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On Our Radar: Guangzhou, China

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Long viewed as the ugly stepsister to Shanghai and Beijing, Guangzhou is hitting its stride. The Zaha Hadid–designed, daringly asymmetrical Guangzhou Opera House (pictured above) opened recently and it’s garnered a lot of notice among architecture circles for its glass-and-granite frame and spider web-like interiors. Other notable new buildings include the Guangdong Museum, the Guangzhou New Library, and the Canton Tower. Meanwhile, five luxury hotels are opening this year, including the Four Seasons and W Guangzhou.

Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at xiaochen6.

Photo by iStock

JW Marriott and Christie's Auction House Join Forces

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Art lovers curious to see works that the venerable auction house Christie’s puts on the block don’t need to go to an actual auction. Thanks to a recent partnership with JW Marriott, art from upcoming Christie’s sales will be displayed in special preview exhibits at hotels around the world.

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Guangzhou Gets a New Center for Chinese Art and Culture

Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid

Even by Chinese standards, Guangzhou’s transformation from a gritty industrial port into a gleaming metropolis for Chinese culture has been lightning-fast. Now, China’s third-largest city, just 130 miles north of Hong Kong, has been raising its arts profile. The most striking example? A new cultural complex overlooking the Pearl River that includes a museum, a library, and the dazzling Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid. The contoured structure, with its 1,804-seat auditorium and a smaller black-box theater in conjoined granite-clad wings, was inspired by a pair of boulders worn smooth by water. The highlight of the inaugural season: the first Guangzhou Arts Festival, with performances by Spain’s National Ballet (Sept. 23–24), the Vienna Boys’ Choir (Oct. 15), and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Dec. 30–31).

Photo by Iwan Baan

Urban Design Exhibition Opens at the United Nations

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The United Nations estimates that by 2030, nearly five billion people will live in cities around the world – about 40% of whom are projected to be occupying informal settlements, or slums, in over-saturated global metropolises. Add to this the finding that already today, approximately 90% of the world’s population is surviving with little to no access to fundamental goods and services.

Design With the Other 90%: Cities” (405 E 42nd St., October 15 - January 9, 2012), an exhibition marking a first-time collaboration between the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the United Nations in New York, sheds light on the role of architecture, infrastructure, and alternative energy sources in creating progressive solutions to the challenges facing city dwellers and planners, resulting from unprecedented population growth and rapid urbanization.

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Helsinki: So Hot Right Now

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It may be getting chilly in the Baltics, but Helsinki is heating up. Finland’s biggest city—perhaps best known for its colorful Marimekko prints and Modernist works by the late, great Alvar Aalto, not to mention its abundant saunas—has been named the 2012 World Design Capital.

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Montenegro’s Guitar Hero Makes His Carnegie Hall Debut

Milos Karadaglic

No doubt Montenegro’s 28-year-old Miloš Karadaglić could get by on his dreamboat looks alone. They’re matched by a virtuoso guitar technique and deep musicality that make Miloš, as he’s known professionally, one of the most galvanizing classical instrumentalists to emerge in recent years. Born in Montenegro—“The most beautiful country in the world,” he says, with some justification—Miloš was eight when he picked up his father’s battered old guitar. By age 16, he was accomplished enough to win a scholarship to London’s Royal Academy of Music. Today, Miloš seems poised for a major international career. Deutsche Grammophon recently released his first recording, Mediterráneo; following club appearances at New York’s Living Room and at (Le) Poisson Rouge, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut this past weekend in the intimate Weill Recital Hall. Look for more dates in the future. We will be following this rising star.

Photo by Olaf Heine

Beloved Provençal Winery Becomes Region's New Art Destination

Chateau La Coste

Many who love Provence are familiar with Château La Coste, which produces some of the region’s best-known rosé. But what many do not know (yet) is that since the vineyard was taken over by an Irish businessman, in 2002, not only have the wines gone organic, the sprawling domain has become the most ambitious art and architecture complex in France—and perhaps in all of Europe.

The idea: to bring together art, wine and architecture in a way that is organic and site-specific, yet defies easy definition. Too vast to be a sculpture garden and too diverse to be an art collection, this exceptional compilation opened without fanfare in June.

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Salzburg’s Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music (Finally!)

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After shunning the play for its portrayal of Austria's great support of the Third Reich during WWII, Salzburg is finally shelving its past. On October 23, the Salzburger Landestheater will debut The Sound of Music, the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical-turned-blockbuster film, for the first time in the city's history. Dutch actress Wietske van Tongeren leads in the role of Maria while German music star Uwe Kröger woos as Captain von Trapp.

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Paso Robles Celebrates Harvest Weekend

The grapes of Napa often grab the headlines coming out of California wine country but the discerning vino cognoscenti knows that the Golden State harbors some of the best wineries in the world along its central coast. In the thick of it is Paso Robles, a vast countryside of rolling vineyards where vintners sport rustic spurs on their cowboy boots and the pace of life is calm. The annual Harvest Wine Weekend kicks off today, Friday, and promises to be the most robust yet. Over 150 wineries will host grape stomps, tours, tastings, dinners, and pairings (wine and bacon anyone?). One oenophile who will be traipsing around Harvest is Paso Wine Man (above)—the unabashed, vivacious Paso wine country cheerleader whose verve for the region’s splendors knows no bounds.

T+L caught up with the wine man before the big weekend to uncover his wines of choice; find out what makes “Tuscany with cowboys” so special; and why Paso Robles's brand of reds can’t be made anywhere else.

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What’s in Style: Museum Exhibitions That Focus on Fashion

Balenciaga spiral hat at the Bard Graduate Center

Chicago: Charles James (1906–1978) was a true couturier, revered for his mastery of cut and structure. “Charles James: Genius Deconstructed,” an exhibition at the Chicago History Museum (Oct. 22–April 16, 2012), aims to broaden appreciation of the designer’s talents by showcasing his ball gowns and tailored dresses.

New York City: Milliner Stephen Jones plays curator with “Hats: An Anthology” at the Bard Graduate Center (pictured; Sept. 15–April 15, 2012). Jones has chosen more than 250 items, including a Balenciaga hat and creations by fellow London milliner Philip Treacy, whose witty fascinators made Will and Kate’s wedding such a head-turning event.

Photo by V&A Images

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