USA’s top 20 happenings for 2020

With an incredible range of events, anniversaries and new openings, 2020 is set to be a huge year for the United States. Visit The USA highlights 2020’s most monumental happenings, including the first-ever Pride of the Americas LGBT Festival and the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, as well as the country’s hottest new neighbourhoods, bars, hotels, and restaurants which make holidays to the United States ever more enticing.

Anniversaries and Key Events

400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and Pilgrim Fathers’ arrival in America
2020 marks 400 years since the Mayflower ship, and its Pilgrim Father passengers, set sail from England to America, known at the time as the ‘New World’. The Mayflower left Plymouth, UK, in September 1620 and eventually landed at Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, in November of that year. According to the official Mayflower 400 organisation, more than 30 million people can trace their ancestry to the 102 passengers and approximately 30 crew aboard, who came from England and Holland. European colonies had already been established in the New World, but those who arrived on the Mayflower differed from their predecessors by establishing progressive relations with the Indigenous Peoples.

The Mayflower voyage marks such a momentous event in America’s history that 2020 will see a series of celebrations and events across the U.S., especially in the New England region, which includes the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Plymouth 400 series of 2020 events includes a grand Opening Ceremony (24 April), Maritime Salute, Regatta and traditional New England lobster dinner (2 – 28 June), Wampanoag Ancestors Walk and Drum Ceremony (1 August); and Embarkation Festival (19 – 20 September) to engage audiences in America’s story of exploration. In Boston, Massachusetts, Charlestown Navy Yard will host free maritime festival Mayflower Sails 2020 from 14 – 19 May 2020. The Mayflower II, a full-scale replica ship has been undergoing an $11.2 million-restoration project at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut ahead of next year’s anniversary and will make its debut sail at Mayflower Sails 2020.

100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, various locations
August 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women’s right to vote. This was following 72 years of campaigning from women to have a voice in government. The centennial will be marked with a number of events and openings across America, including a float in the New Year’s Day 2020 Rose Parade on 1st January 2020 in Pasadena, California,  named ‘Years of Hope. Years of Coverage’. The float will feature a 30-foot Statue of Liberty holding the tablet of the 19th amendment and dressed in a suffrage sash. Meanwhile in Lorton, Virginia, the Workhouse Arts Center, once a D.C. prison that housed incarcerated members of the National Women’s Party, is opening the Lucy Burns Museum, telling the women’s suffrage story. In August 2020 the 1.6-acre Turning Point Suffragist Memorial in Fairfax County, Virginia, will be the only place in America to tell the entire story of the suffragist movement. It will become part of a new ‘Constitutional Trail’ telling the story of the women who fought for the right to vote.

100 years since the introduction of Prohibition, various locations
Prohibition was a nationwide ban on the sale and import of alcoholic beverages that lasted from January 1920 to December 1933. Advocates of prohibition argued that banning alcohol would reduce criminal activity – in fact the illegal distillation and sale of alcohol became widespread. Cocktails weren’t invented during the prohibition era, but they experienced a spike in creativity as speakeasies started offering mixed drinks as a way to mask the taste of sub-par illegal alcohol. Some prohibition-era cocktails are still popular today, including the Whiskey Sour, the Mint Julep and the Tom Collins. Today, the USA’s speakeasy bar scene is thriving, with many of the country’s best bars hidden behind secret doors, bookcases and curtains. But instead of being served bootleg gin, visitors can expect some of the country’s most inventive cocktails, in its coolest spaces. Beyond speakeasies, Las Vegas’ Mob Museum tells the history of the Prohibition era while Savanna, Georgia, is home to the country’s only Prohibition museum.

Inaugural Pride of the Americas LGBT Festival, Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida
In April 2020, Greater Fort Lauderdale, located 30 miles north of Miami, Florida, is set to host the first-ever Pride of the Americas LGBT+ Festival, running from 21st April to 26th April. The 10-day event will see more than 350,000 people from across the globe attend the new event, which includes an arts festival, concerts, parade and beach parties as well as conferences and symposiums focusing on LGBT+ business, travel and health.  Greater Fort Lauderdale is already home to the only tourism board in the world that houses a department specifically designed to develop LGBT+ tourism. As such the destination is popular with the LGBT+ community, and is also home to the highest concentration of same-sex couples in the country. The Pride of the Americas festival is an opportunity for international visitors to be part of a movement that strengthens the LGBT+ community.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico celebrates its 500 year history in 2020
2020 will see a whole year of celebrations in Puerto Rico as San Juan, the island’s capital, marks its 500-year history. This anniversary coincides with a series of new openings in San Juan, and the timely release of Steven Spielberg ’s reimagining of West Side Story, with characters including the Puerto Rican ‘Sharks’. UNESCO World Heritage listed Old San Juan as one of the oldest cities in the USA. The city encapsulates the rich cultural identity of Puerto Rico, interweaving Taino, African and Spanish traditions. This distinctive mix makes San Juan a vibrant city, passionate about music and dance with fetes, fairs, and festivals taking place throughout the year. In 2020, the city will unveil El Distrito San Juan, a new hub of dining, art, music and more.  El Distrito will also be home to the Old San Juan Palacio Provincial -one of the first new hotels to open in some time.

