Everything you need to know about where in the world you need to be.
The biggest sporting event on the planet will give cause for the biggest party Rio had ever seen. Don’t have a ticket to the Games? No worries. There will be live sites in the city for fans to come together, watch the action on big screens and enjoy live music in the festival atmosphere that Rio does best. The city will have also been given the once-over in preparation for the games, so there’s no better time to take advantage of improved transportation and a new host of affordable accommodation options.
Shakespeare’s England is gearing up for April when the region celebrates 400 years of William Shakespeare’s legacy. This year marks 400 years since the death of the world famous playwright and this special anniversary year is a unique opportunity to visit his home of Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding area. Celebrate his legacy at a range of exciting new exhibitions and events including a new immersive theatrical experience at the Royal Shakespeare Company; a reimagining of Shakespeare’s final home, and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom will open for the first time to the general public.
The country celebrates 50 years of independence in 2016 so there is no better time to explore this unique paradise. About 17% of Botswana is dedicated National Park packed with wildlife, which is a stunning feat considering the country also has one of Africa’s most stable and thriving economies. Lonely Planet gave Botswana the top spot in its coveted Best in Travel 2016 and suggested taking in the country via African gondolier in a mokoro past pods of sunbathing hippos in the Okavango Delta; or feeling the spirit of the first men in the thousand-year-old rock art in the Tsodilo Hills; or in the eerie beauty of Kubu Island’s ancient baobabs backlit by incandescent constellations in a vast night sky.
This is the year to see America at its pristine best. The country’s 59 national parks and hundreds of historical landmarks will be in tip-top shape as the National Park Service celebrates 100 years of safeguarding Yosemite, Yellowstone, Badlands, Zion, and the rest. If you pick politics over parks, America will also be swearing in its next president in November.
From the snowcapped Himalayas, to the wild jungles, Nepal is open for business. After being shaken to its core in a major earthquake last year, its mountains still stand and its people are smiling, waiting to welcome visitors back. Trekking routes are cleared and safe, most notably the path to Everest Base Camp, and there is plenty of accommodation in all categories offering incredible value for money as one of the world’s most scenically spectacular, culturally diverse and spiritually inspiring destinations.
San Sebastián is known as a culinary paradise, but a packed cultural calendar this year will prove it has much more to offer. As the Basque beauty celebrates its reign as a 2016 European Capital of Culture, large-scale artworks will populate public spaces, theaters will screen films as part of its annual film festival, and the historic Hotel Maria Cristina will impress with its refurbished belle époque interiors.
Prepare to make memories that last a lifetime during the grand opening celebration of Shanghai’s own Disneyland this June. Explore never-before-seen lands like Adventure Isle, Treasure Cove and Gardens of Imagination, and one-of-a-kind attractions and experiences. The park will also include the largest castle in any Disney theme park around the world! Make the most of the grand opening by staying at the whimsical Toy Story Hotel where a world of imagination is waiting to play; or pamper yourself with a one-of-a-kind hotel experience at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.
Latvia lights up for its silver anniversary this year as it celebrates 25 years free from the shackles of communism. Perhaps the lesser known of the European tourism hot-spots, this is the place to go to wander through crumbling castles and manor houses hidden in dense forests of pine. If you head over for a European winter, make sure you visit the capital, Rīga, which transforms into a scene from a Christmas card – it’s only to be expected from the place where the very first Christmas tree was erected.
Toronto is emerging as Canada’s must-see city after benefitting from part of the largest continuing urban revitalisation project in North America. The Queens Quay on Lake Ontario recently reopened, and now boasts bike and pedestrian paths and new streetcars that link green spaces and art-filled promenades. Head to The Junction and immerse yourself in Toronto’s most stylish bars, live music venues and coffee shops. Another bonus, the city is becoming easier to visit: a train now whisks travelers downtown from the airport in 25 minutes, and Air Canada offers extended stopovers for connecting passengers.
The diversity of Abu Dhabi is in the spotlight this year with the opening of a fleet of new architectural projects including the long-awaited Louvre Abu Dhabi, known for a lacework dome that lets in what the architect calls a “rain of light”. This year also sees upmarket hotel openings elsewhere in the city, including the 200-room Four Seasons and the 244-room Edition Hotel on the Abu Dhabi Marina. Accompanying the glitz is the green, with the continuation of the Al Wathba Wetland eco-reserve project, one of the Middle East’s first wildlife reserves and home to 232 species.
Park City, Utah
Park City is the place to be for snow-seekers in 2016. With the merging of Park City Mountain Resort and adjacent Canyons Resort, Park City is now officially the largest ski and snowboard resort in North America. A new 8 passenger Quicksilver Gondola connection, along with the new King Con Express six-pack and Motherlode Express Quad make up just some of the improvements. With over 7,300 acres, more than 300 trails, 41 lifts, 8 terrain parks, one super pipe and one mini pipe, plus many diverse ski-in/ski-out and village adjacent lodging properties, Park City is an easily accessible, world-class mountain destination located in an authentic and historic western town.
With the long-delayed paving of the Road of the Seven Lakes completed last summer, it is now possible to drive, cycle or motorbike down the 66-mile route that takes in some of Argentina’s most compelling scenery. Connecting San Martín de Los Andes to the mountain village of Villa La Angostura, an hour’s drive from the skiing and snowboarding mecca of Bariloche, the route is stunningly scenic, winding its way through forested valleys and around the namesake azure lakes, taking in national parks, snow-capped mountains and abundant waterfalls along the way.
This year, be one of the first visitors to fly commercially to one of the most remote places on earth. Saint Helena, the island where Napoleon was exiled, is nearly 2000km from the nearest land mass, and is currently only accessible by a Royal Mail ship, which sets sail on a five-day journey from Cape Town once every three weeks. There is stacks to do on the island, whether you’re a history buff, an adventurer, someone looking for walker’s paradise, or perhaps searching for a unique, far, flung experience with a relaxed and unspoiled character. An opening date for the airport hasn’t been finalised. W: sthelenatourism.com
Celebrate love with the Japanese this year as the city of Takarazuka, between Osaka and Kobe, will begin issuing certificates to recognize same-sex unions. This is the first city outside Tokyo to do so and a signal of change for gay travelers. The Kansai district is a foodie’s paradise. In fact, The Michelin Guide to Kansai had so many starred restaurants (the most worldwide) it was divided into three separate guidebooks for 2016 and offers 19 new starred restaurants. Grab your chopsticks and dig in!