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Enjoy this sea-son of sport

Travel by ferry for football, sail to spectate or cross to compete

Whether you’re a spectator or a participator, this summer has a bumper crop of sporting events to keep you entertained. So, we’ve made a list of the unmissable events to choose from and, best of all, they are all easily reached by water.

Travelling by ferry offers great value as well as the option to take your vehicle, your dog and that all important sports equipment with you. Some ferries will also be showing sporting events on board so you can catch the action during the journey.  

Obviously, the summer of 2024 will be dominated by the world’s greatest sporting competition in Paris, taking place 26 July – 11 August & 28 August – 8 September.

With events taking place just across the Channel, excitement around this year’s championships will be palpable and start in May when the flame reaches France’s shores. Non-ticketholders can enjoy the action in Fan Zones and there will be plenty of screens in public venues to watch sporting brilliance unfold. Spectators can also cheer the athletes on for free by lining the route of events such as the triathlon, road cycling and the marathon. While Paris will host most of the competition’s athletes and para-athletes, different events are happening outside the capital too. This makes it easy for Brits to enjoy (or escape) sporting fever and appreciate the gastronomy, countryside and history France is famed for.

So how do you get there? Sail to France with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries. From ports in western France, including Dieppe and Le Havre, the drive to Paris takes approximately 2 hours 30 mins, whereas the journey from Calais is closer to 3 hours 30 mins. To avoid traffic and road closures, it is advisable to park up outside Paris and travel in with public transport. Versailles has great transport links into the city and – of course – the elegant palace, which is hosting equestrian events.   

For spectators:

Isle of Man TT Races, 27 May – 8 June

The world’s ultimate road race is a must-see event for motorsport fans. The Isle of Man TT is the only motorcycle race that takes place on a track as challenging, with plenty of twists and turns the Mountain Course is more than 37 miles long. Outside the event, the course is open to road traffic, so visitors can experience the same scenic views and spectacular landscapes as the world’s top riders.

Race activities commence from 27 May with a practice session in the morning before qualifying starts in the afternoon, racing begins on 1 June and culminates on 8 June. On non-race days spectators can explore the Island, using its 600 miles of roads. Travelling on two wheels? Read our tips for taking your motorbike or bicycle on the ferry.

Sailing with The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is the best way to reach the island, foot passengers will also enjoy the fresh air on the open deck or sitting back with a coffee on board to enjoy the journey. If you don’t bring your own transport either, buy a 7-day Explore ticket for less than £60 and gain unlimited use of buses, steam trains and electric trams to get around the island.

This event is incredibly popular and ferry crossings and accommodation books up quickly so it’s worth planning 2025 attendance early! Can’t make the TT? Try the Southern 100, which sees riders follow the Snaefell Mountain Circuit and takes place 8-11 July.

UEFA Euro 2024 Germany, 14 June – 14 July

This year’s Championship – the biggest event for European national men’s football teams – is being hosted by three-time winners, Germany. With matches taking place at 10 different cities across the country, from Hamburg in the north down to Munich in the south, the country will be rippling with excitement around the beautiful game. Whether you have tickets or simply want to soak up the atmosphere, travelling by ferry offers great value, convenience and enjoyment. Driving takes as little as 2.5 hours from Rotterdam to the stadium at Gelsenkirchen or for drivers through Dover, it’s less than 4 hours from Dunkirk to Dusseldorf, which has a great Fan Zone at Burgplatz in the heart of the city. Prefer to follow your sail with rail travel? You can reach Cologne from Amsterdam in less than 3 hours on the train.  

Travel with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries from Dover to France, cross from Newcastle to Amsterdam with DFDS or sail to Rotterdam with P&O Ferries and Stena Line.

Tour de France, 29 June – 21 July

The 111th edition of the race starts in Florence and ends in Nice, adding a Mediterranean flavour to this year’s race and avoiding the road to Paris as the city prepares for the summer’s sporting events.

To reach the Tour by sea, travel via Dover or western ports in Normandy and Brittany and enjoy the spectacular scenery on the drive south stopping off on the way to marvel at France’s wine country.

Travel to western France with Brittany Ferries or sail from Dover with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries.

Wight Wave Beach Fest, Isle of Wight, 26 – 28 July

The festival is the largest beach sports event in the UK and celebrates all things beach! Appley Beach hosts a collection of competitive sports including Beach Volleyball, Beach Soccer, Beach Netball, Beach Tennis and Beach Rugby as well as Paddleboard Racing and Open Water swimming. Blended with music and fantastic locally sourced food & drink, this is a laid-back festival that has something for sports fans and the less-enthused alike. Located a short walk from Ryde, the event is easily accessed by ferry.

Cross the Solent with Hovertravel, Red Funnel or Wightlink and look out for discounts on travel!

Cowes Week, 27 July – 2 August

One of the oldest and most respected sailing regattas, Cowes Week is the largest regatta in Europe and attracts approximately 8,000 competitors and more than 100,000 spectators every year. The ability for spectators to see the yachts at close quarters combined with the weather, fickle tides and varying sea conditions in the Solent make for exciting racing. With the competition, the quaint coastal town comes to life. Visitors can enjoy live music, fantastic nightlife and a carnival-like atmosphere, the festivities come to a crescendo with the Friday night prizegiving and closing party.

