Sports Special: 10 hot tickets

Watch the world's most exciting sporting events - and enjoy a holiday at the same time. Jet off to Japan to catch the World Athletics Championships, cross the Atlantic to catch the Cricket World Cup, or stay close to home for a spot of tennis at Wimbledon. Rhiannon Batten offers some ideas
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The Independent Travel

1 Polo Open, Argentina

Introduced to Argentina by the British, polo has become so integral to the Argentine sporting scene that the country is now home to most of the world's best players. If you want to watch them in action, the Argentine Open (00 54 11 4777 6444; aapolo.com) takes place at the Palermo stadium in Buenos Aires on weekends from 19 November-10 December.

Getting there: Learn while you're there with Shoestring Polo (07780 822452; shoestring polo.com). The company runs intensive, all-inclusive courses on estancias outside Buenos Aires (including visits to the tournament) from $248 (£130). Journey Latin America (020-8622 8491; journeylatinamerica.co. uk) offers two-week tailor-made itineraries to Argentina from £2,234 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers, excursions and b&b.

Polo widows and widowers: Take a ride on a different beast with Urban Biking (00 54 11 4568 4321; urban biking.com), which offers eight guided cycling tours of Buenos Aires from 65 pesos (£11). Clients also get a list of insider tips on everything from cool shops to the city's best clubs.

2 Tour de France, UK stage

A fitting symbol of entente cordiale after the fight for the Olympics, the Tour de France (letour.fr) begins in London next year on 7 July before free-wheeling across to Belgium, on to the Alps and the Pyrenees and finishing in Paris.

Getting there: First comes an 8km amble past the finest monuments in the British capital and then a leafy dash to Canterbury before the route heads for the Channel Tunnel. Follow suit with a Tour de France-themed pedal around London or Kent with Capital Sport (01296 631671; capital-sport.co.uk). Prices and details will be available nearer to the event date.

Cycling widows and widowers: Get a copy of the Time Out Book of Country Walks (£10.99) and head out on two feet, rather than wheels. Each of the walks starts within an hour by train from central London and, if you want some company, you can join the book's free Saturday walkers club (walkingclub. org.uk).

3 Cricket World Cup, Caribbean

Unless you're very rich - or very determined - you've probably left it too late to acquire tickets to the Ashes. However, all is not lost, for if you like watching world-class cricket while smothered in sunscreen book yourself a ticket to next spring's cricket World Cup (00 1 876 929 9011; cricketworldcup. com), which takes place throughout the Caribbean. Warm-up matches start on 5 March and the final takes place in Barbados on 28 April.

Getting there: ITC Sports (01244 355527; itcsports. co.uk) is offering several World Cup cricket holiday packages. Swankiest are its four SeaDream cruises. Prices start at £6,230 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, all-inclusive accommodation, transport, celebrity hosts (Graham Gooch, Alan Lamb, Robin Smith and - if England get knocked out early - Andrew Flintoff) and various cricket fixtures.

Cricket widows and widowers: From January to April, the Barbados National Trust runs a grand open-house programme on Wednesday afternoons. Tickets cost $15(£8) and houses are open 2.30pm-5.30pm (00 1 246 426 2421; natrust@sunbeach.net).

4 Mountain Bike Championships, Scotland

Forget tossing cabers or hunting haggis, the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships (0131-557 3012; fortwilliam worldchamps.co.uk) in Fort William, from 3-9 September, will be the big sporting event in Scotland next year.

Getting there: There is a mainline station at Fort William (08457 484950; firstgroup.com). For local accommodation contact the local tourist board (visit-fortwilliam.co.uk). For excellent ideas and advice on local cycling trails, go to ridefortwilliam.co.uk.

Bike widows and widowers: Fort William isn't going to win any beauty contests but the scenery around it is stunning. If you're there for only a day take a hike through Glen Nevis, the scenic valley below the UK's highest mountain. If you've got more time, hire some classic wheels from Retro Touring (01397 704801; retro touring.com) and head out, topless, into the countryside from £50 per day.

5 Rugby World Cup, France

Those who like their sport served with mud, sweat and a side order of beers, note that the rugby World Cup kicks off in France in October 2007.

Getting there: Tickets for the 20 October final in Saint Denis's Stade de France went on sale three days ago and are likely to have sold out by the time you read this. However, you may still find there's availability for other matches (0870 264 2007; rugby worldcup.com). The alternative is buying a package through a specialist company, such as England Rugby Travel (0870 120 1111; englandrugby travel.com). Prices for the final start at £999 per person, based on two sharing, including return coach travel, two nights' b&b and match tickets.

