THE 2017 BUCKET LIST: USA sporting events


super bowl

Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars perform during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show in 2016

On February 5, 110 million will tune in to the Super Bowl, when the New England Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons. 

Loud, passionate and a little bit crazy – major sporting events in the USA are like no other. Join in the razzmatazz, watch sporting history being made, cheer the winners – and then have fun in the host city.

American Football: SUPER BOWL LI – February 5 

A 21st century version of a Roman gladiatorial event: that is the Super Bowl (nfl.com/super-bowl). 

This season’s grand finale of the professional football season between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons is pure American hoopla: cheerleaders and gridiron action, a star-studded half-time show with Lady Gaga and advertising breaks at $5million a pop for 30 seconds. 

Lasting nearly three-and-a-half hours, it makes the FA Cup Final look like a panto. The 51st Super Bowl – or LI in Roman numerals – is in Houston, Texas, where the year-round draw is the outstanding Houston Space Center: meet an astronaut and explore the Red Planet at the Mission Mars exhibit. 

Then shop till you drop at The Galleria, the largest shopping centre in Texas, with 400 stores. 

● Complete North America (0115 961 0590/completenorthamerica.com) offers VIP deluxe packages to the Super Bowl from £7,699pp (two sharing). Includes return flights from London Heathrow to Houston, transfers, game tickets and three nights at the Hyatt Place Houston Hotel (B&B).

masters

Masters golf at Augusta in 2016

Golf: THE MASTERS – April 3-9

The thwack of club on ball; polite applause from the crowd; caddies dressed all in white; long fairways, lush greens and pink-flowering azaleas: that is The Masters (masters.com). 

Dating back to 1934, the first of the season’s four Majors attracts the world’s best golfers to the exclusive Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, three hours from Atlanta. 

Designed by the legendary Bobby Jones, the challenging course meanders through what looks like a botanical garden, with flowering magnolia and dogwood. 

The crunch point is Amen Corner, the nickname for three tough holes in a row: the 11th, 12th and 13th. Last year, when leader Jordan Spieth’s game collapsed there, England’s Danny Willett stormed home to take the title. 

Be there to see if the man from Sheffield can retain the winner’s famous green jacket this year. Then explore this scenic state. 

Georgia’s 100-mile Antebellum Trail takes in mansions and memories of the Old South from Athens to Macon. 

Then drive on to Savannah, one of America’s most beautiful cities: think historic homes and broad avenues lined with live oaks, draped in Spanish moss.

● Your Golf Travel (0800 193 6630/yourgolftravel.com) offers three-night packages to The Masters from £5,799pp (two sharing), B&B. Price includes return flights from London Heathrow to Atlanta, transfers, tickets on Saturday and Sunday and three nights at the Partridge Inn, Augusta.

derby

American Pharoah with Victor Espinoza up wins the Kentucky Derby in 2015

Horse racing: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – May 6

The “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”: that is the horse race first run in 1875 in Louisville, Kentucky (kentuckyderby.com). 

America’s oldest sporting contest is pronounced “Durby”, not Darby. Run on dirt over one-and-aquarter miles, the fi eld of 20 three-year-old thoroughbreds competes for a purse of $2million. 

Cheering them on are 150,000 spectators, who down 120,000 mint juleps and sing My Old Kentucky Home. The ladies may sport posh frocks and hats but no one out-glams the winning horse, garlanded with a blanket of 400 fresh, blood-red roses. 

way from the track, pay tribute to “The Greatest” at the Muhammad Ali Center, where you can “train with Ali”, shadow boxing with the Champ and feeling the power of an Ali punch on the heavy bag. 

Or, you can follow the Urban Bourbon Trail linking 30 bars and restaurants featuring “America’s Native Spirit”. 

● Bon Voyage (0800 316 3012/bon-voyage.co.uk) offers fi ve nights in Kentucky from £3,275pp (two sharing), B&B. Price includes return flights from London Heathrow to Louisville, transfers, tickets to four days of racing, five nights at the Hilton Hotel and horse farm tours.

Indy 500

Alexander Rossi celebrates victory circle after winning the the Indy 500 in 2016

Motor racing: THE INDY 500 – May 28 

From film stars waving the green starting flag to the winner drinking a bottle of milk, the Indy 500 is in a class of its own (indianapolismotorspeedway.com). 

Officially the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this circuit in Indiana is nicknamed the Brickyard because the original 1909 paving was red brick. 

Only a strip remains today – and that’s not the only change. Learn more at the track’s museum with its Hall of Fame, where you can compare the IndyCar, Nascar and Formula One classes. 

Then watch the race: 500 miles covered in well under three hours at average speeds of more than 180mph. It’s noisy, fast and furious. A few steps away, see where IndyCars are made at Dallara IndyCar Factory and experience the thrill of a race in the simulator. 

For calmer fun, Broad Ripple Village, north of downtown Indianapolis offers shopping, restaurants and live music, especially at the historic The Vogue nightclub, with great bands. 

● Grandstand Motor Sports (0116 231 1222/grandstandmotorsports.co.uk) offers four nights in Indianapolis from £1,999pp (two sharing), B&B. Price includes return flights from London Heathrow to Indianapolis, speedway transfers, stand tickets at the track, four nights at Hampton Inn Downtown hotel, entry to the Hall of Fame museum, visit to Gasoline Alley and watching the Drivers’ Parade.



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