Sports and outdoor events

FNB Stadium. Photo courtesy babasteve

With favourable weather throughout the year, sports and outdoor activities are a favourite form of relaxation in Gauteng. The province also has an abundance of world-class conference and exhibition facilities, which can host any function from a small gathering to a large international musical event.

Gauteng has hosted many international conferences, performances and summits, proving it is a prime destination for local and international meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE). The largest event to date was the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which drew tens of thousands of delegates, including heads of state. Notable international sporting events that have taken place in Gauteng include the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 1998 All Africa Games, the 1995 Rugby World Cup and a 1993 Formula One grand prix. Gauteng has also hosted concerts by famous international bands including U2, REM, Salif Keita, UB40 and our very own Johnny Clegg, to name a few.

In Gauteng there is no shortage of sports and activities. Soccer is extremely popular and Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, both from Gauteng, are among South Africa's two most popular teams. Clashes between these arch-foes are a spectacle not to miss, and usually take place at the magnificent FNB Stadium. If you want local colour and culture, make a point of attending one of their games. Soccer matches take place almost all year round

Sports grounds are dotted throughout the main cities and are kept in good condition. Two of the main rugby stadiums in South Africa are in Gauteng. Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane, home of the Blue Bulls, offers spirited games, a very partisan crowd, cheerleaders, indigenous dancers and a whole lot of atmosphere. Ellis Park in Johannesburg is hallowed ground for supporters of the Golden Lions. It was here that the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in 1995.

The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg is the official home of Gauteng cricket. Together with SuperSport Park in Centurion, Tshwane, and Willowmoore Park in Benoni, Ekurhuleni, it played a significant part in the success of the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

There are a number of beautifully designed golf courses in Gauteng. Grand Slam winner Jack Nicklaus designed Pecanwood Golf and Country Club.

Lipizzaner stallion. Photo courtesy MilesBintz

For the racehorse lover, Gauteng is the place to be. The province boasts three racecourses – Newmarket Turf Club in Ekurhuleni, Turffontein in Johannesburg and The Vaal in Sedibeng. South Africa has internationally recognised breeders and trainers. Equestrian sports are also popular and Gauteng has produced world-class showjumpers and hosts a series of equestrian events from showjumping and dressage to cross-country. There are also a good number of riding schools in Gauteng, particularly in the Kyalami area, famous for its motorsport racetrack. South Africa's famous Lipizzaners perform for the public at their Kyalami showground.

Swimming pools – as anyone flying into OR Tambo International Airport can attest – are simply everywhere. Most major hotels and resorts have a choice of pools where visitors can make the most of the sunshine. There are also a number of public pools for the more serious trainer. The Vaal River offers water sports such as jet skiing, water skiing and motor boating that will keep both families and serious sportspeople entertained for hours.

Adventure sports offer visitors to Gauteng some interesting options. Skydiving is very popular, if falling out of a perfectly good plane is your idea of an adrenaline rush. You can join the Johannesburg Skydiving Club, and the Pretoria skydiving club at Wonderboom offers paragliding, hang-gliding and skydiving excursions.

For all other sports lovers there is a wealth of recreational facilities to choose from for almost every sport under the African sun. After a day of sporting fun, you can soothe aching muscles at one Gauteng's world-class health spas.

If you are more of a fan than a player: cricket teams tour the country in summer, and winter brings our favourite rugby foes to these shores – the famous All Blacks and Wallabies – for the Tri-Nations. Provincial teams from Australia and New Zealand play in the Super Rugby tournament. A local rugby derby between provincial teams fills any remaining gaps on the calendar.