Cities of Tomorrow - United Hub

Cities of tomorrow

By The Hub team , July 20, 2017


Creating a recycling program that pays dividends


Amsterdam is getting wasted—but not how you might think. In the city's Noord district, the Dutch have turned trash into literal treasure, i.e., local currency, with Wasted, a project from the nonprofit Cities Foundation that incentivizes recycling. In exchange for collecting plastic household waste, the program gives participants (“neighbors") Wasted-branded coins that are redeemable at some 30 local businesses (“friends") for goods and services—think craft beer or a slice of carrot cake for one coin, half off a bike repair for three, or a reiki treatment for seven.

Graphic of Amsterdam's recycling system.

And it's working. Since the program was introduced in 2015, nearly 700 households have chipped in to divert more than 16 tons of garbage. What's more, the trash dodges not only landfills but also municipal recycling centers, because Wasted recycles the plastic by hand and teaches the neighborhood how to do it too.

At the Wasted Laboratory, community members learn about plastic consumption, its effect on the environment, and how to identify different types before seeing firsthand what happens to all that plastic that gets collected. In a workshop demonstration, participants melt, mold, and press trash into reusable building blocks on small-scale, homemade machines; the organization makes the open-source plans for these machines available on its website so communities everywhere can follow suit.

This year, Noord residents will see their plastic pop back up around the neighborhood, with the colorful blocks being used to build planters, benches, temporary event stages, and even playgrounds. —Hannah Lott-Schwartz


One-upping NYC's High Line model


Fifty-five feet above the streets of South Korea's capital, a living library teems with plant life. Skygarden, which debuts later this year, transforms more than a half mile of abandoned highway bypass into an open-air public space reminiscent of New York's High Line. The $33 million project takes a human approach to infrastructure, introducing cafés, shops, exhibitions, stages, trampolines, and even a foot bath to the formerly condemned overpass, which connects parks in the city's west with the central Namdaemun Market.

What sets Skygarden apart, however, is its veritable dictionary of South Korean flora, the thousands of plants representing 254 species of tree, shrub, and flower arranged alphabetically by neighborhood name. Lily ponds abut feathery ginkgo trees, bushes with edible berries, and succulent gardens in two main squares, where the landscape reinvents itself each season.

Skygarden follows the success of the Cheonggyecheon urban renewal project, which converted a polluted stream into a pedestrian-friendly linear park in 2005. And though Skygarden lives high above Seoul, its architects aim for its roots to grow downward and sprout similar projects, turning the cityscape green one alley, roof, and parking lot at a time. —HLS

Manchester, England

Welcoming back a buzzworthy ecological ally


Worker bees have been a symbol of this manufacturing powerhouse since the Industrial Revolution—they even appear on the city's official coat of arms. Despite the Mancunian reverence for the insects, however, they barely made it out of the 19th century alive.

But now, thanks to cleaner air, expanding greenery, and an enthusiastic amateur beekeeping community, Manchester is making amends to its hive-dwellers at a time when they're under siege the world over. Beehives have sprung up not only in community gardens and in private yards, but also on the rooftops of prominent landmarks, such as Manchester Cathedral, the two-century-old Manchester Art Gallery, and The Printworks, an entertainment complex housed in an old newspaper press. Meanwhile, at the Manchester Museum, the current exhibit After the Bees explores how bees are necessary for human survival through artworks, photography, and film. And befitting a city with one of the world's most popular sports teams, a group of bee-loving soccer enthusiasts is even hard at work turning the stadium and its surroundings into a pollinator-friendly environment.

“With the Industrial Revolution, we invented pollution and exported it around the world," says local beekeeper Richard Searle, who's working with like-minded bee enthusiasts to brew honey-based beer. “But now we've got delegations from China and all over the world that come to study how you can revive the urban environment.

“Beekeeping requires a collective," Searle continues. “It's how the bees work, and they've been around for millions of years." —Chaney Kwak

Greenville, South Carolina

Repurposing historically relevant spaces


Greenville hasn't always lived up to its name. The self-proclaimed Textile Capital of the World was once home to nearly two dozen fabric mills and factories, which was great for the local economy—but not so much for the environment. The effects of that industry took an especially tough toll on the Reedy River, for decades a polluted afterthought running through downtown. An ongoing cleanup campaign kicked off an urban transformation that brought new life to the heart of Greenville with bars, galleries, and restaurants.

