IF YOU’RE PLANNING to travel in 2015, why not base your trip around some of the year’s most special international sporting events? Here are six of the best combinations of fun trips and spectacular athleticism coming up next year.
McGregor vs. Siver, Boston
McGregor pounding Max Holloway in Boston in 2013. Source: Gregory Payan
Date: Sunday, 18 January
Venue: TD Garden, Boston
Tickets: $55.70 – $735.70, depending on section.
Flights: If you’re going as far as Boston you probably won’t want to fly home the next day, but if your schedule is tight you can, Dublin to Boston Logan Airport return, for €549.14. If you stay a week instead you can arrive the day of the fight and come home on 25 January for €432.14.
Why go: On his meteoric rise through the UFC ranks, McGregor has been accompanied by a dedicated Irish following wherever he goes. With a huge group of Irish and Irish-origin people in Boston, he’ll likely have an even bigger section of the crowd on his side than usual, and if he can win his fifth straight UFC fight the clamour for him to receive a title shot will grow even louder.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo eludes the Barcelona defence in the October edition of El Clasico Source: AP/Press Association Images
Date: Sunday, 22 March
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Flights: Dublin – Barcelona El Prat return for €106.98 – €206.98
Why go: Heading into Christmas, as is so often the case, Barcelona and Real Madrid are pushing each other at the top of La Liga, with Barca trailing Real, 35 points to 39. It’s likely to be much the same story in March, adding extra atmosphere to what is already a fixture rife with historical significance. It’s a pricey ticket, but the chance to see one of the essential sporting rivalries is complemented by the chance to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Rugby World Cup
Can Ireland make France miserable again at the Rugby World Cup? Source: AP/Press Association Images
Dates: Friday, 18 September – Saturday, 31 October
Venues: Stadiums around England, plus the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, with the knockout stages shared between Twickenham and the Millenium Stadium.
Tickets: Still available for Ireland’s group stage opener against Canada (£85 or £125) and the following match against Romania (£85, £125, or £175).
Flights: Dublin to London Gatwick return for the Romania game on September 27th, flying back the next day, €129.98.
Why go: The biggest rugby competition in the world arrives at a time when Ireland are arguably at their all-time peak, looking like a good bet to get to the semi-finals for the first time. Even if you can’t get tickets for the big games, the atmosphere in London and Cardiff is sure to be electric, with huge Irish crowds and plenty of Irish pubs to cheer the team on.
‘Swapsies?’ Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic examining each others’ Wimbledon singles trophies. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images
Dates: 29 June – 12 July
Venue: Wimbledon (it’s in the name).
Tickets: Tickets on the public ballot are no longer available to international applicants, but if you arrive early you can snag some premium tickets on the day (though not for the final four days on Centre Court). Guidelines for joining ‘The Queue’ can be found here. Early tickets on Court 2 are available for as little as £39.
Flights: Dublin to London return flights for the night before the tournament starts (ensuring you can arrive early to queue for tickets), and leaving the night after, for €62.98.
Why go: The most famous tennis event in the world, as well as the international capital of strawberry and cream consumption, the attraction of Wimbledon speaks for itself. Even without strong Irish performers, the tournament represents one of the most affordable chances to see incredible athletes like Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and the Williams sisters up close and personal.
NFL London – Kansas City Chiefs vs. Detroit Lions
Calvin ‘Megatron’ Johnson is coming to London Source: Rick Osentoski
Date: Sunday, 1 November
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
Tickets: Individual ticket details to be announced soon, with season passes for the three games available from £90.
Flights: Dublin to London Heathrow return, flying back the next day 117.29.
Why go: Granted, a lot of these events take place in London, but it’s going to be a good year for sports just acrossthe water. This looks like the juiciest of the three Wembley fixtures in 2015, with the Lions at 10-4 this season, the Chiefs 8-6. It should be a clash between two strong sides, as well as a chance to see Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, known as Megatron, in person. He’s a wide receiver so spectacular that his impact can only be adequately captured by invoking a Transformer – how can you say no?
FIFA Women’s World Cup
Japanese players celebrate after winning the 2011 World Cup final against USA. Source: Brad Smith
Date: 5 July
Venues: Cities around Canada, with the final taking place in BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, Canada.
Tickets: You need to buy stadium passes in order to apply for final tickets in the first phase. The cheapest stadium pass for all of the first eight matches in Vancouver is $185, and an added $50 for the final.
Flights: Flying from Dublin to Vancouver the day before the first match, and leaving the the day after the final will get you there and back for €570.21.
Why go: This will be the pinnacle of women’s football in 2015, as well as a great chance to take in another of the world’s most beautiful cities. Since it is such a long way you’ll probably want to stay for more than just the final, so you’ll have plenty of time to see the sights as well as the football.