Destinations to watch in 2008

The New Year heralds a fresh batch of hot destinations for 2008. This year, major festivities put three cities in the spotlight, while serious tourism infrastructure building secures other hot spots top billing. Plus, find out more destinations to keep on your radar in 2008.

Liverpool

The city once known primarily as the birthplace of the Beatles has come into its own as a European city packed with sophisticated cultural pursuits and rich history. Liverpool has been preparing for its time in the spotlight since it was named a European Capital of Culture for 2008 five years ago. The highly coveted Capital of Culture designation earns cities the chance to feature and expand their thriving art and cultural offerings, and gives visitors an entire year of special events and festivals to enjoy.

Even without the year-long celebration in 2008, Liverpool's arts offerings impress. The city already boasts eight world-class museums (including its own Tate Museum), a major arts festival, a center for arts and creative technology, and a serious dedication to community art.

But in 2008, after years of sprucing up the city and improving its tourist and leisure infrastructure, the spirit of art will truly take center stage. Over 350 visual and performing arts, sporting, and heritage events are planned during Liverpool's year as a Capital of Culture. Best of all, the majority of events are free. Combine that with Liverpool's relatively affordable hotels and restaurants, and you've got a destination ready to give London a run for its money.

Finding ways to join the festivities is easy. Online, check the Liverpool08 website, and when you're in the city, visit the tourist information center focused on 2008 events and activities.

You should book ahead during major events to ensure availability. VisitLiverpool.com keeps track of special offers from hotels.

Quebec City

In 2008, Quebec City will celebrate its 400th anniversary with a year of festivals and events. It's already clear that the city knows how to throw a party—you don't have to look farther than the wildly popular annual winter Carnaval de Quebec (running from February 1 to 17), to know that for sure. With a whole year of celebrations, Quebec City promises to be an exciting destination in every season in 2008.

The anniversary kicks off on New Year's Eve with a giant party. Throughout the year you'll find events such as interactive art tours and exhibitions, performances, and in the French Canadian spirit, a unique show by Cirque de Soleil. The MonQuebec2008.com calendar details more events.

The party will change the very landscape of the city as well. Long-neglected banks of the Saint-Charles River have been restored and trails have been added so the public can better enjoy the river. New public spaces are in the works, including a museum opening as an anniversary gift to the residents of and visitors to Quebec City.

Be sure to book well ahead for the New Year's kickoff celebration, Winter Carnaval, and the official commemorations in early July. Accommodations prices may rise a bit during those times, but there's a city-wide effort to keep prices reasonable. The Quebec City Tourism site lists current accommodations packages available through city hotels.

Beijing

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