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World Escapes: The Events to Travel For in 2020

As the new year dawns, there’s no better time to plan your travels. And with climate change top of mind, chances are you’re wary of clocking up unnecessary air miles and want to make each trip count. Well, what better reason to jump on a plane than one of the world’s landmark events or festivals?

Our editors have compiled your definitive calendar of events and festivals happening in 30 LUXE destinations throughout 2020. Some you’ll have heard of, some you might not — all are worth getting on a plane for.  

Better yet, you can subscribe to download the entire online calendar to view or sync with your own calendar. By doing so you’ll receive regular updates of the most exciting, travel-worthy events taking place throughout the year. Now, what are you waiting for?

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MADRID. Stretch pants at the ready for the 19-day gourmet extravaganza that is Gastrofestival (7-10 Feb). Embraced by Madrid’s restaurants, shops, bars, museums and markets, this diverse celebration of the city’s food scene features special menus by the city’s starriest chefs and home-cooking heroines along with workshops, culinary walking tours and food-related exhibitions held in the city’s major museums. We promise you won’t leave hungry. 

MELBOURNE. Pour a cold one and join tennis fans for the year’s first Grand Slam, The Australian Open (20 Jan-2 Feb) pulls socialites and sports fanatics alike. Ace, mate.

BEIJING. It’s worth making the 80 km schlep outside Beijing to Longqing Gorge, home to the magical (albeit mobbed) Ice & Snow Festival (5 Jan-20 Feb). The dramatic mountainous setting is transformed into an icy kingdom by 400 massive ice sculptures depicting temples, palaces and castles, as well as animals, mythological creatures, natural forms, zodiac signs, lanterns and snowflakes… you name it, they carve it. 


LOS ANGELES.  February might be host to LA’s glammiest night, the Oscars (9 Feb), but leave that to the celebs – as a month of visual feasting awaits. Kicking off 30 Jan, Photo LA (until 2 Feb) brings together 10,000 collectors and shutterbugs, for a 3-day celebration of visual stimulation. While Art Basel attracts the glamour crowd in Miami, the LA Art Show (5-9 Feb) is the largest, and arguably most diverse fair of modern and contemporary art in the US; it’s perfect opp to ogle the social bubble that surrounds it. Vernissage is 5 Feb. If it’s something more alternative you’re looking for, stay on for Frieze LA (14-16 Feb) an editorial selection of today’s contemporary and cutting-edge artists.

SYDNEY. Electric, eclectic and out there Mardi Gras (14 Feb-1 Mar) festival springs into life on 14th Feb for two weeks of LGBTQI arts, performance, sports, talks, workshops and parties culminating in the Pride parade on Sat 29th Feb – hands down the most fabulous party in town. 


SHANGHAI. Interior design and lifestyle steal the spotlight at China’s leading annual paean to form and function: Design Shanghai (12-15 Mar). More than 300 local and global leading design talents congregate to showcase works that are contemporary, classic and collectable, while this year’s speaker panel includes Tord Boontje, Kelly Hoppen and Naoto Fukasawa. An offshoot of the main event, Design Shanghai in the City sees a clutch of buzzy events around town, including design tours exploring showrooms, museums and architecture. 

HONG KONG. It started with juggernaut Art Basel (17-21 Mar), but Hong Kong is now host to a showstopping array of city-wide arty events throughout March. Headliners include Basel (snap up a private invitation 17-18 to avoid the hordes) and Art Central (also 17-22 Mar) repping Asia’s next-gen of cutting-edge talents, and supporting acts include the Asia Contemporary Art Show (13-16 Mar), Art Gallery Night at the historic Pedder Building and South Island Art Day (dates TBC) in gritty, industrial-creative hood Wong Chuk Hang. Keep peepers peeled for a neighbourhood takeover by grassroots street-art collective HK Walls

MELBOURNE. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (25 Mar-19 Apr) brings 100+ of the world’s funniest people to town for four weeks of side-splitting stand-up, sketches and live theatre performed in venues across the city. Most shows are at night, leaving the days free to graze, caffeinate and shop your way around Australia’s cultural capital. 

PARIS. Goût de France (21-24 Mar) is a three-day smorgasbord of events, such as celebrity chef cooking demos, recipe competitions and special lower-priced tasting menus at top restaurants, plus numerous one-off, belt-busting pop-ups at cultural centres across Paris. Thighs be damned and off you eat!

BALI. Wellness honeys flock to BaliSpirit Festival (29 Mar-5 Apr), for an immersive weekend of yoga, meditation and healing workshops amid Ubud’s lush environs. Ohm!

