Sitting in front of a television and taking in the sporting weekend is good and well for most weekends, but sometimes the thrill of live sports and participating yourself is the perfect way to break up mundane cubicle days. Essential Travel, fans of sport ourselves, have put together a wish list of the best sporting events to experience live - at least once in your lifetime.
The most English event of them all with curtsies, strawberries, cream and other oddities that could only be considered normal at Wimbledon. English players may not have much luck in winning either the Rosewater Dish or the Men's Trophy, but the tournament delivers thrills in the shape of some of the most entertaining exchanges of a tennis ball; chief amongst them the 2008 final between Federer and Nadal - an epic that left viewers gasping, let alone the players on the court. The business of getting a ticket to the better games is a long convoluted process so Wimbledon 2012 is out of the question, but with proper planning you could find yourself dipping strawberries into cream at Centre Court next year.
Read this page to figure out the arcance ways of getting yourself tickets to the big games.
Motor Racing: Formula One at Silverstone
The zip of Formula One cars is a music to motorheads and you can't really call yourself a motorhead unless you've visited Silvestone circuit at least once. Despite threats of Silverstone being removed from the Formula One calendar, sense has prevailed and the site continues to be a fixture - and a homecoming for the McLaren duo of Hamilton and Button. Even if the finer details of exactly how KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) works escape you, the noise and fury, that television just can't do justice to, will make your neck hairs stand on end.
Football: Manchester Derby
The city of Manchester may as well divide itself into two when the current giants of English soccer meet. New money has rejuvenated City, who now find themselves playing the role of unruly newcomer to the dynasty that is United (you can guess where the writer's loyalties lie). But the privilege of watching top class derbies, like Merseyside derby and El Clasico in Spain, comes at a steep price; you can still get the same intensity with even more fervent supporters with lower league teams; we are partial to some League One action (the third division) from the likes of Exeter City, the once mighty Charlton Athletic and MK Dons. The top rivalry though is between neighbours Swindon Town and Oxford United; the Yellows, Oxford, have the wood over the Reds having beaten them twice in the 2011/2012 season. Unfortunately for fans, Swindon Town may be moving up but if ever you have the chance the orange derby is well worth watching.
Buy League One tickets here.
Rugby: Six Nations
A famous All Black rugby player once said of rugby, "It’s not tiddlywinks." The game of ruffians played by gentleman (most of the time) is a brutal ballet, bringing together beauty and skill in the flick of a delicate off-load or a jarring tackle. Combine that with the beautiful singing voices at Millennium Stadium in Wales, stirring renditions of Irelands Call at Aviva Stadium or the low rumble of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at Twickenham Stadium and you have the most spectator-friendly tournament in rugby. The ease of travel to France or the other Home Nations (Scotland, Wales, Ireland) makes it great excuse to slip away on a weekend of stiff drinks, friendly crowds and rugby that would make even your mother a fan.
Visit Thomas Cook Sport closer to the start of the 2013 tournament to get your tickets.
Golf: British Open
The golf holiday is both a blessing and a curse: when you have the rub of the green the world is a happy place, when the opposite is true all is lost. If you prefer not to risk the doldrums, a golfing holiday that involves watching much better players is a good way to enjoy the game. The British Open brings the game back to its roots and will be held at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire this year. For the brave, who would risk their sanity on holiday, check out our page on the Top 10 International Golf Courses to find the fairest fairways.
Horse Racing: Epsom Derby
Sport is not only confined to the horses at Epsom Derby; it’s just as much fun to be part of the fierce fashion matchups on the sidelines. No other sport demands dapper quite like a day at the track. If you have time to actually watch the races (i.e your money is galloping down the track) then a pair of binoculars is a must. Preferably ones that match your outfit: looks are everything. This year Epsom derby is part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration so expect a bit more of a fashionable flurry and up your game accordingly.
Running: London Marathon
The best way to refresh your sedentary lifestyle is not in the watching of sport, but in participating. Your mile may be closer to forty minutes than four, but almost no-one is incapable of at least attempting a marathon run (the oldest runner in the London Marathon is 101 years old - you have no excuse). You won't keep up with the Kenyans, but you'll feel fresher and better when you get back to the office. This type of break requires some advance training so don't rock up at the start line with no training and expecting things to go swimmingly. Luckily the London Marathon site provides training tips for first timers to prepare themselves.
Darts: BDO World Championship
There are those who may find darts to be outside the definition of sport, but tell that to Tony 'Silverback' O'Shea or Phil 'The Power' Taylor and you'll probably get a well placed dart on your forehead. Darts is a professional televised sport replete with fanatical fans; the dominance of English darts players doesn't hurt either. The BDO World Championshiop brings the best players to Lakeside Country Club, in Frimley Green (Surrey), to compete under the harsh spotlight.
For more info visit www.lakesideowrlddarts.co.uk
Cricket: County Championship
While there are much flashier formats of the game, in the form of the Indian Premier League and other 20-over competitions, true fans still pine for three days on a deckchair leisurely enjoying the action. The 113th season of County Cricket is currently in session, with Lancarshire looking to repeat last years victorious campaign. A three-day game is great for family break or as a group event; sometimes the action can be thin and its nice to have a lover of cricket to engage in deep conversations on the legality of switch-hitting and other matters of cricketing importance.
Special Events: Olympics
We would be remiss in not mentioning the largest sporting event in the world coming to our shores in July. Check out our Top 10 Olympic Hot Spots for a detailed breakdown of where you can catch the the action.