The coronavirus pandemic may have robbed us off our bucket list travel plans and the many delights that come with it, but 2021 promises to be a better year. With the procedural roll out of the various vaccines and countries slowly beginning to open up their international borders, there is a resurgence of hope to travel far and big in the new year. While a host of the world’s most famous festivals, tournaments and exhibitions had to be cancelled or rendered virtual last year, organisers to these events are being optimistic about travel in the long haul and planning for them to be held live through the rest of 2021.
Bookmark your calendars with our list of the most iconic and exciting events that are slated to take place this new year.
When: July 8 -11, 2021
Where: Novi Sad, Serbia
The 20th anniversary edition of the Exit Festival was first postponed by a month, and then cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020. However, organisers orchestrated a scaled-down version of the physical festival, with only 250 attendees being permitted in a day. Added to this, the performances were also streamed online for fans across the world. This year, the festival is expected to return to Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad.
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When: July 7-10, 2021
Where: Oeiras, Portugal
The iconic NOS Alive festival was cancelled for the first time last year since 2007. This year, Oerias in Portugal will play host to the festival slated to take place in July 2021.
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When: July 29-31, 2021
Where: Wacken, Germany
Photo By: Queen soft/Shutterstock
The famous heavy metal festival was called off in 2020 following an order passed by the German government banning large gatherings. However, metalheads can look forward to Wacken 2021, which will feature performances by Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and Judas Priest.
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When: June 2022
Where: Pilton, UK
Photo By: LaineN/Shutterstock
Fear surrounding the pandemic forced the organisers of the much-awaited Glastonbury festival to cancel the event in 2020, and after a period of uncertainty, they decided to forgo it in 2021 as well. However, they have given those who bought tickets in 2019 the option to roll over their deposits for the festival in 2022, which will headline artists like Aerosmith.
When: Sep 24 – 26, 2021
Where: Monterey, USA
One of the world’s most popular jazz festivals did not take place physically in 2020, with organisers streaming a virtual version of the event on Youtube. However, the 64th edition of the festival is slated to return to Monterey in September 2021, provided of course that the situation around the pandemic and safety guidelines allow it.
When: July 2021
Where: Boom, Belgium
Many hearts broke when Tomorrowland, one of the world’s biggest EDM festivals was called off due to the pandemic in 2020, even though the organisers had arranged for a virtual festival to take place in July. To make up for it however, the organisers have said they are working towards the festival returning to its Belgian host town of Boom for over two consecutive weekends in July 2021.
Where: Indio, USA
The 21st edition of Coachella, one of the biggest and most visited music festivals in the world, was first pushed from its original dates in April 2020 to October 2020, but as the COVID-19 situation remained severe in California through the winter, the festival was postponed to April 2021. However, Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser confirmed that the festival, which witnesses a footfall of over a million a year, would not be taking place in April and stood cancelled for the time being. Further information regarding the dates of the festival, should it take place later in the year, has not yet been released.
When: June 25 – July 3
Where: Montreal, Canada
The world’s largest jazz festival featured an online showcase in 2020 to mark what would have been its 41st year. The 41st edition however, will be a physical festival, held in Montreal over a period of nine days through June and July.
When: 24-26 September & 30 September-3 October 2021
Where: Lisbon, Portugal
Photo By: A.PAES/Shutterstock
This rock festival started in Rio de Janeiro, but has since spread all over the world, with Las Vegas, Lisbon and Madrid hosting some edition of the festival in the successive years. Rock in Rio was scheduled to return to Lisbon in 2020, but was cancelled and slotted for 2021 instead, As things stand, the festival will go ahead on two consecutive weekends in late September and October 2021.
When: July 2-4, 2021
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
Lollapalooza 2020, which was supposed to take place in its original home city of Chicago was reduced to a virtual weekend event featuring streams of live events and archival Lollapalooza performances from the past. In 2021, the festival will be hosted in Gärdet park in the heart of Stockholm. The lineup will include top artists like Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, The Killers, Zara Larsson and more.
When: Feb 8 – 21, 2021
Where: Melbourne, Australia
Photo By: ymgerman/Shutterstock
The first grand slam of the 2021 tennis calendar was originally supposed to begin in late January, but was pushed to February 8, 2021 at Melbourne. Authorities have enforced a strict 14-day quarantine period for players, and limited crowds have been allowed into Melbourne Park to catch the action live. After the UAE stood in for hosts India for the IPL 2020, the women’s qualifying matches for Australian Open 2021 are being held in Dubai.
