Photograph by Andrew Brwonbill, AP
From the National Geographic book Four Seasons of Travel
Ice Hockey: The Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
A trip to the home of the Montreal Canadiens is a pilgrimage to Quebec’s sporting mecca. The “Habs” (short for Canada’s oldest hockey “inhabitants”) are the National Hockey League’s winningest team, with 24 Stanley Cups.
Baseball: The Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park
“America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” proclaims the sign outside Boston’s Fenway Park. Red Sox fans endured an 86-year “Curse of the Bambino” before the hex was finally lifted when their team won the 2004 World Series.
Basketball: The New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Stroll past Times Square down to Madison Square Garden to find drama and glamour on the marquee at Manhattan’s crucible of sporting competition. When the Garden comes alive with the amped-up attitude of 18,000-odd New Yorkers, you’ll know you’re in one of the great temples of basketball. During time-outs, you can play “spot the celebrity.”
College Football: Army vs. Navy
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or other venues
Salute the ultimate college football rivalry, as the U.S. Military Academy takes on the U.S. Naval Academy, usually in Philadelphia. The Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen are roared on by masses of uniformed supporters as they battle for sporting supremacy.
Polo: The Argentine Polo Open in “La Catedral del Polo”
Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you love polo, go to the world’s premier club championship, the Argentine Open. The Open is played in the Campo Argentina de Polo, the so-called Cathedral of Polo, in the city’s chic Palermo neighborhood.
European Soccer: Manchester United at Old Trafford
Walk down Sir Matt Busby Way by the statues of United’s two knighted coaches. Pay your respects to the ill-fated “Busby Babes” at the Munich Clock, its hands stalled at the minute of their 1958 plane crash. Then spend a heart-racing 90 minutes inside soccer’s “Theatre of Dreams.”
Gaelic Games: All-Ireland Hurling and Gaelic Football Finals at Croke Park
These hurling and football finals are sporting must-sees. Thrill to the speed and dexterous skill of hurlers as they zing a hard, small ball with flat-faced sticks. Then revel in the spirited tribal rivalry engendered by Gaelic football, as counties compete to become Ireland’s champs.
Rugby: Springboks vs. All Blacks
Various venues in South Africa and New Zealand
Each fall in the Southern Hemisphere, the Rugby Championship climaxes, and the Freedom Cup is contested between the Springboks of South Africa and New Zealand’s All Blacks. The venues vary, but if possible, catch this clash in Johannesburg’s historic Ellis Park Stadium: It was here in 1995 that Nelson Mandela presented the World Cup to the Springboks.
World Soccer: FIFA Club World Cup
Morocco (for the 2013 and 2014 tournaments)
Enjoy the best club teams from every continent (except Antarctica) at the FIFA World Club Championship, a ten-day festival of world-class soccer.
Horseracing: Melbourne Cup
Dress up down under and get yourself to the Melbourne Cup. This “race that stops a nation” is run at the Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday in November. The public holiday in Melbourne ensures that Victoria’s society—both high and low—is on hand along with the thoroughbreds.
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