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50 things to do this year

50 things to do in 2017 (that will make it significantly better than the last one)

50 things to do this year

Take to the water

Longyearbyen

Cruising’s set to be big again next year – or, should we say, small. Monster ships are out and vessels with fewer than 50 berths are in, enabling a more intimate, eco-friendly cruising experience. It’s an especially good way to enjoy the Arctic, as smaller boats can more easily traverse ice floes and get up close to wildlife such as birds, bears and walruses. AdventureSmith Explorations has a nine-day Spitsbergen Explorer trip that’s top of our bucket list. adventuresmithexplorations.com

Work it

Lisbon

Why save travel for a holiday, when you can work your way around the world? Mixing business and leisure (AKA ‘bleisure’) is so 2017 it hurts, so sign up to Nomad Cruise and work your way from Colombia to Portugal with 150 other entrepreneurs. Or, just take off to another country for a few days, hotdesking at one of Regus’ global collection of co-working spaces. These days, work is no excuse to stay at home. nomadcruise.com, regus.co.uk

Eat Estonian

Tallinn

Tallinn’s culinary reputation has rocketed recently, thanks to its revamped ‘New Baltic’ cuisine. Time a trip to coincide with Tallinn Tastes (27 March–2 April), when 30 diverse restaurants will offer special menus. One-off events will include Estonian legend Peeter Pihel’s “trash cooking” banquet and a funky pop-up in the city’s Design and Architecture Gallery. A veritable smorgasbord – or, rootsi laud, as they say in Estonian – of delights. tmw.ee

 

Go to the dark side

London

…of the Moon, that is, at the Pink Floyd Retrospective at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Building on the success of its David Bowie exhibition in 2013, the museum will host Their Mortal Remains, another pop culture tour-de-force, from 13 May. We predict a colourful mix of costumes, inflatable pigs and psychedelic lighting, plus epic celebrations of iconic albums – and thousands of prism T-shirts sold. vam.ac.uk

Run a marathon

Athens

…but not just any marathon. Few races are as gruelling as the Spartathlon, a 246km run from Athens to Sparta that aims to retrace the footsteps of Pheidippides, the Athenian messenger sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon. The race starts at 7am on the last Friday of September at the foot of the Acropolis and has a 36-hour cut-off time – runners start hallucinating around the 200km mark… At 246km long, the Spartathlon is the equivalent of running almost six consecutive marathons... Runners pass through 75 checkpoints, each with a cut-off time. Organisers will pull up runners who miss the cut-off times or who are extremely fatigued... The biggest challenge is taking on the 1,200m ascent and descent of Mt Parthenio in the middle of the night – it’s here that Pheidippides supposedly met with (or hallucinated) the god Pan... The finishing point of the race is a statue of King Leonidas. Greek runner Yiannis Kouros won the first Spartathlon in 1983, and still holds the record time of 20:25:00. spartathlon.gr

Visit the (other) Grand Canyon

Bangkok

Thailand’s north-eastern region of Isan (pronounced ee-san) is its least visited but, judging by the growing buzz, that looks set to change this year. Its considerable charms, which include Sam Pan Boak – the country’s answer to the Grand Canyon – plus Lara Croft-worthy temples and Khao Yai National Park’s 2,000 hectares of wildlife-filled jungles, more than make up for a lack of beaches, while the chilli-pepped food is a dream for anyone who likes it spicy. If your resolution for 2017 is to have more adventure, look no further. tourismthailand.org

Take a Jedi roadtrip

Dublin

Those taken with the dramatic landscapes featured in Star Wars: Episode VII should head to Ireland, and specifically the Wild Atlantic Way, where they were filmed. Take a roadtrip along the coast here – from the edge of Donegal past the towering Cliffs of Moher (pictured) to the rocky shores of Cork – to discover the best of Ireland’s mystical landscapes. These are the views you’ve been looking for. wildatlanticway.com