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When: May 17 – Jun 6 , 2021
Where: Paris, France
This year, the second grand slam of the year was held after the US Open, which is usually the last of the four grand slams. Since then, officials have hinted at a postponement of next year’s tournament too. Provisionally however, the tournament is scheduled from May 17 – June 6 at the Stade Roland-Garros.
When: June 28 – July 11, 2021
Where: Wimbledon, UK
Photo By: Meaning March/Shutterstock
Tennis’ oldest grand slam was cancelled in 2020 for the first time since World War II. Set to take place in June 28-July 11, the organisers have decided to go ahead with a limited number of spectators being allowed into the tournament.
When: Aug 30 – Sep 12, 2021
Where: New York, USA
After a fan-less 2020 edition, organisers are hopeful of welcoming spectators back to Flushing Meadows for the last of the year’s last grand slam. Though tickets have already gone on sale, the official website maintains that the situation may evolve over the coming months, which may lead to a scale-down of the tournament if necessary.
When: March 28 – November 14, 2021
Where: Multiple locations
Photo By: mooinblack/Shutterstock
Due to the safety regulations around the pandemic, the motorcycle racing’s premier championship was restricted to fourteen Grands Prix and restricted to the European continent. As things stand, the 2021 season will go ahead with 20 rounds starting with Qatar on March 28 and ending in Valencia, Spain on November 14.
When: March 12- December 12, 2021
After a truncated, but eventful 2020 season that comprised only 17 Grands Prix, the 2021 season is slated to kick off in March and end in December 2021. The season will comprise 23 Grands Prix, including the first ever Saudi Arabian GP in Jeddah. Officials are optimistic about the prospect of spectators returning for the upcoming season which kicks off in Australia and ends in Abu Dhabi.
When: May 8 – 30, 2021
Apart from being postponed from May to October, the Giro d’Italia also underwent a change in host venues. The Grand Tour was supposed to start off in Budapest, but the pandemic meant that the entire race was held in Italy. This year’s event, its 104th edition, begins in Turin on May 8 and will take in some trail through Mount Zoncolan in the Alps, the Dolomites and the increasingly popular white gravel Strade Bianchi roads.
When: June 26 – Jul 18, 2021
Photo By: Radu Razvan/Shutterstock
Organisers were previously considering holding the Tour de France 2021 in Copenhagen, but recent announcements have confirmed that the 108th edition of the race will take place in France. However, it has been rescheduled to an earlier date because of the Olympics, which begin in late July.
When: August 14 – September 5, 2021
In 2020, La Vuelta was postponed by two months and the route was confined to northern Spain, with the French, Portuguese and Dutch legs cancelled. For the 2021 edition, organisers are confident that the race will go ahead in August – September, but the route will likely be restricted to Spanish borders. Among other modifications to the route, the cyclists will start their race from inside the 13th century Gothic cathedral in Burgos!
When: September 18 – 26, 2021
Where: Flanders, Belgium
The battle for cycling’s most coveted title outside of the Grand Tours took place in Imola, Italy in 2020, after it was decided that the event will not go ahead in Switzerland as was previously decided. As for next year’s championship, Belgium’s Flanders region is set to host the races across four cities.
When: Jul 23 – Aug 8, 2021
Where: Tokyo, Japan
It is universally agreed upon that the Tokyo 2020 games was unarguably the largest sporting event to be postponed because of the pandemic. Despite months of preparation, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government resolved to postpone the games by one year, in March 2020. It was decided that the Olympic Games would now be held between July 24 and August 9, 2021, and will be followed by the Paralympic Games, which will take place between August 25 to September 6.
When: April 11 – June 6, 2021
Arguably one of the biggest T20 leagues of the calendar, the IPL was held in the UAE in 2020 through October and November due to the onslaught of COVID-19 cases in India at the time. In 2021, however, the tournament is set to return to its home country and will likely be played in the summer, according to BCCI officials.
