Travel Expert Simon Calder Predicts the Biggest Cultural Moments of the Next Decade

Lauren Voges

January 12, 2021

Looking forward to seeing what 2021 has in store? Don’t stop there. There’s a whole decade of exciting developments in store for travel and culture according to travel expert Simon Calder.

At the 2020 Remarkable Venue Awards, Tiqets first global, online awards ceremony, Simon Calder gave an exclusive first look into the future of travel in 2021 and beyond (psst, you can still watch the full awards ceremony online if you missed it!). From a fantastical new private museum in Paris to a new world’s tallest building, here’s what travel lovers can look forward to in the decade to come according to legendary travel industry expert Simon Calder. 

Travel and culture highlights in 2021

A Covid-19 vaccine and the promise of the return of travel isn’t the only thing to get excited about in 2021, there are a lot of other things on the cards that will enthuse travellers. Here are Simon Calder’s top six predictions. 

A new private museum in France: The Pinault Collection

On 23 January 2021, Paris should finally gain the most hotly anticipated private museum in Europe. French billionaire François Pinault, whose company owns the brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, has taken over the old stock exchange, the Bourse de Commerce, and has spent about €150M to create a new space for his Pinault Collection. 

The building that will house the collection was designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The dramatic design features a giant cylinder nesting in the atrium. To top it all off, celebrity chef Michel Bras will open a restaurant at the museum.

The Bourse de Commerce will house the Pinault collection.

A futuristic art storage facility in the Netherlands: The Depot

Rotterdam has long been in the shadow of Amsterdam, but in the autumn of 2021, Rotterdam’s latest addition to its stunning skyline will bring it into the limelight.

The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen may look like a spaceship that has just landed in the city, but instead of aliens, it will house art. The Depot is the first art storage facility in the world that will offer access to a museum’s complete collection. You can browse the 150,000 artworks (alone or with a guide), and get behind-the-scenes glimpses of conservation and restoration.

The Depot in Rotterdam.

A new train in Spain: Hello, Avlo! 

In Spain, the main gain is a train. Avlo, a new low-cost rail link will connect Barcelona and Madrid via Zaragoza – with fares as low as €5. The 300km/h service was due to open in 2020, but like so much has been pushed back to 2021. When it does start running, it will provide a perfect connection between Spain’s twin creative hubs.

A tribute to the home in Britain: The Museum of the Home

The most significant opening  in Britain in 2021? The Museum of the Home in the Hoxton area of London. The museum is being created from 300-year-old almshouses and tells the story of the capital through its dwellings. The exact opening date isn’t clear yet, but it’s likely to open in 2021.

A new contemporary arts venue in the US: The Momentary

America’s cultural hotspot for 2021 according to Simon Calder? The ninth-largest city in the small and unremarkable state of Arkansas… Bentonville, the birthplace and home of the galactic headquarters of Walmart, is home to the Momentary, a new contemporary arts venue funded by some of the Walton family fortune.

Though the Momentary opened in 2020, the vast majority of international visitors haven’t been able to visit yet. On his 2021 scheduled visit to the venue, Simon also plans to see the Derrick Adams exhibition, Sanctuary, which opens on 20 February 2021. It’s about the green book, a travel guide to the US used from the 1930s to the 1960s, that highlighted businesses that did not discriminate against African American travellers.

A panoramic view of the pyramids in Egypt: The Grand Egyptian Museum

In Africa, one of the biggest cultural openings will be the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The museum is arguably the leading attraction for the whole decade, with an incredible breadth and depth of human creativity and a panoramic view of the pyramids of Giza. Later in the 2020s, this spectacular museum will be followed by a subway link from the centre of the city to the pyramids. 

The Giza pyramids in Egypt.

Cultural milestones to look forward to in the next decade

2022: Say hello to the largest Nordic art museum, the National Museum of Norway

Looking ahead to 2022, the Nordic region’s largest art museum is scheduled to open. “Art, architecture and design all under one roof and in completely new ways” is the promise of the National Museum of Norway which will be located at a beautiful harbour-side site in Oslo. Many of us have been waiting with bated breath for this one, the project is running two years behind schedule so keep your fingers crossed for its new projected opening in 2022! It’s enough to make culture lovers scream – which is apt, as Edvard Munch’s celebrated painting of a tortured soul is the leading exhibit.

The National Museum of Norway will be the country’s biggest museum undertaking yet.

2023: Stars Wars director George Lucas branches out into museums with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Simon Calder’s estimate for when the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will finally open in Los Angeles? 2023. The wait should be worth it, considering the project cost George Lucas $2 billion of his fortune. 

It’s one of those cultural venues where the structure – “topped by a large greenery-filled terrace” – will be as important and compelling as the works it contains. From Renoir and Norman Rockwell paintings to “an in-depth exploration of all facets of cinematic art”, this museum is set to satisfy art lovers and film Chewbacca lovers alike.