Now the city has turned this new eco-minded ethos toward the mills themselves. More than simply honoring the city's industrial heritage, plans to repurpose these brick behemoths have an eco-friendly goal: keeping untold tons of equipment and building debris out of landfills.

So far, four redevelopment projects have transformed mills
into luxury residential, office, and retail spaces. One of the newest players in the city's thriving bar scene is the Birds Fly South Ale Project, a brewery that opened last year in a 9,000-square-foot cotton warehouse with original wood from the early 1900s. And at least three new projects are slated for 2017, including the Woodside Cotton Mill, once the largest cotton mill in the world, which will house 300 apartments, a general store, offices, an events venue, and a brewery and restaurant—further evidence of the bright future that looms for this progressive Southern town. —Blane Bachelor


Constructing fish-inspired skyscrapers by the sea


Appropriate to their waterfront location, Sydney's newest trio of high-rises, the International Towers, are covered in fins. Unlike the piscine kind, however, these colorful shading panels are made for sustainability instead of mobility, responding to the sun throughout the day to reflect or deflect light and control temperatures while channeling natural light into the towers' offices.

The fins are among many forward-thinking design elements that earned these structures six Green Stars, the highest sustainability standard in Australia. For example, instead of running air conditioners, these futuristic buildings draw chilly water from the adjacent harbor and use it as coolant. The towers also generate solar energy, collect rain, treat wastewater on-site, recycle 84 percent of their food court waste, and even deodorize the trash room using fermented fruits.

“It's a big leap, but it's the way the industry has to go," says Geoff Dutaillis, the head of sustainability at Lendlease, the project's developer. Together with the adjacent Renzo Piano–designed high-rises, the International Towers are completely transforming the once derelict concrete container wharf of Barangaroo South into a carbon-neutral community. In addition to restaurants and an in-the-works luxury hotel, over half of the 54-acre district is set aside for public space. —CK


Building a neighborhood on a former brownfield site


Some 20 years after it became a brownfield site—meaning it was too contaminated for safe use—an area in downtown Austin's southwest quadrant is being reborn as the Seaholm EcoDistrict, the first of its kind in Texas. This eco-conscious utopia is more than its LEED certifications (though every last building was constructed to green standards). With the EcoDistrict designation comes a philosophy: to enhance quality of life while promoting sustainable living. It's not about demolition but revitalization, modernizing an inefficient, outdated model with a conscious eye toward both climate change and social health.

To that end, a stunning mid-century power plant—built in the sleek Art Moderne style—anchors the 90-acre district both physically and ideologically. After being decommissioned in the late '80s, the plant underwent years of meticulous renovations, wherein architects not only kept 75 percent of construction waste out of the landfill thanks to a sustainable design approach but also used more than 20 percent recycled and locally sourced materials in the update. Preservation was completed last year, yielding 130,000 square feet of private office and retail space, including a restaurant in one of the former boiler rooms.

Seaholm is also getting nearly 1,500 multifamily housing units, the sunlight-filled New Central Library (with 3-D printers and a live oak on the roof), bike- and car-share programs, solar benches with built-in USB charging stations, local food initiatives, art installations, and streets inspired by woonerf, a Dutch design concept that places equal value on pedestrians, bicycles, and cars. Meanwhile, below the surface, the city's rainwater collection and wastewater reclamation systems help save millions of gallons of potable water every year. Thinking ahead comes at a price, of course—more than $2 billion by the time all major development projects wrap in 2019—but for eco- and future-minded Austin-ites, the result is priceless. —HLS


Rethinking the post-industrial skyline


Green is not at the top of most people's minds when they think of Pittsburgh, but the “Smoky City" has come a long way since its steel mill days. In fact, the city now boasts 39 LEED-certified buildings, including a number of eco-friendly firsts: the first green university dormitory (at Carnegie Mellon), the first green radio station, and the first green children's museum, not to mention America's first LEED-certified convention center, upgraded to LEED Platinum in 2012.

The latest addition to the green skyline is the LEED Platinum–certified Tower at PNC Plaza, completed in 2015, which has been called the world's greenest office tower, thanks to a one-of-a-kind breathable double skin facade to ventilate the building, on-site wastewater recycling, and a solar chimney to evacuate hot air.

So why has the city been so committed to going green? “The alignment of place, passion, and commitment to sustainability positions Pittsburgh as a green building ideas incubator," says architect Christine Mondor, principal of evolveEA, a consulting and design firm that has managed the certification of more than 60 LEED projects.

