Pretty horses are pretty! (Melbourne Cup)

The Best Sporting Events Around the World

by Heather on 30 March, 2014

Incredible sporting events take place every year all over the world and they offer great opportunities to sports fans who enjoy travel. From New York City to Melbourne, there are annual contests that bring the world’s best competitors and athletes together to perform at the highest level and provide fans with an incredible spectacle. But which of these sporting events should you add to your travel bucket list? Here are a few of the best sporting events around the world.

Champions League Final

If you’re a soccer fan looking for an incredible event that you can visit annually, the Champions League Final is probably your best bet. An event that moves around Europe (you’ll find it in Portugal this year), the Champions League Final is essentially the match that decides the single best club team in Europe in a given year. It’s always a thrilling occasion and often one that pits established rivals against one another.

Soccer for the Americans, or "football" for the rest of the world.

Soccer for the Americans, or “football” for the rest of the world.

Melbourne Cup

Melbourne is the location for one of the most entertaining events on the international sports’ calendar. There are enjoyable horse races all over the world, with the Kentucky Derby and the United Kingdom’s Royal Ascot perhaps being the most recognizable names. However, the Melbourne Cup in Australia has it all: a multicultural location, an enthusiastic crowd, top-notch racing, and all of the quirkiness, fashion, and festivity that goes with major horse races. Be sure to take a stab at some ambitious fashion statements and make a bet on a key competitor if you want to enjoy it fully!

24 Hours Of Le Mans

The Monaco Grand Prix is the first racing event that jumps to many sports tourists’ mind, but 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most unique events on the planet. Even for those who don’t typically think of racing as a major sport, the event is an enormous spectacle. It’s literally a 24-hour race near Le Mans in the French countryside in which a car (rather than a single driver) is crowned champion. The race, and the days leading up to it, are essentially a festival of celebration and endurance on the fans’ part.

Twenty four hours of cars going around and around in a semi-circular race circuit.

Twenty four hours of cars going around and around in a semi-circular race circuit.

Four Hills Tournament

The annual New Year’s FIS ski jumping event takes place in both Germany and Austria across four different skiing locations. Naturally it’s a bit cold, and for many travelers quite remote, but for anyone with an interest in winter sports, the tournament is well worth a trip. Also, the crowds are enormous and New Year celebrations abound!

World Cup Soccer

Although the World Cup is not an annual event, it is the world’s single greatest sporting event to many people. The 2014 World Cup will be held all over Brazil, offering soccer (or “football” for anyone who isn’t American) fans from around the world the chance to visit one of the world’s most fascinating countries for once-in-a-lifetime soccer action.

Sitting down for a bit of a tennis match.

Sitting down for a bit of a tennis match.

World Poker Tour Tournaments

Many don’t consider professional poker to necessarily be a sport, but it’s nevertheless an extremely popular form of competition watched and enjoyed all over the world. To that end, WPT events can be incredibly engaging, taking place at various venues and casinos all over the world. Most exciting of all is the fact that fans can get in on the action at these events. For example, there are promotional games going on right now at PartyPoker that can help you to win attendance and even participation at WPT tournaments. There is a great excuse to enjoy a little sports tourism while traveling the globe!

NCAA Final Four

Most of the world keeps an eye primarily on professional basketball, but for many fans nothing beats the NCAA Final Four. Considered one of the most special and enjoyable tournaments in sports, the NCAA Tournament culminates every year with four teams battling it out in a single-elimination contest to decide the national champion. It’s a showcase of college basketball brilliance, an exhibition of future professional talent, and an event that brings incredibly enthusiastic fan bases of students and adult fans alike all together. A stop at any one of these events should be an incredible experience for any sports fan or even an ordinary traveler looking for some culture.

Oh you know, just shooting some hoops after school.

Oh you know, just shooting some hoops after school.

Tennis Grand Slams

To list a single Grand Slam event would be brutally unfair to the others, as all four are absolutely exceptional for sports tourism. Generally speaking, the Australian Open (another Melbourne event) and the US Open in Queens, New York are seen as the fun ones, but the tradition of London’s Wimbledon Championships and the unique clay court play at the French Open in Paris also make for special events. More important than the specific venue, however, is the format of these tournaments. It allows fans to enjoy world class tennis action from late morning until sundown for days on end.

What do you think?

Have you been fortunate enough to be in the crowd of any of the best sporting events around the world? To hit all eight of them would make you one of the best-traveled sports fans alive!

Suki F June 28, 2014 at 10:54 am

I have for a couple of these and would love to keep attending different ones.

Heather July 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hi Suki,

It’s great that you’ve been able to experience some of these sporting events. Which ones have you attended? I haven’t been to any, but I’m not the biggest sports fan anyway.

Heather

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