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BaliSpirit Festival (29 Mar-5 Apr)


MILAN. Any style queen worth her Armani knows that fashion week aside, Salon di Mobile (21-26 Apr) is the city’s supremo social affair, when more than 2,000 international exhibitors, design buffs and buyers descend for the world’s largest design fair. The city-wide spectacle of art, fashion and architecture is matched with a showcase of some 1,000 events. 

SEOUL. Nothing says spring quite like Sakura and while Japan has long topped the travel bucket list with its blooming beautiful blossoms in Kyoto, Korea is also worthy of that airline ticket: not a day goes by in April without some form of outdoor celebration of the budding flowers. Beeline for Yeouido ParkSamcheong Park – the city’s oldest patch of green perched above Bukchon Hanok Village – and the area around Walkerhill; if you don’t mind the crowds, hotfoot it to Songpa district’s Seokchon Lake which selects the best three-day weekend in April (yet to be announced) and puts on a show of classical music, pop concerts, dance performances, contemporary art exhibits and hands-on games, as well as fireworks at night. Accommodation in April can be scarcer than hen’s teeth so book ahead. 

HANOI. ‘Nam is hosting its first-ever Grand Prix (2-5 Apr), and the ancient city of Hanoi backdrops a revved-up weekend of on and off-grid action. 


BEIJING. Experience one of the world’s great wonders via two of the world’s most memorable events. Considered one of the world’s most challenging races, the Huangyaguan Great Wall Marathon (16 May)  welcomes some 2,500 runners from more than 50 countries. While the undulating, stony trail is undoubtedly punishing, the awe-inspiring vistas promise to distract from the pain. 

FLORENCE. Should you ever need a reason to visit Flo, May welcomes the world’s oldest music festival Firenze Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (2 May-30 Jun), and a prestigious lineup of international musicians and opera singers, with performances held in the city’s strikingly modern Edition Teatro del Maggio.


NEW YORK. June is officially Gay Pride month and after last year’s 50 and fabulous extravaganza you can expect a diverse offering of LGBTQIA+ screenings, parties, fundraisers, performances and events, culminating in the Gay Pride March on 28 June. Whatever your persuasion it’s a highlight of the summer; shimmy along for a definitive New York experience.

Also happening this month… one of the NYC’s glammiest summer events – the Jazz Age Lawn Party (13-14 June), which sees Governors Island transformed into a swingin’ sanctuary of prohibition-era kicks. Frock up!

TASMANIA. It’s but a short air hop from Melbourne to indulge your experimental leanings at Tassie’s showstopping alt-art affair Dark MoFo (10-22 June). Combine with the Nude Solstice Swim on 22 June. 

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Pride NYC (June)


LONDON. Bright whites and sporting prowess aside, Wimbledon (29 Jun-12 Jul) is a highlight of the British summer social season; one infused with old-school etiquette and a spectator list that attracts a high celeb-media-royalty count as is only ever found in the UK. Just as British is the democratic ballot of tickets; chances are if you’ve missed the deadline, but fret not as there are numerous VIP options available. 

TOKYO. After the success of last year’s Rugby World Cup, Tokyo flaunts its sporting prowess by hosting this year’s Summer Olympics (24 Jul-9 Aug). Stay around Tokyo Bay if you want a piece of the action. 


TOKYO. Backdropped by the Naeba Mountains, Fuji Rock (21-23 Aug) is Asia’s biggest, best and quite possibly the cleanest festival you’ll ever attend. Part Glastonbury, part Coachella but with a distinctly Japanese vibe (with side attractions including mountain walks and hot springs) the epic weekender has attracted headliners such as The Cure, Radiohead and Bjork in past years.

AMSTERDAM. Canals and classical music come together for the inimitable Grachtenfestival, (7-16 Aug) during which you’ll enjoy one of dozens of performances from barges on, and venues around the city’s labyrinthian waterways. A highlight of the festival is the free Prinsengracht Concert (15 Aug) performed on the pontoon outside LUXE fave the Pulitzer Hotel – though to truly enjoy the concert, you’re best off pulling up in a boat.  

CHICAGO. The Windy City truly comes into its own during the summer and the season is jam-packed with music and arts events and performances. Although best known as the home of the Blues and Deep House, Chicago has a world-class jazz scene – the annual Jazz Festival (21 Aug-6 Sep) spotlights legends both local and national.

