In our last blog of the year, we look at 10 travel events worth watching in 2020. From the world’s biggest sporting event to behind-the-scenes tours at Buckingham Palace, here are some dates for your diary.
The eyes of the world will be on Japan’s capital in 2020 when Tokyo hosts the biggest sporting festival of the year – the Games of the XXXII Olympiad from July 24 to August 8.
If you’re travelling for the sports and the spectacle, then you’ll probably enjoy the Olympics in Tokyo – the world’s largest megalopolis and a city famed for its bright lights, natural landscapes and tasty cuisine.
But if your main priority is to see the sights and explore the neighbourhoods – from the famed Shibuya Crossing and Skytree to Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi – then you’d probably have a much more memorable experience at any other time.
The simple reason is that Tokyo will experience such a huge influx of people during the Games (upwards of 10 million visitors are predicted) that it will be difficult to get around, let alone find affordable flights, accommodation or a table at your favourite restaurant.
While the capital will be heaving, the good news is you could always jump on the Shinkansen bullet train and experience more serene parts of the country.
Japan Airlines is also giving away 50,000 domestic flights to international visitors during the Olympics, as part of the Your Japan 2020 marketing campaign.
Full details will be released in February for members of the JAL rewards program.
Legoland Resort New York
The largest Legoland in the world will open in the Hudson Valley, about 60 miles northwest of New York City, on Independence Day, July 4.
The big talking point is the debut of “Lego Factory Adventure,” a new attraction featuring the world’s first use of on-ride tracking technology that turns riders into mini Lego figures.
A one-day admission costs $US79.99 at the gate, but buy online and you’ll save 10 per cent. An adult pass costs $71.99 online and a child $62.99.
Giza’s Grand Egyptian Museum
It’s almost two decades since Egypt’s $US1 billion museum was conceived, but after numerous delays and false starts, it’s finally due to open in 2020.
Officials hope the vast Grand Egyptian Museum – near the Pyramids of Giza and 30 minutes from Cairo’s new Sphinx International Airport – will attract five million visitors each year.
The world’s biggest archaeological museum will contain 7,000 sq metres dedicated to King Tutankhamen, with the 5,400 objects retrieved from his tomb (discovered by Howard Carter in 1922) displayed together for the first time, including his three coffins and the funeral mask.
A nine metre high statue of Ramses II (pictured), his left foot striding forward and fists clenched in readiness, will be the first thing visitors see when they enter the atrium.
It will also be home to 28 shops, 10 restaurants, a conference centre and a cinema.
Virgin Voyages Sets Sail
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin brand already includes airlines, hotels and even space travel – (the trains recently came to a screeching halt after 22 years) – so it was about time he launched a cruise line.
Virgin Voyages launches in March 2020 with adults-only cruises of the Caribbean.
Scarlet Lady, an 18-and-over ship, will sail between Miami and the Caribbean all year-round. A second ship, the Mediterranean-based Valiant Lady, is scheduled to launch in 2021, followed by two more by 2023.
Branson was in Australia recently to announce a partnership between Virgin Voyages and Virgin Australia, which will fly Australian travellers to Miami to board the ship. Check out its Tail to Sail package aimed at Aussie travellers.
Buckingham Palace Tours
Ever wondered what it’s really like inside Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official London office and residence near St James’s Park?
Well from July 18 to September 27, we can all get a feel for what it’s like to live at London’s most famous address when the State Rooms, The Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews throw their doors open to the public as part of Royal Day Out.
The highlight of the 4.5 hour tour is the State Rooms, which include the Throne Room, the White Drawing Room (where the Queen receives her guests on official occasions) and the Ballroom.
The finest works in the Royal Collection will also be on display. The tour ends in the gardens where the Queen holds her annual garden tea.
Just don’t expect to see HRH – she’ll be on her summer holiday at Balmoral.
Race To Space
Billionaire Elon Musk and Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson both want to send everyday people to space. But Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos might beat them both to the punch.
Bezos’ Blue Origin space company aims to launch crewed test flights of his New Shepard craft in 2020. The company is testing commercial space flights that would take paying passengers on an 11-minute flight to the boundary of space.
But before you get too excited, it won’t happen for a few more years and tickets will be priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Rolls Royce is also planning a test flight of its electric plane, ACCEL, in 2020, which will be capable of flying at 300 mph.
Berth of A New Era
From October 2020, the Port of Brisbane will welcome some of the world’s largest cruise ships following a $158 million upgrade to the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.
Not only will it be the first dedicated mega-cruise ship terminal in Queensland, Australia, but it will more than double the size of the cruise industry in the Sunshine State.
Within the first five years, the new mega terminal is expected to handle over 1,100 cruise ships and around 1.8 million passengers.
Farewell Brasserie Ruhlmann
It’s almost last drinks at Brasserie Ruhlmann, the decades-old French restaurant at Rockefeller Plaza, in the heart of New York City.
The famed restaurant – with its Art Deco furnishings and ‘Mad Men-esque’ vibe – is just one of many longtime eateries at Rockefeller Plaza (along with Sea Grill and Cucina & Co) that will make way for more modern, fast-casual offerings from next month.
The team behind the popular modern French bistro Frenchette are expected to open a casual French-style brasserie on the same site at 45 Rockefeller Plaza.
One of the best memories I have is dining at Brasserie Ruhlmann at Christmas in 2014, as hordes of tourists flocked to the plaza outside to admire the enormous Christmas tree with its sparkling lights or skate on the famous ice rink alongside the great statue of Prometheus.
If you’re in New York in coming weeks, do yourself a favour and book a table at Brasserie Ruhlmann before it’s gone for good.
Australia’s First Aerotel
Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport will be getting not one but two in-terminal hotels in 2020. The pay-per-use Plaza Premium Lounge Sydney will open by March and the country’s first Aerotel hotel will open in the second half of 2020.
Plaza Premium Lounge will be just like any airline lounge and will allow guests to shower, charge mobile phones and enjoy a meal.
Aerotel Sydney is the real game changer for international visitors to Sydney. It will be built across 600 square meters in the arrivals hall at the international terminal, after a leasing deal between Hong Kong’s Plaza Premium Group and Sydney Airport.
Travellers will be able to check in as soon as they arrive, with the minimum stay being six hours. After that guests will be charged an hourly rate until they check out.
Hard Rock Hotel Dublin
An upscale 120-bedroom, four-star hotel under the Hard Rock brand is due to open in Dublin in early 2020.
Located on Lord Edward Street, opposite City Hall, the Hard Rock Hotel will include two buildings: the redbrick Exchange Buildings (previously the location for the Parliament Hotel) and the adjacent Fashion House Building, which will feature the entrance and reception. A glass link bridge will also connect the two properties.
The hotel chain allows guests have record players or guitars in their rooms and the Dublin hotel will have an in-room yoga experience called Rock Om.
© 2019 Bernard O’Riordan (Travel Instinct). All Rights Reserved
Have a Great Christmas and New Year. We’ll return in early 2020.
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