Home Entertainment Global Beats and Athletic Feats: Unmissable Events for South African Travellers in 2024
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Global Beats and Athletic Feats: Unmissable Events for South African Travellers in 2024

Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour is projected to generate nearly $5 billion in consumer spending in the United States alone. In certain US cities, that’s an economic boost that eclipses the entire GDP of some small countries!

Then there’s the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament, which generated an estimated $6.8 billion in direct spending by international tourists.

In short, sporting events, festivals, and gigs really get tourism going.

“Events act as a gateway for bringing like-minded people together to explore and enjoy their shared interests, often leading them to uncover the unique charm of a new destination, too,” comments Antoinette Turner, General Manager at Flight Centre South Africa.  

“It’s a cyclical benefit: the event draws tourists, which boosts the economy and, in turn, elevates the destination’s appeal, attracting even more visitors. This impact underscores the vital role that festivals, concerts, and sporting events play in the tourism industry – they’re key to both immediate economic impact and long-term tourism growth,” she adds.

So, where exactly should South Africans be headed in 2024 to follow the flock and avoid FOMO? From Tomorrowland 2024 to the Hong Kong Sevens, here’s a round-up of this year’s hottest events courtesy of Flight Centre’s Travel Experts.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour – Dublin, Ireland (28 – 30 June 2024)

What is it? It’s hands-down THE tour of 2024. Any die-hard Swiftie shouldn’t miss the chance to sing along to Taylor Swift’s biggest hits at one of her performances during the iconic The Eras tour, celebrating all 13 of Taylor’s albums in an almost three-hour long set.

Reasons to love Dublin: Dublin buzzes with lively pubs, where the music’s always on, and the Guinness flows like water. It’s where history meets hipster, and practically every street corner boasts a famous writer’s haunt. Plus, the locals? The friendliest folks you’ll meet, making you feel right at home in no time.

Visa? No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days. While there are no direct flights available, you can book connecting flights via cities like Amsterdam, London, or Paris.

Remember, you’ll require a visa both if you plan to stopover in a Schengen country (stopover) and when you ‘double dip’ (i.e. transit through multiple Schengen countries en-route to your final destination).

Hong Kong Sevens – Hong Kong (5 – 7 April 2024)

What is it? The Hong Kong Sevens is a three-day annual premier rugby sevens tournament (the seventh on the World Series calendar) featuring 28 teams from 22 countries.

Reasons to love Hong Kong: With neon-lit streets and towering skyscrapers blending futuristic with traditional, Hong Kong is a treat for every traveller. It’s also a go-to for foodies – the moreish street food and classic dim sum never disappoint.

Visa? You don’t need a visa if you’re staying for 30 days or less, and you can fly direct from Johannesburg via Cathay Pacific.

Songkran – Chiang Mai, Thailand (13 – 15 April 2024)

What is it? Songkran is a lively celebration of the Thai New Year, packed full of culture, temple visits, religious precessions, and – rather surprisingly – friendly water battles with buckets, hoses, and water pistols (rooted in the tradition of water as a symbol of cleansing and renewal).

Reasons to love Chiang Mai: Chilled vibes abound in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s hidden gem. Here, ancient temples meet street art and night markets. There’s plenty to do, from watching serene Buddhist ceremonies to sipping on a steaming cuppa in a cosy café tucked away in a narrow lane. And the mountains? Just a scooter ride away.

Visa? No visa is required if you’re staying for 30 days or less. There are no direct flights from South Africa to Chiang Mai, so why not consider a stopover in cities like Singapore, Qatar, Dubai, or Bangkok?

The Summer Olympics – Paris, France (26 July – 11 August 2024)

What is it? Arguably the most sought-after sporting event in the world, the Summer Olympics will take place in the City of Light this year, welcoming approximately 10,500 athletes competing in 329 events across 32 sports.

Reasons to love Paris: Paris is all about that love-at-first-sight vibe. It’s a feast for the senses, from the buttery croissants that melt in your mouth to the sprawling views atop the Eiffel Tower. And the art? Oooh la la, it’s everywhere. Most will agree the city is a living masterpiece.

Visa? You’ll need a Schengen visa to enter Paris. The good news is various direct flights are available from Johannesburg and Cape Town via Air France.

“Consider getting a multi-entry Schengen visa so you can cross borders and explore Europe. You could also benefit from embracing European rail travel. Skip the crowds by flying to another European country and travelling to Paris via rail,” recommends Turner.

Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium (19 July – 29 July 2024)

What is it? Since 2005, Tomorrowland has solidified itself as one of the world’s best-known annual electronic dance music festivals. This year, the event welcomes many household names, including DJ Heartstring, Swedish House Mafia, Don Diablo, and Stuk.

Reasons to love Boom: While an otherwise quiet area, Boom explodes with energy when Tomorrowland comes to town, turning it into an electric wonderland of beats and lights. It’s a place where fairy tales blend with thumping basslines. And when the music fades? You’re left with the sweet, serene Belgian countryside, perfect for unwinding and soaking in the afterglow of an unforgettable celebration.

Visa? You’ll need a Schengen visa to visit Boom. While there aren’t any direct flights to Belgium, you can go there with a short stop-over in cities like Doha, Frankfurt, or Zurich.

Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany (21 September – 6 October 2024)

What is it? Oktoberfest is Germany’s most famous festival, where you can drink the best German beer and eat yourself into a coma on delicious traditional treats, from bockwurst and sauerkraut to pretzels and roast pork.  

Reasons to love Munich: Besides knowing how to throw the mother of all parties, Munich is home to the finer things in life, like art and history. It’s a city where beer gardens under chestnut trees are the go-to spots, and fairytale castles aren’t just in storybooks. Plus, the vibes? Super welcoming, making you feel more like a local with every ‘Prost’!

Visa? Germany is another European Union country requiring a Schengen visa from South African travellers – but the good news is you can fly direct from Johannesburg to Munich via Lufthansa.

Afro Nation – The Algarve, Portugal (26 – 28 June 2024)

What is it? Afro Nation is the world’s biggest Afrobeats festival, dedicated to showcasing genres like Afrobeat, Amapiano, hip hop, R&B, dancehall, and more. It brings together top artists, DJs, and music fans from across the globe.

Reasons to love the Algarve: The Algarve is a sun-drenched paradise where golden beaches meet turquoise waters. Buzzing marketplaces offer a taste of the local bounty, whitewashed villages whisper tales of the sea, and the aroma of orange groves fills the air. A true feast for the senses!

Visa? Portugal is a Schengen country, so you’ll need a visa. There aren’t any direct flights available, so consider stopping over in cities like Brussels, Munich, and London.  

Trevor Noah Off the Record Tour – Sydney, Australia (20 November 2024)

What is it? Our favourite Emmy Award winning local comedian who has become a global success, Trevor Noah, is currently on a world tour and hits Australia from the 8 November 2024. Why not catch him in Sydney, Australia? You don’t want to miss out on his hilarious reflections on his most recent travel experiences and cultural encounters.

Reasons to love Sydney: Sydney’s where the iconic Opera House sails grace the skyline, and the Harbour Bridge stands as a testament to architectural marvel. Here, sun-kissed beaches are a way of life, and the food scene is out of this world – enjoy everything from waterfront seafood to hidden laneway cafés.

Visa? You’ll need an Australian visitor’s visa, which remains valid for 12 months, and you can fly direct from Johannesburg to Sydney via Qantas.

Tips for travelling to international events

  • Skip the airport exchange kiosks; they’re a wallet’s worst nightmare. Instead, grab a multi-currency card or use those ATMs abroad for better rates. And always carry some cash; not every retailer is card-friendly, especially when scoping out bargains at bustling street markets in Thailand.
  • Charm the locals by learning a few phrases in the local language. ‘Please,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Where’s the party?’ can open doors, score smiles, and maybe even snag you an invite to an exclusive hangout.
  • Grab a local SIM card for endless Insta stories without the horror of coming home to a monstrous roaming bill. Plus, Google Maps is a lifesaver when navigating those Parisian alleyways.
  • Dive into the local nightlife scene. Sure, the big event’s the main gig, but that hole-in-the-wall café or underground jazz club might be where you make your fondest memories.
  • Don’t skimp on travel insurance. You’ll want that safety net, whether you end up with a sprained ankle from an Oktoberfest mishap or lose your luggage somewhere between here and Hong Kong.

Here’s to South Africans being a part of 2024’s most notable events. As Turner so aptly wraps it up:

“At Flight Centre, we love that our travellers want to do more than simply chase the spectacle of global events. They also look forward to diving into the beauty and diversity of the host destination and beyond, proving that travel is indeed the most enriching form of education and connection.”

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