“Pittsburgh has been able to punch above our weight with some of the earliest and highest-performing green buildings in the country," Mondor says. “We are a competitive bunch and take pride in our region's commitment to green building." —Devorah Lev-Tov

Victoria, British Columbia

Turning a neighborhood into a locavore hub


Victoria, British Columbia's coastal capital, has taken the idea of mindful eating and turned it into an entire neighborhood, the Food Eco District (FED). Within this three-by-four-block zone, which debuted in 2014, all FED members—including fine-dining restaurants, quick-service cafés, and coffee shops—are guaranteed green by the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification. Plus, the FED partners with the company Topsoil to plant organic rooftop gardens.

“I think we've opened up people's minds about growing food in the city," says project coordinator Heidi Grantner. “Alleyways and unused pavement spaces could be livened up with food and could become a key part of having a sustainable food system on Vancouver Island." In the past year, FED added six new planter boxes and three new members. FED helped carbon-neutral Italian eatery Zambri's plant lemon and olive trees and procured Kaffir lime trees for hawker-style Asian spot Foo.

Best of all, the district is changing the way people engage with their food. Every summer, a FED party offers tastes and sips from member businesses, and this year FED will pilot walking tours of the district and its gardens, with plenty of nibbles en route. “Food should be communal," Grantner says. —Lora Shinn


Making city streets more pedestrian-friendly


While conducting a noise study in 1987, Salvador Rueda, director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, assessed that traffic routinely exceeded the 65-decibel noise limit. “To reduce noise to acceptable levels, select streets must be residential," he says.

Thirty years on, Rueda's findings have morphed into an ambitious Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan that, in addition to reducing noise pollution, aims to reduce traffic accidents and air pollution. The solution: implementing a series of pedestrian-only urban cells,
or “superblocks."

First introduced in the trendy El Born district in the '90s, the superblocks are outlined by a network of roads connecting to the rest of the city. Within the cells, traffic speeds will be reduced to 10 km/h (6 mph), with vehicle access for residents only, clearing more than 70 percent of traffic congestion in favor of green spaces. And more than 120 miles of bike lanes will replace cars as the standard means of transportation.

While it's normal for change to be initially met with resistance, a pilot superblock introduced last fall in the emerging Poblenou neighborhood received surprisingly favorable reviews; neighbors embraced the car-free area by regularly organizing events and pressuring the city council to add trees, benches, and a playground.

For Rueda, this plan is long overdue. “Since the usage of cars has become widespread in society, it has been the king and we the servants," he says. “Perhaps it's time to revolt and turn that the other way around." —Jessica Benavides Canepa

San Antonio

Putting a river back on the right course


The Alamo City's River Walk may be one of Texas's most visited attractions, but the project—which involved building dams and bypass channels—hasn't been kind to the ecosystem, leaving stretches of the San Antonio River devoid of aquatic life. That's all changing, thanks to one of the country's biggest environmental triumphs.

In 2013, San Antonio completed a multiyear project to restore the natural flow of the river and connect its farthest reaches via expanded pathways. While the river's northern stretch—home to the lively Pearl District, an urban renewal success story in a monumental old brewery—got the buzz, more than $270 million of the $384 million initiative went to the ecological restoration of the river's more natural southern expanse, the 8-river-mile Mission Reach. The numbers are impressive: 113 acres of restored riparian habitat, 15 miles of trails, and hundreds of now flourishing native plants and wildlife species, including egrets, herons, and armadillos. The project has been so successful that it attracts leaders from cities around the world to see how they can adapt the model.

Another waterway restoration project is now in the works, with plans to revitalize 2.2 miles of parkland surrounding San Pedro Creek, which runs through one of the city's historic West Side neighborhoods and is often mistaken for a drainage ditch. A $175 million redevelopment project aims to restore the creek's natural habitat and reinvent it as a pedestrian-friendly destination that features public art. The initial segment is slated for completion by May 2018—perfectly timed for San Antonio's tricentennial. —BB

Taking action to make a global impact

By The Hub team , January 17, 2020

Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes

Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.

These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.

Australian wildfire relief efforts

Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.

Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.

These medical supplies will fly to MEL (Melbourne) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.

By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives

Help us (and Ellen DeGeneres) support wildfire relief efforts in Australia

By The Hub team , January 08, 2020

Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.

On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.

Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit

We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.

Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.

In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.

