The 2019 hotlist
A total solar eclipse, two World Cups, several new flights and walking trails, and big birthday celebrations from Havana to the Grand Canyon – here are 40 destinations worth checking out this year
Japan The Rugby World Cup heads east
Seventeen years after it co-hosted the football World Cup, Japan stages the ninth Rugby World Cup from 20 September, the first in Asia. Host cities range from Sapporo in the north to Kumamoto on the subtropical island of Kyushu – and all are linked by bullet trains. The most poignant is Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, built on the site of schools destroyed in the 2011 tsunami. The final will be held in Yokohama on 2 November. More tickets go on sale on 19 January – it’s vital to register for an account in advance (rugbyworldcup.com).
The Grand Canyon Grander than ever …
The centenary of the creation of the Grand Canyon national park will be marked on
26 February with a concert, talks and an oral history booth for visitors to share their park memories. Commemorative events will take place through the year, including an Earth Day celebration in April, a week of stargazing parties (22-29 June) and a Native American heritage day in November. Party hats aside, visitors can also experience the park by hiking, biking or rafting through it. On 31 March, American Airlines starts a new direct daily flight from Heathrow to Phoenix, Arizona; BA already has a daily service.
Jordan A new Red Sea gateway
EasyJet’s November launch of direct flights from Gatwick to Aqaba, on Jordan’s 20km of Red Sea coast, opened up a new route into the country from the south. Well-preserved coral reefs off the coast of Aqaba offer excellent diving, with endless colourful fish. But Aqaba is also a gateway to the spectacular desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, 40 miles away, and less than two hours from Petra. Those who fly to the capital, Amman, in the north, will find a blossoming food and arts scene. Last year saw the first Amman Street Food week (in April, dates for 2019 tbc), celebrating cuisine from Jordan and neighbouring countries.