Among major upcoming sporting events: The NBA playoffs come to a close with two of four teams progressing to the Final on June 3, the NHL playoffs are already underway as Chicago and Philadelphia face off, and national soccer sides undergo last-minute preparations as the FIFA World Cup draw ever closer.
Basketball: NBA Playoffs - Conference Finals
Boston, Orlando, Los Angeles and Phoenix, USA
Neither of last year's NBA Finalists are having an easy time of it. The Orlando Magic provide significant resistance against runners-up the Boston Celtics, while the LA Lakers must overcome the Phoenix Suns in order to progress. Home court advantage could yet prove decisive. Boston and Orlando start their final game at 8.30PM ET on May 30 if needed; The Lakers and the Suns conclude their series at 8.30PM on May 29, 9.00PM on May 31 if required. Domestically, TNT has broadcast rights to the Lakers/Suns games while ESPN cover the Celtics/Magic series.
Water sports: Rowing World Cup (Stage 1 of 3)
The first of three Rowing World Cup series events, with June's second stage in Munich, Germany before the last RWC meet to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland. The lakeside town of Bled is also the venue for the 2011 World Rowing Championships, and the website has details on plenty of local hotels, villas, and hostels.
http://www.worldrowing.com or http://www.bled2011.org
Rugby Union: Super 14 Final
Soweto, South Africa
Venue for the FIFA World Cup's opening concert, the Bulls host rival South African team the Stormers at a packed Orlando Stadium. Prior to the semi finals, the Bulls defended their tournament title by leading the Super 14 table, but the second-placed Stormers had built up a hugh goal difference thanks to their mean defence.
Rugby Union: Sevens World Series
May 29-30, Edinburgh, UK
The last stage of the six-month IRB Sevens tour is at the Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, in Scotland. As ever, there are twelve core teams (Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, USA and Wales) joined by four guest nations (Canada, Italy, Portugal, Russia). Series leaders Samoa need to fend off New Zealand's challenge, while Australia, Fiji, and England tussle for third place. Adult tickets are £15 (€17.5), with reduced prices available for seniors, students, under 18s, and family groups.
Formula One: Turkish Grand Prix
After placing first and second in the previous GP event at Monaco, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing are tied on points at the top of the leaderboards, while Alonso (Ferrari) and Button (McLaren) are snapping at their heels. The Istanbul Park Circuit are selling three-day grandstand tickets from 75 Turkish Lira (€40) up to 550 YTL (€290); tickets and VIP packages are also available via the Formula One website.
http://www.istanbulparkcircuit.com or http://www.formula1.com
Soccer: International friendly matches
May 29 - June 9
Fifty-six international friendlies take place over a 12-day period as teams participating in the FIFA World Cup, June 11 - July 11, make final preparations and adjustments for the tournament. Each of the World Cup's 32 participating nations must name their definitive 23-man squads by June 1, with international friendlies (and any injuries sustained) informing any last minute selections.
Fixtures calendar: http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/results/male.html
Ice Hockey: Stanley Cup Finals
May 29, 31; June 2, 4, 6, 9, 11
Chicago and Philadelphia, USA
A seven-game series decides whether the Chicago Blackhawks or Philadelphia Flyers will become the 2009/10 NHL all-conference champions. Home advantage goes to the Blackhawks for the first, second, fifth and seventh games of the series, should it take that long for four victories to be gained. CBC and RDS carry the Canadian televised broadcasts, while NBC and Versus share the United States' coverage. ESPN America is among those showing the games outside of North America.
World Series of Poker
May 28 - July 17
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Despite a panoply of WSOP-authorized tournaments throughout the year, this is the real deal, with a huge variety of poker rule sets in force for the world's best, luckiest, and most stubborn players to test their mettle against each other for a slice of the pie. The tournament culminates in the 12-day No-Limit Hold'em Championship starting on July 5, before a three-month break when the top nine players will reconvene in November for the Final Table.
Endurance: European Orienteering Championships
May 30 - June 5
Organized by the Bulgarian Orienteering Federation and encompassing three distinct orienteering classes - sprint, middle distance, and long distance - the 30 women and 40 men competing for the European Championship title will find their way through the forests close by to Primorsko, an 8,000 population seaside town perched on the Black Sea. Courses comprise a mixture of terrain types, from the flat woodland and sand dunes of the Sprint to the cumbersome and prickly wooded hillsides of the Long Distance Final.
