Whether you’re an athlete or a fan, why not plan your next trip around some of the world’s great sporting events and festivals? Not only do you get the chance to be inspired by some of the world’s best athletes, but you can also test your skills and be part of the action.
Want to go snowboarding in Aspen? While you’re there, check out some X Games action. Heading to Germany in July? You could easily catch the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Whether it’s a major sporting event that catches your eye or one that is unique to the country you are visiting, there’s plenty happening in 2011.
Mainstream: Grand Slam Tennis – Australian Open
Catch some tennis down under as Melbourne hosts the world’s best tennis players as they compete in the first grand slam tournament of 2011 (Jan. 17-30th). With defending champion Serena Williams out of contention, a new champion is guaranteed in the women’s singles and double events. After some sizzling tennis, why not head down the coast to some famous surf beaches including Bells Beach, home of the Rip Curl Pro, along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. www.australianopen.com
Extreme: Winter X Games 15
The world’s best winter action sports athletes convene in Aspen to show their stuff.. More than 200 will compete in Skiing, Snowboarding and Snowmobiling in for the premier Winter X event. This will be the 10th consecutive year that the Winter X Games has been held in Aspen, Colo. Snowboarders Gretchen Bleiler, Torah Bright, Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter will vie for top podium spots along with skiers Jen Hudak, Sarah Burke, Grete Eliassen and others. (Jan 27 – 30). www.espn.com
Mainstream- National Girls & Women in Sports Day
This year is the 25th annual NGWSD (Feb. 2) when “thousands of sports educators, coaches, athletic directors, recreation directors, association members, sponsors, students, and parents across the country show their support for women’s sports. This year’s theme is “Play, Believe, Achieve.” Check out nationwide events here.
More Extreme: Wintersports
The Vancouver Olympics may be over but if you’re an Olympic or wintersports fan, head to the Canadian resorts Whistler Blackcomb or Big White to carve some turns of your own. Want to demo the latest boards and skis? Whistler Super Demo Days take place February 19-20 with all the top vendors representing. Look for the vendor tents and flags outside the big white demo tent.
Mainstream: Basketball – March Madness
Indianapolis, IN / USA
Catch college basketball fever with the USA’s longest running tournament. For most of March college teams battle it out to get in the Final Four where they vie for a place in the championship game. Whether you’re a college student, alumni or sport lover you can’t help but get caught up in all the action and hype.
First and second rounds of the women’s competition take place March 19-22 and Regionals take place March 26 -29. The Final Four will be at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN on Saturday, April 3rd and Monday April 5th. Will UConn win the championship for the third year in a row? Or will Stanford defeat them again this year for the crown? www.NCAA.com
More Extreme: Roxy Chicken Jam USA
Mammoth Mountain, CA/USA
Get yourself to Mammoth Mountain for some of the best spring snow conditions at the Roxy Chicken Jam USA. The Roxy Chicken Jam takes over Mammoth Mountain March 24-27. Celebrating its seventh anniversary, this is the original and most prestigious stand-alone women’s pro snowboarding event in the industry. With a 22 ft. Halfpipe, super-sized Slopestyle course and healthy prize purse, the Roxy Chicken Jam attracts thousands of spectators and some of the best female riders in the world! Over the years the Roxy Chicken Jam has evolved into a three-day festival including a sponsor tent village, the guys invite-only Quiksilver Cluck Off Big Air, a mascot contest and a FREE outdoor concert! Roxy Chicken Jam 2011
Also: If you find yourself on the other side of the pond, Winter X Europe will be held March 16 – 18, 2011 in Tignes, France and there’s sure to be lots of great action on the slopes. More than 125 of the best winter athletes in the World will be competing for the 2nd edition of the Winter X Tignes.
Extreme: Rip Curl Pro
Bells Beach / Australia
The Rip Curl Pro – the world’s longest running and most prestigious professional surfing contest – will this year be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bells Beach Easter Rally and the Rip Curl Pro in Australia’s surfing home of Torquay from April 19 – April 25.
