Some things to look forward to in the year ahead. Year of the RatIf you follow Chinese astrology, the Year of the (Metal) Rat begins on January 24, 2020. As the rat is the first in the 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac, this will be a year of new beginnings. Buying a house, starting a business and other new ventures are positively viewed in this coming year of prosperity and strength - as long as you carefully plan for it. This is the year to go for your dreams. Classic Winter AheadThe Weather Network is calling for aâclassic Canadian winterâ in 2020, with the exception of eastern Newfoundlandand Labrador and western British Columbia having higher than normal coastal temperatures in January and February. More central parts of the country will experience periods of extreme cold in the deepest days of winter, while weâre all getting average amounts of snowfall. AccuWeather predicts that the biggest snowfalls and storms in Atlantic Canada will appear from late January into March. âCome From Awayâ China EditionAfter excelling in Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia, the award-winning Broadway musical âCome From Awayâ is lighting up a new marquee in Shanghai, China, in May. It's the first stop on a broader China tour, and the first time the musical is performed in a non-English-speaking country. The musical will be presented in its original (Newfoundland) English, so it will be interesting to see how the material translates for Chinese audiences. 75th Anniversary The world will mark 75 years since the Second World War ended in Europe with Germanyâs surrender. V-E (Victoria in Europe) Day is commemorated on May 8. No doubt the world will also pause and reflect somberly on how Japan surrendered in August, after two atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It helped end WWII, but at what price? The ethics and politics of those bombings are still being debated. Folk Fest Coming SoonerThe long-running Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival is being held in a different month this year. Traditionally held the weekend after the Royal St. Johnâs Regatta and George Street Festival, organizers have chosen an earlier date in 2020. The Folk Fest has grown so large that it canât afford to compete with other big St. Johnâs events for volunteers and other supports (including security fencing). So this year, mark your JULY calendars for the 44th annual NL Folk Festival, happening July 10-12 in Bannerman Park. Sound Symposium ReturnsThe 20th biennial Sound Symposium plays St. Johnâs July 11-18, attracting musicians from around the world. The musical event that brought us the Harbour Symphony (a special piece of music ringing out from shipâs horns in St. Johnâs harbour), will be focused this year on âdrumming, percussion and rhythm,â according to the eventâs website. Visit SoundSymposium.com for more details as they become available. Root for Roxon at the ParalympicsThe 2020 Paralympic Games take place in Tokyo, Japan, August 25 to September 6. Expect to see Katarina Roxon of Kippens, a Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer at the Rio Games, to be in the pool for Canada. At the World Para Swimming Championships in London, UK, in September 2019 - an Olympics qualifying meet - she earned silver and bronze medals and set a new record time in the 100 m breaststroke (breaking her own record previously set in Rio in 2016 that earned her the gold medal).Depending on when Canada competes, you might have to PVR a lot of the events - and do some mind-bending math. Newfoundland and Labrador, for instance, is 12 hours 30 minutes behind the time in Japan. So morning and afternoon events in Tokyo are happening the night before in NL!Softball and other GamesThis province will host three national baseball championships this season. Carbonear is hosting the U19 Menâs Canadian Fast Pitch Softball Championships August 11-16. St. Johnâs will play host to the Canadian Menâs and Masterâs softball championships September 2-6.Meanwhile, Bay Roberts will host the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games, August 15-22. Athletes from all over the province will compete in 11 sports: artistic swimming, athletics, ball hockey, baseball, cycling, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and triathlon. Cheer on our Special OlympiansWatch for our hometown athletes as Team Newfoundland and Labrador competes at the 2020 Special Olympics Winter Games in Thunder Bay, ON, February 25-29. Team NL is competing in seven sports: speed skating, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoe racing, cross-country skiing, bowling and curling. Other Athletes to WatchSeveral rising sports stars from Newfoundland and Labrador made news in 2019 and are ones to watch in 2020.Alex Newhook and his sister Abby Newhook of St. Johnâs are blazing a pro hockey path. Alex, captain of BCHL Victoria Grizzlies and league MVP in the 2018-19 season, was a first round draft pick by the NHL Colorado Avalanche last June. This season heâs playing in the NCAA league for Boston College.Abby is not even finished high school yet, and she already has a full scholarship to play for Boston College womenâs hockey in 2021. She reportedly has her eye on Olympic hockey in her future.Golfer Blair Bursey of Gander went pro in 2018 and has been swinging his way through mini tours hoping to qualify for the majors. Among his scheduled competitions in 2020 is a PGA Qualifying School in Phuket, Thailand March 3-6.Michelle Liu was just 12 years old when she competed in her first LPGA Tour, so why not these eight-year-old twins from Portugal Cove-St. Philips? Freya and Mila Snook made sports news last year when they qualified for the IMG Academy Junior World Championships in San Diego, CA, in July. Mila also qualified to compete in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships in North Carolina the following month. Come Home YearsAny Newfoundland and Labrador expatriates who havenât been home in a while, this could be your year to visit. Several communities are celebrating Come Home Years in 2020, putting off extra special celebrations to lure as many people home as possible. Those we know of so far include Port aux Basques, Harbour Grace, Twillingate, Bauline, Peterview and Grand Bank. Before you make your summer plans, check with the folks back home. Mission to MarsIn a continuing effort to determine whether humans can live on Mars someday (and whether any life form ever did), NASA plans to launch its Mars 2020 rover on July 17, with a touchdown on Mars expected in February 2021. This rover will be equipped with a new core drill and a helicopter drone. New Long Term CareAccording to the 2019 infrastructure plan of The Way Forward, the NL governmentâs budgetary blueprint, a new long-term care home will open in Corner Brook this year. Construction on the 120-bed facility is due to finish in the spring. Bye-bye BagsA province-wide ban on single use plastic bags is due to come into effect mid-year. While some businesses and even communities in NL have already banned plastic shopping bags, the only other province to enact such a ban so far is Prince Edward Island. Pretty in Pink-ishThe trend-setting paint colour of 2020, according to Benjamin Moore Paints, is First Light 2102-70. The pale hue is reminiscent of the pale pink that sometimes spreads across the eastern sky at dawn. Bold is in FashionStyle watchers predict this yearâs ladiesâ fashion to feature a lot of stripes, polka-dots, highlighted waistlines and leather. Puffy sleeves are also in, as are neon colours.Whatâs Next for the US?The United States presidential election takes place November 3. At press time for this issue, President Donald Trump is the focus of impeachment hearings. While heâs stated his intention to run for office again this fall, itâs really too early to predict what might be going on south of the border by then.