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Alternative Sport Events You Should See in 2018
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Alternative Sport Events You Should See in 2018

Picture of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor
Updated: 8 January 2018
While this year will see the Winter Olympics, the World Cup and annual showpieces such as the Super Bowl, Wimbledon and the IPL take place, there are some incredible competitions that fly under the sporting radar. From human castles to bare-knuckle boxing, here’s just a few that are well worth seeing in the flesh.

World Longboard Championships

Where: Wanning, China

When: January

The Chinese island of Wanning is set to host this traditional version of surfing’s world championships. Before surfboards were shortened, lightened and streamlined, longboards were the go-to design and are, on the whole, easier to learn to surf on given their greater stability. The tournament highlights the continued partnership between the International Surfing Association (ISA) and China as tournament hosts after the Hainan Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival and ISA China Cup.

Find out more here.

Bare-knuckle boxing

Where: London, UK

When: January

A slightly niche part of boxing, currently undergoing an image change and rise in popularity, this ungloved version of the sport heads to the O2 in London for its second major event. Fights tend to be shorter, but more explosive, than traditional boxing given the higher probability of knock-outs and injuries to the hands. Fight fans will get fantastic value for money, watching an exciting sport in a brilliant boxing venue.

Find out more here.

Rugby Europe International Championships

Where: Various

When: Febuary–March

The Six Nations is a fantastic tournament, make no mistake, but running alongside it is Europe’s Tier Two competition, the Rugby Europe International Championships. Featuring the likes of Russia, Georgia and Romania, it gets next-to-no coverage despite featuring brilliant teams, packed stadiums, passionate fans and fierce rivalries.

Find out more here.

Tour of Flanders

Where: Flanders, Belgium

When: March–April

Aside from the three grand tours in the cycling calendar, there are a number of classic races that are well worth watching. One of the ‘five monuments’ of cycling (along with the likes of Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Giro di Lombardia), it is famous for its stretch of cobbled roads that provide a stern test to riders and are now classified as part of Flemish cultural heritage. To professional cyclists, a win at Flanders is a held in lofty regard.

Find out more here.

Il Palio

Where: Siena, Italy

When: July and August

The Tuscan city of Siena has held this incredible horse race – run around its Piazza Del Campo twice a year – since the 14th century. A fiercely fought contest between the city’s districts, it is much more than a race, full of black-market betting, accusations of corruption and bitter feuding. Prices and demand for accommodation in Siena spike drastically during each Palio, so those going should plan well ahead. Don’t let that put you off, though – this is an experience of bucket-list proportions.

Find out more here.

CONIFA World Cup

Where: London, UK

When: May–June

Rather than focus on the bloated FIFA party in Russia this year, you can head to London (hosting on behalf of Barawa) where de-facto nations, isolated territories and minority peoples not recognised by FIFA will be playing each other. Expect matches between the likes of Tibet and Padania, Abkhazia and Tamil Eelam, among others. CONIFA is a non-profit organisation and their aim is to support these teams, aiding them in their quest to become FIFA qualified.

Find out more here.

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

Where: Various

When: June–October

Held across six locations, from June to October, this event features jaw-dropping acrobatic skill in some spectacularly beautiful parts of the world. Last year’s competition saw divers visit Ireland’s Aran Islands, southern Chile and Polignano a Mare in Puglia, Italy. Divers leap from nearly 100 feet (30 metres) high into the sea via somersaults, twists and pike positions.

Find out more here.

Dodgeball World Cup

Where: New York, USA

When: August

The top ten teams from around the world in the men’s, women’s and mixed-team dodgeball categories come together in New York – in Madison Square Garden, no less – for the sport’s premier event. England are the current men’s and mixed-team champions, while the Australian women are the team to beat this year. There won’t be many other dodgeball events that attract over 10,000 fans in such a historic arena.

Find out more here.

Concurs de Castells

Where: Catalonia, Spain

When: September–October

Although there a number of different festivals that feature these incredible “human castles”, this particular one in Tarragona is probably the stand out. Teams (some with members as young as five) compete to build the tallest castle using themselves as the building blocks. It requires huge amounts of bravery, strength and balance, with the end result being a spectacular demonstration fraught with tension. This event is held every two years and tickets need to be bought beforehand to be part of the 6,000-strong crowd.

Find out more here.