The ASP World Tour’s best 17 female surfers will be at Bells over Easter to compete in the year’s second ASP World Tour contest. But it will be only one deserving winner who will get to ring the prized Bell on the final day of competition.
While there, make sure to check out the world’s largest surfing museum, Surf World, housing the best surfing memorabilia and archive.
The 115th Boston Marathon will be held on April 18, 2011 - Patriots’ Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s most prestigious road racing events, distinguishing itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race (via qualification).
Mainstream: Grand Slam Tennis
A world-renowned event, the French Open/Roland Garros takes place May 17 – June 5. Last year, Francesca Schiavone re-wrote the history books — becoming the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title with a straight set victory over Sam Stosur in a hard-fought final. Lots to do in and around Paris but beware, most involve high calorie consumption.
More Extreme:Cheese Rolling
Gloucestershire / UK
The annual Cheese-Rolling Festival at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire attracts only those people who are madder-than-a-hatter. Imagine chasing a 10 kg roll of cheese down an incredibly steep hill without breaking your neck. Even being a spectator is fraught with danger. By the time that 10kg piece of cheese gathers momentum, it will be traveling at 100km per hour.
The annual Cheese-Rolling Festival at Cooper’s Hill takes place each year at 12:00 midday on the Late Spring Bank Holiday Monday. It was canceled last year and may be rescheduled. www.cheese-rolling.co.uk
Other Events: Kentucky Derby (Louisville, KY/USA) May 7, 2011.
Mainstream: FIFA World Cup
The long wait will finally come to an end on 26 June 2011 as the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 kicks off in Germany. Fans are already looking forward to packed stadiums, a great atmosphere and women’s soccer of the highest quality as the best 16 teams from the world prepare to battle it out for the coveted trophy. Matches will be held in Berlin, Dresden, Sinsheim and Wolfsburg with the final taking place in Frankfurt. 11 June – 11 July. www.fifa.com/worldcup/
Wimbledon is steeped in history and tradition. From the first ‘garden-party’ tournament in 1877 to last year’s wins by Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, this event is the pinnacle for most tennis players. It’s also popular with fans, who have been known to queue in the rain for that all important centre court ticket. The 125th Wimbledon Championships take place 20 June – 3 July. www.wimbledon.org
Mainstream: Le Tour De France
The 2011 Le Tour de France (July 2 -24) promises to be a fierce battle. Will Lance Armstrong improve on this year’s placing to take his eighth tour win? Can Cadel Evans put disappointment behind him to get back on the podium? Or will Contador continue to dominate? Add to this some spectacular French scenery, and you’ve got one of the world’s most memorable sporting events. www.letour.fr
More Extreme: Vans Warped Tour
One of the best places to catch your favorite skaterboarders and bmx riders is at the Van’s Warped Tour, along with some of the hottest punk and rock bands. This iconic festival tours across the US bringing together action sports and music from June to September. www.warpedtour.com
Other Events: US Women’s Open Golf, ISF Women’s Softball World Championship (England), Samsung Women’s Hockey Champions Trophy (England), Calgary Stampede (Canada), Running with the Bulls (Pamplona, Spain)
Mainstream: IAAF World Championships
The 13th edition of the IAAF World Championships will take place this year in Daegu, Korea August 27 – Sept. 4, 2011. Athletics fans can look forward to record-breaking performances from7,000 track & field competitors from 213 countries.
One of the major metropolitan areas in Korea, Daegu is well-known for the stone Buddha called Gatbawi on the top of Gwanbong, Palgongsan. People from all over visit, because they believe that the Buddha grants at least one wish.
Extreme: La Tomatina Festival
On the last Wednesday of August, the Spanish town of Buñol comes alive with revellers pelting each other with large, red ripe tomatoes. It begs the question, why? But it’s part of a week-long festival featuring music, fireworks and plenty of food that has been a strong tradition in Buñol since 1944 or 1945. Make sure you are wearing old clothes. www.latomatina.org
More Extreme: Summer X Games
Every year the world’s best action sport athletes descend upon Los Angeles to compete in everything from skateboarding to motorsport. Look for defending champions Elissa Steamer, Lyn-Z Hawkins Adams in the skate park and vert ramp as well as moto riders Jessica Patterson and Ashley Fiolek to renew their long-standing rivalries. Check the schedule closer to the event at the XGames website.