Watch a cool sport

Pisa

Imagine a mix of football, rugby and wrestling, combined with an all-out street brawl by brawny men dressed in medieval costume, and you’ll have some idea of what’s involved in calcio storico, often called the world’s most brutal sport. Originating in the 16th century, the sport is now played every June when four teams from Florence’s historic neighbourhoods battle it out in the Piazza Santa Croce. Audience participation not encouraged. firenzeturismo.it

Speak in rhyme

Boston

Theodor Seuss Geisel – better known as Dr Seuss – has given joy to millions of children with stories such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Now he’s getting something back as his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts is honouring him with his own museum. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum will open in late June this year, featuring a recreation of his studio, interactive rhyming games, plus more Seussian memorabilia (his bowtie collection, anyone?) than you can shake a snergelly at. springfieldmuseums.org

Play goat bingo

Bergen

The tiny Norwegian village of Undredal only has 61 residents, yet it’s become famous both as the inspiration for Disney’s Frozen and for its geitost (brown cheese made from goat’s milk). The latter is celebrated every two years in July at the Geitost Festival, which includes a very unusual game of bingo played with a herd of goats on a four-metre-wide board. Yes, really. geitostfestivalen.no

Make like it's 1967

San Francisco & Crete

It’s 50 years since the Summer of Love erupted in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood – and numerous flower children will gather to celebrate in Golden Gate Park this June. But for a more low-key commemoration of hippy life, head to the Greek islands. From Leonard Cohen’s life with his Marianne on Hydra to Joni Mitchell’s stay at the caves of Matala Beach near Heraklion in Crete (which gave her inspiration for album Blue), they were the epitome of the hippy ideals of abandonment, ecstasy and Utopianism. In some ways, they still are – a boho music festival is held at Matala each June. matalabeachfestival.org

Take a virtual trip

Everywhere

Virtual is the new actual it seems, judging from the arrival of Infinity House, the world’s first virtual retreat. Launched last month, it offers “immersive serenity” for “people who don’t have time to holiday”. You can also tour the world with Ascape’s collection of 360° VR travel videos. Real is so last year. infinite360.co.uk, ascape.com 

Go sky running

Madeira

These days running isn’t enough. Weekend warriors, looking for that next endorphin rush, are diversifying – into triathlon, ultramarathon, adventure racing, and this: the ultimate in running highs. Defined as mountain running above 2,000m altitude, sky running now has 200 annual races around the world. One of the most spectacular – and hardcore – is the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira (3 June 2017), a 55km race across the steep slopes of Santana in Madeira. Newbies can start off with the Mini Sky Race (4 June), a 13km “skywalking” challenge that will help you find your inner mountain goat. madeiraskyrunning.com

Make a new friend

Various destinations

After cornering the market in cheap, easy alternatives to hotels, the folks at Airbnb are expanding on the “Live like a local” theme with a new range of Experiences. Just launched in 12 cities, these give punters the chance to learn burlesque, do some pottery, help run a soup kitchen or 497 other life-enhancing activities. airbnb.com

Party like a fish

Miami

It’s fair to say that the Underwater Festival is one of America’s more unusual events. As the name suggests, it’s an actual music festival held beneath the waves each July, as a celebration of Florida Keys’ barrier reef. Music is piped underwater via speakers suspended beneath boats, and divers are invited to enjoy a fancy-dress competition, as well as popular sea-themed tunes. Sole music, probably. lowerkeyschamber.com

Give back

Various destinations

The UN has declared 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Join in by booking your next holiday through Elevate Destinations – their eco-tours and volunteer projects help support local communities and wildlife. Plus, for every trip booked, their award-winning “Buy a Trip, Give a Trip” programme enables local children to visit tourist sites in their own country. elevatedestinations.com

Break a world record

Geneva

On 22 February, 3,000 people will gather in Les Alpes 2 to try to break the world record for a torch-lit ski descent. They’ll be whizzing down the new 2km-long blue piste, stretching from the glacier to the village. The event is free and open all to adults and kids at bronze-star level. les2alpes.com

