Event photography has the advantage of predictability; you know when your event will take place and you can plan accordingly. That said, you only get the one opportunity to get each shot. Try to get privileged access; your images will be stronger and more personal than the ones taken by the members of audience. You might get permission to take images onstage, to visit backstage, or be given a trackside location to shoot from.
The equipment you'll need will depend partly on the type of event. A range of lenses and a DSLR would be a good choice, and typically with event photography you won't need to carry your equipment very far. But you may need to plan for a lot of bright lights affecting your metering and generating unpleasant colour casts.
Persistence during the planning stage will usually pay off. Get in contact with the venue early on and emphasise that you are arriving from overseas. Your first job is to find out who is in a position to assist you; junior staff will have little freedom to act. Be clear about what you are looking for, and try to come across as responsible and respectful. There may be privileged access available to a few photographers who get in touch well in advance. Don't try to wrap up your negotiations too quickly. Often a letter or email informing key parties about your project will be appreciated, and a visit to the site a few days beforehand may be help to clinch the deal.
In any event you are likely to be photographing with certain rules in force, so make sure you know what they are and that you observe them at all times. Being positive and respectful will generate trust, to the point that subsequent requests are more likely to be granted.
You can also get in touch with local photographers and ask for their advice, they may have useful contacts. Try reputable online forums, or write directly to photographic clubs and societies.
There are lots of local venues for you to practice your skills before your trip, for instance sports matches, amateur theatrical productions, and horse and greyhound racing. Experiment with a range of techniques and then evaluate your images afterwards. It's probably best to decide beforehand what equipment and camera settings you are going to use for your practice session, rather than trying to experiment in a noisy or dark setting.