The United Kingdom is home to some wonderful sporting facilities to catch live action. If you are planning a visit for sport or want to make an event part of your larger vacation experience, here is my list of the top 10 live sporting venues in the United Kingdom.
1. Wembley Stadium
Definitely the most famous stadium in the United Kingdom, Wembley has a long and storied tradition. It's undergone a modernization that produces mixed feelings. Sure, it's now a state-of-the-art venue, but the old iconic twin towers and the stadium profile were very much part of English sport heritage . The FA Cup final will be played in Wembley May 5, along with multiple Olympic events.
2. Millennium Stadium
Located in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, Millennium Stadium has hosted many incredible events. The Rugby World Cup final was played there in 1999. It will be hosting the first event of the 2012 Olympics, when women's soccer tourney begins July 25. It's the home field of the Welsh Rugby team.
3. Twickenham Stadium
It's termed the largest dedicated rugby union stadium in the world, with seating for 82,000. A great bonus if you're going to Twickenham is the World Rugby Museum. If you're a fan or just a curious observer, the museum is well worth the visit. I saw my first rugby match at Twickenham almost two decades ago, and it's a treasured memory.
4. The All England Lawn and Tennis Club, home of Wimbledon
Wimbledon is arguably the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, and the grounds the play is held on are incredible. It's distinctly English, and the traditions are part of the experience. If you are wanting to take it all in, the first week of the tourney is the best choice. You will get a chance to see more matches, and more easily roam the grounds.
5. Ascot Racecourse
Home to the Royal Ascot, the most famous horse racing event in the world. It's a long-standing mainstay of the English social calendar and even has an online dress code outlining the expectations for racegoers. Ascot Racecourse is less than an hour outside greater London.
6. Saint Andrews Links
If you are a fan or player of golf, then you know there is nowhere on the planet like Saint Andrews. The Old Course is steeped in golf history. It's not just a golf course, but a complex of links and an all-encompassing experience. Be aware that to play on the Old Course requires a lottery for tee times.
7. Olympic Park
It will be the center destination for the 2012 Olympic Games. The various sporting venues will host events from swimming at the aquatic center to BMX bike racing. The area is designed to provide plenty of opportunity for fans of a number of sports to see live action well after the Olympics have moved on.
8. Emirates Stadium
It's the home of Arsenal FC, one of the most famous of the top-flight soccer clubs making up the English Premier League. Emirates is one of the more advanced soccer stadiums in the world. I'm a fan of the Major League Soccer Portland Timbers, and the pitch at Jeld-Wen Field is smaller than many others, including Emirates. The first thing I noticed was how massive it looked.
9. Old Trafford
Where the Manchester United play, Old Trafford is also home to the Theater of Dreams, a museum showcase that is billed as telling The Greatest Football Story Ever Told. I'm not a Manchester United fan, but I'd love to see Old Trafford and the museum on a visit to the United Kingdom.
The home of Liverpool FC was built in 1894, but of course has undergone upgrades. It's become a premier facility with a combination of history and modern amenities which make it a must for fans of the game. With a seating capacity of just under 46,000, it's big enough for a huge crowd and small enough for an intimate experience.