2020 Adventures to Add to your Calendar

The year 2020 is set to offer up unforgettable travel experiences with exciting events and monumental anniversaries taking place all over the world. Hills Balfour has rounded up some of the most newsworthy destinations to push visitors to the limit for 2020, from Ras Al Khaimah which will launch a new Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Old Suan Juan, Puerto Rico which will celebrate its 500-year history.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico celebrates its 500 year history in 2020

2020 will see a whole year of celebrations in Puerto Rico as San Juan, the island’s capital, marks its 500-year history. UNESCO World Heritage listed Old San Juan as one of the oldest cities in the USA and encapsulates the rich cultural identity of Puerto Rico, interweaving Taino, African and Spanish traditions. This distinctive mix makes San Juan a vibrant city, passionate about music and dance with fetes, fairs and festivals taking place through the year. The city’s must-visit neighbourhoods include the charming Old Town with its pastel-coloured colonial Spanish buildings and blue cobblestone streets; cosmopolitan Condado which is home to fashionable boutiques and high-end restaurants; and cool Santurce, a hipster hangout with its speakeasy cocktail bars and street food markets. Beyond its colourful capital, Puerto Rico is home to incredible nature experiences including hiking and wildlife viewing in the El Yunque rainforest, swimming in moonlit bio-luminescent bays, relaxing on pristine white sand beaches and humpback whale watching from the coast.


USA celebrates 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and Pilgrim Father’s arrival in America 

2020 marks 400 years since the Mayflower ship, and its Pilgrim Father passengers, set sail from England to America, known at the time as the ‘New World’. The Mayflower left Plymouth, UK, in September 1620 and eventually landed at Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, in November of that year. Today more than 30 million people can trace their ancestry to the 102 passengers and approximately 30 crew aboard, who came from England and Holland. There were already established European colonies in the New World, but those who arrived on the Mayflower differed from their predecessors by establishing progressive relations with the Indigenous Peoples. The Pilgrims were famous for their ideals of freedom and humanity which led to a historic peace treaty and positive relationship with the Wampanoag Tribe. This was demonstrated in their joint 1621 autumn harvest celebration, the historic birth of the American Thanksgiving holiday. The Mayflower voyage marks such a momentous event in America’s history that 2020 will see a series of celebrations and events across the U.S., especially in the New England region, which includes the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Plymouth 400 series of events includes a grand Opening Ceremony (24 April), Maritime Salute, Regatta and traditional New England lobster dinner (2 – 28 June), Wampanoag Ancestors Walk and Drum Ceremony (1 August); and Embarkation Festival (19 – 20 September) to engage audiences in America’s story of exploration. In Boston, Massachusetts, Charlestown Navy Yard will host free maritime festival Mayflower Sails 2020 from 14 – 19 May 2020. The Mayflower II, a full-scale replica ship has been undergoing an $11.2 million-restoration project at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut ahead of next year’s anniversary and will make its debut sail at Mayflower Sails 2020.


Brand new OZO Maldives private island resort opening in 2020

 Scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2020, the 200-villa private island resort will occupy a secluded island in the Raa Atoll. The property will feature design elements inspired by a fictitious castaway explorer named Sebastian King III, an artist and amateur sailor who was shipwrecked and lived alone on the island for eight years before allowing himself to be discovered. OZO Maldives will immerse travellers in a reinterpretation of the legacy Sebastian left behind through a series of structures, shelters and landmarks he creatively constructed from island-sourced raw materials and flotsam washed ashore over the years. Of the 200 villas at OZO Maldives, 60 villas will be located overwater while 140 villas will be located on the beach, with 50 beach villas offering larger family-friendly layouts and private plunge pools. Positioned as a family-oriented resort, OZO Maldives will bear all the signatures which define an OZO property including an enhanced sleep experience, smart connectivity of personal devices in both private spaces and public areas, and curated destination and activity tips by enthusiastic and informed team members.


