, guests can enjoy some 'Mario time' as a real-life Super Mario Kart course will be the highlight of the park. Cars will run on rails, with one rider controlling the drift while their partner uses weapons and handles power-ups. Nintendo hopes to appeal to nostalgic adults and thrill-seeking children with the park, which is due to open before the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

9. Take the Game of Thrones Studio Tour

Visitors walking through the displays of original costumes and sets at the Game of Thrones Studio Tour in Northern Ireland
The Game of Thrones Studio Tour will open in Northern Ireland next year © HBO

The TV series may have drawn to a close in 2019, but Game of Thrones fans can continue to experience the Seven Kingdoms in 2020. HBO will be opening the Game of Thrones Studio Tour in Northern Ireland, where many key scenes were filmed. The new visitor attraction in Banbridge will give fans the chance to relive key moments from the hit series, and will include the actual costumes, imagery, fully-dressed sets and original props from all over the Game of Thrones universe. This includes King's Landing, Braavos, Dorne and Dragonfell, which will be rebuilt and restored by the same construction crews and artists who worked on the Emmy Award–winning show. A trip there will surely help those currently undergoing GoT withdrawals.

10. Tackle the Paparoa Track

Two mountain bikers on the Paparoa Track, New Zealand; the stretch of narrow track is surrounded by heather and other foliage.
The Paparoa Track is New Zealand's 10th Great Walk © Jason Blair

If you're looking for a new biking or walking challenge for 2020, New Zealand's newest Great Walk has just opened. The 55km-long Paparoa Track runs from Blackball on the eastern side of the Paparoa Range to Punakaiki on the western side, and it is expected to attract visitors to the west coast of the country. It leads to a memorial site and interpretation centre that commemorates the 29 miners who lost their lives in the 2010 Pike River Mine Disaster. Expect diverse and spectacular scenery that takes in native forests, and you can stay in huts managed by New Zealand's Department of Conservation on all ten of its Great Walks. 

11. Mark the Mayflower's voyage

Two people look out over Plymouth harbour from the The Mayflower Steps on a sunny day.
The 400th anniversary celebrations of the historic sailing of the Mayflower will take place in 2020 © Mayflower 400

The year 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the historic sailing of the Mayflower and its Pilgrim passengers from the UK, and the founding of the Plymouth Colony in present day Massachusetts. Events are planned in the UK, the Netherlands and the US to commemorate the legacy of the passengers and crew who undertook the epic journey, inspired by their desire for freedom and liberty. These locations have created an international Mayflower Trail and a wide-ranging cultural programme. You'll be spoiled for choice as Mayflower 400 has over 400 events throughout the year, ranging from international civic ceremonies to local community affairs. 

12. Get playful at the Cartoon Network Hotel

Families inside a common area at the Cartoon Network Hotel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; the interior is decorated with artwork of the animated shows on the TV network.
The Cartoon Network Hotel has surprises for the whole family © Cartoon Network Hotel

There's good news if you’re the type of person who daydreams about stepping into your favourite animated universe, because the first ever Cartoon Network Hotel is opening in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Featuring an array of character-themed bedrooms and dream suites, guests can dine in the Cartoon Kitchen and dig into delicious dishes straight out of their favourite shows. There's an interactive lobby filled with surprises, a water play zone, an outdoor amphitheatre with an oversized movie screen, fire pits and more. You can customise your stay by choosing your favourite cartoon from The Amazing World of Gumball, Adventure Time, Ben 10, Powerpuff Girls, Steven Universe and We Bare Bears

13. Move past naked performers in London

An image of the art installation 'Imponderabilia'. A naked man and woman are standing facing each other in a narrow doorway; a visitor is passing sideways between them.
Marina Abramović's 'Imponderabilia' invites visitors to squeeze sideways through the narrow space between naked performers © Marius Becker / picture alliance via Getty Images

An exhibition coming to London from 26 September to 8 December 2020 will have you squeezing past naked male and female performers to gain entrance – if you aren't too bashful. The exhibition of Serbian artist Marina Abramović's work will take place at the Royal Academy of Arts, where more than 50 of her works are going on display. Imponderabilia is the name of the work that features the naked performers, and it was first shown in Bologna in 1977, performed by the artist and her then partner, Ulay. Happily for those for whom squeezing by might be too uncomfortable, there will be another regular doorway that you can use. 

