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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Sports fanatics happily travel to all corners of the globe to watch their favorite sport or team but planning ahead is key to securing good seats and hotel rooms.
Online travel company Expedia (www.expedia.com.au) has come up with a list of the top 10 sporting event destinations in 2011 to help sports buffs plan their vacation next year. This list has not been endorsed by Reuters:
1. The Australian Open (Tennis)
Melbourne, Australia from Jan 17 - 30
Kick off the sporting year at the Australian Open, Asia Pacific's Grand Slam, at Melbourne Park. Between sets, travelers can explore Melbourne and be tempted by some of the best food and shopping experiences in Australia, visit the Eureka Tower for a 360 degree view of the city, or take a dip at St Kilda beach.
2. Super Bowl XLV (Gridiron)
Arlington, Texas, USA on Feb 6
One of the most watched games in the world, a quarter of a million fans are expected to visit the Dallas-Fort Worth area for next year's Super Bowl. The game is at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, so after the celebrations head to Dallas for some Texan cuisine and explore the history of JFK's murder.
3. Cricket World Cup
Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka from Feb 19 - April 22
The cricket world's premiere event will be held in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, allowing fans watch some great cricket matches and between innings visit the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawella, Sri Lanka, Old Dhaka in Bangladesh where they can learn about the country's history, or take a day trip from Mumbai, India to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site, Elephanta Island, to explore 9th century caves and rock architecture.
4. IRB Sevens (Rugby Union)
Hong Kong from March 25 - 27
This will be the 12th season for the Sevens Series with eight tournaments held between December 2010 and May 2011 with Hong Kong being the city to draw the biggest crowds. After the final whistle, the best way to explore the sights and sounds of Hong Kong is to hop on the 'Ding Ding' tram which runs from Kennedy Town in the island's west to Shau Kei Wan in the east.
5. FA Cup Final (Football)
London, England on May 14
This tournament takes close to a year to complete, culminating on May 14 at London's Wembley Stadium. Take in the iconic sights of Big Ben and the Tower of London before joining the masses catching the train to Wembley to watch the match.
6. Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix (Motor racing)
Monaco from May 26 - 29
The most anticipated event on the Formula 1 racing calendar, the action never ceases as fans mingle with the rich and famous, gamble at the famous Monte Carlo casino and dine at luxurious restaurants when they are not watching the track. The racing is held over three days so plenty of time to explore this city and visit places such as Lavartto Beach or the Exotic Garden.
7. The British Open Championship (Golf)
Kent, England from July 14 - 17
For four days, the town of Sandwich will be transformed into a hub for the world's golfing enthusiasts as they eagerly await the next champion to raise the Claret Jug. While visiting Kent, history buffs will be able to visit some of England's most spectacular castles, gardens and historical houses.
8. FINA World Championships (Swimming)
Shanghai, China from July 16 - 31
All water sports are on display including swimming, water polo and diving, so the pool deck will be busy. Typically there is a break between the day and evening competitions, which leaves plenty of time to visit the best of Shanghai, including the People's Square, the Bund and the Yu Yuan Gardens.
9. IAAF Athletic Championships (Athletics)
Daegu, South Korea from Aug 27 - Sept 4
Catch a glimpse of some of the fastest athletes in the world and take the opportunity during the day to climb Palgongsan Mountain for a bird's-eye view of Daegu. At night, head to Daegu stadium to watch the world's best cross the line in the finals before heading out to try traditional Korean cuisine.
10. Rugby World Cup (Rugby Union)
New Zealand from Sept 9 - October 23
Rugby powerhouse New Zealand will host the 2011 Rugby World Cup with 12 cities hosting games. Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland will play host to the final rounds but many regional cities and towns on both the North and South islands such as Whangarei and Rotorua will also host matches, providing endless opportunities to experience some of New Zealand's natural wonders.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith