10 Great Sporting Events to Add to Your Calendar

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Apr 03, 2016

by TRAVEL INSIDER WRITERS

From the Tour de France to the Rio Olympics, the next 12 months promise nonstop action at the biggest sporting events on the planet. Book a front-row seat.

Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco

May 26-29, 2016 | Monte Carlo, Monaco 

The second-smallest country in the world, Monaco packs a lot of glamour into its two square kilometres. Since Hollywood’s Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III here in 1956, the principality on the French Riviera has been synonymous with style. During the Grand Prix, extravagance and hedonism take hold as glitzy parties attract stars of the sports world and the silver screen. Still, the most exciting action takes place on the circuit, where drivers push their cars and themselves to the limit on the most thrilling – not to mention dangerous – circuit on the Formula One calendar. 

Stay With its Belle Époque-style architecture, Joël Robuchon restaurant and poolside mural by Karl Lagerfeld, Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo is the indisputable star among Monaco’s stylish check-in addresses. Located in the heart of Monte Carlo, it’s a quick spin to the casino and the Formula One circuit.

Eat Go all-out at Alain Ducasse’s three-Michelin-starred Le Louis XV or make your way to Maya Bay, a restaurant with two dining rooms: one offering a Thai menu (about $28 for three courses), the other a Japanese-inspired feast (same price for three courses).

UEFA Euro 2016

 June 10-July 10, 2016 | Paris and various locations, France

For French football fans, Paris never felt more romantic than the moment their national team won the 1998 World Cup at the Stade de France. This will be the main venue for the latest instalment of the world’s second-most-watched football tournament, the UEFA European Championship – making the capital the obvious place to base yourself for the nationwide event. With the number of competing countries expanded from 16 to 24 this year, it will be the biggest Euro ever. Can the creator of the sport, England, win its first major tournament since 1966? In our view, the smarter money would be on Germany or Spain.

Stay It might be the year of the Ritz Paris, the grande dame that’s reopening after a four-year makeover, but if you’re after a comfortable hotel that feels more like a Parisian apartment, you can’t go past Grand Amour. It’s in the Faubourg district, which is brimming with eclectic bars, quirky restaurants and underground clubs, and is only a 15-minute cab ride from the stadium.

Eat If you think it’s impossible to find a great local hangout in tourist hotspots, Le Coq Rico will prove you wrong. Located in Montmartre, just five minutes’ walk to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, this tiny bistro specialises in birds – from confit duckling to roasted Mesquer pigeon – and is almost always booked out so call ahead.

Wimbledon

 June 27-July 10, 2016 | London, England

Strawberries and cream, cucumber sandwiches, Pimm’s Cups: The Championships, Wimbledon, has so much history that there are even traditions around the refreshments served. Held at the All England Club since 1877, it’s the world’s oldest, most prestigious tennis tournament. There’s no better place to enjoy the London summer.

Stay Looking for boutique accommodation with antique charm? Book a room at the recently revamped Lanesborough, which has 93 rooms and suites, a Venetian-style dining room and 24-hour butlers. If you prefer sleek, contemporary interiors, opt for the Shangri-La at The Shard. Occupying the 34th to 52nd floors of the Renzo Piano building, it has sweeping city views from every room.

Eat Melbourne brothers Gabriel and Marcello Bernardi are plating up modern Italian fare at the just-opened Bernardi’s in inner-city Marylebone.

A few blocks south-east in Mayfair, Sexy Fish is hot, both for its racy name and Japanese-inspired seafood. 

Le Tour de France

July 2-24, 2016 | France and Switzerland

The most spectacular stages of this famous cycling race are set in the Alps. This year’s competitors – including defending champion Chris Froome – will move into Switzerland’s riverside city of Bern and its World Heritage-listed medieval town centre. It’s here that the gruelling 21-stage race will take its second rest day, between stages 16 and 17. It’s an outstandingly scenic place to stay for a couple of nights and soak up the carnival atmosphere of Le Tour before it rolls its way into the Swiss Alps and then back to France.

Stay It’s housed in a century-old building in Bern’s Old Town but the Hotel Schweizerhof is all about modern creature comforts: rain showers, plush beds and a luxurious spa, plus five bars and restaurants.

Eat Chef Jan Leimbach’s delicious fare – orange-and-aniseed-marinated salmon, for one – has earned Meridiano a Michelin star. Be sure to check out Jack’s Brasserie at Hotel Schweizerhof, too, if only to try the pineapple and coconut risotto with goat’s cheese praline. 

Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games

August 5-21, September 7-18, 2016 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

With the success of the 2014 FIFA World Cup still fresh in the memory, Brazil once again becomes the centre of the sports world for the Summer Olympics. Witness history being made when six-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt defends his titles in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 x 100 metres relay. Then stay to watch the wheelchair basketballers spin their way around the court at the follow-up Paralympic Games.

Stay Across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro is the town of Niterói, home of the H Niterói Hotel – an excellent base if you want to avoid the crush of tourists and fancy a room with ocean views. During the Olympics, accommodation in and around Rio is selling out fast. So book this one before it’s too late.

Eat Brazil is famous for barbecued meats and no trip to Rio is complete without a visit to Porcão, a churrascaria with an all-you-can-eat buffet. Also in the Ipanema neighbourhood, try the feijoada – stew of beans, pork and beef – at Casa da Feijoada.

