Ten surprising destinations for sports fans

MONTREAL, CANADA

The first organised game of modern ice hockey was played in Montreal in 1875 and the first official team, McGill University Redmen, founded here in 1880. Montreal also boasts the oldest club in the National Hockey League, the Canadiens. Watch teams face off against each other at Bell Centre in the October-April season. The action is fast, furious and sometimes violent, and noise levels almost lift off the stadium roof. See mtl.org

CHATEAUX D'OEX, SWITZERLAND

Thanks to excellent flying conditions, one of Europe's great ballooning centres has a spectacular January balloon festival and a museum devoted to the history of this aerial endeavour. At any time of year, drifting above the alpine town near Montreux is magnificent, with snow-capped mountains in every direction. Too timid to fly? Then enjoy the spectacle from the take-off area, which features a flock of brightly-coloured balloons. See chateau-doex.ch

PARIS, FRANCE

F4GY2H Paris, France. October 3rd, 2015. FRANCE, Paris: French jockey Vincent Cheminaud (C) is about to win Qatar Grand Handicap des Milers during 94th Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe held at Longchamp racecourse in Paris on October 3, 2015. ?MICHEL STOUPAK/NEWZULU/Alamy Live News str17-trav10-sport

Photo: Alamy

In 1857 a track was laid out at Longchamp in the Bois du Boulogne on the outskirts of Paris. Now one of the world's most prestigious racecourses, it hosts the classic Grand Prix du Paris in June. In early October, it's time for France's greatest horserace and one of the world's richest in prize money, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which attracts more international competition than any other European race. See longchamp.com

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

The February to November soccer season features matches every Sunday and, at other times of year, travelling South American teams provide plenty of on-field action. The ultimate is a match at Boca Juniors Stadium, during which blue-and-gold team colours and raucous crowd singing feature prominently. The stadium's museum is devoted to the team's legendary history. You can also tour the stadium and see inside players' locker room, tunnels and field. See turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

The waters of the Cape, where Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, offer some of the world's richest fishing for the likes of mako shark, yellowtail, swordfish and various types of tuna, which often reach the 80 kilogram mark, as well as local species such as Cape snoek and kabeljou. Many can be fished year-round; anglers can also capture blue marlin between February and April. You can also dolphin, seal and whale watch. See capetown.travel

CHICAGO, US

Chicago Cubs' Jason Heyward, right, celebrates his game-winning grand slam off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Adam Morgan during the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 6, 2018, in Chicago. The Cubs won 7-5. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chicago Cubs' Jason Heyward, right, celebrates his game-winning grand slam off Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Adam Morgan during the ninth inning of a baseball game on June 6, 2018. Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast

Venerable Wrigley Field, the US' second-oldest major-league ballpark, is the traditional venue for Chicago baseball matches. The home of the Chicago Cubs is endearingly old-fashioned – the 1937 scoreboard is still operated by hand – and, because it's small, you get good views of the action from just about anywhere. The ballpark also offers behind-the-scenes tours. You'll catch superior team Chicago White Sox at the bigger, more commercial and quite stunning Guaranteed Rate Field. See choosechicago.com

HIKKADUWA, SRI LANKA

CE9F6A Local Sri Lankan Surfers ride the waves in Hikkaduwa at Main Reef, South West Sri Lanka. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown. str17-trav10-sport

Photo: Alamy

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Coral breaks and consistently good swells between November and April make Hikkaduwa the most popular surf spot in Sri Lanka, with boards afloat from dawn to dusk. The best break is 50 metres offshore, directly in front of the guesthouses that line the beautiful beach of this casual town 98 kilometres south of Colombo. Relaxed or inexperienced surfers head to Main Reef and Beach Break; the intense Inside Reef and sharp corals of Benny's are strictly for the experts. See srilanka.travel

WIMBLEDON, UK

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates with the trophy after he defeated Croatia's Marin Cilic to win the Men's Singles final match on day thirteen at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London Sunday, July 16, 2017. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool Photo via AP)

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates after he defeated Croatia's Marin Cilic to win the Men's Singles final match at the Wimbledon in 2017. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas

There's nothing more English than the rain delays, royal patronage and strawberries at the world's greatest (and only major remaining grass-court) tennis competition in July. At any time, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum traces the medieval origins of the game and features the memorabilia of famous players, and footage of action on the courts. The trophies, perhaps the only sporting prize in the world more coveted than Olympic gold, are also on display. See wimbledon.com

MAINE, US

HGWDCM A man and woman sea kayaking near Bald Porcupine Island in Maine's Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor. str17-trav10-sport

HGWDCM A man and woman sea kayaking near Bald Porcupine Island in Maine's Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor. str17-trav10-sport Photo: Jerry and Marcy Monkman/EcoPhotography.com / Alamy Stock Photo

White church steeples, lobster shacks, fishing villages, chic seaside resorts and a lighthouse-studded coastline make Maine a paddler's paradise. Last stop before Canada is Bar Harbor, a once-grand Victorian resort still sporting old-fashioned stores and meandering streets. A staggering coastal kayak in Acadia National Park reveals mountains, islands and jagged bays where the surf booms. Kayakers can even do treks over several days, staying at coastal inns along the way. See visitmaine.com

SAO PAOLO, BRAZIL

GA8X92 Formula One Motor Racing - Brazilian Grand Prix - Practice str17-trav10-sport

Photo: Alamy

Motor racing is a major spectator sport in Brazil, and driving greats revered. The Interlagos circuit 18 kilometres outside Sao Paulo hosts the last Formula One race of the season in November, and some say the most exciting. Interlagos gets its name because it snakes between two lakes. It offers a bumpy, hilly circuit challenging to drivers. For spectators, well-sited grandstands take in nearly all the action along the course. See visitbrasil.com

Brian Johnston travelled as a guest of tourism offices and at his own expense.

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