2024: The Olympic games takes to Paris

Start planning your trip for 2024 now: the Olympics will be held in Paris, and if past experience is anything to go by, the 26th of July to the 11th of August 2024 will be the optimal time to visit the French capital. Simon studied tourism patterns and the Olympic Games since the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the Olympic effect is always the same; The city empties of run-of-the-mill tourists, making it the best possible summer to visit the cultural attractions funded by rich corporations. In Paris these include the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which is already open in the east of the French capital, and the Fondation Pernod Ricard, due to open in 2021.

2025: A new UNESCO Heritage Site in Cologne – Kahal Kolonia 

2025 is the year the oldest historic Jewish neighbourhood north of the Alps hopes to be in the running for a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The “Kahal Kolonia” in the centre of Cologne dates back to the 11th century – when Cologne was one of the most important large cities in the world. There’s already a Jewish museum, known as Miqua, under construction. (Three years after that, Berlin’s new Museum of Modern Art is due to open.)

2026: Get ready for a total eclipse of the sun

Prepare for an astronomical experience in 2026. A spectacular total eclipse of the sun is on track for western Europe. The path of totality begins in the Arctic, crosses Greenland and Iceland before arriving in the northern half of Spain. This bizarre stripe of darkness will traverse the cities of Bilbao, Zaragoza and Valencia in mainland Spain before hitting Palma. A rare occurrence, this natural wonder presents huge opportunities for western European countries to build a novel cultural itinerary with a nod to astronomy.

2027: There’s a new tallest tower in town – the Jeddah Tower  

Simon’s estimate of when the Burj Khalifa in Dubai will finally be deposed as the world’s tallest building: 2027. The Jeddah Tower, currently under construction on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, is expected to stand at least one kilometre high (170m taller than the Burj Khalifa), with an observation deck about two-thirds of the way to the top. The tower will also house the highest hotel in the world. By then, Saudi Arabia will be recognised as one of the leading cultural countries of the world. 

The Jeddah Tower in the making.

2028: Oxford and Cambridge are getting cosy 

On your next visit to Oxford, make sure you stop by equally picturesque Cambridge.

This one’s for the travelers who love to cram multiple activities into one day. In 2028, the two British University cities of Oxford and Cambridge are due to be reconnected by train. 60 years after the old railway line was ripped up, a new train line will make it possible to move between these two cities in barely an hour. Travelers will be able to make walking tours on the same day in both great cities, as well as appreciating dozens of other cultural venues.

2029: The 200th anniversary of the Swan River Colony

2029 marks the 200th anniversary of the Swan River Colony, now better known as Perth and Fremantle, and will provide another excuse to visit the wonderfully wild west of Australia. 

The Bell Tower in Perth is already a highlight and the Shipwrecks Museum tells tales of lost vessels and broken dreams in a fascinating collection of maritime archaeology; one departing mariner’s message reads: “Farewell to the miserable Southland.”

Perth’s stunning skyline.

2030: Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is finally completed and Africa’s Great Green Wall comes to life

And what’s travel expert Simon Calder excited about in 2030? Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia will have been completed – sealing Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished heavenly offering nearly a century and a half after its cornerstone was laid. This will mark the end of the world’s most amazing spiritual and architectural journey.

2030 is also the planned completion date for an 8,000-kilometre swathe of woodland stretching across Africa from Senegal to Eritrea. The Great Green Wall project aims to transform the Sahel – the region at the south of the Sahara desert – and build local resilience to climate change. The hope is that the project will create 10 million jobs – some of them in tourism – as travellers flock to see the changing face of Africa and what has been billed as “the largest living structure on the planet”.

Pretty soon the Sagrada Familia won’t be supported by cranes.

These are just some of the travel highlights we can expect to see over the next decade. They serve as a beacon of hope and a reminder that the travel industry has much to offer and that there’s a whole lot travelers can look forward to.

Want to find out more about the awards? Watch the full ceremony!

Introducing our travel expert Simon Calder

Simon Calder is Britain’s leading travel commentator and is known as “the man who pays his way” which means that he pays for his own travel. He began his career at Gatwick airport, where he cleaned out planes for Sir Freddie Laker. He then started to write travel guidebooks and travel articles. Today Simon is Senior Travel Editor for The Independent. He also writes for the Evening Standard, the i newspaper, as well many other publications. As a travel expert Simon is often called on to share his opinions with news shows worldwide, most recently presenting at the Tiqets 2020 Remarkable Venue Awards.


Looking for more insights into what to expect from travel in 2021? Look to the summer of 2020 for an idea of travel attitudes after lockdown.

Read the latest blogs for museums, tours and attractions

Travel Expert Simon Calder Predicts the Biggest Cultural Moments of the Next Decade 

At the 2020 Remarkable Venue Awards, travel expert Simon Calder gave an exclusive first look into the future of travel in 2021 and beyond.

And the Winners of the 2020 Remarkable Venue Awards Are… 

Tiqets hosted its first online, global Remarkable Venue Awards on 9 December. And the winners are in.

5 Best Practices for Designing Immersive Exhibitions in Museums 

Looking for a sure-fire way to get your visitors engaged and talking about what you’ve got on show? Immersive exhibitions are your answer.