14. Stay at Ronaldo's hotel

Interior of the Pestana CR7 Lifestyle Hotel in Marrakesh; the luxurious bar area pictured is decorated in light neutral tones and has a well-stocked bar.
Ronaldo's new hotel in Marrakesh is scheduled to open in 2020 © Lombardini22

If you’re a fan of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, you may want to score a room at his new hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco. The Pestana CR7 Lifestyle Hotel will be launched by the sports star in partnership with the Portuguese Pestana Group, and it will be built in the luxurious M Avenue development in the centre of the city. It will have two restaurants, a business centre, a fitness centre with a spa, and there will be a roof-garden with a pool area and sky bar. The Moroccan influence will be evident in geometric patterns in the interior design executed by local craftspeople, and in the texture created by light projected by custom-made lamps. 

15. Chill out in the Arctic Bath

An artist's impression of an aerial view of the Arctic Bath in Sweden; the white, circular complex is frozen into the ice of a river.
A new floating hotel and spa concept with 4°C water is set to open in northern Sweden © Arctic Bath

Good news for spa-goers: the new Arctic Bath hotel and spa in Sweden will open near Luleå in the coming months. It will freeze into the ice of the Lule river in the winter and float on top of it in the summer. The new hotel will have six detached floating cabins and six additional cabins, each with a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass looking out over the river. The open centre of the bath is designed for sunbathing, ice-bathing and for those who wish to experience the Northern Lights or starry skies. The water will be kept at a refreshing 4°C, but the summer sun and the heat of the saunas and Arctic spa will warm you up.

16. Have designs on Lille

Couples dancing inside La Vieille Bourse, an ornate 17th-century Renaissance stock exchange.
Lille has been designated the Design Capital of the World for 2020 © Ed Norton / Getty Images

The French city of Lille, located in the Hauts-de-France region of the country, has been designated the Design Capital of the World for 2020, marking the first time that a city in France has been bestowed with the honour. Lille will host around 50 cultural events in 2020, including six major exhibitions, themed tours, meetings with designers, and it will host the first-ever Lille Metropole Design Week in the autumn. If you want to be inspired and dazzled, Lille is calling you.

17. Cruise to all seven continents

A cruise ship pictured sailing under London's Tower Bridge in 2017.
The incredible Silver Whisper will make a truly epic journey © Silversea / Simon Harvey Photography Ltd

If you have 140 days and a fair bit of dosh to spare, you could take an incredible new cruise that will visit seven continents and 32 countries. The ultra-luxury World Cruise 2020 will set sail on Silversea's Silver Whisper, and will include long stays and overnights at many of the world’s capital cities and natural wonders – each of which has been selected for its authentic beauty. The World Cruise 2020 will enable travel enthusiasts to witness and explore some of the world’s marvels, and it's likely to become an ultimate bucket list dream.

18. Get high up in Ohio

A series of treehouse buildings at Cannaley Treehouse Village, surrounded by bright green forest.
Cannaley Treehouse Village will open in a nature park outside Toledo, Ohio © Mary Pencheff

Who hasn’t dreamt of taking to the trees for a night or two? In spring 2020, Cannaley Treehouse Village is set to open on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio. Located in Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, the complex will feature four treehouses and three tent or hammock platforms for overnight, plus a common-area treehouse for daytime use. The treehouses will have electricity, heat, and composting toilets, with shower facilities nearby. Canopy bridges will connect them to the main house and the main house to a crow’s nest, so guests’ feet will barely have to touch the ground for the duration of their stay. It’s the stuff of childhood dreams!

19. Be a guest at Beethoven's birthday bash

Green and gold sculptures representing Beethoven are lined up in Bonn's Münsterplatz.
Sculptures representing Beethoven made by Ottmar Hörl displayed to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth © Ina Fassbender / Getty Images

Bonn is where the musical genius Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770, and the little German city on the Rhine is gearing up to throw its most famous son one heck of a party for his 250th birthday. The Beethoven Anniversary Year is a jubilee featuring a number of cultural programmes, events and exhibitions honouring the composer, and the festivities will make any visit to Bonn during 2020 a uniquely musical experience. Highlights include the jubilee’s grand finale on 17 December 2020 – the anniversary of Beethoven’s baptism – which will cap a year of music, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, as well as events for children and teens.

20. Marvel at the Forbidden City

An ornately carved wall with a circular window at the Qianlong Garden.
Post-restoration interior at Juanqinzhai hall in the Qianlong Garden © Si Bing, courtesy of World Monuments Fund

To coincide with the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City in Beijing in 2020, you'll be able to access a part of the former Chinese imperial palace for the first time when a new visitors centre at Qianlong Garden is complete in 2020. The interpretive centre is part of a comprehensive restoration of the palace, which was designed as a private retreat by the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty. There will be three distinct halls around an open pavilion, each designed to give visitors a glimpse of the past and present of the complex. The buildings contain exquisitely designed interiors from a time widely considered to be one of the boldest and most extravagant periods of interior design in China's history.

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This article was first published December 2019 and updated January 2020

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