Maybe it’s a cliche at this point to say that the year 2020 was “unprecedented,” but it can’t be argued that many things — from movie releases to the Summer Olympics — did not go according to plan. With so many events canceled, postponed or dramatically changed in 2020, it was sometimes hard to find things to look forward to.
But we’ve moved on to 2021, and there are definitely things to get excited about — and having something to look forward to is what many people need right now. Here are just a few.
Roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine
In the United States, the COVID-19 vaccine is already being given to high-risk populations and front-line health care workers. But for the general population, the vaccine likely won’t be widely available until the spring, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, per CNBC. However, the Trump administration changed its recommendations to allow more people to be eligible to get the vaccine, which might speed up the process
Fauci has also said that if enough people are vaccinated to create an “umbrella” of immunity — meaning between 75% and 85% of the population receive the vaccine — the U.S. could reach “some level of normality” by mid-fall of 2021, according to CNBC.
The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will — like most events these days — look different than normal. The festival will move to a mostly online format, though there will still be some live screenings in Park City, Los Angeles and at various “satellite screens” across the country.
The good news is, since all of the festival’s 72 feature films will be shown online, it will be accessible to more people than ever before. Each film will be available to watch on-demand for 24 hours, two days after its online premiere date.
The festival will take place Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.
New movies (and lots of them)
With so many movies in 2020 pushed back, 2021 is going to be quite the year for new movies. Here’s just some of what you can expect:
- Three new Marvel movies, including “Black Widow” (scheduled to come out May 7), “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (July 9), and “The Eternals” (Nov. 5).
- Remakes of hit musicals like “West Side Story” (Dec. 10) and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” (June 18).
- New action movie sequels, including the new James Bond movie “No Time to Die” (April 2), “F9” (May 28), and “Mission: Impossible 7” (Nov. 19).
- Family-friendly films like Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” (March 5), Pixar’s “Luca” (June 18), and the long-awaited “Space Jam” sequel (July 16).
And new TV shows — including ‘Stranger Things 4’ and a ‘Friends’ reunion
There are plenty of new television shows to be excited about in 2021, including new Marvel shows debuting on Disney Plus and (probably) “Stranger Things 4” coming to Netflix. Here’s some of what you can expect:
- Marvel: “WandaVision” (Jan. 15), “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (March 19), “Loki” (May 2021), and “Hawkeye” (fall 2021).
- “Stranger Things 4”: There’s no official release date, but the fourth season of the Netflix show is expected to premiere in 2021.
- “Friends” reunion: The long-awaited reunion special for the hit sitcom was confirmed by actor Matthew Perry to be happening in March and will stream on HBO Max.
- “Star Wars”: In December, “The Mandalorian” will return for a third season and a new spinoff show, “The Book of Boba Fett,” will premiere.
- “The Lord of the Rings”: The new series from Amazon, based on author J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, does not yet have an official release date but is expected to be released in 2021.
An extended awards season
Awards season will last longer in 2021, with ceremonies like the Oscars pushed back later than usual and given extended eligibility windows for nominations. Here are the dates for some of the biggest awards shows:
- Grammy Awards — Jan. 31.
- Golden Globe Awards — Feb. 28.
- Critics Choice Awards — March 7.
- Screen Actors Guild Awards — March 14.
- Film Independent Spirit Awards — April 24.
- Academy Awards — April 25.
Super Nintendo World opens in Japan
Part of Universal Studios Japan, the new theme park — which includes a roller coaster based on “Mario Kart” — is scheduled to open on Feb. 4.
The Super Bowl takes place Feb. 7 in Tampa, Florida, and The Weeknd is already lined up to perform during the halftime show.
Live music and concerts
Many concerts and tours that were postponed in 2020 are scheduled to happen in 2021. Some of the artists who have rescheduled tour dates for 2021 include:
- Justin Bieber
- Harry Styles
- Lady Gaga
- Michael Buble
- Celine Dion
- The Weeknd
- Luke Combs
- Dan + Shay
‘Eurovision Song Contest’
Although the iconic European competition show was canceled in 2020, it will be back in 2021 — and it’s coming to America. The new “American Song Contest” is set to take place during the 2021 holiday season, according to CNN.
In the meantime, the “Eurovision Song Contest” will take place May 22-28.
Broadway has been shut down since March 12, 2020, and will remain closed through at least May 30, 2021. But it’s still unclear when, exactly, performances will start back up again.
A fall reopening, or staggered performances over the summer, might be more likely, according to The New York Times. A revival of “The Music Man” starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster has been postponed to Dec. 20, and the new musical “MJ” — about the life of Michael Jackson — has been postponed until September.
A lunar eclipse
There will be a total lunar eclipse (the first since January 2019) on May 26. It will be visible in most of the United States, as well as in Australia, parts of Southeast Asia, and most of South America.
San Diego Comic-Con
The FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention is also scheduled to hold an in-person event in September.
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed but have been rescheduled for the summer of 2021.
Expect to see some new events debut, including surfing, karate, skateboarding and climbing, according to BBC News.
The Olympics are scheduled to take place July 23-Aug. 8.
A new ‘Jurassic World’ roller coaster at Universal Studios
The new “Jurassic World VelociCoaster,” which can hit speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, will be coming to Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure in summer 2021.
Disney World’s 50th anniversary
‘Pokemon,’ Lucasfilm and other anniversaries
But Disney World isn’t the only one celebrating an anniversary in 2021. Other significant pop culture dates include:
- The 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm.
- The 25th anniversary of “Pokemon.”
- The 20th anniversary of the first “Harry Potter” film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
- The 20th anniversary of the first “Lord of the Rings” movie, “The Fellowship of the Ring.”
Stephen King and other new books
There are plenty of new books to look forward to in 2021. Here are just a few to expect:
- A prequel to the bestselling novel “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, “Concrete Rose” (released Jan. 12).
- A collection of essays from Joan Didion, “Let Me Tell You What I Mean” (Jan. 26).
- A new novel from Stephen King, “Later” (March 2).
- A new novel by Stacey Abrams, “When Justice Sleeps” (May 11).
- A new collaboration by former president Bill Clinton and author James Patterson, “The President’s Daughter” (June 7).
‘Harry Potter’ and other new video games
If video games are more your style, there are plenty of those coming in 2021, too. Here’s some of what’s coming:
- “Hogwarts Legacy,” set in the world of “Harry Potter.”
- “Gotham Knights,” based on “Batman” and DC Comics.
- “LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.”
- “God of War: Ragnarok.”
- “Halo Infinite.”
McDonald’s ‘McPlant’ burger
McDonald’s will finally join the growing number of fast-food restaurants adding plant-based “meat” to the menu in 2021. As the world’s largest fast-food chain, that’s a definite win for vegetarians everywhere.
As the COVID-19 vaccine is given to more people, travel restrictions will likely begin to lift in 2021. News of the vaccine already caused travel bookings to spike in December, according to The Washington Post — so you might want make your 2021 travel plans sooner rather than later.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and other holiday celebrations
Holiday celebrations, from trick-or-treating to Thanksgiving dinner, looked very different in 2020. As more people become vaccinated, it seems safe to be cautiously optimistic that things will be a little easier by the time the next holiday season rolls around.