As one of the greatest sporting nations on earth, Britain has world-famous venues that most sports fans dream of one day stepping inside. Here are some of the biggest and the best to put on your UK visit wish list.
Just the name conjures up images of tennis whites and strawberries and cream, but if you miss out on tickets when the championships are on, you can still visit at other times of the year.
The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum includes a visit to the famous Centre Court, a behind-the-scenes tour of the grounds, interactive displays and an encounter with John McEnroe’s ‘ghost’.
Church Rd, Wimbledon, London
Established in 1814, Lord’s Cricket Ground is owned by the Marylebone Cricket Club, which also owns the copyright to Laws of Cricket.
Hallowed ground for cricket fans, Lord’s is also home to the MCC Museum, which is where the Ashes Urn can be found. Tours of Lord’s include entrance to the museum, walking through the Long Room and taking a seat in the dressing rooms where legends have sat before you.
St John’s Wood Rd, London
3. Olympic Park
After the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park became a stage for major sporting events including Rugby World Cup matches. In 2016 it will become the home of West Ham United Football Club and the National Competition Centre for athletics.
While you can’t enter the stadium when it’s closed, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is open 24 hours a day and is free to visit.
4. Wembley Stadium
The home of English football, Wembley Stadium is also an iconic concert venue making history in everything from England’s World Cup victory in 1966 to the Live Aid concert in 1985.
Fans can go behind the scenes on a Wembley Stadium Tour that includes visiting the England changing rooms, walking through the players’ tunnel and climbing the Trophy Winner’s steps.
5. St Andrews
One of the oldest courses in the world, for more than 600 years St Andrews has seen millions of golfers on its courses, including some of the greatest.
But you don’t have to be a champion to book a tee time at St Andrews. Anyone can play and there are adult and junior golf schools to get you started, though you do need the right handicap (24 for men, 36 for women) to play the legendary Old Course.
Links Clubhouse, West Sands,
St Andrews, Scotland
The world’s largest venue dedicated to rugby union, Twickenham holds 82,000 spectators and is the home of English rugby.
Stadium tours take you behind the scenes and into the England dressing room, through the players' tunnel, and even into the royal box. Tours end at the World Rugby Museum where you can learn about the game’s history and test your kicking prowess with interactive games.
Whitton Rd, Twickenham, London
7. Henley on Thames
The ultimate sporting event on the Thames, the Henley Royal Regatta brings international rowing crews and spectators to the town of Henley on Thames on the first weekend of July.
There’s a 10-year waiting list to become a member and make it into the Steward’s Enclosure, but you can watch from the long riverbank for free. When the race isn’t on you can visit the River and Rowing Museum, with galleries dedicated to rowing, rivers, and the town’s history.
Mill Meadows, Meadow Rd, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire
Ten kilometres from Windsor Castle, Ascot racecourse has strong ties to the royal family. The highlight of the year is Royal Ascot (14-18 June 2016), one of the most glamorous events on the UK sporting calendar, with royalty, high society and racing fans all turning out.
Other race days have themes including a beer festival in October and fireworks in November. Flat Season runs from April to October, while the Jumps Season is from October to April.
Words: Amanda Woods