20 Reasons to Travel in 2020

By Hemispheres Magazine , January 01, 2020

20. Spot Giant Pandas in China

In 2016, giant pandas were removed from the endangered species list, and China would like to keep it that way. This year, the country plans to consolidate the creatures' known habitats into one unified national park system spanning nearly 10,500 square miles across Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces—about the size, in total, of Massachusetts. —Nicholas DeRenzo

19. Follow in James Bond's Footsteps in Jamaica

Photo: Design Pics/Carson Ganci/Getty Images

When No Time to Die hits theaters on April 8, it marks a number of returns for the James Bond franchise. The 25th chapter in the Bond saga is the first to come out since 2015's Spectre; it's Daniel Craig's fifth go-round as 007, after rumors the actor was set to move on; and it's the first time the series has filmed in Jamaica since 1973's Live and Let Die. The Caribbean island has always had a special place in Bond lore: It was the location of one of creator Ian Fleming's homes, GoldenEye (which is now a resort), and the setting for the first 007 movie, 1962's Dr. No. Looking to live like a super-spy? You don't need a license to kill—just a ride to Port Antonio, where you can check out filming locations such as San San Beach and colonial West Street. Remember to keep your tux pressed and your Aston Martin on the left side of the road. —Justin Goldman

18. See the Future of Architecture in Venice

Every other year, Venice hosts the art world's best and brightest during its celebrated Biennale. But the party doesn't stop during off years, when the Architecture Biennale takes place. This year, curator Hashim Sarkis, the dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, has tasked participants with finding design solutions for political divides and economic inequality; the result, on display from May to November, is the intriguing show How Will We Live Together? —Nicholas DeRenzo

17. Celebrate Beethoven's 250th Birthday in Bonn

Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Catch a Beethoven concerto in Bonn, Germany, to celebrate the hometown hero's big 2-5-0.

16. Eat Your Way Through Slovenia

When Ana Roš of Hiša Franko was named the World's Best Female Chef in 2017, food lovers began to wonder: Do we need to pay attention to Slovenia? The answer, it turns out, is definitely yes. This March, the tiny Balkan nation about two hours east of Venice gets its own Michelin Guide. —Nicholas DeRenzo

15. Star- (and Sun-) Gaze in Patagonia

Photo: blickwinkel/Alamy

Come December 13 and 14, there will be no better spot for sky-watchers than northern Patagonia, which welcomes both the peak of the Geminid meteor shower and a total solar eclipse within 24 hours. —Nicholas DeRenzo

14. Explore Miami's Game-Changing New Park

About 70,000 commuters use Miami's Metrorail each day, and city planners aim to turn the unused space beneath its tracks into an exciting new public space, a 10-mile linear park aptly named The Underline. Luckily, the Magic City is in good hands: The project is being helmed by James Corner Field Operations, the geniuses behind New York's High Line. “Both projects share similarities in their overarching goals," says principal designer Isabel Castilla, “to convert a leftover infrastructural space into a public space that connects neighborhoods, generates community, and encourages urban regeneration." When finished, Miami's park will be about seven times as long as its Big Apple counterpart. The first half-mile leg, set to open this June, is the Brickell Backyard, which includes an outdoor gym, a butterfly garden, a dog park, and gaming tables that call to mind the dominoes matches you'll find nearby in Little Havana. “We envision the Underline dramatically changing the way people in Miami engage with public space," Castilla says. —Nicholas DeRenzo

Photo: philipus/Alamy

13. Kick Off the NFL in Las Vegas

Photo: Littleny/Alamy

Former Raiders owner Al Davis was famous for saying, “Just win, baby." His son, Mark Davis, the team's current owner, is more likely to be shouting “Vegas, baby!" Swingers-style, as his team becomes Sin City's first NFL franchise, the Las Vegas Raiders. After years of threats and lawsuits, the Raiders have finally left Oakland, and this summer they're landing just across the highway from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in a 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion domed stadium that will also host the UNLV football team, the next two Pac-12 championship games, and the Las Vegas Bowl. Construction is slated to be finished July 31, just in time for the NFL preseason—and just in time to lure football fans from the sportsbooks to the grandstand. —Justin Goldman

12. Celebrate the Suffragettes in Washington D.C.

All eyes are on the ballot box this year, but the electorate would look quite different if not for the 19th Amendment, which was ratified 100 years ago this August. Many D.C. institutions, such as the National Archives Museum and the Library of Congress, are honoring the decades-long struggle for women's suffrage with exhibits. In particular, the National Museum of American History unveils Sarah J. Eddy's portrait of Susan B. Anthony this March, before putting on a 'zine-inspired show on girlhood and youth social movements this June. —Nicholas DeRenzo

