La Cité du Vin (Bordeaux)
Whilst all eyes are on France for the UEFA Euro 2016, oenophiles are heading across the channel for another reason. La Cité du Vin has been billed as Disneyland for adults and its position in Bordeaux – the world capital of wine – couldn’t be more befitting. Before you even step foot inside or take a single sip, La Cité du Vin impresses, thanks to a state-of-the-art structure on the banks of the Garonne River. Designed to replicate wine swirling around a glass, the glimmering champagne gold and glass structure soars 10 storeys and accommodates 20 themed areas and exhibits. Tasting sessions are served as standard, as one would hope, and you’ll also find a wine saloon in prime position atop the building. Whilst the food in this restaurant and tapas bar will undoubtedly be delicious, it’s the wine list spanning 80 countries that stirs the excitement of wine lovers.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hollywood)
It was only a matter of time before Hogwarts came to Hollywood. April saw Universal Studios open the third Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the latest recreation of Hogsmeade is every bit as impressive as you’d expect from the men behind the movies. Hogwarts Castle is present and accounted for, with its visitors treated to a new and improved 3D version of the popular Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Sounds and sights abound as distractions hit from all angles, with the thrill experienced from the comfort of your ‘enchanted’ bench. Outside, the thrills come courtesy of outdoor rollercoaster, The Flight of the Hippogriff.
Louvre Abu Dhabi (Saadiyat Island)
The 2,000ft circumference and 12,000 ton disc that sits atop the Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed to reflect the cupolas that punctuate Arabic architecture. From afar, the crowning glory of Saadiyat Island’s most exciting new arrival seems to levitate in the haze of the sun. The reality is that four huge pillars support the weight of the disc, which is itself decorated with a lace-like fretwork of almost 8,000 star cut-outs, creating a structure befitting of its ultra-luxe location. Louvre Abu Dhabi has been 30 years in the making, at a cost of around £1 billion. It’s opening in December 2016 will see works from artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol exhibited, and will mark an exciting development in the launch of Saadiyat Island, a destination set to rival neighbouring Dubai as the world’s most luxurious.
FIFA World Cup Museum (Zurich)
Controversy-marred FIFA will undoubtedly have been rather happy to have attentions diverted towards an altogether more positive direction, when the FIFA World Cup Museum launched in February this year. Set to become the home of football history, the museum houses over a thousand sporting artefacts, including one in particular; the original World Cup. Previously kept under lock and key in a Zurich bank vault, the Holy Grail of football trophies will be displayed in all of its glory to become the real star of the show.
When it opens later this month, Disneyland Shanghai will be Disney’s first resort in mainland China and the first Disney theme park to be built anywhere in the world for ten years. Prior knowledge tells us that the Chinese don’t do anything by halves, so we can only assume that Disneyland Shanghai will blow others around the world out of the water; we already know the the Enchanted Storybook Castle is the world’s largest Disney castle and Mickey’s Storybook Express Parade will be the longest parade in any Disney park. Add to this the arrival of Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure – a ride that has been billed as an absolute must for any Disney fan – and that cruise to the Far East seems mighty appealing all of a sudden.
World Trade Centre Transportation Hub (New York)
11 subways and PATH trains pass through New York’s newest station but visitors aren’t heading here for the trainspotting. The Oculus sits at the heart of the brand new $4 billion development and it is clear to see that much of its cost when on vast expanses of white Italian marble. This incredible feat of engineering was the brainchild of Santiago Calatrava, who has suggested that the design represents new life in a region of Manhattan that was left scarred by the events of 9/11. An arc of glass and soaring ribs of steel make up the Wedge of Light, a skylight structure that parts 22 feet to reveal the sky above. The structure appears in your eye shot suddenly as you walk the blocks of Downtown Manhattan, its position alongside mirrored façade of the One World Trade Centre enough to have anyone reaching for their camera.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco)
Looking at the newly reopened San Francisco MOMA, it is hard to believe that the awesome building started out with one solitary floor. Renowned design firm Snøhetta has taken the original building by Mario Botta and extended it at a cost of over $305 million. A rippling white façade, built onto the more modest original structure, provides a new nod to the waters of the Bay area, whilst 235,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space has been added inside. The art continues to the kitchen too, where triple Michelin-starred chef Corey Lee oversees the culinary arts of the In Situ restaurant.
Casa Vicens (Barcelona)
The work of Antoni Gaudí has become synonymous with the city of Barcelona but the building that signalled the start in proper of his stratospheric career has never before been open to the public…until now, with the house set to open as a museum to the great architect in late 2016. Gaudí was 30 years old and relatively fresh out of university when local stockbroker and tile manufacturer Manuel Vicens Montaner commissioned him to create a family residence unlike anything Barcelona’s Gràcia District, or indeed the world, had ever seen before. The commission was Gaudí’s first and the success of the tile-bedazzled building that resulted served as a launch pad for a future that saw him become one of the most renowned architects in history.