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Visiting the Isle of Man TT

A visit to the Isle of Man TT is one of life’s great experiences and for many a one-off trip will become an annual pilgrimage to the Road Racing Capital of the World.

For a first-timer, planning a trip to the TT can be a little daunting, and on this page you can find a few basic tips to help you start planning that first visit.

Not every aspect of a journey to the TT is covered here, and if you can’t find the information you need just email the website at info@iomtt.com and we’ll do our best to help answer your query.

Getting started

TT legend John McGuinness ahead of the 2009 TT (Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press International)

The first thing to do is decide when you are coming and how many days you want to stay for. In 2010 the two-week long TT festival is scheduled to start on Saturday May 29.

The practice and race schedule for the fortnight is yet to be announced, but, following the programme from 2009, fans can expect the first week to feature practice sessions every evening except the first Sunday (May 29) and racing to begin on the first Saturday (June 5).

Racing is then likely to be held every other day until the last Friday (June 11), when the blue riband Senior TT closes the action on the Mountain Circuit. In 2009 the racing started with the Superbike and first Sidecar race. Two days later fans were treated to the Superstock and first Supersport Junior races, followed a further two days later by the second Supersport and second Sidecar TTs and, two days later, the Senior TT.

Once again in 2009, TT racing action continued after the Senior on the Billown Circuit in the south of the Island with the return of the 125cc and 250cc TT races.

Obviously, the race schedule is subject to confirmation. Don't forget, the calendar can be affected at short notice by weather conditions and other factors.

Alongside the racing, the Isle of Man TT has a fantastic festival atmosphere and loads of off-track attractions and entertainment. For many, the entertainment programme really burst into life on the Thursday of Practice Week and the middle weekend is often one of the busiest for the Isle of Man.

During race week, the Department of Tourism and Leisure lays on some fantastic entertainment, such as music acts, comedians and more. In 2009, fans were treated to the legendary Whitesnake and a host of other music stars at the Villa Marina in Douglas.

If it’s more racing you are after, don’t forget the opening weekend sees the Billown Circuit hosting the Pre-TT Classic. For details of this, and other Billown races, visit the organisers’ website.

Getting to the Isle of Man
Isle of Man Steam Packet vessels (Courtesy Isle of Man Steam Packet)Once you’ve chosen the dates you want to travel to and from the Isle of Man you need to arrange transport. The TT attracts tens of thousands of fans to the Island, meaning flights and ferry sailings can be in high demand – so we’d recommend booking early to avoid disappointment!

Most fans choose to travel to the Island by ferry with the Isle of Man Steam Packet, the only way to get here if you are bringing a motorcycle, car or van. The ferry company drafts in additional vessels and organises extra sailings during the fortnight to help cater with demand, but it is still worth getting your tickets sorted as soon as possible. You can find details at the Isle of Man Steam Packet website.

Some fans choose to travel to the Isle of Man by air. The Isle of Man Airport is linked to many locations around Britain and most airlines will put on additional services during the TT.

For details of air links to the Isle of Man, airlines and contact details, visit the Isle of Man Airport website.

Getting Around

The Manx Electric Railway (IoM Department of Tourism and Leisure)Once you arrive in the Isle of Man by air there are no problems getting around – you can arrange to hire a car from the airport, which is in the south of the Island, take a taxi from outside the main terminal building or catch a bus. To find out about the Isle of Man bus service, as well as the wonderful vintage electric tram and steam railway network, visit the Isle of Man Government’s ‘Getting Around’ website.

If you come by sea, there are buses and taxis available from the Sea Terminal in Douglas, and, if you are bringing your own vehicle, directions from Douglas to all the major routes and towns are clearly marked as soon as you leave the ferry.

Although the Island has a fantastic road network, which is well signposted, you should get hold of a road map before you travel to get some idea of how to get about.

Although some public roads are closed while practice and race sessions are held, it is still easy to get about on other roads so don’t worry about being cut off. During breaks in sessions some crossing points are opened – BUT DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS THE COURSE UNLESS A MARSHAL HAS CLEARLY INDICATED IT IS SAFE TO DO SO – and there is an access road which runs under the circuit just south of the Quarterbridge roundabout in Douglas.

When practice and race sessions are not being held, the course is open to the public. However, it is imperative bikers and drivers know the open roads are NOT A RACETRACK! You must obey all rules of the roads, including speed limits, ride and drive within your capabilities and respect other road users – you may be on holiday, but people who live in the Island are just going about their everyday business.

The Isle of Man Constabulary heavily polices the roads during the TT festival and will not tolerate excessive speed, drink-driving or inconsiderate and dangerous driving or riding.