When: Oct – Nov 14, 2021
Though the 2020 edition of the tournament, which was to be held in Australia was postponed to 2022, the 2021 edition will go ahead as planned. The tournament—which last took place in 2016—will be hosted by India from October to November.
When: September 12, 2020 to May 23, 2021
Photo By: Vitalii Vitleo/Shutterstock
The start to the 2020-21 EPL season was delayed due to the pandemic, and matches took place behind closed doors due to the national lockdown in England. While authorities gave the go ahead for fans to return to the stadium in early December, the detection of a mutant strain in London and parts of England saw the permission being reversed yet again.
When: May 29, 2021
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
After a delayed start to Europe’s most elite club football league, the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul is set to host the finals on May 29, 2021. In October, 2020, the UEFA announced that up to 30 per cent fan attendance will be allowed at games, given that local authorities in the host country give the go-ahead.
When: June 11 – July 11, 2021
Where: Amsterdam, Baku, Bucharest, Bilbao, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome, St. Petersburg
Postponed by twelve months due to the pandemic, the UEFA Euro 2020 is set to be held across 12 different European cities between June and July 2021. Wembley Stadium in London is set to host the finals, but it remains unclear if spectators will be allowed into the stadiums for the matches. Reports suggest that the host cities will formulate their own fan attendance rules, choosing from four possible scenarios: 100 per cent, 50 per cent, and 33 per cent attendance, the fourth being behind closed doors. The final decision on fan attendance is expected around April 2021.
When: December 2020 – May 2021
The 2020 – 2021 season got underway in December after a coronavirus delay, and is expected to end in May 2021. However, given that the COVID-19 infection rate remains high in the USA, authorities have left it to the individual teams to decide whether spectators will be allowed into the stadium or not. Thus, while teams like the L.A. Lakers and the Chicago Bulls have decided against allowing fans for their home games, teams like the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers will allow a restricted number of spectators for their games.
When: March–5 & June 9-20, 2021
Where: Berlin, Germany
The 71st Berlin festival will be a unique event. Due to the pandemic, one of Europe’s biggest film festivals will be split into two halves: from March 1 through March 5 there will be an online-only event for the international industry, and from June 9 to June 20th an in-person festival with red-carpet screenings and gala events, has been planned.
When: July 6 – 17, 2021
Where: Cannes, France
Photo By: Iurii Dzivinskyi/Shutterstock
Having been forced to cancel the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, the organisers have decided to play it safe in 2021. While the tentative dates for this year’s festival were for May, it was pushed back again to take place between July 6 and 17, since France had witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases recently.
When: June 9 – 20, 2021
The 2020 edition of this Film Festival did not take place in April as planned, but organisers are fairly confident that the festival will manage to take place between the tentative dates of June 9 and June 20 this year, with the aim to move forward in the safest environment possible.
When: Sep 1-11, 2021
Where: Venice, Italy
Photo By: taniavolobueva/Shutterstock
The world’s oldest film festival was one of the few to take place in a physical setting in September 2020. Organisers of the festival, the Venice Biennale, announced that the 78th edition of the Venice Film Festival will take place from September 1 to 11 at the Lido de Venezia.
When: October, 2021
Where: Mumbai, India
The 22nd MAMI Film Festival was moved from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus. The festival will likely be held in October, and will feature films that were selected for the 2020 edition apart from the 2021 picks.
When: Feb 19-28, 2021
Where: Jaipur, India
After a successful 2020 that saw JLF reinvent itself through digital platforms, the flagship festival kickstarted on February 19 and will continue till February 28 as a virtual affair.
When: December 10-12, 2021
Where: Delhi, India
In 2020, the world’s largest celebration of the Urdu language moved online. Performances and panel discussions were streamed live for two days in September, and were made available on demand for 15 days after. Organisers are hopeful that the 2021 edition will return to its full glory, in the form of the physical festival featuring diverse art forms across literature, music, dance and theatre, as well as the Rekhta Bazaar and the Aiwan-i-Zaiqa food festival.
When: Feb 27 – March 26, 2021
Where: Hong Kong
Despite all the performances that were scheduled for the festival being cancelled in February and March 2020, the organisers did manage to pull off a postponed online edition in October. The 2021 edition of the Hong Kong Arts Festival will be a hybrid, wherein visitors will be allowed for some performances, while others will be streamed online.