Celebrate a fashion icon

Marrakech & Paris

The Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech were the life’s work of French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (above). After he moved to Marrakech with his partner Pierre Bergé in the 1980s, he rescued the gardens from a property developer and turned them into a national treasure. This September they will provide the setting for the Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, showcasing selected pieces from the thousands of items in the designer’s archive, along with sketches and objets d’art. At the same time, a Parisian sister museum will be opened in the renovated Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent – a fashion-lovers’ double bill. fondation-pb-ysl.net, jardinmajorelle.com

Celebrate 20 years of Potter

London

Somehow (how?) it’s been two decades since JK Rowling created the world’s most popular wizard. Harry Potter celebrations will take place around the world on 26 June, anniversary of the publication of …The Philosopher’s Stone, and a British Library exhibition on the magic of Harry Potter opens in October. We’re joining in by celebrating key moments… In 1999, the “official” sign for Platform 9¾ first went up at King’s Cross Station. In the years since, it’s been moved many times but now sits by a dedicated  Harry Potter gift shop... Quidditch, Harry’s sport, first became a real game at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005. The game replicates the fictional one, using broomsticks, and now has its own world cup... Hermione (or rather, the actress Emma Watson who played her in the movies) used her Potter-found-fame for good in 2014, addressing the United Nations on women’s rights. Magic... Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened in London’s West End last year. It’s pretty much sold out for 2017, but  check the website for returns. harrypottertheplay.com

Drink Basque beer

Bilbao

In terms of booze, grape has always ruled over grain in Basque country. Now new local breweries are putting beer on the drinks menus of San Sebastián’s multi-starred restaurants. Check out the Basqueland Brewing Project’s Imparable IPA, with aromas of pineapple; Licorera Vasca’s gold medal-winning Olañeta Blonde Ale; and Laugar Brewery’s EPA!, a citrusy take on an American pale ale. basquebeer.com, licoreravasca.com, laugarbrewery.com

 
 

Get (far far) away from it all 

Bodø

Off-grid hideaways are a major trend for 2017, and the ultimate can be found at Fordypningsrommet. An artist’s retreat designed by Norwegian composer Håvard Lund, it sits on the picturesque island of Fleinvær, a boat ride from Bodø in the Arctic Circle, and is free to artists who pass muster (although its nine houses are also bookable by the public). There are no cars or shops, but island hosts take visitors fishing and sightseeing, lay in their provisions and get the sauna fired up. Sounds like bliss. fordypningsrommet.no

Head to NOMA's farm

Copenhagen

Not content with schlepping NOMA off to Tokyo and Sydney, now René Redzepi has decided to turn his restaurant into an urban farm. The venture will feature a rooftop greenhouse and a floating field, with a menu that focuses on wild game and berries in autumn, seafood in winter and fresh vegetables in summer. Its location in the anarchist enclave of Christiania has raised some eyebrows, but this is NOMA, so it’s bound to be a success nonetheless. noma.dk

Go mad for art

Paris

Paris’s Centre Pompidou turns 40 this year, celebrating with an impressive new multidisciplinary programme of art, dance, theatre and concerts, with 50 events in 40 towns up and down the country. Mais oui! centrepompidou.fr

Become a "Burner"

Amsterdam

Last year, a new Dutch offshoot of Burning Man, the proudly anarchic, techno-filled festival, held a spin-off event, Where the Sheep Sleep, in the Netherlands. This year the group will once again hold one of a global network of events that aim to spread “burner culture” throughout the world. Expect the same emphasis on civic responsibility, radical self-reliance and insanely amazing costumes. burningman.nl

Pop up wherever

Anywhere

We’ve had pop-up shops, restaurants – why not holidays? That’s the thinking behind the new Blink service (as in “blink and you’ll miss it”) from adventure tour company Black Tomato, which will organise temporary luxury accommodation anywhere in the world. Whether you’re after a dome tent in the desert, a tipi in the tundra or a glass igloo in Iceland’s lava fields, they’ll make it happen, plan your whole trip, and then leave no trace. Boom! blacktomato.com/blink