11. Go for a Ride Through Mexico City

If you want to get somewhere quickly in Mexico City, try going by bicycle. During peak traffic, bikes average faster speeds than cars or public transportation—which might explain why ridership has gone up almost 50 percent since 2007. And riding on two wheels is getting safer and easier. In 2019, the city announced plans to invest $10 million (more than it had spent in the last six years combined) into the construction of about 50 miles of new paths and lanes. Now, you can cycle on a two-mile separated path along the Paseo de la Reforma, from Colonia Juárez and Roma to Chapultepec Park and Polanco. Future plans include a route along the National Canal between Coyoacán (where Frida Kahlo once lived) and Xochimilco (with its floating flower farms). “The goal is to finish the six-year [presidential] term with 600 kilometers of bike infrastructure," says Roberto Mendoza of the city's Secretariat of Mobility. Time to start pedaling. —Naomi Tomky

10. Consider the Mayflower's Legacy in Massachusetts and Abroad

Photo: Thianchai Sitthikongsak

Before they came to America in 1620, the religious separatists now known as the Pilgrims lived in England and the Netherlands. This year, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing will be commemorated not only by those nations but also by a fourth: The Wampanoag, the confederation of tribes that live in New England and whose role in this world-changing event has been at best left out and at worst distorted.

“We're challenging the myths and stereotypes," says Aquinnah Wampanoag author Linda Coombs, a board member of Plymouth 400, Inc., which is planning cultural events such
as an Ancestors Walk to honor the native villages pushed aside by settlers, as well as
an indigenous history conference and powwow (plus an $11 million restoration of the replica Mayflower II).

Kerri Helme, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag nation and cultural programs manager at Plimoth Plantation, says that “people want to hear the whole story." She notes that it's a commonly held belief that the Pilgrims were welcomed by the natives, when in fact their first encounter was violent, since the English had been stealing the Wampanoags' food.

“The Wampanoag are key players in all of this," says Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400 in the U.K. “It's a whole other aspect of this history." In England, a Mayflower trail will connect Pilgrim sites in towns such as Southampton and Plymouth, and in Leiden, the Dutch town where the Pilgrims took refuge before embarking for the New World, the ethnology museum will run an exhibit about the natives.

“The most important thing for us, as the Wampanoag people," says Paula Peters, a former Wampanoag council member, “is to be acknowledged as a vital tribe comprised of people that, in spite of everything that's happened, are still here." —Jon Marcus

9. Discover Lille's Design Scene

Photo: Mark Bassett/Alamy

Previous World Design Capitals have included major cultural hubs such as Helsinki and Seoul, so it came as a shock when Lille, France's 10th-largest city, beat Sydney for this year's title. Judges cited Lille's use of design to improve its citizens' lives; get a taste for yourself at spots like La Piscine Musée d'Art et d'Industrie, a gallery in a former Art Deco swim center. —Nicholas DeRenzo

8. See Stellar Space in Rio de Janeiro, the World Capital of Architecture

Rio de Janeiro is renowned for the beauty of its beaches and mountains, but the Cidade Maravilhosa's man-made structures are as eye-catching as its natural features. For that reason, UNESCO recently designated Rio its first World Capital of Architecture, honoring a city that boasts such landmarks as the stained glass–domed Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, the fairy-tale Ilha Fiscal palace, and the uber-modern Niterói Contemporary Art Museum.

"Rio is an old city by New World standards, having been founded in the mid–16th century," says architectural photographer Andrew Prokos, who took this shot. "So the city has many layers of architectural styles, from Colonial and Rococo to Art Nouveau, Modernist, Brutalist, and contemporary." In the case of this museum, which was designed by perhaps Brazil's greatest architect, Pritzker Prize winner Oscar Niemeyer, Prokos was intrigued by how the 24-year-old building interacts with its surroundings. "The upward slope of the museum complements the slope of the Pão de Açúcar across the bay," he says, "so the two are speaking to each other from across the water." – Tom Smyth

7. Join the Avengers at Disneyland

This summer, Disney California Adventure unveils its Marvel-themed Avengers Campus, with a new Spider-Man attraction, followed later by an Ant-Man restaurant and a ride through Wakanda. If the hype surrounding last year's debut of Disney+ is any indication, Comic-Con types are going to lose their fanboy (and -girl) minds. —Nicholas DeRenzo