LONDON. Shake your brightest, boldest tail feathers through one of London’s liveliest nabes for the annual bank holiday street party extravaganza, Notting Hill Carnival (30-31 Aug). Massive sound systems blast out beats amid a sea of sequins, plumes, floats and fun-seekers. Plan travel wisely as many shops, restaurants and tube stations close for the weekend, and take note: Sunday is family day, Monday is for FUN.  


PARIS. The French set the pace in style and attitude on so many matters, and no better example of this is ‘la rentrée’, the period in September when Parisians return from their summer escapades and the city perks up with a plethora of cultural events, including new seasons at the ballet and opera and smash art exhibitions at The Pompidou, Louvre et al. Ella Fitzgerald might have loved Paris in the springtime, but we always fall for autumn. 

BERLIN. More than just a trade fair, Berlin Art Week (9-13 Sep) is embraced by artists, gallerists and contemporary institutions for a week-long celebration of creating, discussing and exhibiting art. 

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Summer Olympics, Tokyo (24 July-9 Aug)


LONDON. Repping the avant-garde end of the art spectrum, Frieze London (8-11 Oct) has earned a stellar rep as one of the world’s most exciting and influential art events, attracting a fashiony crowd with contemporary works form 160+ galleries and thoughtful programming. 

BALI. Indulge your love of the written word amid Bali’s verdant tropicana at the excellent Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (28 Oct-1 Nov). A wide range of authors, artists, performers, politicos and thinkers gather for a lively cross-cultural exchange of ideas and inspirations. 

NEW YORK. Take a deeper bite of the Big Apple by way of The New Yorker Festival (5-11 Oct), a platform of thought-provoking talks, performances and panel discussions by some of the starriest names in literature, politics and popular culture. Dua Lipa, Zadie Smith and Paul Rudd were among last year’s headliners. 

SYDNEY. The spectacular Sculpture by the Sea (22 Oct-8 Nov) is a free exhibition of pieces by Oz and global talents dotted along the scenic coastal walk between Bondi and Tamarama beaches.

BARCELONA. The Catalan cracker has a string of festivals, including last of the summer’s festivals, Festa Major de la Barceloneta (early Oct), flick-fest Sitges Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya (8-18 Oct), and Barcelona Jazz Festival (dates TBC). Round out the month with a two-day peek into some of the most beautiful off-limits homes and buildings during the 48h Open House BCN (24-25 Oct).

Amsterdam Light Festival (Nov, tbc) // credits: Janet Echelman


DUBAI. As temperatures begin to dip, so Dubai’s creative scene heats up. Befitting such a futuristic city, Dubai Design Week (9-14 Nov) is the largest creative gathering in the Middle East, bringing together architects and talents working in product, furniture, interior and graphic design. For six days, the city is overtaken by exhibits, workshops and talks about form and function.

HONG KONG. Emerging from the shadow of Hong Kong’s wham-glam art shows, the Hong Kong Literary Festival (dates TBC) attracts upcoming, award-winning and news-headlining scribes from Hong Kong, Mainland China and the rest of the world. 

AMSTERDAM. Be dazzled by the Amsterdam Light Festival (26 Nov-17 Jan 2021), which stars installations by local and global artists.


MIAMI. Winter is hands-down the best time to visit Miami as balmier temperatures return and a whirlwind of parties and people blows on through to April. Kicking off the season is big gun Art Basel (3-6 Dec) and the wider Miami Art Week repping satellite shows, exhibits and events dotted along Miami Beach and Miami-Wynwood. Hands down the glammiest week in the sparkliest of towns, it’s time to frock up and pARTy.

SIEM REAP. For a bit of a jog quite like no other apply well in advance for the Angkor Wat Half Marathon (6 Dec-8 Aug 2021). Pulling in-the-know sportos from around the region, the mostly flat route winds through the magnificent Angkor Temple Complex, and is quite simply astonishing. Better still, Siem Reap abounds with luxurious post-race R&R opportunity, so extend past the weekend and tie in with groundbreaking Angkor Photo Festival (17–28 Nov).

BANGKOK. The fledgeling Asian equivalent of Burning Man, Wonderfruit (10-14 Dec) beckons an eclectic, globetrotting guestlist with its curated (and hush-hush) offering of music, art, food and wellness all with a sustainability bent, deep in the fields of Pattaya’s Siam Country Club. Should you fear it all going fruit salad while camping in the tropics, book a VIP glamping stay with Camp Kerala

SHANGHAI. If you have a penchant for avant-garde fashion and art Innersect Shanghai (4-6 Dec) has you covered. The biggest street-culture fair in China draws an international audience with its groundbreaking installations and exhibits. One for the ‘gram.

Hero image: Dubai Design Week

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