Build a bike

New York

Celebrate the anarchist spirit at Bike Kill, an all-ages block party held each October, featuring Mad Max-style custom bikes built by members of the Black Label Bike Club. Anyone can attempt to ride them (although both the bikes and their owners are an intimidating prospect). It’s a fairly underground affair (ie no website), so keep an eye out for flyers advertising this year’s location. bikenyc.org

Channel Inigo Montoya

Glasgow

Everyone’s favourite vengeful Spaniard hits the big screen this month, as The Princess Bride – which celebrates its 30th birthday this year – gets the immersive treatment for the Glasgow Film Festival (15-26 February). The experience will involve popcorn, live swordplay and a room of over-excited kidults shouting “You killed my father, prepare to die!” glasgowfilm.org/glasgow-film-festival

Scream for ice-cream

Vienna

You might think that beaches and ice cream go hand in hand, but in fact the Ice Cream Capital of the World is a landlocked country. Austria has an ice cream parlour for every 15,000 residents, with an astonishing 154 parlours in Vienna alone. Our pick is Eis Greissler – the owners have an organic farm with 45 cows, and serve up more than 20 flavours, including weird ones like asparagus, star anise and garlic. Sample these and more at the second edition of Vienna’s Ice Cream festival in August. eis-greissler.at, icecreamfestival.at

Eat ink

Las Vegas

In 2016 3D printing really took hold in medicine, science and engineering. This year it will be food’s turn, as chefs give the inkjet treatment to everything from puddings to pizza. One pop-up restaurant, Food Ink, will be touring 23 cities in 2017, starting in Vegas, cashing in on the technological advances by inking everything – “the chairs, tables, lamps, knives, forks, spoons, plates, cups, and yes, the entire 11-course dinner” – before the wide eyes of its diners. foodink.io

Ride a gamechanging train

Hamburg

The Coradia iLint, called “the clean train of tomorrow”, is the world’s first hydrogen-powered train. Set to take its maiden journey later this year, the train carries enough hydrogen to make a 800km train journey, converting it into electricity using a fuel cell, and emitting only steam as a by-product. Initially the train will run on the tongue-twisting Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line near Hamburg, but it may eventually replace all 4,000 diesel trains in Germany. alstom.com

See some BIG architecture

Billund

Major projects by Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels of BIG are springing up across the globe – in New York alone there are five projects underway that look set to transform the city’s iconic skyline. This year also sees the launch of the much-publicised Amager Resource Center in Copenhagen, a waste-to-energy plant that doubles as a recreational ski slope, as well as Billund’s The Lego House (pictured), a colourful experience centre for the local community in LEGO’s home city. big.dk

Experience the ring of fire

Reykjavík

Iceland’s volcanic activity found fame in 2010 when the eruption of the barely pronounceable Eyjafjallajökull grounded all European flights. What better location, then, for a volcano and earthquake centre? Visitors to LAVA, in Hvolsvöllur, south Iceland, which opens this spring, can experience the power of eruption through simulators, and observe volcanic action from a viewing platform overlooking three of the island’s most active volcanoes. lavacentre.is

Play midnattsgolf

Harstad & Narvik

Lofoten Links is the world’s most northerly golf course – and arguably the coolest. Perched right on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, it offers 24 hours of play during summer. Book one of the summer packages for tee times starting at 12 or 1am. lofotenlinks.no

Try bikepacking

Anywhere you fancy

It’s 200 years since Baron Karl Drais invented his Laufmaschine (running machine) in Mannheim – the ancestor of the modern bicycle. Celebrate the bicentenary by trying bikepacking – a fusion of cycle touring and lightweight camping. There’s no need to take a tour, just follow online tutorials that detail routes, tips and useful advice, such as explaining exactly how to pack your bike for minimum weight and maximum result. bikepacking.com

