Winning holidays .jpg

Winning holidays

NO ONE could fail to notice the plethora of top sporting events being hosted around the world this summer. Here is our guide to holidays that will please any sports fan … and their long-suffering partners.

Football World Cup final, Berlin

After 32 years, the Fifa World Cup finally returned to Germany this year. In all, 32 qualifying nations have been competing for one month, in 12 exciting stadia across Germany – a country so often overlooked as a tourist destination. More than three million spectators were expected, with the highlight being the final in Berlin (a city gripped by World Cup fever) this Sunday.

Holidaying fans with tickets for the final should head for the newly renovated Olympic Stadium. Less fortunate visitors without tickets will not be disappointed though, as the city squares, bars and restaurants will play host to pulsating World Cup parties, in front of giant projection screens.

One of the biggest events in the city is the Fan Fest, Germany’s longest-running fan party, which started on June 7 and will end on the day of the final, July 9, when the area around the Brandenburg Gate will be turned into Germany’s largest football arena. With an area the size of 12 football pitches and 234sqm of video screens, set up in four different places, including a 60sqm screen located right above the stage at Brandenburg Gate, it will definitely be the place to watch the final.

Accommodation in Berlin ranges from cheap and cheerful to six-star, and non-football fans will find plenty to do besides the Fan Fest. The city boasts enough amazing museums, galleries, parks and culture to keep the whole family amused.

Wimbledon, London

Wimbledon is the highlight of the international tennis calendar, bringing together the world’s leading tennis professionals in a battle for glory. The first championship event at Wimbledon dates back to 1877, but the first Ladies’ Singles championship was only introduced in 1884. Since then, the tradition of strawberries and cream on centre court has been enjoyed by thousands of fans from around the world.

The London borough of SW19 comes alive during the summer, as the most prestigious tournament in tennis hits Wimbledon. This year, visitors can arrive in style, thanks to the chauffeur-driven Bentleys, sponsored by insurance company Privilege, which will ferry lucky tennis-lovers from Southfields underground station to the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Those who arrive on foot will be served canapés and other ‘posh’ snacks, as they queue for entry to the Championships, by Privilege’s very own butlers.

Wimbledon remains one of the very few major UK sporting events for which premium tickets can still be bought on the day of play. Approximately 500 tickets daily, for each of the Centre (except for the last four days), No.1 and No.2 Courts, are reserved for sale at the turnstiles.

If you plan on catching a couple of days of action on the courts, there are plenty of nearby hotels, bars and restaurants in Wimbledon, making it an ideal short break.

X Games, Los Angeles

For a weekend with a difference, why not take a trip to the X Games – an annual extreme sports event held in Los Angeles, taking place between August 3-6 this year. The competition features BMX, surfing, rally cars, skateboarding and many other adrenaline inducing sports.

It is often the showcase for breaking records and never-before-seen tricks, including the ‘900’ in skateboarding and the ‘body varial’ in MotoX.

In addition to world-class competition, the X Games events also showcase X Fest – an ultimate action sports and music festival, complete with live music – athlete autograph sessions, interactive elements, a skate and BMX park, demonstrations and more. All together, the X Games boast a festival-like atmosphere.

For those who prefer a culture rush, Los Angeles offers a hugely diverse range of things to see and do, from prestigious art museums and galleries to fabulous theatres. Art enthusiasts will be wowed by the extensive collections at the J Paul Getty Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Visit the La Brea Tar Pits on Museum Row, then check out the trendy shops on Melrose Avenue.

Families will not want to miss the Zoo, or the action, at Universal Studios Hollywood. Of course, no trip to LA would be complete without a stop at the Venice Beach Boardwalk or a visit to Mann’s Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame.

Tour de France final stage, Paris

The last stage of the world famous Tour de France cycling race is a big rolling party for the first 100 or so kilometres. The riders cycle slowly and congratulate one another on making it to Paris – no small feat no matter what your placing – and play jokes on the organisers, fans, press and one another. But, when the race reaches the outskirts of Paris, things start to turn serious.

To get a real flavour of the contest, get up early on race day, Sunday July 23, and travel to the suburbs of Paris and the town of Antony (Parc Sceaux), where you will see the start of the final stage. Here you may get a chance to meet the riders and get autographs and photos. Immediately after the start of the race, travel directly to the Champs Elysées where you will see the 10-lap finale and post race lap of honour.

For the star sprinters in the race, a win on the Champs is incredibly prestigious, so their support teams speed up to almost inhuman levels. By the time they hit the cobbles around the Place de la Concorde, the field will be travelling in excess of 30mph. They will hold that speed while the sprinters duel for position, ultimately setting up a climactic all-out sprint for glory. From behind, the yellow jersey and other favourites roll safely to the line and do victory laps.

Unmissable and a great weekend away, when combined with the French capital’s other famous attractions. Don’t miss the newly re-opened Orangerie, where Monet’s famous Waterlillies paintings hang.

Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

Few places embrace a Formula One Grand Prix as enthusiastically as Montreal. The city grinds to a halt over the race weekend, as fans from around the world descend on Quebec for a non-stop party. Formula One fever – street parties, driver appearances and F1 exhibitions – is focused in one area of town, Crescent Street, the point at which race fans meet. But there is plenty to see and do elsewhere in Montreal. The joie de vivre is palpable and contagious in this vibrant, culturally diverse and cosmopolitan city of two million inhabitants. Whether sipping a cappuccino at an outdoor café, gambling at the huge Casino de Montreal complex or exploring historic Old Montreal, you can’t help but be enchanted by the excitement and energy that pervades the entire city.