Sail across with Hovertravel, Red Funnel and Wightlink. As event sponsors, Red Funnel offers discounted travel for Cowes Week.

The Bute Highland Games, 24 August

Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

To experience quintessential Scotland, attend the iconic Highland Games on a beautiful Scottish Isle. Expect pipers, dancers and of course the strength and energy of the athletes. As well as road races and dance competitions, you can see wrestling and skills such as tossing the caber. Tickets start from £13.50 and family tickets are available for just £31.50.

The island itself is “a beaut” and known for its stunning, sheltered beaches and grand architecture – some buildings including the white marble chapel at Mount Stuart looks like it belongs in Renaissance Italy.

Sail from Wemyss Bay to Bute or take the short crossing from Colintraive with Caledonian MacBrayne.

Carey Olsen Jersey Regatta, 13-15 September

Credit: JamesCarnegiePhotography

This special 3-day event is a highlight for local and visiting sailors as it is open to all ages and ability with events for small boats, cruisers, dinghies and catamarans. Course events held around St Aubin’s Bay will provide plenty of excitement for spectators watching from the sand. After the events, head into St Helier for a bite to eat – Jersey has access to the best produce from soil and sea – and nightlife.

The perfect way to reach a sailing event? By sea of course! Cross to Jersey with Condor Ferries.

2024 Amgen Irish Open, 11-15 September

Royal County Down and Mourne Mountain’s  © Tourism Ireland & Chris Hill Photographic

World class golf and live music make this an unmissable event. Season ticket holders can enjoy five days of entertainment from the Celebrity Pro-Am and Championship matches. Held at the Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle Northern Ireland, it is less than an hour’s drive from Belfast port or less than two from Dublin and is accessible by train.

Sail to Northern Ireland with P&O Ferries or Stena Line or travel via Dublin with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

For participants:

Triathlon World Tour T100 London, 27-28 July

The biggest city centre triathlon in the world, the event races past some of London’s most famous landmarks. Open to amateurs and professionals alike with a choice of courses that cover different distances and there’s still time to enter. For 100k distance participants cover a 2km swim, 80km cycle and 18km run, passing monuments including the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Houses of Parliament. Spectators can enjoy the swimming action at the Royal Victoria Dock, easily accessed by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers with a stop at the Royal Wharf Pier before moving to watch road events in the Docklands area.

Scilly Swim Challenge, 8-9 September

Credit: Visit Isles of Scilly

Swim from island to island covering 15km in 6 swims. Take in the Isles of Scilly’s beauty and enjoy the pleasant temperatures – the sub-tropical microclimate makes it one of the warmest places in Britain – while swimming around the unspoilt waters which are rich in marine life. There is also the opportunity to complete Tresco 360 on 11th September, an event which sees swimmers circumnavigate the island, which is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.

Travel from Penzance to St Mary’s with Isles of Scilly Travel.

Jersey Marathon, 6 October

Motivated by watching world-class athletes achieve greatness? Use the summer to train for your own fitness challenge. Scheduled in the autumn, the Standard Chartered Jersey Marathon is an established niche race split into three categories: Marathon, Relay Race and Marathon Mile. Set on the stunning island of Jersey, which has a mild climate, quiet roads and clean air, the race attracts participants from all over – more than half of entrants travel from off the island to enjoy this “small race, with a very big atmosphere”. Even if you aren’t a Channel Island native, expect a thunderous reception at the finish line with large crowds and media celebrating your accomplishment.

Race entry starts from £51, great value for a marathon. Sail to Jersey with Condor Ferries.

5 Peaks Challenge, anytime

Walker at the summit of Carrauntoohil Credit: Courtesy Gareth McCormack/garethmccormack.com

Many have tackled the 3 Peaks Challenge, but have you tried the 5 Peaks Challenge? As well as the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales, hikers climb Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland and Carrantoohil in the Republic of Ireland. Ambitious walkers can try to complete it in 72 hours. Start in Snowdon before travelling up to Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis before taking the ferry from Cairnryan to Northern Ireland. The final summit is in Co. Kerry and gives you a chance to take in a celebratory Guiness before returning home via Dublin.

Sail from Cairnryan with P&O Ferries or Stena Line and then return from Dublin with Irish Ferries or Stena Line.

London to Paris by bike, anytime

Cycling from capital to capital will give cyclists enough scenery, challenge and hardship to write their own Tale of Two Cities.  Historically the route starts in Southwark and ends in front of Notre Dame, where there is a plaque in the pavement marking the finish. There are two routes to choose from, the classic route that goes through Kent and sails across to Dunkirk or Calais; or the shorter Avenue verte route, which goes through Surrey and Sussex to Newhaven where cyclists board the ferry to Dieppe. The second route works well for time-challenged cyclists as they can sleep on the overnight crossing before restarting their challenge early in Dieppe.

Sail from Dover with DFDS, Irish Ferries or P&O Ferries or travel from Newhaven to Dieppe with DFDS.

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