6. Listen to Jazz in Cape Town

Photo: Eric Nathan/Alamy

Cape Town's natural wonders draw visitors from all over the world, but there's a hidden gem beyond the mountains, beaches, and seas: music. Much as jazz was born from America's diverse peoples, Cape jazz combines the traditions and practices of the city's multiethnic population, creating genres such as goema (named after a type of hand drum) and marabi (a keyboard style that arose in the townships). Cape Town has hosted an International Jazz Festival for
20 years (the 21st edition is this March 27–28), and now UNESCO is giving the Mother City its musical due by naming it the Global Host City of International Jazz Day 2020. The theme of the event—which takes place on April 30, features an All Star Global Concert, and is the climax of Jazz Appreciation Month—is “Tracing the Roots and Routes of African Jazz." During the dark days of slavery and apartheid, music became an outlet through which repressed people could express their struggle for freedom. What better way to mark a quarter century of democracy here than with a celebration of that most free style of music? —Struan Douglas

5. Take a Walk Around England

Many hikers love walking around England—but how many can say that they've truly walked around England? When it's completed, the England Coast Path will be the longest managed seaside trail in the world, completely circumnavigating the coastline, from the fishing villages of Cornwall and the beaches of Nothumberland to the limestone arches of the Jurassic Coast and the sandy dunes of Norfolk. Much of the trail is already waymarked (the 630-mile South West Coast Path is particularly challenging and beautiful), with new legs set to open throughout the year. If you want to cross the whole thing off your bucket list, be warned that it's no walk in the park: At around 2,795 miles, the completed route is 605 miles longer than the Appalachian Trail and about the same as the distance between New York and Los Angeles. —Nicholas DeRenzo

4. Get Refreshed in the Israeli Desert

Six Senses resorts are known for restorative retreats in places like Fiji, Bali, and the Maldives. For its latest location, the wellness-minded brand is heading to a more unexpected locale: the Arava Valley, in the far south of Israel. Opening this spring, the Six Senses Shaharut will offer overnight camel camping, off-roading in the surrounding desert, and restaurants serving food grown in the resort's gardens or sourced from nearby kibbutzim. While the valley is said to be near King Solomon's copper mines, the Six Senses is sure to strike gold. —Nicholas DeRenzo

3. Say konnichiwa on July 24 at the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, which plays host for the first time since 1964.

The Japanese capital plays host for the first time since 1964. This year, softball and baseball will return after being absent since 2008, and four new sports—karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding—will be added to the competition for the first time. Say konnichiwa at the opening ceremonies on July 24, which will be held at renowned architect Kengo Kuma's New National Stadium. – Nicholas DeRenzo

2. Score Tickets to Euro 2020

Still feeling World Cup withdrawal? Get your “football" fix at the UEFA European Championship. From June 12 to July 12, 24 qualifying national teams will play games in stadiums from Bilbao to Baku, culminating in the semi-finals and final at London's hallowed Wembley Stadium. Will World Cup champion France bring home another trophy? Will Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal repeat its 2016 Euro win? Will the tortured English national team finally get its first title? Or will an upstart—like Greece in 2004—shock the world? —Justin Goldman

1. Soak Up Some Culture in Galway

Photo: Ian Dagnall/Alamy

Galway has long been called “the cultural heart of Ireland," so it's no surprise that this bohemian city on the country's wild west coast was named a 2020 European Capital of Culture (along with Rijeka, Croatia). The title puts a spotlight on the city (population 80,000) and County Galway, where more than 1,900 events will take place throughout the year. Things kick off in February with a seven-night opening ceremony featuring a fiery (literally) choreographed celebration starring a cast of 2,020 singing-and-drumming locals in Eyre Square. “This is a once-in-a-generation chance for Galway," says Paul Fahy, a county native and the artistic director of the Galway International Arts Festival (July 13–26). “It's a huge pressure. There's a heightened sense of expectation from audiences, not just from here but from all over the world." Art lovers will no doubt enjoy Kari Kola's illuminating work Savage Beauty, which will wash the Connemara mountains in green light to coincide with St. Patrick's Day, or the Druid Theatre Company's countywide tour of some of the best 20th-century one-act Irish plays. Visitors would also be wise to explore the rugged beauty of Connemara on a day trip with the charismatic Mairtin Óg Lally of Lally Tours, and to eat their way across town with Galway Food Tours. But beware, says Fahy: “Galway has a reputation as a place people came to 20 years ago for a weekend and never left." —Ellen Carpenter

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