These will be 28 of the most popular travel destinations in 2020: Part 1

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The TravelSquire editorial team just announced our picks for the Top 28 Destinations for 2020. We zeroed in on unique destinations with intriguing sites and experiences. The list is divided into four segments including both domestic and international destinations and offers something for every traveler. You’ll find the complete list here.

First, we focused on seven destinations with big celebratory events happening next year: the United Kingdom; Galway, Ireland; Rijeka, Croatia; Tokyo; Dubai; Parma, Italy and Hainan, China. Here’s why they’re our top picks for 2020.

United Kingdom

With its pastoral pleasures, dramatic coastal cliffs and captivating cities steeped in history, the U.K. is one of our favorite destinations — especially for US travelers. There are going to be many reasons to cross the pond in 2020. Talk about an epic year; 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s sail from Plymouth to the “New World”. A staggering 30+ million Americans trace their ancestry to those brave souls who embarked on that historic sailing making this celebration the world’s largest family reunion.

A newly developed Mayflower 400 Trail explores sites and attractions in key towns and cities connected to the famed ship. Thought-provoking art installations, celebratory festivals and the best of British food and drink will all have a role.

More celebrations are on tap for 2020 as the UK commemorates a plethora of anniversaries. Among them are the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth; the 200th anniversary of Anne Bronte’s birth and the 200th anniversary of Johnnie Walker. It seems there was a lot going on in the U.K. 200 years ago … and there’s a lot going on now. Don’t miss out! www.visitbritain.com

Galway, Ireland

Any year’s a good year to visit Galway. With its prime location on the Wild Atlantic Way in west Ireland, jovial locals and pubs filled with the sound of traditional Irish music, what’s not to love? In 2020, this lively city’s wealth of music, art, theatre and literature will celebrate its much-deserved recognition as the designated European Capital of Culture.

The largest cultural festival ever held in Ireland, the year-long event has more than 1900 events in the works. Coinciding with the ancient Celtic calendar, the celebration kicks off on February 1, 2020 and runs through January 31, 2021. Celebratory events will stretch across Galway City along with the county’s towns, villages and islands off the Galway Coast and will be based on the four fire seasons of the ancient Celtic calendar: Imbloc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa and Samhain.

Among the highlights is a giant mirrored pavilion by Irish artist John Gerrard which will be displayed in the Claddagh area of Galway and on a 4,000-year-old Connemara bog.  Finnish light artist Kari Kola will install an epic illumination on a Connemara mountain landscape and the Druid Theatre will take Ireland’s best 20th-century one-act plays to the towns and villages of Galway county. Even Ireland’s sheep will be celebrated with Project Baa Baa—a program highlighting the cultural, economic and environmental contribution of sheep throughout Europe. www.galwaytourism.ie

The TravelSquire editorial team just announced our picks for the Top 28 Destinations for 2020. We zeroed in on unique destinations with intriguing sites and experiences. The list is divided into four segments including both domestic and international destinations and offers something for every traveler. You’ll find the complete list here.

First, we focused on seven destinations with big celebratory events happening next year: the United Kingdom; Galway, Ireland; Rijeka, Croatia; Tokyo; Dubai; Parma, Italy and Hainan, China. Here’s why they’re our top picks for 2020.

United Kingdom

With its pastoral pleasures, dramatic coastal cliffs and captivating cities steeped in history, the U.K. is one of our favorite destinations — especially for US travelers. There are going to be many reasons to cross the pond in 2020. Talk about an epic year; 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s sail from Plymouth to the “New World”. A staggering 30+ million Americans trace their ancestry to those brave souls who embarked on that historic sailing making this celebration the world’s largest family reunion.

A newly developed Mayflower 400 Trail explores sites and attractions in key towns and cities connected to the famed ship. Thought-provoking art installations, celebratory festivals and the best of British food and drink will all have a role.

More celebrations are on tap for 2020 as the UK commemorates a plethora of anniversaries. Among them are the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth; the 200th anniversary of Anne Bronte’s birth and the 200th anniversary of Johnnie Walker. It seems there was a lot going on in the U.K. 200 years ago … and there’s a lot going on now. Don’t miss out! www.visitbritain.com

Galway, Ireland

Any year’s a good year to visit Galway. With its prime location on the Wild Atlantic Way in west Ireland, jovial locals and pubs filled with the sound of traditional Irish music, what’s not to love? In 2020, this lively city’s wealth of music, art, theatre and literature will celebrate its much-deserved recognition as the designated European Capital of Culture.

The largest cultural festival ever held in Ireland, the year-long event has more than 1900 events in the works. Coinciding with the ancient Celtic calendar, the celebration kicks off on February 1, 2020 and runs through January 31, 2021. Celebratory events will stretch across Galway City along with the county’s towns, villages and islands off the Galway Coast and will be based on the four fire seasons of the ancient Celtic calendar: Imbloc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa and Samhain.

Among the highlights is a giant mirrored pavilion by Irish artist John Gerrard which will be displayed in the Claddagh area of Galway and on a 4,000-year-old Connemara bog.  Finnish light artist Kari Kola will install an epic illumination on a Connemara mountain landscape and the Druid Theatre will take Ireland’s best 20th-century one-act plays to the towns and villages of Galway county. Even Ireland’s sheep will be celebrated with Project Baa Baa—a program highlighting the cultural, economic and environmental contribution of sheep throughout Europe. www.galwaytourism.ie

Rijeka, Croatia

Located on Kvarner Bay in the northern Adriatic Sea, Rijeka is a major transportation hub and home to Croatia’s largest carnival. However, it’s often overlooked by tourists passing through briefly en route to their next port. That’s about to change. Croatia’s third-largest city steps into the spotlight next year sharing the title with Galway as European Capital of Culture 2020.