Multi-disciplinary: Cotswold Olimpick Games
Chipping Camden, England
The Cotswold Olimpicks trace their roots back to the early 1600s, located as they are on a hill above Chipping Camden in southwest England, though not uninterrupted since then. However, a renewed interest in the traditional sports of the time has led to the revival of the Games since the 1960s, so expect an obstacle race, hammer throw, shot put, spurning the barre (caber tossing), all leading up to the teeth-gritting test of endurance that is the British Championship Shin Kicking Final.
Motor sports: Red Bull Air Race
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Marking the series' half way point, 2009 champion Paul Bonhomme flies into Ontario airspace leading the field while fellow Brit Nigel Lamb in second place looks set to better his total points tally from 2009. Twelve points for a win mean the15-pilot tournament is far from over. General admission is $25 CAD (€19) for two days, with reduced rates of $10 (€7.5) for children and the military, or $20 race day only on June 6. As ever, there are extensive hospitality options from $330 to $600.
MotoGP: Italian Grand Prix
Mugello, nr Florence, Italy
Early days in the 2010 MotoGP with this, the fourth of 18 races. Casey Stoner took the chequered flag in 2009, breaking Valentino Rossi's record seven-year run. A three-day ticket costs €160 ($200) for general admission from the Mugello website, and around 2/3 more for a grandstand seat. Race day only is €90 to €205 ($110-$255).
http://www.motogp.com or http://www.mugellocircuit.it
Soccer: FIFA World Cup 2010
June 11-July 11
Thirty-two teams from around the globe, and their travelling support, will set up camp in South African cities for the four-week tournament that occurs once every four years. Brazil and Spain must be counted as favorites, currently ranking first and second in FIFA's World Rankings, and while European nations account for 13 of the competing sides, Africa itself is the next best represented region. Half a million match tickets were held back for this, the final ticketing phase that started on April 15 and runs until the Final on July 11, should any remain unsold for that long. Prices range from $80 (€65) for Category 3 seating in group matches to $900 (€730) for Category 1 tickets for the final. There are discounts available for wheelchair users, South African residents, and there are also Team Specific Tickets that enable holders to follow a team of their choice throughout the tournament.
European Tree Climbing Championship
Nr. Prague, Czech Republic
Top tree climbers from around Europe flock to the forested Pr?honice Park in the continental championships that also act as qualifier for the International Championship , the World Cup of tree climbing, in Illinois, July 24-25. As well as speed climbs and rope climbs, there are points up for grabs as contestants show off their technique in more task-oriented categories such as the Aerial Rescue.
Motor sports: 24 Hours of Le Mans
Le Mans, France
The 78th Grand Prix of Endurance will see competitors from Peugeot, Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ford and Jaguar join the prestigious rally, which is the world's oldest. The Le Mans Classic also takes place June 11-13, and Le Mans Legend is June 9-12. Tickets to the main event are from €65 for the weekend, with a Pitwalk Pass available at €470.
Formula One: Canadian GP
Eighth in the 19-race season, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve welcomes the swift and stylish of Formula One for the 27th time after its brief absence from the calendar in 2009. General admission on race day is from $75 CAD (€58), Grandstand tickets from $225 (€173).
http://www.formula1.com or http://www.circuitgillesvilleneuve.ca
Water sports: Mediterranean Freediving World Cup
The 3rd Mediterranean World Cup Competition, accredited by the AIDA governing body, is a five-day event that welcomes contestants to go the distance in three disciplines: Constant Weight (CWT), Constant Weight without fins (CNF), and Free Immersion (FIM). Thanks to AIDA's support, competing divers are also eligible for world record status should their performance merit it.
Horse racing: Royal Ascot
One of the world's best-known events in horse racing, the meeting at Royal Ascot is as much social and fashion event as it is sporting. As is tradition, the Queen arrives in a horse-drawn carriage for each day of the festival. Ticketholders for the Grandstand are subject to a formal dress code in keeping with Royal Ascot's reputation for the smart and stylish. Grandstand admission is £56 at the start of the week rising to £66 for the end (€66-€77). Similarly, Silver Ring tickets are £17 to £22 (€20-€26) but sell out fast. Group discounts are available.
Golf: US Open
Pebble Beach, California, USA
Being part of the year's schedule for both the PGA Tour and European Tour, and the second of four major championships, the US Open attracts plenty of attention due to the prestigious nature of the players granted automatic entry. The last ten US Open champions are guaranteed an invite, as are the last five from the Masters, British Open, and PGA Championship, among others. Tickets are selling out and range from $110 for grounds access up to $175 for pavillion access.