The NFL announced its 2023 slate of International Series games in May. The first game featured the visiting Atlanta Falcons going up against the Jacksonville Jaguars. For a segment of the Falcons fan base, this news catalyzed travel plans to cross the pond to attend the game. This matchup marked the third time the Falcons played in London. The first game was in 2014 when the Falcons played the Detroit Lions. The last time the Falcons played in London was in 2021 when the team played versus the Jets.
While there are Falcons fans that do not necessarily like the team playing games internationally, there are many other Falcons fans that enjoy the opportunity to travel and watch their favorite team play in another country. Notably, fans from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany came to enjoy the city of London, and then attend the game on Sunday afternoon at Wembley Stadium.
The Falcons hosted a meet and greet the Saturday before the game at the pub Admiralty. Surprise appearances were made by Atlanta Mayor, Andre Dickens, and Falcons beat reporter, Tori McElhaney. A scheduled appearance was made by former Falcon wide receiver, Brian Finneran. He signed autographs and took pictures with fans.
The Admiralty was packed wall-to-wall with fans. The party vibe was in full effect with a DJ playing popular tracks, and Falcons fans intermittently chanting, "ATL" throughout the evening. Falcons fans represented 90% of those in attendance. However, there were fans from other fan bases who wanted to party with the Dirty Birds.
This meet and greet provided the opportunity for Falcons fans to meet in person, who previously had only communicated via social media. Atlanta Falcons Germany is one of the largest fan clubs of the team outside the U.S. They represented well in London with branded merchandise and flags with their club logo. Fan club leader, Alesantoz, has worked diligently to build a community where Falcons fan in Germany can connect.
Falcons fans took time to explore London prior to game day. Many booked tours and excursions that took them to popular tourist spots such as the London Eye, the River Thames, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace.
Valissa Allen hadn't been to London in over five decades. She used the Falcons' International Series game as an opportunity to not only support the team, but to also fulfill a travel dream of visiting Paris, France. Not only did she visit the Eiffel Tower, but she also went to an Usher concert while there.
On game day Sunday, the Falcons hosted a pre-game march from the Green Man Pub to Wembley Stadium. Falcons fans gathered together to wave flags, cheer, and chant.
Once inside Wembley, the pageantry of the International Series was on full display. Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, and Atlanta Mayor, Andre Dickens, were both in attendance.
While the game did not result in a win for the Falcons, the travel experiences that Falcons fans had can definitely be counted as wins. Exploring London, learning how to get around on the London Tube (mind the gap), trying new foods, shopping, and connecting with other fans from all over the world, made for a vacation that won't soon be forgotten. Like Valissa Allen, some Falcons fans ventured beyond London and extended their trips by visiting Paris and Amsterdam.
Because the Falcons have been awarded marketing rights in Germany, fans are expecting the team to have a game there in the near future. This will give Falcons fans that love to travel another opportunity to visit a new country to watch their team play. When wanderlust and the NFL coincide, thousands of football fans make their travel plans without haste.