150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York City, New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will mark its 150th anniversary in 2020 with a series of events and exhibitions across the U.S. and the world. More information will be revealed over the coming months, but for now, visitors can check out the winners of the Met 150 Design Contest – the six winners will see their designs transformed into products which will be on sale at The Met starting from 13th April 2020, to mark the anniversary.

New hotel openings and rising neighbourhoods 

Washington D.C. Hotel Openings
2020 sees a huge number of hotel openings in America’s capital, Washington D.C., which has recently been named in Lonely Planet’s top ten cities to visit in 2020. A Mob Hotel, known for its affordable, fun and colourful design-led hotels, is set to open in the city next year, marking the first American branch of the brand. The 144-room hotel will have a rooftop with views of the U.S. Capitol Building, live music and a cinema. Elsewhere, the new Riggs Washington D.C. will be located in the former home of the Riggs National Bank. Located in the Penn Quarter neighbourhood, the hotel will have 181 guest rooms and a cocktail bar, the Silver Lyan, marking the U.S. debut of world-acclaimed mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana AKA Mr. Lyan. Other new openings for next year include the Generator, Citizen M,  The James, Thompson Washington D.C., and the Meringer Hotel.

Hollywood and Los Angeles, California Hotel Openings 
Hollywood, which was once regarded as a hip ‘neighbourhood to watch’ after its early heyday then decline, is now reestablishing itself as a luxury hangout thanks to a number of hotels opening in 2020. These include the Pendry Hotel, with Wolfgang Puck leading the property’s restaurants (opening April 2020); The Godfrey Hotel, a luxury hotel with 220 rooms, a rooftop pool and casual steakhouse (opening January 2020); the 190-room Thompson Hotel (opening early 2020), located on Wilcox Avenue between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards with a rooftop pool deck; and the 212-room Tommie Hotel (opening late 2020), designed for artists, entrepreneurs, and young professionals. Other new openings in greater Los Angeles slated for next year include the Fairmont Century Plaza, the W Los Angeles Downtown, The Cambria Hotel Los Angeles Downtown, and Citizen M Los Angeles Downtown.

Neighbourhood to watch; Manchester in Richmond, Virginia
Over recent years, an influx of new and creative young residents has started energising what was once quite a traditional city. This new energy, combined with a host of new openings, has revitalised the city’s neighbourhoods, most recently in the up-and-coming area of Manchester, which is located just across the James River. Manchester is already home to the city’s oldest brewery, Legend Brewing, but has recently seen a resurgence of new breweries and taprooms, including Basic City Beer Co. and Dogtown Brewing Co. Other new openings include Brewer’s Waffles, a waffle and milkshake restaurant, while other favourites include Croaker’s Spot, Camden’s Dogtown Market, and the Plant Zero Cafe. The area is also home to the Mickael Broth’s “Perfect Bound” sculpture. Broth is a Richmond, Virginia-based artist who has been credited with making Richmond a top U.S. destination for street art.

Stockyards Heritage Development is completed, Fort Worth, Texas
In 2020, Fort Worth, Texas will celebrate the completion of the $175 million Stockyards Heritage Development, which has restored and rehabilitated the historic Mule Alley in Fort Worth Stockyards. The beginning of the year will see the opening of shops, restaurants, creative workspaces, music venues, and the new Hotel Drover. The 200-room hotel will celebrate fresh regional cuisine in its signature restaurant, 97 West. The Fort Worth Stockyards are already home to the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive, year-round rodeo, and Billy Bob’s – the world’s biggest honky-tonk.

Must-see exhibitions and museum openings

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles, California 
2020 will finally see the unveiling of the long-awaited Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile, which will become the world’s leading film sciences museum. The project, which has been designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, will encompass six stories of state-of-the-art galleries, exhibition spaces, film theatres and educational areas. Inaugural exhibitions will include a retrospective of the legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (the first of its kind in the U.S.) and Making of: The Wizard of Oz.