Find yourself in the desert

Los Angeles

As if the Coachella Valley hasn’t seen enough, this spring it will become a canvas for a series of site-specific artworks. From 25 February to 30 April, Desert X will bring together local artists to create large-scale pieces that put the environmental concerns of the desert front and centre. According to artistic director Neville Wakefield: “Deserts are places of existential experience, where people find themselves.” Whatever you say...  desertx.org

Thrill your inner petrolhead

Barcelona

Formula One hopefuls could gain some valuable experience at Europe’s first FerrariLand – the latest addition to the PortAventura theme park. Opening in the spring, it will feature Europe’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster, the Vertical Accelerator, which travels at 177kph and is designed to replicate the sensation of driving a Formula One car. The park also has a race track, simulators for adults and children and a Ferrari-themed five-star hotel. Basically, if you’re planning a mid-life crisis in 2017, this is the one for you. portaventuraworld.com/en/ferrari-land

See the future

Dubai

From crime-busting computer systems to robotic pets, Dubai’s Museum of the Future will be filled with ideas about technology that can change lives for the better. Its spectacular oval-shaped building, designed by architect Shaun Killa, is due to open in 2018, but you can get a taster of its exhibits at the World Government Summit in Dubai this month. motf.ae

Bathe in beer

Reykjavík

Iceland – a country that didn’t even permit the drinking of full-strength beer until 1989 – will welcome its first beer spa in the northern village of Árskógssandur this spring. This latest twist in the brew’s turbulent history comes courtesy of Kaldi, Iceland’s largest craft brewery. They’re promising plenty of health benefits and no hangover. How refreshing. bruggsmidjan.is

Get on your bike

Sardinia

It’s the 100th Giro d’Italia this year, and this edition of the world-famous cycling race will kick off with three stages on the beautiful island of Sardinia. Setting off from the ancient Catalan town of Alghero on 5 May, it’s the third time the Grande Partenza has come to the home region of favourite Fabio Aru – the only Sardinian to wear the leader’s maglia rosa. Watch the race, ride some of the routes (including the infamous Genna Silana climb) and soak up the festival atmosphere with a tailored Giro bike tour complete with bike hire, accommodation, meals and guiding. biketoursardinia.com

Go vegan

Tel Aviv

Veganism is having a global boom, but nowhere is as dedicated as Israel. Its 300,000 vegans now make up four per cent of the population, and Tel Aviv has one of the highest concentrations of vegan restaurants in the world – 400 out of its 1,178 restaurants are vegan or vegan-friendly. Make a V-line for Zakaim, where the daily-changing menu has a Persian vibe, with heaped plates of roasted cauliflower, forest mushrooms, and “grandmother’s cabbage leaves”, filled with fragrant rice. Or try the tomato-foam-topped vegan pizza option from celebrity chef Eyal Shani at ultra-hip bar Teder. zakaim.co.il, teder.fm 

Get out there

Helsinki

Fittingly for a country with some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes, Finland has chosen to mark 100 years of independence by organising four nationwide Finnish Nature Days throughout 2017 – one for each season (4 February, 20 May, 17 June and 26 August). The last of these, its actual anniversary, is set to be especially spectacular, with choral concerts in national parks around the country. Anyone in Finland can arrange a Nature Day event, so be blown away by Finnish creativity as you socialise with the locals and soak up the scenery. luonnonpaivat.fi

Compare redwoods

Oakland & New York

Wanna see big trees? See some of the world’s most impressive trees at Mariposa Grove at Yosemite National Park, California – the newly restored area of the park is home to the Grizzly Giant, which at 1,900 to 2,400 years old is the oldest tree in the grove and is the 25th largest tree in the world. yosemite.com

Prefer small trees? If you can’t make it to Yosemite, catch a miniature version in Brooklyn where artist Spencer Finch has recreated a 790-acre section of California’s Redwood national park at a 1:100 scale. While the original trees can reach 115m, Finch’s 4,000 saplings will be pruned so they never grow taller than 1.2m. publicartfund.org

Eat some ube

Los Angeles

Filipino cooking looks set to be the food trend of the year, thanks in part to one of its star ingredients. Pronounced “oo-bay”, the ube is a purple yam that’s in demand as much for its Instagram-enticing colour as for its flavour (like white-chocolate/coconut, apparently). 

