From banging beachside electronica in Barcelona to erotic trysts in the world of tennis and vital modernist depictions of New York, 2024 promises to be another vintage year for culture worldwide. Here we sift through the most innovative offerings of the coming months and bring you the strictly unmissable.
Sanremo Festival, Italy
The music festival that’s even older (and at times camper) than Eurovision is back. Tributes will be paid to Italy’s pop prince Salvatore “Toto” Cutugno. The festival regular died in 2023.
Eurovision Song Contest, Sweden
The city of Malmö hosts pop music’s pre-eminent event for the third time. It’s 50 years since Abba won it for Sweden in 1974, so expect a few four-piece-shaped surprises in the final.
Primavera Sound, Barcelona
30 May–1 June
The Mediterranean’s largest festival added two new offshoots in Asunción and Bogotá in 2023, on top of existing ones in Porto, Buenos Aires and São Paulo. Expect electronica and sunshine.
The fourth album from the French pair is due in 2024 on French label Ed Banger Records; look out for an accompanying tour too.
The British-Albanian singer is one of the world’s most successful popstars and that’s only likely to crescendo in 2024. There are hints that her hotly anticipated follow-up to Future Nostalgia (2020) might have a 1970s psychedelic influence.
‘Adult Contemporary’ by Chromeo
Canada’s ever-entertaining, dancefloor-ready electro-funk duo are back. Highlights will include a fantastic duet with La Roux in “Replacements”. An upbeat antidote to the winter blues.
Sofia Coppola returns to her favourite terrain: the exploration of girlhood. This time she’s looking at the subject through the prism of a teenage Priscilla Presley and her relationship with Elvis.
‘All of Us Strangers’
Director Andrew Haigh’s latest project stars Irish duo Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal as neighbours who strike up a relationship. The film is already breaking hearts on the festival circuit.
A single mother’s young son starts behaving strangely, for reasons that are revealed slowly and tragically in this affecting drama about truths and conflicts, lies and expectations. Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda directs.
‘Orlando, My Political Biography’
Paul B Preciado’s film is a revelation. Blurring the lines between documentary, manifesto and adaptation, it uses Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando as a springboard to explore transness.
Luca Guadagnino’s erotic drama pits Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist in a complicated dynamic that mixes lust, love and ambition in the elite world of competitive tennis.
Scala Cinema in King’s Cross, London screened its last film in 1993 yet its legacy endures. This feature, co-directed by Jane Giles – one of Scala’s programmers – examines its influence on punk culture, filmmakers and filmgoers alike.
Amazon Prime Video, 26 January
Set against the vibrant and tumultuous tapestry of Hong Kong in 2014, Expats centres on three American women – Margaret (Nicole Kidman), Hilary (Sarayu Blue) and Mercy (Ji-young Yoo) – whose lives intersect after a family tragedy.
Formerly known by its working title, “The Palace”, The Regime traces a year within the walls of a contemporary European government’s HQ as the authoritarian regime begins to crumble.
Netflix, 25 January
Set in 1970s and 1980s Miami, this series is inspired by the life of Griselda Blanco, who created one of history’s most profitable cartels and earned nickname “the Godmother”.
Based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, The Sympathizer is an espionage thriller and cross-cultural satire about the struggles of a communist spy.
‘The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism’ at the The Met Fifth Avenue, New York
25 February–28 July
When segregation caused a mass exodus from the US South, Manhattan became a backdrop for vital expressions of African-American life and the forging of a new black identity.
‘Roy Lichtenstein: A Centennial Exhibition’ at the Albertina, Vienna
8 March–14 July
The late pop artist’s 100th-birthday celebrations go beyond cartoon-strip clichés, foregrounding instead his protest paintings and fascination with consumer culture and industrial printing.
‘Ten Thousand Suns’ at the White Bay Power Station, Sydney
9 March–10 June
A familiar sight from Anzac Bridge, Rozelle’s historic coal power station is reopening as a cultural hub for the 24th Biennale of Sydney. A global group of artists provide a carnival of colour at the event’s headline exhibition.
‘Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism’ at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris
26 March–14 July
Struggle to spot the rebellious streaks in the pastel-hued impressionist scenes of Manet, Monet and co? The French art movement’s game-changing origins are explored 150 years after the group’s first exhibition.
‘Georgia O’Keeffe: My New Yorks’ at the Art Institute Chicago
2 June–22 September
From her 30th-floor room in New York’s Shelton Hotel, America’s great modernist painter crafted loving hymns to the skyscraping city. Those works are placed in context for the first time.
‘Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers’ at the National Gallery, London
14 September–19 January 2025
Among the sunflowers and starry nights, expect a deep dive into the symbolism of the artist’s final two years in the undoubted highlight of the National Gallery’s bicentenary programme.
‘Wild Houses’ by Colin Barrett
Published on 25 January
The long-awaited debut novel from the best-selling author of several short story collections tells the story of two outsiders caught up in a chaotic kidnapping plot in a small Irish town.
‘Come and Get It’ by Kiley Reid
Published on 30 January
The author of Such a Fun Age is back with a satirical campus novel set at the University of Arkansas that follows an ambitious student who accepts a peculiar offer from a professor.
‘My Heavenly Favourite’ by Lucas Rijneveld
Published on 1 February
The follow-up to the International Booker Prize-winning The Discomfort of Evening, explores the relationship between a 14-year-old farmer’s daughter and the local vet.
‘The Gentleman from Peru’ by André Aciman
Published on 4 April
A book about what happens when a group of college friends staying at a lavish hotel on the Amalfi Coast invite an enigmatic, white-bearded stranger to join them for lunch one day.
‘Long Island’ by Colm Tóibín
Published on 23 May
The sequel to the Irish writer’s bestselling novel Brooklyn. Twenty years on, Eilis and Tony are married with two children when a stranger shows up and sends Eilis spinning.
‘Parade’ by Rachel Cusk
Published on 6 June
The new novel from the fiercely talented author of the Outline trilogy, which, according to the publisher, “confronts and demolishes the conventions of storytelling”.