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1. Dubai: The thrill of the hunt

Dubai’s shopping centres are legendary, and in 2016, that legend will only get more entrenched as the malls continue to expand their shopping and entertainment offerings. City Centre Deira Mall, one of the city’s oldest malls, just underwent a $8-million renovation, ushering in new dining options. (There are now 58 restaurants under one roof.) Across town at the Mall of the Emirates, shoppers who can’t decide between the jewel-encrusted carpet and the tax-free Stella McCartney skirt can now mull over their choice while skiing down an indoor slope or bouncing on a trampoline without ever leaving the building. In early 2016, the annual Dubai Shopping Festival will celebrate 20 years of retail extravagance by being more expansive than ever. Between January 1 and February 1, the festival will take over the city with pop-up shops in refurbished shipping containers, concerts featuring international superstars and daily prizes of luxury cars, gold and cash. After a day of shopping, we suggest surveying your purchased treasures at the Four Seasons DIFC, the Viceroy Palm Jumeirah or the Jumeriah Al Naseem – just three of the new luxury hotels set to open in Dubai in 2016.

RELATED: The 10 Top Travel Trends of 2015 »

2. Los Angeles: The year to get out of the car

In the City of Angels, people will be walking – yes, walking – through downtown in 2016 to take advantage of the city’s new cultural district anchored by the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the newly opened Broad Museum. Namesake philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad were among the first to collect the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cindy Sherman, and their art collection now sits behind the Broad’s striking, perforated concrete facade on Grand Avenue. A few kilometres away, a slew of gawk-worthy new hotels are going up, including the highly anticipated Mama Shelter at Hollywood and Vine. This latest addition to Philippe Starck’s collection of funky, design-forward properties offers an outdoor rooftop gym and standard iMacs in every room. Over on Venice Beach, fashion photographers Glen Luchford and Doug Bruce have just opened the small, sunny and stylish Rose Hotel, finally bringing a high-end touch to a neighbourhood long deprived of reliable accommodation options.
• Broad Museum, 221 S. Grand Ave., 213-232-6200,
• Mama Shelter, 6500 Selma Ave., 323-785-6666,
• Rose Hotel, 15 Rose Ave., Venice, 310-450-3474,

GOMA at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (Photo: Shane Holzberger)

3. Brisbane: The world’s next foodie destination

If Sydney is Australia’s New York and Melbourne is its L.A., then Brisbane likes to think of itself as the country’s Austin: an isolated bumpkin town grown into a cool city with a hip, regional cultural scene that’s all its own. The food here is as adventurous and quirky as the new architecture making up the skyline. At the Survey Co., a cork-floored restaurant two blocks from the Victoria Bridge, menu items include semi-cured ocean trout with negroni syrup and the daily special, presented on a metal tray, known as the Death Row Meal – a nod to Australia’s convict past. Impressive restaurants doing modern Australian include the wine-forward Esquire – order the lamb tongue pastrami skewered on lemon twig – and GOMA, in the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, where the seven-course lunch includes seared wallaby.

4. Whitehorse: Canada’s new capital of cool

Moose still outnumber people two to one in the Yukon capital, but trendsetters may soon overtake them. Whitehorse’s food, craft beer and cocktail scenes are thriving, and third-wave coffee houses have been on the rise for the past year. Midnight Sun boldly sources and roasts its beans to produce drinks like its signature decadent iced coffee, the Mojo Shakin’. There’s also the Claim for a memorable mocha and Baked for hanging out with locals, all hungry for the café’s impeccably fresh pastries and quiches. Of course, where there are third-wave cafés, there are designers. The Collective Good is the go-to spot for finding cutting-edge and locally designed housewares, including items from Whitehorser Ben Barrett-Forrest (creator of the five-minute viral video The History of Typography). For more evidence of the city’s newfound status as a design hotbed, check out the town’s two woodsy bars: Dirty Northern and the brand new Woodcutter’s Blanket. Both are decked out with northern flair, and both are favourite Whitehorse spots for cocktails. Try the seasonal drinks at Woodcutter’s made with the bar’s own simple syrups and outsize ice cubes.

