Sample the thrill of sports touring

We have certainly been spoiled with some intense sporting entertainment on our TV screens during January. The Asian Cup brought some mighty thrills, culminating in the high drama of Australia’s victory in the final. The Australian Open is a perennial favourite with crowds and player alike and never fails to deliver its share of titanic contests and lower ranked bolters. The cricket calendar too is packed with test and one day games during the first half of summer.

While the TV coverage gives us an armchair seat at many events, there is still nothing quite like the atmosphere of “being at the game” This got us thinking about the idea of using a major sporting event as the centrepiece for a holiday. It’s a great way to add an extra level of excitement to your trip and it can be readily married with other touring attractions within the host city to help gain a deeper appreciation for that destination’s heart and soul.

Use sport as an appetiser or a main course
Cricket followers would be well aware of the boisterous antics of the ‘Balmy Army’ the last time England were here for the ashes. Their dedication to attending every day of every game may be at the extreme end of sports touring, but your trip doesn’t have to have that level of fanaticism! Just incorporating a day or two at major event can be enough to add some spice to mix up with other touring activities.

Melbourne is a great example
As a thought starter, there is no greater example of sports based touring than the city that claims to be Australia’s sporting capital. The Boxing Day test match, Australian Open, Formula 1 Grand Prix and Melbourne Cup are just some of the iconic annual events that are hosted in this sports-mad metropolis.

Some tour operators specialise in packages that are centred on such events. A prime example can be found here for the upcoming Australian Grand Prix. Packages like this typically include accommodation, entry to the event, travel discounts, offers on other local attractions and perhaps some merchandise relating to the sporting event.

Another Melbourne based operator, Melbourne sports tours provides a different angle to the sports touring experience. They offer behind the scenes tours of the great Melbourne sporting venues, such as the MCG, Flemington Racecourse, Rod Laver Arena and the Albert Park F1 circuit. A variety of package options can give a fascinating insight into the normally inaccessible aspects of these venues, such as player change rooms, coaches boxes and even the sacred turf of the MCG itself. Another highlight included in some tours is a visit to the National Sports Museum, featuring more than 2500 sporting artefacts and multimedia displays that showcase great moments in Australia's sporting history.

Of course Melbourne also has a reputation for its cultural attractions and the rich cosmopolitan fabric of its city precincts, making it an ideal destination for a short break. Adding a sporting element to the visit is a great way to round off the experience.

Overseas events
Sports touring is just as relevant for overseas destinations too. Imagine getting first-hand experience at Golf’s holy grail; the US Masters in April and seeing the world’s greatest taking on the lightning-fast greens and majestic fairways of Augusta’s revered course. Here is a package sample to whet your appetite - US Masters.

Then there is the unique experience of Wimbledon, tennis’ ultimate event, which is held in July each year. A visit here is just as much about the whole atmosphere, charm and vibe of the venue, as it is about the tennis itself. Here is a sample package 

If tennis and golf don’t take your fancy, here is a list of some other events this year that may inspire you to create a sporting sojourn of your own.