Embracing its history as a centuries-old port city, Rijeka has declared itself the “Port of Diversity.” Having played a major part in immigration and emigration to and from Europe over the years, Rijeka’s cultural events throughout 2020 will highlight the importance of inclusion and acceptance. Additional focus will be placed on promoting the arts through flagship projects like the Brick House, an initiative aimed at developing creative skills in Rijeka’s residents and visitors.

One of Rijeka’s largest cultural events dates to the Middles Ages. The International Carnival of Rijeka combines influences from Slavic folklore with Austrian and Venetian traditions. Kicking off in late January when the Mayor of Rijeka turns the key to the city over to the Master of Ceremonies, the costumed festivities continue until early March. The celebration culminates with the International Carnival Parade where more than 8,000 revelers wearing traditional masks and costumes dance alongside dozens of floats portraying world events. In a grand display of “out with the old, in with the new” the finale includes a symbolic trial and public burning of the Pust—all the negative energy from the previous year. www.visitrijeka.eu

Tokyo

This summer all eyes will be on Tokyo as the city welcomes athletes from around the world to the 2020 Summer Olympics from July 24th through August 9th. Fifty-six years have passed since Tokyo last hosted the summer games in 1964. According to the organizers of the 2020 event, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad of the modern era will focus on three principles: striving for your personal best, accepting one another and passing on a legacy for the future. Held across nine prefectures, most of the Games will take place in two areas: The Heritage Zone using repurposed buildings from the 1964 Olympics; and, the Tokyo Bay Zone designed as a model for innovative urban development.

While the Games are the main attraction, numerous festivals will provide additional entertainment with a cultural focus. Held on the last Saturday in July, Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival attracts one million onlookers annually, many of whom dress in traditional yukata kimonos. The oldest fireworks festival in the world, Sumidagawa takes place on the banks of the Sumida River near Asakusa Station.

Tokyo’s non-touristy neighborhoods join with the city’s more traditional areas to give Tokyo its unique personality. Three of our favorites are Yanaka, Simokitazawa and Kurumae. Read more about these neighborhoods herewww.gotokyo.org

Dubai

For the first time in its history, the World Expo will take place in the Middle East. Expo 2020 Dubai will host the world for 173 days from October 20th to April 10th. Focusing on a time to create and collaborate under the theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the event promises to be unforgettable.

Three pavilions will provide space for the sub-themes of Expo 2020 Dubai: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. The Sustainability pavilion demonstrates how buildings can be self-sustainable in water using solar energy and water from the air.

The World Expo, which takes place every five years and lasts for six months, aims to showcase the best innovations from around the world in one major city. Traditionally, some really big things have come from previous World Expos. You may have heard of a few of them: the Eiffel Tower, Heinz Tomato Ketchup and even the Ferris Wheel.

As the Expo 2020 Dubai tagline touts “It’s going to be fun. We’re talking eye-catching, mind-bending, taste bud-tickling, grin-inducing, good-weird, did-that-really-just-happen fun.” You can’t beat that, right? www.visitdubai.com

Parma, Italy

If there’s a foodie heaven in this world it must be Parma. Located in the Emilia-Romagna district of Italy, this flavorful city brings us Parma ham, Parmesan cheese, Lambrusco wine and more mouth-watering delicacies. What more could we ask for? How about food museums? Dive deeper into cheese at the Parmigiano Reggiano Museum. Located in a vintage cheese factory used for centuries to produce the “King of Cheeses,” the museum follows the stages of cheese production from the cow to the plate. And, of course, there’s a cheese tasting! The food museum theme continues throughout the Province of Parma with the Museum of Pasta and the Museum of Tomato.

Aptly designated a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy a few years ago, Parma has earned a new designation for 2020 as Italy’s Capital of Culture. As delicious as its delicacies are, Parma also satisfies our appetites for music, art, architecture and more. From sensational frescoes in the city’s churches to exhibitions in the Galleria Nazionale, art lives everywhere in Parma. Architectural gems come in numerous styles including Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque along with recent contemporary additions.

As the birthplace of two of Italy’s most famous composers, Giuseppe Verdi and Arturo Toscanini, Parma represents the soul of Italian Opera. A visit to the House of Music Museum delves into the history of this cultural jewel. In 2020, the Verdi Opera Festival celebrates 20 years with four operas including a rarely performed French version of Verdi’s “Macbeth.” www.visit-parma.com

Hainan, China

Want to add China to your list of visited countries? The island of Hainan wants you to get that passport stamp too. In fact, they’re making it easy for you by waiving the Visa requirements for passport holders in 59 countries—including the United States. So, you will need only your passport to spend up to 30 days exploring this off the beaten path China treasure.

If easy entry to the country isn’t enticing enough, Hainan ups the ante with white sand beaches, tropical rainforests, intriguing cultural sites and fabulous food. Start your adventure in the capital city of Haikou by visiting the Hainan Provincial Museum with exhibits devoted to the island’s ethnic culture and history. In the south, the city of Sanya’s tropical beaches, fresh seafood, luxury resorts and rainforests peppered with waterfalls make it the island’s most popular destination. Among Sanya’s fascinating cultural sites is the Nanshan Temple built to commemorate two thousand years of Buddhism in China.

Soaring mountains and steamy jungles make up the landscapes of Central Hainan which is home to the Li and Miao indigenous people, many of whom maintain a traditional tribal lifestyle. And don’t overlook the wild untamed artistry of the western coastline dotted with tiny fishing villages and stunning sweeping vistas. www.en.explorehainan.com

More to come …

Next week we’ll share the destinations we’ve chosen for the Nature & Culture category for 2020. Stay tuned!

This article originally appeared on Travelsquire.