Rio de Janeiro's Jardim Botânico (Photo: Rodrigo Soldon)

5. Rio de Janeiro: Gearing up for the Games

After hosting the World Cup in 2014, Brazil’s international profile is on the upswing. The country is set to become a major sport travel destination in the coming months as its most important city prepares to host the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Get the feel for the Games in the sweeping curves of the Olympic Village near Copacabana Beach, with its stylized zigzag roads, new stadiums and colourful light show. If you don’t have tickets to an event, watch it on one of the screens at the cozy Urca Beach with an intimate gathering of locals. (Be sure to grab a fresh coconut water from one of the kiosks first.) For a more private sporty diversion, jog through the stunning Jardim Botânico, hike through the Pedra da Gavea or join a pick-up volleyball game on the beach on Ipanema. Fuel up for all of this at one of the best fish restaurants in Rio, Bira de Guaratiba, and celebrate the medal count in Lapa, the neighbourhood with Rio’s best nightlife. Legendary hot spot Carioca da Gema is a multifloor club in a fabulously converted mansion, complete with must-hit dance floors for samba enthusiasts.

6. Dublin: The Irish capital’s big year
Dubliners are looking forward to a year of national celebration and historic firsts. The centennial of the Easter Rising – a defining moment in the Republic of Ireland’s independence – is in 2016, and festivities are taking over the capital, ranging from national choral concerts to original theatrical performances. Another big event in the capital is the launch of a new luxury train this August. The Belmond Grand Hibernian promises opulence in the tradition of the Orient Express; it’s owned by the same company that operates the Venice-Simplon Orient Express. After leaving Dublin, it will snake through the Emerald Isle’s lake and castle country while providing passengers with refined Irish fare and top-drawer local whiskies. If you prefer to eat at 0 kilometres an hour, stay in the city and take advantage of Dublin’s increasingly daring food scene. Modern Irish cuisine shines at fine dining destination Greenhouse, which just nabbed a Michelin star, and Bang, where the locavore touch is underscored on the menu with the warning that some meat “may contain shot.”
• Bang, 11 Merrion Row, 353-1-400-4229,
• Greenhouse, Dawson St., 353-1-676-7015,



Getting There

Air Canada offers non-stop service from Toronto to Dubai aboard our 787 Dreamliner.

Air Canada rouge offers year-round non-stop service from Toronto to Dublin.

Starting June 1, 2016, Air Canada will offer the only year-round non-stop service between Vancouver and Brisbane, aboard our 787 Dreamliner.

Los Angeles
Air Canada and Air Canada rouge offer the most non-stop flights between Canada and Los Angeles.

Air Canada offers year-round non-stop service from Toronto to Rio de Janeiro.

Air Canada offers convenient non-stop service to Whitehorse from Vancouver.

Comments… or add another

Gail Brewer

Friday, December 11th 2015 11:07
I would love to go back to Dublin and travel around Ireland to see that beautiful place again!

Heidi Ma

Friday, December 11th 2015 12:26
I would love to win a trip to Dublin with my Husband


Saturday, December 12th 2015 00:23
This is a bit disappointing as was your list of athletes that wee up for a vote. Where were the women ? I understand they win Olympic medals too.

Satyanand Sukul

Saturday, December 12th 2015 09:07
Very Interesting. Please keep me informed.

Rod MacArthur

Saturday, December 12th 2015 11:47
Would love to fly to New York to visit Family members whom live there.

Gary Nickerson

Saturday, December 12th 2015 16:50
Well done and very informative.

Doug Hart

Saturday, December 12th 2015 20:01

john rivera

Sunday, December 13th 2015 20:22

Hugh Gorham

Sunday, December 27th 2015 14:19
I continue to marvel at the AC policy established years ago to limit direct flights to North America and the world from Montreal in favour of the much despised Pearson airport especially cross border services. Toronto airport stinks! Sorry but I hear it everywhere and I totally agree.
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