Witnessing sporting mega-events in the flesh is most fans’ dream. The massive games are made that more special, that bit more real, if you can remember the sights, sounds, and sounds of sporting history being made just yards in front of you.
Tie that in with the travel, accommodation, food and drink during an itinerary organised by a company such as Duke’s Sports Travel; the funny and memorable things your travel partners uttered; and even the thrill of first receiving the tickets, and you’ve got some gifts that can never be repeated.
Here are 10 tours that should be on every sports fan’s bucket list.
The US Masters
For Brits suffering the April showers the Masters in leafy Augusta are a splendid verdant world away. The thought of combining world class, spine-tingling and often historic golf with a gloriously gluttonous holiday in the Deep South and its fabulous food and musical heritage is a perfect cocktail as good as anything you’ll find in New Orleans.
Rio. Johannesburg. Berlin. Yokohama. Just a few of the venues from previous matches which help make the World Cup the biggest sporting spectacle in the world. Whether Russia, and more particularly Qatar, can deliver a similar experience remains to be seen, especially if the 2022 event coincides with Christmas. All that’s needed is an England win, although that may be an unrealistic Festive gift.
Next year’s European Championships will be held in France, and at the time of writing the home nations each have a great chance of making it across the channel. A festival of football in cities such as Paris, Marseille, and Lyon will not be short of joie de vivre, and is easily navigated by train, air or road.
Theoretically one could travel the world several times following the Grand Prix calendar. Obvious favourites would include Monaco in May or the night racing curiosity of Singapore in September, while with careful planning the enthusiast could enjoy Silverstone and Hungaroring, or Spa and Monza, in splendid three-week Euro holidays.
The big fights are the most difficult events on the list to attend, because you can’t plan ahead any further ahead than the day the bout is announced. That said, seeing a once in a generation mega fight such as Mayweather-Pacquiao is a spectacle for which all life plans should be dropped. If you can’t afford Vegas or Atlantic City then London is a viable alternative, as Froch-Groves proved last year.
Rugby World Cup
You won’t have to go too far for the 2015 RWC in England, although you could enjoy visits to Twickenham, Olympic Stadium, Exeter, Milton Keynes, Newcastle and other venues across the country. For atmosphere that might be tough to beat, but for adventure one might want to wait four years for a 2019 visit to rugby up-and-comers Japan.
It’s probably the only event on the list where you can incorporate sunbathing into the reckoning, although not at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff and Edgbaston. The Barmy Army love a tinny or five with their Australian counterparts and on packages such as these you can tie in two cities and venues in one go, such as the Gabba (Brisbane) and Adelaide Oval.
The venues for the next Ryder Cups are Minnesota, Paris, Wisconsin, and then a venue in Germany, Spain, Italy and Austria. There’s a real tension to the Euro-American competition that makes the two-year wait so tangible, and incredible spectacles such as the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ only enhance the legend.
The most family-friendly event on the list, although you’ll probably have to sell internal organs to get to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco next year. Viewing figures for last year’s extravaganza peaked at 120.8 million in the US, with 118.5 million watching Katy Perry’s half time show.
Rio 2016 is likely to be a fabulous sporting occasion, not least for the number of Team GB stars such as Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill who will likely defend their crowns. A two week event gives one enough time to see most of the sports they need (synchronised swimming anyone?) but also enjoy the flamboyant nightlife and atmosphere.