Anyone for Sports Tourism?
Can there ever have been a better time to be a sports fan in the UK? Obviously the hugely successful 2012 Olympic Games will take some shifting from its top place position on the podium, but other high-profile events staged on these shores since then – and in the immediate years to come – will all contribute to what is a golden age of sport on these shores.
Immediately after the Olympics we had the Rugby League World Cup, which temporarily broke free from its Northern heartlands to embrace other areas of the country and attracted record crowds at the stadiums and on TV.
In 2014 athletics will again take centre stage with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, although Yorkshire will have its place in the sun too, with the Tour de France’s Grand Depart starting and finishing in the White Rose County.
Then, in 2015, England and Wales play host to the third biggest sporting event in the world when the Rugby (Union) World Cup comes to town.
With so much going on close to home it would be easy to forget all the other great sporting events happening around the world. Here’s our guide to some of the best sporting/holiday combos on the planet:
1) Spa Grand Prix, Belgium
Forget Monaco and its plush surrounds, the real Formula One nut heads to Belgium. Steeped in history, this iconic track has witnessed some of the greatest moments in the sport’s history – not least a 13 car pile-up on the first of its many acute corners.
2) The Hong Kong Sevens
Rugby fans love going on tour – and ‘HK’ is a favourite destination. Part of the World Series and held annually in March, the Hong Kong Sevens provides top quality, fast-paced rugby in a party-like atmosphere. Pack a Bat Man suit with you or you’ll feel like an imposter.
3.) El Clásico, Spain
When the two biggest and two richest clubs go head-to-head in Spain the world sits up and takes notice. With crowds approaching the six-figure mark and a passionate but healthy rivalry between both sets of fans, few club games can match this fixture for atmosphere.
4.) Ryder Cup, USA
If you can see past the Pringle jumpers and can take the incessant chants of ‘USA, USA’ on the chin, then the Ryder Cup is for you. Played on a two-yearly cycle on a home and away basis between America and Europe, the Ryder Cup stirs up passions and memories like no other golf competition. Last year’s event is in Gleneagles, Scotland.
5.) The America’s Cup
Named after a 19th century schooner not the country, there is so much more to the America’s Cup than a few rich people messing about in boats. The 35th America’s Cup will take place on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Last year’s event will be hard to beat for excitement though, American (the country) team Oracle completing one of sport’s greatest comebacks to beat New Zealand.
Pretend to be posh for the day whilst eating your bodyweight in strawberries and cream at England’s biggest summer tennis competition. Novak Djokovic has held the crown for the last two years for the gents and Serena Williams is the current champion of the ladies. You can choose to be brave and bet against them, or in favour this summer at http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb/betting/y/17/Tennis.html whilst watching them thrash it out on the centre court for the final countdown.