Bear Grylls Survival Academy to open in Ras Al Khaimah 

Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, will welcome its very own Bear Grylls Survival Academy in early 2020 adding to its existing rich portfolio of adventure tourism activities. The adventure destination, already home to the world’s longest zipline, is committed to introducing attractions and opportunities for thrill-seekers to get their hearts racing with plenty of adrenaline-packed activities on offer. The new academy will provide those brave enough the chance to learn Grylls’ extreme survival techniques and tricks. Home to many of the world’s most adrenaline-packed and memorable activities suitable for families and adults; corporates as well as outdoor enthusiasts, Ras Al Khaimah is certainly on the map as a top destination for 2020.   

Greater Fort Lauderdale celebrates inaugural Pride of the Americas LGBT Festival 2020

Greater Fort Lauderdale will proudly host the first ever Pride of the Americas LGBT Festival from 21 – 26 April 2020. The 10-day event is set to bring in more than 350,000 visitors from across the globe. The celebration will showcase conferences, symposiums both focusing on business, travel, health and conservation programs, as well an international arts festival, concerts, parade, beach parties and social events. Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to the only tourist board in the world housing a department specifically designed to develop LGBT+ tourism. Naturally, this has made the city one of the most popular U.S destinations for LGBT+ visitors, as well as having the highest concentration of same-sex couples in the country. Pride of the Americas offers visitors the chance to be part of a movement that strengthens the LGBT+ community while focusing global attention on advocacy and educational programming.


Art Anniversaries in New York City

Next year sees a number of exciting art stories unfold across America’s culture capital, New York City. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2020, by hosting events and exhibitions across the U.S and internationally. These will not only reflect on, and celebrate the past of the museum, but will also look into the future. The transformed Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) will reopen in autumn 2019 and will house a selection of contemporary art displays throughout 2020, showcasing its freshly renovated and expanded space. MOMA will exhibit a mixture of art work including the Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction exhibition, a celebration of Latin American art, as well as the David Geffen Wing, where Geffen’s art collections will be displayed, featuring artworks from Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollack and more.


Vienna: 2020 Capital of Music

The year 2020 marks the 250 anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth – and today, Vienna still sets the tone as the European capital of classical music. Vienna was the focal point of Beethoven’s life for more than 35 years and the traces of the composer are manifold across the city. Every night in the city around 10,000 music fans are treated to live classical music at the famous State Opera as well as a range of other renowned musical institutions. The world capital of music has even managed to successfully transpose its classical music legacy to the present day. Each year the Austrian capital stages more than 15,000 concerts, with the Vienna State Opera as one of the most popular, with an impressive average attendance of 99%. The Vienna State Opera is one of the world’s leading opera venues and is also credited as having the largest repertoire of any of its peers. Classical music can be found around every corner of Vienna, and with the 250th anniversary of Beethoven, one of the city’s most important residents, the year 2020 is truly the time to celebrate its music and history.


UEC Road European Championships to take place in Trento, Trentino in September 2020 

September 2020 sees the EUC Road European Championships arrive in Trento, the renaissance capital city of Trentino steeped in art, history and culture. Five days of racing from 9 – 13 September 2020 will take cyclists from Trento to Trentino’s Monte Bondone and to the crystal blue waters of Valle dei Laghi. A legendary destination for cyclists, Trentino is home to some of the world’s most exciting mountain valleys and downhill stretches, with the city of Trento providing the region with excellent road cycling options. When visitors aren’t watching the racing, they can head to the MUSE Science Museum where the individual time trials begin. This famous museum of natural science was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano who also designed The Shard.


New Snowdunes fun park launches at 2020 in Qatar

Qatar is a true hotspot for winter sun with warm climes during colder months, but visitors to Doha will finally be able to chill out year round from 2020 as the Snowdunes fun park launches at Doha Festival City. Themed around a fantasy Arabian town from the distant past, complete with its own Arabian-style castle, the Snowdunes mimic the authentic feeling of snow with the help of cutting-edge snow machines. With different slides, slopes and a carousel, there are plenty of thrills and spills to be had in this ice-cold fun park that will remain at a cool -4 degrees all year. Snowdunes is set to offer the perfect respite from Doha’s summer heat, and great festive fun in winter months.