Rugby widows and widowers: Saint Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris, has one major attraction beyond the Stade de France, the Basilica of Saint Denis. The French answer to Westminster Abbey, this lavish Gothic confection is the traditional burial site of French monarchs. Guided tours cost €6.50 (£4.40) and can be booked in advance (00 33 1 44 54 19 30; monum.fr).

6 Formula One Grand Prix, China

Monaco starting to lose its glitz? Then feed your need for speed further east at the fourth Chinese Grand Prix (formula1. com), which takes place in Shanghai from 29-30 September 2007.

Getting there: A four-night package with Grand Prix tour specialist BAC Sport (020-7456 7100; bacsport.co.uk) starts at £995 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers, accommodation, and basic entrance to the event.

Formula One widows and widowers: Take a tip from Renault boss Flavio Briatore and head for the Bund waterfront. While you're there have a go on the silliest attraction in town, the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Hop in a bubble-shaped carriage and make your way spaceship-style across to Fenghe Road in Pudong, while being entertained by a psychedelic light show en route. The tunnel is open from 8am-10.30pm daily and costs about £2 each.

7 Aintree Grand National, UK

If watching small men on big horses is your idea of a fun leisure activity, then don't forget to make a date for 14 April 2007 when the best of them will be cantering around Aintree's hallowed turf in the Grand National.

Getting there: You'll have to be quick if you're after the best seats; enclosure tickets start at £15 but are already selling out. Contact: Aintree Racecourse (0151-522 2929; aintree.co.uk). Trains run from the centre of Liverpool to Aintree. This is a journey time of approximately 15 minutes, price £3.90 return (08457 484950; thetrainline.com).

For accommodation in the Liverpool area contact the tourist office (0845 601 1125; visit liverpool.com).

Racing widows and widowers: Escape to the heart of Liverpool to catch Centre of the Creative Universe: Liverpool and the Avant-Garde at the Tate (0151-702 7400; tate.org.uk). This free show is being held from 20 February until 9 September, 2007 and aims to illustrate the city's influence on post-war artists. The show features work from the Boyle Family, Martin Parr and Bob and Roberta Smith. The exhibition coincides with Liverpool's 800th anniversary celebrations.

8 America's Cup Sailing, Spain

It may have managed to navigate its way to Australia and New Zealand from the States but when the 32nd America's Cup comes to Valencia next summer, it will be the first time the sailing contest has crossed the Atlantic for more than 150 years. The culmination of four years of racing, the America's Cup match (americas cup.com) takes place from 23 June to 7 July.

Getting there: Lifetime Experiences (0808 178 5452; lifetime- experiences.com) offers tailor-made packages to the event. Prices and details upon application.

Sailing widows and widowers: Buy a two-day pass for €29.90 to the City of Arts and Sciences (00 34 902 100 031; cac.es) at 1 Avenida Autopista del Saler. There you'll find an opera house, planetarium, Imax cinema, laser dome, science museum, botanical garden and Europe's biggest marine park, L'Oceanografic. Not to mention spectacular architecture.

Hot shots: Take centre stage at Wimbledon

Will Andy Murray make the later rounds this year? Will Tim Henman, left, make it at all? You'll have to wait until June if you want to find out if Murray can raise British hopes. The 2007 Wimbledon Championships take place from 25 June until 8 July. Nearest underground stations (tfl.gov.uk) are Wimbledon and Southfields. To get a public ticket for Centre, No. 1 and No. 2 Court you either have to queue early on the day or apply through a public ballot before 31 December (020-8971 2473; wimbledon.org).

Tennis widows and widowers: Visit the New Designers exhibition (020-7288 6738; newdesigners.com) in Islington.

The best athletes: On the right track to Japan

Want to see some of the world's best athletes? Then hot-foot it to Japan for the 11th IAAF World Athletics Championships next summer. The event runs from 25 August until 2 September at Nagai Stadium in Osaka. Standard half-day tickets cost from Y2,000 (£9), gold seat tickets for the whole event cost just under £900 (00 81 6 6533 0055; osaka2007.jp). Or book a tailored package to Osaka with Japanese travel specialist Into Japan (01865 841443; intojapan.co.uk). These cost from £1,300, including return flights, airport meeting, orientation, guided sightseeing, and seven nights' accommodation.

Track and field widows and widowers: Osaka is a big foodie destination. Try several local specialities under one roof at Dotonbori Gokuraku at Sammy Ebisu Plaza (00 81 6 6212 5515).

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