From Paris 2024 to the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby, Thomas Pink reveals the 15 sporting events that need to be on your radar this year
2 February - 16 March
With the Six Nations Championship having seen different victors for the past four years, it’s impossible to predict who will be crowned the winner in 2024. The only consistent champions of the tournament are the sport’s dedicated fans, treated as they are to some of the highest levels of rugby union in the world. Last year’s grand slam champions Ireland will kick off the tournament against France in Marseille. Then the teams will fly around Europe facing one another in scoring wars bound to leave viewers on the edge of their seats.
Whether you’re a fan of American football or just enjoy celebrity spotting, the Super Bowl is the undisputed biggest night out in the sport, with the annual extravaganza attracting around 115 million viewers. The 58th edition will take place at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday 11 February. The two teams competing for the Lombardi Trophy haven’t been selected yet – although the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens are top contenders – but, more importantly, R&B star Usher is confirmed to play the legendary half-time show. Will he top Rihanna debuting her baby bump last year? Watch this space…
Boxing fans everywhere have their eyes on this bout for the undisputed heavyweight title. Following the Gypsy King’s controversial split-decision victory over UFC fighter Francis Ngannou in the latter’s first-ever professional boxing fight, he’ll be looking to disprove those critics who argue his weaknesses have been exposed. Oleksandr Usyk, meanwhile, will dedicate his fight to his home country Ukraine in a tenacious effort to motivate the troops. Whether he can outmatch the giant through his mastery of the sweet science, as he did against that other behemoth, Anthony Joshua, remains to be seen. With two unorthodox fighters – who both display a huge amount of personality in the ring – this could end up being one of the fights of the century.
8 - 14 April
Considered one of the four major professional golf tournaments, the Masters traditionally takes place during the first week of April. It was established in 1934 and has been held at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia ever since – the only major tournament to be held continuously at the same course. There are likely to be fewer players than normal who qualify for this year’s Masters, among them Ryan Fox, Min Woo Lee, Will Zalatoris and British golfer Justin Rose.
11 April - 13 April
Not just a sporting event but one of the most iconic and culturally significant ones in Great Britain, the Grand National always draws in remarkably diverse crowds. At Aintree Racecourse, its steeplechase races include equalising handicaps, making for exhilarating competition, as do their large fences, the most notorious being Becher’s Brook and The Chair. From the extremely unlikely coincidences surrounding Tipperary Tim’s victory in 1928 to Red Rum’s legendary sequence of victories in the 1970s, it’s an event where man and horse come together in making history, so don’t miss out on the Randox Grand National 2024.
20 April - 6 May
Everyone’s talking about Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything, a new documentary exploring the life and genius of the seven-time world champion. And if your interest in this classic game has been piqued by the documentary – or you’re a lifelong fan – make a note in the diary for the World Snooker Championship this spring, the longest-running and most prestigious tournament in snooker.
It’s a special year for the Kentucky Derby as the legendary race celebrates its 150th anniversary. Known as “The Run for the Roses”, thanks to the romantic tradition of draping the winning horse in a blanket of roses, the Kentucky Derby is held annually on the first Saturday in May and is the highest-attended horse race in the US. Little has changed over the past 150 years, but new for 2024 is the re-envisioned Paddock at Churchill Downs, which makes its debut during this anniversary year.
1 - 29 June
The Ashes may not be returning until 2025, but the fixtures for this summer’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup have just been announced. The 29-day tournament will take place across the USA and the Caribbean, culminating in the final hosted in sunny Barbados on 29 June. England may be the defending champion, but Jos Buttler’s team suffered embarrassing defeats in 2023 and will be looking to get back on track at cricket’s biggest global tournament of the year.
14 June - 14 July
A tournament second only to the FIFA World Cup in the size of its international audience, the European Championship pits national UEFA teams against one another, sparking a month of exciting rivalries. Its 17th edition will reveal not only the level of football being played by each country’s greatest but how well they work together in advance of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Hosted for the first time by post-Cold War Germany, perhaps more history in the making is yet to come. While surprising wins have included Greece’s in 2004, some of the favourites to come away raising the Henri Delaunay Trophy this year include France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and, of course, England.
18 June - 22 June
If you’re hoping for an event to which you might rock up in your favourite Thomas Pink shirt, look no further than Royal Ascot. This spectacle is revered not only for showcasing the most skilled jockeys and best thoroughbred racehorses on Earth, but for the unique panache and savoir faire it offers. The famous dandy Beau Brummell played a role in developing the strict dress code with which it came to be inextricably bound. And, if you’re partial to a flutter, there’s nothing like emerging victorious at these high-octane races. Even the late Queen Elizabeth II would place bets at Royal Ascot, which she attended every year.
29 June - 21 July
Cycling’s biggest event returns this summer for its 111th edition. Those competing in the iconic race will start in historic Florence, Italy, and finish in Nice on 21 July; the first time the finish line hasn’t been in Paris, due to ongoing preparations for the Olympics. A gruelling feat of endurance covering more than 2,000 miles, expect blood, sweat and tears with a backdrop of some of Europe’s finest landscapes.
1 - 14 July
Widely regarded as the most esteemed championship in the sport, Wimbledon is the world’s oldest tennis tournament. Those without luck in the Wimbledon Public Ballot flock to Henman Hill to watch the live coverage while enjoying customary strawberries and cream, as the sport’s crème de la crème battle it out on the grass courts, serving up some of the most entertaining, skilful and psychologically intense athletic feats of the year. In the 2023 men’s final, Carlos Alcaraz kept his cool despite his youth in order to defeat the current number one-ranked tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic. But who will take home the singles and doubles trophies in 2024?
2 July - 7 July
Henley Royal Regatta represents the best of summer rowing, entailing more than 300 races and visitors a thousand times that number. Back in 1839, the regatta originally took place over the course of a single afternoon. But owing to its popularity, its timespan gradually increased. That it has been so consistently enthralling, not to mention its having attracted royal patronage, is hardly surprising given pull factors such as taking place in one of the most sublime parts of the UK, or being famous for the posh, albeit slightly gimmicky, outward appearance of its attendants. In any case, it’s all jolly good fun. And 2024 will be no exception in that regard.
29 February - 8 December
In the wake of the record-breaking Las Vegas Grand Prix last November, the Grand Prix 2024 schedule has just been announced. Lewis Hamilton and co will be put through their paces in 24 races at some of the world’s most glamorous locations as they try to put a stop to the Max Verstappen dominance of 2023.
26 July - 11 August
An Olympic year is always a special one, and the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris is shaping up to be an unmissable sporting spectacle. The French capital will host the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, as it’s officially known, for the third time – although the last competition was a century ago. Athletes at the peak of their physical prowess will compete across a wide variety of sporting disciplines, and Paris 2024 marks the debut of breakdancing (officially known as “breaking”). Cheer on Team GB and marvel at the grace and power of athletes from all over the globe from 26 July.