With beaches, mountains, large venues, and enthusiastic residents, Virginia draws hundreds of sporting competitions every year. These entertaining sporting events let you see the action up close while you cheer on participants of your favorite sport. Here are a few of the most important athletic events, both professional and amateur, that we are looking forward to in 2016.
Virginia Gold Cup—The Plains
This annual horse race has been a Virginia tradition at Great Meadow since 1922. Over 50,000 spectators attend for this spring event, and although the horse race is the highlight, there are many more exciting components to the Virginia Gold Cup. Visitors enjoy tailgating and the Jack Russell Terrier races, as well as hat and tent contests, numerous vendor booths for shopping, and the classic Mint Julep cocktails. Purchase tickets and tailgating spaces.
USA Ultimate Beach Championship—Virginia Beach
Held in Virginia Beach, the USA Ultimate Beach Championships bring the fast-paced game of Ultimate to a nationally competitive level. This extreme game combines Frisbee with soccer and football, and is played on the sand, making the competition even tougher. With non-stop movement, athletic endurance and aerial passing, this championship is an exciting event for spectators.
LPGA Kingsmill Championship—Williamsburg
Come out to support these professional women golfers while enjoying the beauty of this famous championship golf course in Williamsburg. The top women golf pros compete in this 72-hole tournament for bragging rights (and a prize of over $1 million, as well!). Meet the pros and get autographs from your favorite female golfers at this momentous event. Kids 17 and under get into the tournament for free. Get your tickets here.
Dominion Riverrock is the largest outdoor sports and music festival held annual in Virginia. The best part? There is absolutely no entrance fee! Watch rock climbers, kayakers, bikers, slackliners, paddleboarders, and many other athletes compete at this Richmond event. Bring your dogs along for the fun, and if you think they have what it takes, enter your pup into the dog jumping contest! This year’s musical entertainment includes G. Love & Special Sauce, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, and Futurebirds. If you want to join in the fun, sign up for the Trail Runs, Group Hikes, 5K Mud Run, or other events open to the public during Dominion Riverrock.
North American Sand Soccer Championships – Virginia Beach
The world’s largest sand soccer tournament, the North American Sand Soccer Championships brings together over 11,000 players and 950 teams to compete on every skill and age level. In addition to the thousands of players, over 200,000 fans come to observe the matches. The tournament takes place along 22 blocks of the beach and while amateur teams can compete, there are many professional sand soccer teams that will play for cash prizes. Get some sun and see these pros compete on one of the best resort beaches in the country.
Air Force Association Cycling Classic – Arlington
The Air Force Association Cycling Classic is held in Arlington and is the region’s premier cycling event. Cyclers of all ability levels are welcome to compete, but the main event involves the nation’s best cycling pros, both men and women, many of whom are part of the prestigious National Criterium Calendar. Attend this event to see some of the biggest names in competitive cycling compete.
Bike Virginia Tour—Woodstock and Harrisonburg
At the Bike Virginia Tour, you can meet the cyclists that participate, sign up to ride the trail, or join in on the fun as a volunteer. This event takes hundreds of volunteers to make it work, and no matter what your interest, you can find an event area that needs extra hands. Volunteer for a few hours or for an entire day to help with registration, parking, hospitality, or many other volunteer positions.
July 1-3, 2016
Watch professional BMX riders tear up the tracks during the BMX “Stars & Stripes” Tournament in Woodbridge. A qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games, the BMX tournament is expected to attract over 6,000 spectators and athletes total. The race is part of an annual 30 race National Championship Series, which spans across the U.S. and Canada, leading up to the August 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
In addition to having the honor of prepping the U.S. Equestrian Olympic team in the final event before Rio, the Great Meadows International event will also host the first-ever stateside FEI Nations Cup. This momentous equestrian championship has always been held in Europe and is the highest level of competition in the sport. The riders compete in show jumping, dressage, and cross country championships. Local shops and vineyards attend, setting up booths where spectators can shop and try samples.
VA Commonwealth Games—Lynchburg
Although these events occur periodically on weekends from April 8-December 5, the main weekend is July 22-24. Held at Liberty University, this weekend marks the opening ceremonies for the games. The amateur sports festival is for male and female athletes of all skill levels and ages and includes games in nearly 60 sports. Over 9,000 athletes competed in the previous years, and the number is only expected to grow annually.
EVP Beach Volleyball World Championships – Hampton
After a national tour with competitions in over 15 cities, the Beach Volleyball World Championships end at Paradise Ocean Club on Fort Monroe. This event is the largest beach volleyball tour in the United States, with over 18 events and 5,000 athletes competing each summer. In addition to watching elite athletes compete, spectators will get the chance to participate in promotions and contests put on by sponsors of the event.
East Coast Surfing Championships – Virginia Beach
More than 100 of the world’s top professional surfers and about 300 amateur surfers travel to Virginia Beach to ride the waves during the East Coast Surfing Championship, held annually at the beachfront for 54 years in a row. This is North America’s oldest running surfing competition, and the second oldest continuously-run surfing contest in the world. The historical event spans more than eight blocks of Virginia Beach’s coastline and includes activities and musical performances for spectators.
Battle at Bristol—Bristol
Virginia Tech faces University of Tennessee in one of the biggest football matches in Virginia. This annual game is held at the Bristol Motor Speedway, and over 160,000 fans attend this huge event. Tickets are currently sold out, but fans looking to score tickets can sign up on the website to get notified through the official resale marketplace.
Hampton Roads Hero Games – Hampton Roads
The Hero Games were created to give recognition to local service men and women, including fire, police, and EMS employees and their family members. This action-packed sporting features a 5K, Cross Fit & power lifting, a golf tournament, and many more athletic challenges. Come support these Virginia local heroes as they compete in the Hampton Roads Hero Games.
The U.S. Figure Skating South Atlantic Regional brings together figure skaters from ten states and the District of Columbia for five days of intense competition. The Ashburn Ice House hosts the event in partnership with the Washington Figure Skating Club. The skaters that place in the top four of each event will advance to their respective Sectional Championships. This is your chance to see Olympic hopefuls before they advance to the world stage!
Also called the “Go Outside Festival”, this free event encourages healthy outdoor recreation, including biking, rock climbing, hiking, and camping. Come test out outdoor gear, see live music, and watch or participate in a few of the races, all in a beautiful Virginia setting. Pro athletes compete in BMX stunts, bike trials, lumberjack sports, slacklining, and other extreme sports. If you want to get involved in the action, there are over 175 workshops and clinics that will teach you about outdoor sports. Bring your leashed dog (and enter them in the dog dock jumping competition!) and camp for this fun festival/outdoor recreational event.
Dominion Charity Classic—Richmond
October 31- November 6
This PGA Champions Tour match will be held at the Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course. Although the country club is usually private, CCV will open the course for ticket holders during the event, which features professional golfers over the age of 50, including Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, and Fred Couples. If you are a golf fan in the Richmond area, this event needs to be on your calendar! This is the first Champions Tour event to be held in Richmond since 1990.
You don’t need to participate to enjoy sporting competitions in Virginia. There are plenty of events that offer plenty of entertainment for spectators, too. Make plans to attend a few of these sports-related activities in 2016 to cheer on participants and experience these interactive events.
© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |