In the world of Formula One racing, there are few events that rank more highly than the Monaco Grand Prix.
Steeped in history and glamour, this world famous race draws crowds from around the world to the streets of this tiny principality.
If you’re a fan of Formula One, watching the race on television will probably be a sporting highlight, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it the flesh to really get your engine revving.
When is it?
For a long time the race was held during the week of Ascension Day, normally around the first week of May, however it is now generally held at the end of the month, on what in America is the Memorial Day weekend.
Unlike other Formula One races, the Monaco Grand Prix used to start at 3.30pm local time, an hour and a half later than most other races; however since the 1990s it has fallen into line with other events.
What makes the Monaco Grand Prix so special?
There are several factors that together make the Monaco Grand Prix a special event in the F1 calendar.
For one, its location is unbeatable. The streets of Monte Carlo are transformed into a racetrack, with sharp twists and turns and even a tunnel for drivers to contend with.
The track passes through various elevations, which presents further challenges for competitors. And all this takes place on the shores of the Mediterranean, in what is one of the most exclusive countries in the world.
The history of the event is another big draw for spectators and competitors alike. Founded in 1929, the original race was an invitation only event and was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti.
The first Grand Prix proper was held in 1948, and since then the event has grown in prestige and importance.
Together with the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it forms the triple crown of motor racing. Although winning all three has only been achieved by one driver, winning the Monaco Grand Prix alone is the career highlight for most drivers.
The easiest, but most expensive, way to see the Monaco Grand Prix is to travel as part of an organised trip, with companies arranging everything from helicopter transfers to hospitality in team tents.
If you can afford it, travelling this way will give you a great visitor experience as you should have great accommodation, a good view of the event, and you’ll get to experience some of the glamour of Monte Carlo.
The twists and turns of the course make it extremely challenging for drivers
Although organised trips do tend to dominate the event, it is possible to organise your own trip.
As it is such a popular event, you’d be well advised to buy your ticket as far in advance as possible. The cars may pass right through the city streets, but the view is blocked off by giant screens, so you’ll have to pay for any sort of view.
A lot of hotels in the principality are block booked by travel agencies for organised trips, so finding accommodation can be hard. Apartments are generally easier to find, but if you can’t find anything in Monaco itself, Nice is only a 30-minute train ride away and accommodation should be considerably cheaper.
A trip to the Monaco Grand Prix may not be the cheapest start to your summer, but it is definitely a unique event that every Formula One fan should experience at some point in their lives.
So throw caution to the wind and hit Monte Carlo like the rich and famous, you may not have any cash left at the end of it, but you will have some great memories.