From the cabaret artistes of the Weimar Republic to the Cold War counterculture, Berlin has always attracted outsiders. It is home to more than 20 immigrant communities; the city is notably wheelchair friendly, having gained the European Commission’s Access City Award in 2013. A great time to visit is the long weekend around Pentecost (18-21 May) for the Carnival of Cultures. Now in its 22nd year, it’s a gaudy celebration – expect Brazilian samba, Chinese dragon processions and African drummers.
Morning: On its opening in 1985, the Schwules Museum was the world’s first dedicated to LGBT culture. The main exhibition takes in photos, videos, letters and clothing to tell the story of Berlin’s gay community, and there are guided tours in German and English.
Afternoon: Querstadtein offers tours with a difference: guides are refugees or homeless people who have recently left the streets. The walks are designed to sharpen your awareness of an often unseen (or ignored) side to the city.
Evening: Burlesque in Berlin (as well as its queer cousin, “boylesque”) is in rude health. Shows run the gamut from DIY kitsch to sophisticated satire. Bohème Sauvage runs glossy 1920s events while Prinzipal offers a more contemporary take on the genre.
Vancouver is cosmopolitan, liberal and ethnically diverse – and with its backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and snow-capped mountains, quite beautiful. It’s famous for being a gay-friendly city, with rainbow flags prominent in Davie Village. Time your visit right and you can catch the Vancouver International Film Festival (27 September-12 October) – its mission is “pushing boundaries and bridging cultures”.
Morning: Vancouver is the best place to start exploring the distinctive art of Canada’s aboriginal peoples. The Museum of Anthropology has more than 10,000 First Nations artefacts among its huge collection, and a temporary exhibition – In a Different Light – has invited contemporary First Nations artists to interpret their favourite works.
Afternoon: Aboriginal and Eco Tours is dedicated to providing “authentic cultural and eco-experiences”. As well as running treks and kayaking excursions in the wilderness of the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, it offers half-day activities in Stanley Park including the popular Talking Trees tour.
Evening: One of North America’s biggest Chinatowns is found in Vancouver. After a turn in the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden (closes at 7pm in summer), choose a restaurant. A local speciality is the geoduck, a Pacific coast clam with a tuberous stalk that can exceed three feet in length.
Belgium’s capital is the most ethnically diverse city in Europe: more than six in 10 residents have roots abroad. Brussels has established communities from north Africa, the Congo, Turkey and many other corners of the world. Visit in late June for Couleur Café, a global music festival that yokes together everything from Caribbean reggae to classic europop from 29 June to 1 July.
Morning: Few neighbourhoods in Europe have as bad a name as Molenbeek, but the whole district isn’t the no-go zone of tabloid infamy – visit Tour and Taxis, a vast industrial complex that has found new life as a cultural hub and event space. Two museums warrant a detour: MoMuse tells the story of Molenbeek and its inhabitants; and the Brussels Museum of Industry and Work, La Fonderie.
Afternoon: Based in the Marolles district of central Brussels, Art et Marges is an eccentric gallery devoted to “outsider artists”.
Evening: One district that has been successful at bringing cultures together is the Matongé, almost within earshot of the European Parliament. Named after a district of Kinshasa, it has been the city’s Congolese quarter for more than 50 years, but you’ll find Indian, Mediterranean and south-east Asian restaurants among the African ones.
Tracing South Africa’s journey from apartheid state to Rainbow Nation – and seeing the inequalities that persist – is uplifting and sobering in equal measure. Every year, thousands of visitors to Cape Town make the trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated, and the District Six museum that commemorates forced displacement of non-whites in the 1970s. But they’re not the only places with a story to tell.
Morning: The Slave Lodge, with its powerful exhibition tackling servitude in the Cape, can be followed by a visit to Koopmans-de Wet House to witness the luxury in which the white ruling class once lived. The Bo-Kaap museum, in the suburb of the same name, chronicles the “Cape Malay” – the region’s Islamic community. Also recommended is the independent Jewish Museum.
Afternoon: The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is in a converted grain silo on the waterfront. An afternoon can only scratch the surface of its vast collections of art.
Evening: In this part of the world, the braai – meat barbecue – is almost a religion. It’s only recently that vegetarians and vegans have had much to celebrate, with restaurants specialising in plant-based cuisine getting more numerous. Sound options include Sheckter’s Raw for an early bite, the Hungry Herbivore in the CBD for a more leisured dinner or Lekker Vegan for “vegan gourmet junk food” till 3am.
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is one of only eight city regions in the US that are “hyperdiverse” – home to more than a million foreign-born residents. A quarter of the population is African-American, and the Asian community numbers more than 300,000. What’s more, there’s a busy calendar of LGBT events.
Morning: The Dallas Museum of Art is unmissable. Its permanent collection includes 24,000 artworks from all cultures and time periods, taking in five millennia of global creativity. Exhibitions include Hopi Visions, a 48ft frieze about the history of the Hopi nation, plus galleries devoted to Asian textiles from the Silk Road and Islamic art.
Afternoon: Discover Dallas’s African-American heritage at the African American Museum. As well as documents and ephemera, it has important collections of both fine and folk art by black artists. The Juanita Craft Civil Rights House is a memorial to the struggle for civil rights and desegregation in Dallas, commemorating the first African-American woman to vote in the city.
Evening: Oak Lawn is one of the most vibrant gay neighbourhoods in the southern US, and the restaurants and nightlife are centred on the main drag of Cedar Springs Road. Inevitably, its two most famous bars – aimed at men and women respectively – are called JR’s and Sue Ellen’s.
EVENTS CELEBRATING DIVERSITY
Throughout the UK, a calendar of events will mark the 100th anniversary of the first women gaining the right to vote. Parliament’s own exhibition, Voice and Vote, opens in Westminster Hall, London, on 27 June – tickets are available via the parliament.uk website. See vote100.uk for a full roster of what’s happening.
Singapore’s religious communities have their own public holidays, with many festivities open to all comers. In 2018, Buddhists will mark Vesak Day on 29 May with candlelit processions and vegetarian food fairs. The Muslim community celebrates Hari Raya Puasa on 15 June and Hari Raya Haji on 22 August, both including festive bazaars and Malay song and dance. The Hindu festival of Deepavali will light up Little India on 6 November; and then there’s “Christmas in the Tropics” from late November to 25 December.
Superfest International Disability Film Festival (superfestfilm.com; 20-21 October) is the oldest event of its kind in the world, having first taken place in 1970. Across two days in Berkeley and San Francisco, it showcases the year’s best films made by and starring people with disabilities, as selected by the jury. All showings are accessible to people with limited mobility, and have audio description, signing and captioning.
Mawazine (22-30 June) is Africa’s biggest and most varied music festival, taking place each year in Rabat, Morocco. It attracts musical talent from all around the world, with North African stars alongside top-selling Western acts. The 2018 line-up has yet to be announced; keep an eye on festivalmawazine.ma for announcements. Last year’s headliners included Ellie Goulding, Sami Yusuf, Wiz Khalifa, Chic and Rod Stewart.