Planet Word Museum, Washington D.C.
Opening spring 2020 in Washington D.C., the new Planet Word Museum is a space dedicated to fostering a life-long love of words, literacy, and storytelling. The museum will open its door inside the school where Alexander Graham Bell, the engineer who invented the telephone, once ran a lab. The museum’s mission is to inspire a love of words and languages, and to allow visitors to discover how words shape our lives, decisions, and relationships. The museum will also feature an interactive sound installation by world-renowned contemporary artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

First exhibition dedicated to the early work of Van Gogh unveiled in Detroit, Michigan
Van Gogh’s work will be celebrated from 21st June to 27th September 2020 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which was the first public museum in the United States to purchase a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. Self-Portrait, 1887 was acquired by the museum in 1922, making the Detroit Institute of Arts a fitting venue for the first exhibition dedicated to the introduction and early reception of the artist’s work in America. It will feature approximately 65 of Van Gogh’s paintings and works, and explore the efforts made by early promoters of modernism to introduce the artist into the American consciousness.

New wing at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California 
In fall 2020 the Santa Barbara Museum of Art will unveil a new and expanded multi-floor wing that will house photography, Asian art, and other exhibits. To mark the opening of the new wing, the museum will host an exhibition on Van Gogh and his influences, titled ‘Through Vincent’s Eyes’ starting from October 2020. It will immerse viewers in the visual imagination of the artist, and showcase 15 works of art by Van Gogh, alongside more than 125 works of art selected to reflect the varied art that Van Gogh most admired.


New experiences, restaurants and accolades

World’s Best Bar is in New York City, New York
2020 is set to be a big year for bar connoisseurs heading to New York City with the announcement that Dante, the celebrated aperitivo bar and restaurant in NYC’s West Village, has been named as ‘Number 1 World’s Best Bar’ at the prestigious World’s 50 Best Bar awards ceremony. The USA led the 51-100 list with nine bars featured, four of which are in New York City. Other bars in the 1-50 list in New York City included The Nomad (4), Katana Kitten (14), The Dead Rabbit (22) and Employees Only (26).

St. John Restaurant to open in Los Angeles, California
One of London’s most influential restaurants is set to open in Culver City, Los Angeles, in October 2020. St. John, led by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, is well-known across London and the world for its nose-to-tail dining philosophy and inventive dishes, but is equally celebrated for its bacon sandwich and doughnuts. The restaurant group recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the Los Angeles opening is its first outpost outside of London. Other British brands including the Hoxton hotel group have established themselves in various U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, over the last year.

Family fun

LEGOLAND® New York Resort to open, Goshen, New York
Saturday 4th July 2020 will see the hotly anticipated opening of the first major theme park to grace the northeast U.S. in over 40 years; LEGOLAND New York. Located 60 miles north of NYC, the 150-acre theme park in Goshen, NY, is set to be Merlin Entertainment’s largest LEGOLAND park. It will become home to seven lands and more than 50 rides, shows and attractions for families with children aged between two and 12. This will be closely followed by the opening of the new LEGOLAND New York Hotel in 2021.

New rides at Walt Disney World Resorts, Orlando, Florida, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia
The world’s first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, is due to open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, in spring 2020. Visitors will enter the world of Mickey Mouse using state-of-the-art technologies to bring the flat cartoon world to life. Elsewhere, Pantheon, the fastest multi-launch rollercoaster in North America will debut in 2020 at Busch Gardens® Williamsburg, Virginia. It will thrill visitors with four launches and a top speed of 72.5mph, two inversions and a 95-degree drop.

Sports & Recreation

New SoFi Stadium LA to open, Hollywood Park, California
Summer 2020 will see the opening of the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park. It will be home to two NFL team when it opens – the Los Angeles Chargers and the 2019 NFC Conference Champion Los Angeles Rams. The open-air stadium will also host Super Bowl LVI in 2022, the College Football National Championship game in 2023, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics. Taylor Swift will be one of the first acts to perform at the complex on 25th and 26th July 2020, and the space will become a new go-to for visiting sports and music lovers.

The Oakland Raiders become the Las Vegas Raiders, Las Vegas, Nevada
In 2020 the California-based Oakland Raiders, one of the U.S.’s leading NFL teams, are set to become the Las Vegas Raiders, relocating to the brand-new Allegiant Stadium opening in summer 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Their move is a milestone for sporting fans in the city as it will be the first time a major sports team will have taken up residency in Las Vegas. The new venue is one of the most hotly anticipated sports spaces of the decade, and one of the most advanced in the world, with a glass-domed roof, retractable doors and a host of dining options. The city is also set to host the NFL draft from 23rd – 25th April 2020 on and around the iconic Las Vegas Strip. The annual event is one of the most popular in the sporting calendar and involves the NFL’s most notable teams selecting eligible players for the season, giving fans everywhere the chance to see their new teams for the first time.


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