When: May 5-9, 2021 (New York); October 13-17, 2021 (London)
Where: New York and London
Photo By: Padmayogini/Shutterstock
While the 2020 editions of Frieze New York and Frieze London were cancelled, in-person shows are expected to take place in May and October 2021 respectively. While the London show will return to The Regent’s Park, the New York show is set to relocate from its venue on Randall’s Island to the Shed in the Hudson Yards complex.
When: Sept 23 – 26, 2021 (Basel); December 2 – 5 (Miami); May 21-23 (Hong Kong)
Where: Basel, Miami and Hong Kong
In 2020, Art Basel cancelled its shows across all three venues in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong because of the restrictions caused due to the pandemic. Moreover, the 2021 shows at Basel and Hong Kong have also been postponed to account for the continuing prevalence of the virus. While the Hong Kong show will now take place in May, Basel’s show is scheduled for September this year. As of now, the Miami Beach show is slated to take place in December. Additionally, the festival will host digital viewing rooms from March 24-27, showcasing installations from 100 galleries.
When: August 6 – 30, 2021
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
This iconic arts festival also went down the digital route in 2020 due to the pandemic. While organisers are hoping for a return to a full-fledged live festival, they are also planning for a hybrid or digital-only festival for this year’s upcoming edition.
When: October 21-25, 2021
After a cancelled edition in 2020, FIAC will feature exhibits from 200 galleries through its Online Viewing Rooms in the first week of March, before the festival itself in October. If the festival does go ahead in-person, it will move to a temporary venue—the Grand Palais Ephémère—from the Grand Palais, which is undergoing renovations.
When: November 2021 – March 2022
Where: Kochi, India
The 5th edition of India’s largest contemporary art festival was cancelled in 2020, but organisers are confident that conditions will be conducive to hosting a physical festival in November 2021.
When: December 2021
Where: Goa, India
Organisers are hopeful that by the time December rolls around, the spread of the virus will be under control and an in-person or at the very least, a hybrid festival will be possible in Goa in 2021. Though the 2020 edition did not take place physically, the Serendipity Arts Foundation hosted many virtual events last year, culminating in the Serendipity Arts Virtual in December.
When: September 23-26, 2021
Where: Gothenburg, Sweden
In the absence of a physical fair, the 2020 edition of the Gothenburg Book Fair was replaced with an online event called Book Fair Play. In 2021, Scandinavia’s largest cultural fair is expected to be held in its physical form at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre in Gothenburg.
When: January 29-30, February 4-6, 12-13, 2021
One of the Middle East’s most sought after cultural events, this literature festival will be held across three weekends in January and February, spread out over three different venues in Dubai. Keeping in mind the potential health risks, festival organisers have already published a list of guidelines that visitors will have to adhere to.
When: October 8 -17, 2021
Where: Cheltenham, England
After a pioneering hybrid festival in 2020, the oldest literature festival in the world is slated to return to the historic town of Cheltenham and will be held between October 8 and 17.
When: August 14 – 31, 2021
The festival moved online for the 2020 edition, but will hopefully return to its original venue at Charlotte Gardens in Edinburgh in August 2021. The official announcement of the program is expected to take place in June.
When: April 26 – May 2, 2021
Where: Sydney, Australia
The cancellation of a physical festival paved the way for writers to contribute their ideas through a podcast channel. If all goes well, the 2021 festival will take place in person in Sydney in April across locations like Carriageworks, Town Hall and City Recital Hall. The detailed programme for the same will likely be announced in March 2021.
When: April 17 – 18, 2021
Where: LA, USA
In 2020, the LA-based festival took place virtually over the course of a month between October and November, featuring multiple readings, panel discussions and talks. While the organisers are still monitoring the coronavirus situation in California, the festival is provisionally scheduled to go ahead at the University of Southern California campus in April this year.
When: January to November, 2021
Having originated in Wales in 1988, the Hay Festival has grown into one of the biggest literature festivals in the world, with multiple countries hosting different editions of the festival January through November. After a digital festival in 2020, organisers announced that the first leg of the Hay Festival 2021 will take place as a hybrid event in Colombia. More details about the subsequent host countries to follow.
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enjoys writing and follows what he thinks is an eclectic mix of interests. Especially passionate about travelling with good music and a book to boot.
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