Other Events: Women’s British Open Golf
Mainstream: AFL Grand Final
For many Australians, Australian Rules Football (AFL) is akin to religion. As such, going to a game of AFL is a must-do cultural experience for any Australian visitor.
Highlights include witnessing fanatical supporters and watching athletic players flying through the air to grab the ball (which is called ‘taking a mark’ or a ‘speccie’). There really is nothing like strolling to the ‘G’ (Melbourne Cricket Ground) on a cold, blustery winter’s day (remember the season’s are switched in the southern hemisphere) for an afternoon at the footy. There is even a song called ‘One Day in September’, which is dedicated to the AFL Grand Final Day in late September. www.afl.com.au
More Extreme: Hurling
Similar to hockey, hurling is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. The game is mentioned in Irish folklore, as it was a Celtic pastime more than 2,000 years ago (making it Europe’s oldest field game). The All-Ireland Hurling Final takes place in early September, but you can check out a regular season game during the European summer months. www.gaa.ie
Other Events: US Open Tennis
White Plains, New York
Show me the money. In 2010, the U.S. Open men’s and women’s singles winners each took home a record $1.7 million in base prize money. For tennis fans a trip to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s Arthur Ashe Stadium promises to be an experience of a lifetime. And of course New York City is just a short train ride away.
Mainstream: World Series Baseball
If you can’t get a ticket for the World Series in October, check out a game during the regular season. It is also a wonderful cultural experience – sitting in the bleachers, munching on crackerjacks, and then, standing up during the seventh inning stretch to sing, ‘Take me out to the ball game’. Awesome! And that’s not evening mentioning the game itself. www.mlb.com
Extreme: World Championship Ironman
It’s the crème de la crème of the fittest bodies in the world (e.g. Chrissy Wellington on the women’s side) chasing their dream of completing the 2.4 mi. swim, 112 mi. bike and 26.2 mi. run to top it off, in record time. If you’re looking for some inspiration to jump-start your next fitness regime, look no further.
The bonus is the scenery in which the athletes compete on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. You can catch some surf while hanging around race week enjoying the festivities. http://ironman.com/worldchampionship
Mainstream: Melbourne Cup
They don’t call Melbourne the sporting capital of the world for nothing! Billed as the “event that stops a nation” the Melbourne Cup is one of the most famous horse races in the world. In Melbourne the day is a public holiday, while around the country workplaces allow their employees to have “Melbourne Cup” parties, run sweeps and, of course, stop work to watch the race. Try getting on one of the many party cruises that go up the Yarra River to the racetrack for a truly unforgettable day! www.melbournecup.com
Other Events: Australian Masters Golf, World Rowing Championships (New Zealand), New York Marathon
Mainstream: Cricket – The Ashes Tour (2010/2011)
Australia versus England is one of the longest-standing traditional rivalries in test match cricket. The term ‘Ashes’ was first used by the Sporting Times in a mock obituary to English cricket after they lost to Australia for the first time on English soil at The Oval on August 29, 1882.
Since then, the two countries have had regular battles for the ‘Ashes’. www.theashescricketlive.com
More Extreme: Triple Crown of Surfing
Held on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii, the Triple Crown of Surfing is one of the best places in the world to see top surfers as they ride some of the biggest and most spectacular waves.
Arguably the most important date on the surfing calendar (for both women and men), the crown is decided over three events and is a great test of the surfer’s ability on a coastline famous for its huge winter swells. www.triplecrownofsurfing.com
2011 World Netball Championships – Singapore
2011 Rugby World Cup – New Zealand
2012 Olympics – London
There’s plenty of great events to appeal to every sporting enthusiast (athlete or fan) so start looking for travel deals now!