The best European car events in 2020

The best European car events in 2020
Europe is home to some of the greatest motoring events in the world. 

So, if you’re a motoring enthusiast, this year you can take in everything from full-throttle motorbike racing to classic car shows held at stunning palaces. 

To help you plan your year, we’ve put together a list of some of the unmissable events from the 2020 motoring calendar

The 2019 European Motoring Events Calendar

20-26  WRC Rally Monte Carlo  Various locations, Monte Carlo
13-16  WRC Rally Sweden  Various locations, Sweden
5-15  Geneva International Motor Show   Geneva, Switzerland
4  Formula E Rome E-Prix   Rome, Italy
18  Formula E Paris E-Prix   Paris, France
3  Formula 1 Netherlands Grand Prix   Zandvoort, Netherlands
10  Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix   Barcelona, Spain
21-24  WRC Rally Portugal   Portugal
21-24  Nűrburgring 24 Hours   Nűrburg, Germany
22  Spa Classic 2020   Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
24  Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix   Monte Carlo, Monaco
30-12 Jun  Isle of Man TT  Isle of Man, UK
4-7  WRC Rally Italy   Various locations, Italy
7  Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix   Baku, Azerbaijan
13-14  Le Mans 24 Hours  Le Mans, France
21  Formula E Berlin E-Prix   Berlin, Germany
28  Formula 1 France Grand Prix   Le Castellet, France
5  Formula 1 Austria Grand Prix   Spielberg, Austria
9-12  Goodwood Festival of Speed   Chichester, UK
19  Formula 1 British Grand Prix   Silverstone, UK
24-26  CarFest (North)   Bolesworth, UK
25-26  Formula E London E-Prix  London, UK
2  Formula 1 Hungary Grand Prix   Budapest, Hungary
6-9  WRC Rally Finland   Various Locations, Finland
7-9  Nűrburgring Oldtimer Grand Prix   Nűrburg, Germany
28-30  CarFest (South)   Overton, UK
30Formula 1 Belgium Grand PrixSpa-Francorchamps, Belgium
3-6  Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance   Blenheim Palace, UK
6  Formula 1 Italy Grand Prix   Monza, Italy
24-27  WRC Rally Turkey   Various locations, Turkey
24-30  IAA Hannover   Hannover, Germany
27  Formula 1 Russia Grand Prix  Sochi, Russia
15-18  WRC Rally Germany  Various locations, Germany
29-1 Nov  WRC Rally Wales GB  Various locations, Wales
1  London to Brighton Veteran Car Run   London to Brighton, UK
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Geneva Motor Show (5-15 March)

One of the world’s greatest motor shows celebrates its 90th birthday in 2020, showcasing the best innovations from the automotive industry and crowning the vehicle heralded “Car of the Year” by experts.

Download the event app to enter a raffle for the chance to drive an alternative-powered vehicle at the show’s indoor track. Expect 10 minutes behind the wheel of an electric, gas or hydrogen-powered vehicle.

If you’re thinking of driving to the show, Geneva is under eight hours’ drive from Calais and the journey takes in some excellent French cities like Troyes and Dijon — just make sure you’re aware of both French and Swiss driving laws.

Formula E Paris E-Prix (18 April)

Experience the thrill of wheel-to-wheel action in the stunning grounds of Paris’s Les Invalides complex as you see some of the world’s best drivers go head to head in an exhilarating all-electric battle.

History was made in Paris last year, as 2019’s affair was the first wet race since Formula E’s inception. Water and electricity don’t usually combine well, but the conditions made for one of the most exhilarating races in Formula E history.

Paris is the closest E-Prix race to the UK, and with the French capital less than four hours’ drive from Calais it’s a great option for fans of electric motorsport — just don’t forget to check out our guide to driving to Paris before you set off.

Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (24 May)

The world’s focus turns to Monte Carlo for one glamourous weekend in May as the stars of F1 hit the principality’s streets in one of the most jaw-dropping sights in sport, pushing their cars around the tightest street circuits in Europe.  

For those unable to enjoy the action from a super-yacht, there’s always the option of sitting in the stands with the masses, taking in views of the picturesque marina. There are worse places you could find yourself wearing ear muffs.

If you fancy rubbing shoulders with the stars, Monte Carlo is a 12-hour drive from Calais, although it might be best to park somewhere else along the coast and take the train into the heart of the action.

Formula E Berlin E-Prix (21 June)

Located at the iconic Tempelhof Airport, a former airfield in the heart of the city, Berlin’s E-Prix is one of Formula E’s best circuits and a great experience for the whole family, with kids even able to meet drivers after the race.

E-Prix ticket holders benefit from access to the E-village and Gaming Arena. Set a lap time in simulators and if you’re feeling bold, let the professionals know how you compare at an autograph session.

For motorists heading across to Berlin, the journey from Calais takes under 10 hours and crosses through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, so make sure you know the laws and requirements of every country you cross.

Isle of Man TT (30 May–12 June)

Source: Dave Kneen Pacemaker Press International


The only non-car event in our list earns a place on our calendar thanks to its unrivalled high-octane thrills. 

Known as one of the world’s most dangerous events, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy sees a daring bunch of motorcyclists hurtle round the island’s famous 37.73-mile Mountain Course.

For motorsport fans, this is as close to the action as it gets, with the course kept to the island’s public roads. “Superbike Saturday”, is the first race day on the schedule and is followed by “Mad Sunday”, an opportunity for fans to ride the famous course themselves.

You can take ferries from Liverpool, Heysham or Belfast, and you’ll be covered by your RAC Breakdown Cover on the island.

Le Mans 24 Hours (13-14 June)

The ultimate test of motoring endurance has been putting the world’s greatest drivers through their paces since 1923 — including last year’s winners Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima — and is the pinnacle of motorsport for many.

Fans camp on site for up to a week before the big day, enjoying concerts, exhibitions and pit walks before the unmissable drivers’ parade on the Friday. The race runs from 3pm Saturday to 3pm Sunday and is thrilling to watch from the grandstands as it rolls into the night. 

Plus, with Le Mans less than five hours drive from Calais, you won’t need your own 24-hour drive to get there.

Goodwood Festival of Speed (9-12 July)

Set in the spectacular South Downs National Park, Goodwood is a hill-climb with a difference, where fans can see Formula 1 cars, classic cars, and retro motorbikes tackle the climb just touching distance from the action.

Founded back in 1993, the festival has quickly established itself as a must-see on the British motoring calendar. 

The all-electric Volkswagen ID.R led the pack in 2019’s race, smashing a record held for 20 years. Will anyone beat the 41.18 seconds set by multiple Le Mans winner Romain Dumas in 2020?

 Around 150,000 fans make the trip to Goodwood, so expect queues in and around the estate during the event.

CarFest North (24-26 July)

The ultimate car-inspired family day out, CarFest has everything you need from a motoring event — the latest models, car rides, and weird cars from around the world as well as live music, a kids’ theatre, and even a car-nival.

The brainchild of Chris Evans, CarFest raises money for BBC Children in Need.

And if Cheshire sounds too far away, there’s also a CarFest South, which takes place in late August outside Overton in Hampshire.

WRC Rally Finland (6-9 August)

As one of the world’s quickest rally courses, it’s easy to see why Rally Finland is so popular with fans looking to catch a glimpse of their heroes as they throw themselves round the adrenaline-charged gravel track.

The blind crests and big jumps of the “Grand Prix on Gravel” make for some of the most exhilarating sights in motoring. Head to the Ouninpohja stage where the record for the longest jump was set in 2003. Here, Markko Märtin travelled 57 metres in the air at a speed of 106 mph.

If you’re thinking of driving, Rally Finland is about a 32-hour drive from Calais, taking in nine countries on the way. 

If Finland is too far for you, you could always check out the WRC Rally of Great Britain, held in North Wales in early October.

Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance (3-6 September)

Styled as the “most luxurious of garden parties set against the backdrop of Britain’s greatest palace”, Salon Privé showcases the finest supercars and classic cars around.

Judges award prizes for the best in class across a range of categories, so expect the finest in “pre-war touring”, “classics of the future”, “post-war British coachbuilt” and much more. The exclusive event prides itself on high standards with a luxury retail village and “exquisite cuisine” on site. 

Held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the event is conveniently accessed off the M40. Just remember to check the clothing requirements before you set off as some days have dress codes. 

What do I need to drive in Europe?

If you’re planning to drive to a motoring event on the continent, make sure you and your car are fully prepared for every stage of your journey by checking out our Driving in Europe checklist.

You’ll need to decide how to cross the English Channel too, using either the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone or the ferry from Dover or one of the other ports along the English coast.

You should also read up on the local laws and requirements for every country you intend to drive through, ensuring you take with you everything you need to stay on the right side of the law.

In France, this will include warning triangles and Crit’Air clean air stickers, but each country is different so make sure you research the local motoring laws thoroughly before to your trip.

Before leaving home, remember to carry out some simple car checks — including topping up fluid levels and checking tyre pressure. If anything’s wrong book your car into your local garage to get it checked out.

Do I need European breakdown cover?

If you’re planning to drive outside the UK, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you have breakdown insurance that covers the whole of your trip.

The RAC has some great-value European breakdown cover options that offer comprehensive cover if you break down on your way to the Alps, including European roadside assistance and a 24/7 English-speaking helpline.

Want more European driving advice? Check out our other guides here…

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