Experience astro-tourism in Chile with the Total Solar Eclipse in December 2020

Chile’s pristine dark skies make it one of the best astro-tourism destinations in the world, ideal for amateur and professional stargazers alike. Following the total solar eclipse in July 2019, best viewed from Chile’s Elqui Valley, the phenomena is set to continue in 2020. The Chilean Lake District, south of Santiago (Araucanía and Los Ríos regions) will be the best place to view the total solar eclipse due in December 2020. A full solar eclipse occurs when the moon travels between the sun and the earth, and casts a shadow over the earth. In addition, the evening before the eclipse aligns with the peak period of activity of the Geminid meteor shower, where observers have the chance to see a stunning 120 meteors per hour in the starry sky. Visitors to Chile can also delve into deep space at the ALMA observatory in the Atacama Desert, home to the largest radio telescope on Earth.  Guided tours and public visits are available to learn about the observatories discoveries relating to galaxies, mass stars and black holes in space.


Abu Dhabi welcomes World Expo 2020 visitors to the Emirate

World Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world, welcoming 190 participating countries and millions of visitors during its six-month run, which begins in October 2020. Taking place in Dubai, the Expo is a mere 50-minute drive from Abu Dhabi city, where fantastic transportation will take visitors to the fair, allowing guests to explore more of the UAE and make the most of Abu Dhabi’s wide range of fantastic accommodation, beautiful beaches, culture, including the world-famous Louvre Abu Dhabi, and exhilarating attractions, such as Warner Bros. World and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. World Expos are one of the oldest and largest international events on the planet, and have in the past been used to launch the telephone (Philadelphia, 1876), the Eiffel Tower (Paris, 1889), the ice cream cone (St Louis, 1904), and touchscreens (Knoxville, 1982). The theme for World Expo 2020 will be to celebrate culture, collaboration and innovations from across the world through an array of events, pavilions and demonstrations.


Club Med to open its first Canadian resort in Québec in 2020

Discover a winter wonderland in Québec, Canada’s largest province. In 2020 French all-inclusive operator, Club Med, is due to open its first resort in North America in Québec’s Charlevoix region. The $120 million all-inclusive Club Med Mountain Resort will be located in Le Massif, just an hour away from Québec City International Airport, and will offer outdoor sports and activities year-round. Guests can ski down powder slopes with views of the St. Lawrence River across the resort. The 300-room property will be classed as a four Trident resort but will also include a five Trident luxury space.


Namibia celebrates its 30th Anniversary of Independence 

Set to celebrate its 30th Anniversary of Independence in March 2020, Namibia should definitely be on the ‘hot list’ for next year. One of the biggest annual celebrations in the country and the most iconic day of Namibian patriotism, 21st March marks the day in 1990 when independence from South Africa was officially recognised. Its 30th Anniversary is set to be extra special as £1.3 million has been set aside for the celebrations nationwide with plenty of cultural performances and entertainment for everyone to enjoy. This national day is celebrated in grand style with a magnificent parade, taking place in the Independence Stadium in the country’s capital, Windhoek welcoming visitors from all over the globe to join them in celebrating this iconic moment in history.


Hot new 2020 hotel openings to sing about in Nashville

Nashville, famed for its multi-genre music scene, creative neighbourhoods, local cuisine and southern hospitality, will see a host of new hotel openings hitting the scene in 2020 and beyond. Nashville’s Margaritaville Hotel will open in December 2019 with 217 guest rooms and rooftop pool city views and Virgin Hotels Nashville will open in 2020 with 240 guest rooms. Richard Branson commented on the brand’s latest expansion, “Nashville’s time is now and we want to be part of that excitement”. Looking ahead, ground has broken on the Marriott Edition and Four Seasons developments opening downtown in 2022. The Four Seasons hotel will be the first five star hotel to open in Nashville in over a decade. The boutique hotel boom in Music City has seen the likes of The Russell, a 115-year-old church conversion in East Nashville and Van Dyke’s Bed and Beverage, with first floor bar and top shelf tipple inspired luxury rooms to open their doors in 2019. There’s never been a better time to check in to Nashville and check out the city.


Caoilfhionn Rose

Caoilfhionn is a freelance travel writer who enjoys slow travel and avoiding landmarks in favour of diving into a destination's culture. Instagram: @CaoilfhionnRose

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