US Open

August 29-September 11, 2016 | New York, United States 

Founded in 1881, the US Open is almost as old as its British counterpart, though less beholden to tradition. Flushing Meadows in New York always turns on a party atmosphere for the final Grand Slam event of the year, with plenty of dining and bar options at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and more celebrities than you can poke a selfie stick at. Serena Williams will be chasing her seventh US Open title, while Men’s No. 1, Novak Djokovic, has won it twice. Game on! 

Stay Check in to a Midtown location so you’re in the centre of all the Manhattan action and close to the 7 train for easy access to Flushing Meadows.

The Peninsula is the all-out-luxe option, housed in a Beaux-Arts-style building on Fifth Avenue. If you’re after an edgier stay, W New York – Times Square, with its sensational city views, is around the corner.

Eat In New York, there are only two ways to get into a cool new eatery: queue up or book ahead. At David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi –where executive chef Joshua Pinsky is artfully fusing Italian and Korean cuisines – you might have to try both tricks. The good news is that the restaurant has a strict no-tipping policy so no post-meal conundrums.

Qantas Wallabies Grand Slam Tour

 November 5-December 3, 2016 | United Kingdom and France

If you go to only one of the Qantas Wallabies’ off-season internationals, make it the one with the most passionate fans: Australia versus Wales. Game day in Cardiff is something to behold – a sea of red jerseys flood the city’s streets, while a packed Millennium Stadium echoes with more than 70,000 spirited voices. The “Grand Slam” conquest of all four British home nations has been achieved by the Wallabies just once, in 1984 – an indication of the feat’s difficulty. After Wales, Australia faces Scotland in Edinburgh, France in Paris, Ireland in Dublin, and England in its grey Twickenham fortress.

Stay Located smack-bang on Cardiff Bay, with many of its rooms offering uninterrupted water views, The St David’s Hotel & Spa is only a 10-minute cab ride or a 30-minute walk from the stadium. The on-site Marine Spa has an indoor swimming pool, hydrotherapy spa pools and a range of treatments – perfect for relaxing those muscles after a day out on the field.

Eat Café Citta (4 Church Street, Cardiff; +44 29 2022 4040) is a firm favourite among the locals. Small in size, it serves authentic wood-fired pizzas that are big on flavour. Also check out Park House, where head chef Jonathan Edwards offers modern British fare in one of Cardiff’s most loved, heritage-listed structures.

Billabong Pipe Masters

December 8-20, 2016 | Oahu, Hawaii, US

Oahu, Hawaii’s third-largest island, is famed for its raw beauty and has served as a location for blockbuster films Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. Known to locals as The Gathering Place, it’s where the world’s greatest surfers go to compete in the final event of the World Surf League. They’ll tackle Banzai Pipeline, a reef break more dangerous than a velociraptor with a sore head.

Stay There’s no shortage of absolute-waterfront or upscale hotels on this lush island. Our pick? The flamboyantly pink Royal Hawaiian Resort, in Honolulu’s Waikiki, which has magnificent Moorish architecture.

Eat Make a beeline for Alan Wong’s if you’re after authentic Hawaiian cuisine – think ginger-crusted onaga (local red snapper) or lasagne with Keahole lobster and saffron-braised vegies.

Super Bowl

February 5, 2017 | Houston, Texas, US

Southern charm and big-city sophistication come together in Houston, which is hosting the 51st Super Bowl. If the intricacies of American football – quarterback sacks, running backs and Hail Marys – are lost on you, Houston itself offers a lot more than Texas barbecue and bootscooting. There’s a thriving arts scene and a 17-block theatre district. Downtown, new bars and restaurants are buzzing, thanks to a major redevelopment ahead of Super Bowl 2017 – a sports event so big that even the commercials make the news.

Stay With an on-site spa, an Italian restaurant, a wine bar and Downtown Houston’s only resort-style pool, the Four Seasons is one of the city’s chicest hotels, centrally located in the business district.

Eat A Japanese gastropub in Houston’s Midtown, Izakaya boasts bold tattoo-art-inspired murals and classic counter meals with a distinct Asian twist, such as hot dogs seasoned with yuzu kosho slaw. Another happening spot is B&B Butchers & Restaurant, a butcher-shop-cum-steakhouse with a rooftop patio and views of the city. 

The Masters

April 6-9, 2017 | Augusta, Georgia, US

Augusta has some of the oldest and prettiest architecture in the American South. Adding to this charming city’s assets is the immaculate course at Augusta National Golf Club and the professional tournament it hosts annually. The Masters is steeped in tradition, most notably the winner’s green jacket. Tournament organisers should probably write down Australian Jason Day’s measurements as the 2015

PGA Championship winner has a realistic chance of adding the jacket to his wardrobe.

Stay A mere three-minute drive to Augusta National Golf Club, Sheraton Augusta Hotel has 152 guestrooms with plush-top mattresses, down pillows, flat-screen HD TVs and complimentary wi-fi.

Eat Prime 1079 Steakhouse, at the Sheraton Augusta Hotel, is a great option for meat-lovers. Devotees of biodynamic wines and seasonal regional food should consider chef Sean Wight’s Frog Hollow Tavern, which has dishes such as braised Berkshire pork shoulder with smoked-tomato pork jus on the menu. 

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