2020: Global events not to miss

Posted on 9 January 2020

Here’s a list of a few of the many interesting and exciting events taking place around the world in 2020.

Expo 2020 Dubai

Starts 20 October

Since the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, there’s been a world exposition every few years. Many modern marvels have debuted at Expos, and the same will be true in Dubai. Nearly 200 national ‘pavilions’ or structures created by different countries will champion one of the themes (Mobility, Opportunity, Sustainability) – either through technology, design or the arts. Look out for the world’s biggest 360-degree projection surface on the steel dome of the Expo’s Al Wasl Plaza, and the UK’s poetry-composing building inspired by Stephen Hawking. The Expo will also debut super-fast 5G. Day passes start at R500. The Expo runs until 10 April 2021. expo2020dubai.com

Tokyo Olympics

24 July – 9 August

After a successful World Cup Rugby win for South Africa in 2019, the glory will continue in Japan this year. New sports in contention at the 32nd Olympiad are rock climbing, skateboarding, surfing, karate and softball. In a major nod to sustainability, the medals are being made from the recycled metals found in phones and electronic devices donated by Japanese citizens. tokyo2020.org

Passion Play, Oberammergau

16 May – 4 October

In 1634, the people of this town in Germany promised to re-enact the story of Easter – the passion of Christ on the cross – to ward off the ravages of the Plague. It’s been staged every 10 years ever since, getting increasingly grander, and this year about 2 ,000 locals will convene to perform in the 4 500-seater, open-air Passionstheater. passionsspiele-oberammergau.de

Beethoven Jubilee

16 December 2019 – 16 December 2020

It’s been 250 years since the birth of composer extraordinaire Ludwig van Beethoven. Around the world, classical music boffs will be celebrating, but especially in his birth city of Bonn, Germany, and in Austria where he lived and died (Vienna is filled with Beethoven landmarks). Festivities will include operas, symphony concerts, exhibitions, even jazz events. bthvn2020.de; visitingvienna.com

50 Years of Earth Day

In 1970, US senator Gaylord Nelson inspired people to rally for environmental awareness and education. Fifty years on, we still celebrate Earth Day on 22 April and it seems we ought to now more than ever…

Insects to Feed the World Conference

2–6 June

Experts will converge on Québec, Canada, to discuss this hot topic. ifw2020.org Try it out for yourself in Cape Town at The Insect Experience pop-up and Gourmet Grubb’s ice-cream shop. gourmetgrubb.com

Art Watch

Wrap Artist
Thirty-five years after US artists Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude draped the Pont-Neuf in Paris in silver fabric, Christo is wrapping another city icon. The Arc de Triomphe will be covered in 25, 000 square metres of silvery blue, recyclable polypropylene fabric secured with 7 ,000 metres of red rope. From 19 September to 4 October. christojeanneclaude.net

Plan for Arc De Triomphe

Light Fantastic

Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku, meaning ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’, is Bruce Munro’s art installation at Uluru, Australia. Come sunset, the Field of Light appears in the desert, made from 50 ,000 solar-powered, multi-coloured LED stems. The site can be visited (until December 2020) in various ways, from self-guided walk to camel trek, with sundowners or dinner. From R443 per person. ayersrockresort.com.au

Field of Light, Uluru

Bright Water

Over in the UK, a decade-long project will light up 15 bridges along the Thames, using thousands of tiny LEDs. Four are already completed (Southwark, Cannon Street Railways, Millennium and London Bridge) in time for the British summer, but the rest will come alive from September this year. illuminatedriver.london

‘Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us’ is the theme for the first-ever Stellenbosch Triennale
(11 February–30 April),
a contemporary, public-art gathering.

Art biennales always have plenty to say and convey about the world we live in – and the future we’re headed for. In 2020, get to:


14 March – 8 June
Titled ‘Nirin’ (‘edge’ in the local Wiradjuri language), it focuses on the First Nations of Australia, but features artists from around the world – Alaskan, Papua New Guinean, Haitian, Maori, Mexican etc, plus two South Africans.


13 June – 13 September
In 2020 it will be curated by four South Americans who believe ‘destructive macho power needs to be overthrown’, referencing new Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, aka the ‘Tropical Trump’.

And here at home

Cape Town will host International Jazz Day on 30 April.
The first time for an African city, it will have the theme ‘Tracing Roots and Routes of African Jazz’. jazzday.com

Light aircraft from around the world will be swooping and dipping over the Stellenbosch winelands at the 22nd FAI World Rally Flying Championship in 2020 (15–21 November). sapfa.co.za

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