The UK is a nation of sports lovers. Being the birthplace of football and cricket, as well as the home for many Formula 1 teams and hosting many international competitions each year, sport is ingrained in the culture of the country. Fans from all over the world travel to Britain to watch their favourite teams and athletes compete, while many sports stars would jump at the opportunity to play in the country. For example, Odion Ighalo, the Nigerian striker commented that he had always dreamed of playing for Manchester United when he signed for them in January 2020.
With so much sport going on in the country, you’ll always find an event or competition worth going to watch. Here are some of the nation’s favourites.
In tennis, the Grand Slam tournaments are the most prestigious and considered the most important for a professional tennis player. There are four Grand Slams around the world: the Australian Open, the French Open, the US Open, and Wimbledon.
As well as being the only Grand Slam not to have “Open” in its name, Wimbledon is the oldest “major” tournament on the calendar having been founded back in 1877. It’s played each summer at the end of June and beginning of July, and is the only one to be played on grass courts, creating a unique challenge for the athletes. Recent men’s winners of Wimbledon include Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal, while several famous female players have recently won the competition too, including Serena Williams, Simona Halep, and Angelique Kerber.
Being located near the centre of London, it’s best to get public transport to the event, with easy connections via London Underground and bus. It’s not recommended to drive there though as parking is very limited and driving within London can be cumbersome.
Poker is a game that has grown in popularity significantly across the UK over the last few decades, thanks to many online casinos offering free bets to encourage new players to sign up and several British TV channels airing live games since the 2000s.
However, events like the World Series of Poker have actually been pitting the world’s most talented poker players against each other since the 1970s. Whether you also play yourself, or just like to watch, poker tournaments are fun and exciting competitions that can leave you on the edge of your seat.
There’s no single poker tournament that is a focal point in Britain. Instead, there are several major events that take place up and down the country. One of these is the World Series of Poker Circuit, which provides qualification into the Main Event in Las Vegas. If you fancy taking part yourself, most major cities in the UK have poker rooms and regularly organise their own events that you can take part in.
Premier League Games
Like with poker tournaments, rather than just one single event, the Premier League has great games taking place throughout the season. It is the wealthiest football league in the world, beating other European top-flight leagues like the German Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga.
Games are played at weekends and Mondays and Fridays, as well as specially scheduled games on Boxing Day (26th December) which are a tradition in the UK. While you’ll get a great experience at any game in the country, some of the best games are the local derbies such as Arsenal vs Chelsea or matches between fierce rivals like Manchester United vs Liverpool.
There’s no big grand final match like in many American leagues, so there’s no Premier League “Superbowl” you can book a ticket for, but you may be able to watch the league deciding game if you make it to one of the last in the season.
The British Grand Prix
The first official Formula One World Championship event took place in the United Kingdom in 1950. It was held at Silverstone, a former RAF base that has since been converted into one of the world’s leading F1 race tracks.
The race usually takes place in either June or July each year and is held over three days with Practice taking place on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and the main race on Sunday. You can just attend the race, although many fans like to make a weekend of it and camp out near the track from Thursday night. This creates a carnival atmosphere with petrol heads coming together to share in their passion for motorsport.
Silverstone also puts on concerts and other live entertainment throughout the weekend so you will never be short of things to do.
The Grand National
The Grand National is the most-watched horse race in the UK. It is held in Aintree, a short drive from Liverpool city centre, and takes place each April. The main race, the Grand National, is held on the final day of a three-day festival.
It features around 40 horses that will compete over a distance of 4 miles and 514 yards, jumping some of the biggest and most famous fences in the sport, including Becher’s Brook and The Chair. It’s also the most bet-on race of the year with fans placing wagers through traditional bookmakers and through informal sweepstakes organised in workplaces and among friendship groups.
Millions of people tune in to watch the Grand National on TV and listen to it on the radio, with tens of thousands more heading to Aintree Racecourse to watch in person. Even if you’re not a fan of horse racing, the Grand National is an event that you’ll enjoy.
For runners, there are several iconic marathons that are more prestigious than the rest. These include the Boston Marathon, the New York City Marathon, and the Great Wall Marathon.
Another is the London Marathon, despite being relatively young compared to the more than 100-year-old Boston Marathon. Since 1981, around 7-8,000 runners have lined up to run through the streets of the British capital, passing famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, and Tower Bridge.
Even if you’re not the kind of person that wants to endure a gruelling 26-mile run, thousands of spectators line the route of the race each year to cheer on the runners and soak up the atmosphere.