Like the turning of a page and the beginning of a new chapter, 2020 ushers us into a new year and a new decade. Celebrate the new “Roaring '20s” with a look back at some of the most momentous events of the last 400 years, and find out how much there is to learn and celebrate with this list of historical anniversaries in 2020.
1. Mayflower 400th Anniversary
The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England on Sept. 6, 1620 and arrived in what would later become Plymouth, Mass., on Nov. 9, 1620. Learn about this historic voyage with special events in London and Plymouth, Great Britain; 400th anniversary events in Plymouth, Mass.; or on an epic transatlantic voyage from London to New York City! Celebrate the pilgrims’ pursuit for religious freedom, and learn about the Wampanoag people they encountered upon arrival on the American continent during a special learning adventure for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower.
2. 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage
This year marks the centennial of one of the most significant anniversaries in women’s history. On Aug. 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution was ratified, giving white American women the right to vote. Learn about the brilliant and persistent women who fought for this freedom at the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., or honor one of the greatest heroines of suffrage at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester!
3. 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII
A list of historical anniversaries in 2020 wouldn’t be complete without special acknowledgement of WWII and all the events this year commemorates. On Sept. 2, 1945, Japan surrendered on behalf of the Axis powers to the Allies, putting an official end to WWII. The surrender happened at Tokyo Bay on the deck of the USS Missouri. Celebrate the 75th anniversary in the spot where this historic surrender took place on board the Mighty Mo, now anchored in Pearl Harbor.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the death of Anne Frank. The exact date of her death is unknown, but it is thought to be March 1945. Learn about this remarkable young woman in Amsterdam this year at the Anne Frank House.
4. 85th Anniversary of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
A teacher named Angus L. Bowmer saw the crumbling remains of a Chautauqua building in Ashland, Ore., and proposed the construction of a stage for a 4th of July theater performance. And on July 2, 1935, with a production of "Twelfth Night," the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) was born. Celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2020 with a seat at three OSF shows, meet the festival actors and take part in discussions about the performances on a special program in Ashland.
5. 20th Anniversary of the Lan Su Chinese Garden
Sept. 14, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the grand opening of the Lan Su Chinese Garden (formerly the Portland Classical Chinese Garden). This project was born out of the sisterhood between the cities of Portland, Oregon and Suzhou in China (famous for its beautiful Ming Dynasty gardens). Explore these awe-inspiring gardens with a docent and experience a setting inspired by a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that melds art, architecture, design and nature. The Gardens will celebrate with a special 20th anniversary gala and other Lan Su Chinese Garden events.
6. 150th Anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
On April 13, 1870, the New York State Legislature granted the Metropolitan Museum of Art an Act of Incorporation. Celebrate 150 years of the study of fine arts at this cultural institution with a visit to New York City! Special exhibitions and events will be happening throughout the year!
7. 65th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ Arrest
On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. This courageous event would set off a wide-scale protest that would become known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott — a major events in the American Civil Rights Movement. On the 65th anniversary of this daring act of resistance, celebrate “Rosa Parks Day 2020” at the Rosa Parks Museum during an educational exploration in Montgomery.
8. 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Florence Nightingale
On May 12, 1820, a baby girl was born in Florence, Italy, and would be named after the city of her birth. Florence Nightingale moved back to England with her family in 1821, where she would grow up to become the founder of modern nursing. Explore London with locals, and learn about Florence Nightingale’s achievements at the Florence Nightingale Museum, which will celebrate the 200th anniversary of this heroine’s birth.
9. 50th Anniversary of Earth Day
An educational event to its core, Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 at 2,000 colleges and universities and 10,000 primary and secondary schools across the U.S. It is now observed in 192 countries. Celebrate 50 years of national and global support for environmental protection as you learn what communities across the U.S. are doing to conserve nature’s classroom on an environmental education program with Road Scholar.
10. 10th Anniversary of the Vancouver Olympics
The XXI Olympic Winter Games (commonly known as Vancouver 2010) was held in Vancouver, British Columbia from February 12-28, 2010. Vancouver hosted 2,600 athletes from 82 countries, competing in such sports as ice hockey, curling and luge. BC's capital city will look back on the iconic moments of this epic event on February 22, 2020 with a fan festival and gala, and the Museum of Vancouver will celebrate with a special display from February 12-March 21.
Learn more about the people and places on this list of historical anniversaries in 2020 on an educational adventure with Road Scholar.
About the Author
JoAnn Bell, Senior Vice President of Program Development, develops and manages more than 5,500 learning adventures in 150 countries and 50 states. JoAnn’s extensive travel industry experience informs her expert insight on everything from where to find the world’s most charming streets to must-see hidden gems across the globe.