London's Summer of Sport
For a taste of Britain’s patriotic passions and social and cultural traditions, visitors should explore the exciting live sports action in London and its surrounding regions. Brits love the drama and camaraderie of live sport, with 75 million tickets to sports events snapped up last year alone. Visitors keen to join in the fun can attend global events from the Anniversary Games, a star-studded athletics contest which commemorates the London 2012 Olympics, to live TV screenings of World Cup football matches in atmospheric pubs. Here are this month’s sporting highlights.
14 June-15 July
London’s cosmopolitan pubs and bars are perfect for travelling football fans eager to catch live matches from the FIFA World Cup in Russia, offering giant screens, food and the company of others from across the globe. While cheering on your team, you can play table football at Bar Kick in Shoreditch, eat pizza at Greenwood sports lounge in Victoria, or devour juicy burgers at the Sports Bar & Grill in Marylebone. For big matches, dive into London’s boisterous themed bars: at the Bavarian-themed Bierschenke by Liverpool Street station, you can watch Germany and eat bratwurst, and at the Nordic Bar near Oxford Street, cheer on Sweden while glugging Scandinavian beers.
Formula 1 British Grand Prix
The finest Formula 1 drivers in the world, including Britain’s four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, compete at the British Grand Prix, with 300,000 fans flocking to watch the cars blast past at 300kph. Less than a two-hour drive from London, the Silverstone circuit is the oldest in Formula 1. This year marks the race’s 70th anniversary and with home favourite Hamilton chasing a record sixth victory, fans are expecting wild celebrations. From luxurious hospitality packages to multi-day camping options, there are tickets for every kind of fan.
Goodwood Festival of Speed
Held in the spectacular parkland of Goodwood House in West Sussex, which is less than two hours from London by train or car, this annual British motorsport extravaganza is a stylish blend of fast cars, tyre-screeching races, quality food and luxury shopping. Visitors can watch thrilling races such as a hill climb competition, giggle at the entertaining Soapbox challenge for homemade cars, watch pro drivers perform stunts at the action sports arena, and get up close to a range of expensive supercars.
Polo Gold Cup Final
With its elegant country venue in West Sussex and a charming social atmosphere, the Gold Cup Final decides the winner of the British Open Polo Championship. It is a quintessentially British summer treat which has been a highlight of the sporting season since 1956. Held on the immaculate lawns of Cowdray Park – close to the ruins of the great, Tudor-era Cowdray House, and within two hours’ drive or train ride from London – the event attracts top polo stars. But the 15,000-strong crowd includes many spectators just eager to have a fun day out, explore the luxury shopping village and enjoy their first, action-packed introduction to the strange sporting world of galloping horses and swinging mallets.
The spectacular, £486m London Stadium was the main host venue for the 2012 Olympics and every summer, it welcomes back the world’s best athletes for this athletics contest, which is part of the prestigious IAAF Diamond League series. With events including 100m, 5k and long jump competitions for men and 200m, 400m hurdles and high jump competitions for women, the Anniversary Games allows fans to visit this historic venue – now the home of West Ham United football club – and watch the very best athletes on the planet in action.
Brompton World Championship
Travellers to London will notice commuters dashing past on quaint, foldable bikes, the most famous of which are made by a brand called Brompton. Designed in London in 1975 by the British inventor Andrew Ritchie, Brompton bikes can be folded down to fit inside busy train carriages, and then twisted back to full-size to allow the rider to whizz around the city. The bikes have become symbols of British style and practicality and this heritage is celebrated at the Brompton World Championship, where riders dressed in vintage suits or fancy dress race for eight laps around St James’s Park, giving tourists a taste of Britain’s less-serious approach to sporting endeavour.
Hockey Women’s World Cup
21 July-5 August
London is hosting the Hockey Women’s World Cup for the first time and the home nation’s athletes will be eager to repeat the gold medal success that they enjoyed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. England will face fierce competition from their rivals, including Holland, Argentina and Australia. They will be cheered on by a passionate home crowd at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where visiting fans can watch live matches and enjoy food, music and shopping in the Spectator Village.
Prudential RideLondon is the city’s annual cycling festival, featuring a mix of amateur and professional races. While recreational riders take on 100-mile and 46-mile challenges, spectators can head to The Mall on Saturday to watch the Classique, an exciting race around a 5.5km circuit in central London which attracts the world’s best female riders. Alternatively, go to Horse Guards Parade or Trafalgar Square on Sunday to see 150 of the world’s best male riders blast past in the 200km Classic race. The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 19, a new 19-mile event, also takes place on Sunday.