Ube isn’t the only Pinoy dish that’s hot right now either – LA in particular has embraced the south-east-Asian cuisine with literal relish. Try the pork adobo fries and hot dogs at Belly and Snout (reopening in summer); the salty-sour chicken in coconut milk stew at Bahay Kubo; and lumpia (a spring-roll-like starter) at LASA in Chinatown. What’s Filipino for yum? bellyandsnout.com, facebook.com/bahay.kubo.restaurant, lasa-la.com

Meet the pope

Lisbon

Papal visits are a little bit like celebrity tours: huge crowds, heightened security and a heaven-sent commercial opportunity for souvenir traders. If that idea appeals, then head to Fatima, a small farming town 125km north of the Portuguese capital on 13 and 14 May, where the pope will be descending to celebrate the centenary of the Fatima miracle. Get there by walking the pilgrim’s way from Lisbon for extra smug points. ewtn.com/fatima

Ride a roboat

Amsterdam

Row, row, rowing your boat might become a thing of the past in Amsterdam this year, as a fleet of self-driving vessels are introduced to the city’s waterways. The “roboats” have been designed to transport goods and people along the canals – part of a pioneering €25m (NOK226.6m) test project that will also look at the use of robots in litter picking, germ detection and rescuing errant bikes from the water. The plan is to export the most successful bots and boats to other cities across the world – something we can get on board with. iamsterdam.com

Do fro-ga

Luleå

We’ve had nude-ga (naked yoga), doga (yoga with your dog) and voga (yoga with voguing), now this year get set for fro-ga (frozen yoga). The Active North retreat in Arctic Sweden is introducing yoga and meditation classes on ice for the first time. Time to practise these polar poses? activenorth.se

See the world's ugliest statue

Puerto Rico

Zurab Tsereteli’s 100m rendering of Christopher Columbus aboard ship was originally a gift to the USA to mark 500 years since the discovery of the Americas. Despite backing from Donald Trump himself, The Birth of the New World was rejected by New York and a ream of other cities, but last month it found a new home in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. A whole 14m taller than even the Statue of Liberty, it’s set to transform the skyline – and the tourist landscape. seepuertorico.com

Remember "the other Gaudí"

Barcelona

There will be lots of Modernisme celebrations in Barcelona this year, as it’s both the 120th anniversary of Els Quatre Gats, the legendary Gothic Quarter bar, and the 150th anniversary of the man who designed it. Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867-1956) was responsible for some of Barcelona’s most remarkable buildings – including Casa Amatller and Casa de les Punxes. Both are open to the public so it’s the perfect time for a pilgrimage. barcelonaturisme.com

Be picky about drinks

Martinique

Sommeliers, it seems, are no longer only for wine – there’s a whole new wave of somms for everything from tea to water (seriously – just ask Martin Riese, the first and only water sommelier in the States). In the Caribbean, rum bars have recently coined the term “rummelier” to describe those in the know about the region’s favourite tipple. Brush up on your rum knowledge on La Route des Rhums on Martinique – the self-guided tour directs rum lovers to 12 distilleries across the island. lamartinique.ca/rums

Go underground

London

The UK capital is set to get a brand-new underground train in 2017, but it’s nothing to do with the Tube. Mail Rail was a subterranean railway built to transport post beneath the ground on the world’s first driverless electric trains before it was closed in 2003. This year a short loop of the Mail Rail will reopen for London’s new Postal Museum, allowing passengers to finally travel along these little-known lines. postalmuseum.org


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