There’s always a big sporting event in town, thanks to London’s wealth of world-renowned stadia – not least Wembley, Twickenham, Lord’s, Wimbledon and the former Olympic Park. From resident Premier League footballers to visiting international tennis champions, it’s the place to catch the star players. But if it’s atmosphere you’re after, you’ll find equally enthusiastic fans cheering on their local football and rugby teams without the hefty ticket prices. Or join the spectators on the streets for some annual city-wide events, such as the London Marathon, Ride London, or the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race.
London has six Premier League clubs but, unless you’re mates with a season-ticket holder, you’ll need to take out a loan or you can forget watching Chelsea or Arsenal. Head instead to Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground, which has the oldest stand in professional football. And if your heart’s set on a trip to the Emirates, tickets for Arsenal Women start at a very reasonable £6.
Some of London’s best sporting occasions are when the city becomes the stadium. Londoners line the streets to cheer the Marathon runners (28 April 2019), and jockey for position on the Thames bridges to watch the Boat Race shoot past (7 April 2019). In summer, it’s the turn of the road cyclists whizzing round St James’s and heading Surrey-wards for Ride London (3-4 Aug 2019).
Twickenham Stadium, the ‘Home of England Rugby’, is fully animated during international tournaments such as the Six Nations (Jan-March) and World Rugby Sevens (25-26 May 2019). It also hosts some of the bigger domestic fixtures. For a more local but just as passionate crowd, head across the road to The Stoop, home to Harlequins, one of the city’s two top-tier rugby union teams.
A Test match at Lord’s is a grand day out, with spectators packing extravagant hampers (champagne is de rigueur) and donning best bib and tucker (fancy dress is frowned upon at the hallowed Marylebone Cricket Club). Steeped in history (the museum houses the actual Ashes urn), the ground has also embraced modern architecture, including its futuristic media centre.
The world’s most famous grass-court tournament takes place in the first fortnight of July (1-14 July 2019). Most tickets are sold by ballot months in advance, but ground passes and some Centre Court seats are available on the day – the queue starts early at Wimbledon Park. Alternatively, catch the same stars at the lower-key Queen’s Club championships (17-23 June 2019).
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