If you break the law, you will be caught and you will be punished – and driving bans and points given in the Isle of Man Courts now apply in the UK.

Where to Stay

Douglas at night (Isle of Man Photography)Accommodation during the TT is always in high demand, so, again, booking early is essential.

The Isle of Man has a wide range of accommodation types on offer, so you should be able to find something just right.

You can choose from campsites, top hotels, family-run B&Bs or Homestay, the government-operated scheme which sees local families open up their homes to visiting fans.

You can find a list of accommodation, including contact details, on the government’s ‘Places to Stay’ website.

Where in the Island you choose to stay depends on what you want from the TT. Many fans base themselves in Douglas, as this is where the racing starts from, where most of the entertainment is based and where the most pubs, clubs and restaurants are.

However, there is much more to the Isle of Man. The Island boasts picturesque landscapes, beautiful towns and villages and the friendliest welcomes you’ll receive anywhere.

As the TT circuit is almost 40 miles long, wherever you stay you are never far from the action. You can also choose from locations right next to the circuit, and some a bit further away if you like things a bit quieter.

You will find excellent places to eat and drink in all the towns – including Ramsey, Peel and Castletown – as well as many of the villages.

During the TT most places will lay on something special for visiting fans, so just because you aren’t in Douglas, it doesn’t mean you are missing out.
It is difficult to make recommendations, as everyone’s needs are different, but if you’d like to take advantage of the experiences of some long-time TT fans we recommend you join the iomtt.com forums and ask some of the friendly TT supporters on there for their recommendations and experiences.

Where to Watch

The TT GrandstandThe famous TT Mountain Circuit is made up of almost 40 miles of public roads that are closed for practice and race sessions.

For 2009 the list of areas where spectating is restricted or prohibited was updated to further improve safety for fans, marshals and competitors. The list of restricted and prohibited areas may alter ahead of TT 2010.

Please pay attention to signs warning an area is restricted or prohibited and if a marshal or other race official asks you to move, do as you are asked and please don’t argue with them – they are looking after your safety.

Although entry to some areas is prohibited or restricted, there are still loads of great vantage points around the course where you can watch the action for free.

Some residents, charities and local organisations will lay on special spectator areas and grandstands – for instance the hugely popular Braddan Bridge area – with great views and facilities such as toilets and refreshments. You may be asked for a small entrance fee or donation.

However, for the ultimate Isle of Man TT experience you must watch at least one session from TT Grandstand in Douglas.

This iconic building offers unrivalled views of the start/finish line and the 170mph-plus stretch as the racers complete one circuit and blast towards Bray Hill and another lap of the course.

You also have clear views of the pit lane, where races have been won and lost, and the podium where the top three from each race will receive their trophies, laurels and Champagne.

The TT Grandstand is adjacent to the paddock, where you can watch the teams at work and meet some of the competitors. The Grandstand is also home to the scrutineering area, where you can watch the machines being inspected, press centre, where the top riders are grilled after each race, and much more.

Behind the TT Grandstand you will find a wide range of refreshments on offer, toilets and shops selling TT and other motorcycle-related merchandise, including clothing, pictures, DVDs and more.

There’s also the chance to bump into some famous faces – in 2009 MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi was among the stars due to attend.

There’s also ample parking within easy walking distance of the TT Grandstand.

In order to watch from the TT Grandstand, you must have a ticket. In previous years prices have stayed between £5 and £25, although prices for 2010 are yet to be announced. Details of how you can get hold of tickets will be announced later this year or early in 2010.

Getting Ready

As seasoned travellers know, the basis of a good holiday is preparation. So, once you’ve organised transport and accommodation put together a checklist of what you need to bring.

Obviously, tickets and booking confirmations are a must, but you also need money (the Isle of Man uses Sterling) and a photo ID may be required by some travel providers (check with the airline/ferry company).

You can use mobile phones from most networks in the Isle of Man, and you can buy Pay-As-You-Go SIM cards in the Island if necessary.

Make sure you have clothes and footwear suitable for brilliant sunshine and torrential rain – you never know what it will be like.

If you are bringing a car, van or motorcycle, make sure it is in good working order before you leave and bring a basic repair kit with you. You may also want to put together a small first aid kit.

If you are camping, you should make sure you have everything you need, although there are plenty of shops in the Island selling essential camping supplies.

And to make your preparations complete, get hold of the Isle of Man TT 2009 DVD Review to get a real flavour of the festival and put you in the mood before you travel!

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, but should provide a useful basic guide to visiting the Isle of Man TT. If you have any comments or need further information please just email us at info@iomtt.com.


 
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