Christmas hasn’t really started for British equestrian fans until they’ve visited the London International Horse Show at the ExCel centre (13–18 December), and this year’s show promises to be bigger and better than ever. In addition to seeing many of the world’s top dressage and showjumping stars – and the 40 leading native ponies in the country – in action, the introduction of a new second arena has given numerous amateur showing riders their first chance to compete at this prestigious show.
So if you need some help planning the best pre-Christmas horsey trip, make sure you read H&H’s essential guide to this festive occasion.
As well as the show’s traditional favourites, such as the Shetland Pony Grand National, the London International Horse Show also features top-class sporting action from across the disciplines, including the the FEI Dressage World Cup, presented by Bret Willson Dressage International Ltd and supported by Horse & Hound.
The ever-popular puissance returns to conclude Friday’s evening performance, with five-star and national showjumping and driving also taking place during the week. The feature showjumping classes at the show are the FEI World Cup and the grand prix, providing a great spectacle. There are also two classes of action packed FEI driving World Cup competition.
Other features to look out for…
When you think of the London International, there are a few things which immediately spring to mind – The LeMieux Puissance and The Moonrock Six Bar are just the start.
The famous fancy dress relay returns on Sunday evening, and racing fans won’t want to miss the Markel Jockeys Jumping, in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund on Monday night. And for younger visitors, an absolute must-see is The GS Equestrian Pony Club Mini-Major, which is back once again to complete a thrilling Saturday afternoon performance.
There will be two displays in 2023 – the Musical Drive of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the Pride Of Portugal Lusitano display team. Also, be sure not to miss plenty of Kennel Club Dog Agility.
The new second arena for 2023 is located in the heart of the shopping village. The New Horizon Plastics London Arena will host the finals of the new London International Showing Series, the qualifiers for which have been taking place at county shows around the UK over the summer. Pippa Funnell and Tina Cook will also be presenting a masterclass centred around building relationships with horses here.
There will also be a number of other masterclasses that shouldn’t be missed. Dressage Unwrapped will feature British Olympic dressage rider Richard Davison and his co-host and fellow Olympian Gareth Hughes coaching Yasmin Ingham, who will be riding her World Eventing Champion Banzai Du Loir.
Presented by Dan Naprous, a world-renowned horse trainer and stunt actor whose list of credits includes Game of Thrones, The Crown, Wonder Woman and the famous Lloyds Bank adverts, the ‘Driving Force’ masterclass will shed light on the sport of driving before demonstrating the different phases of carriage driving trials.
The ‘Grassroots to Glory’ masterclass will feature world-renowned coach Richard Waygood MBE, Olympic eventing medallist Laura Collett MBE and YouTuber Megan Elphick. This masterclass will be a 360-degree review of achieving competition success, aimed at both amateurs and experienced riders alike.
A showjumping masterclass is also set to take place and will feature Joe Stockdale and Jodie Hall McAteer, while world-renowned stunt rider Ben Atkinson will present his ‘Starting Liberty from Scratch’ masterclass too.
The Live Zone, which can be found in the shopping village, next to the Christmas market, will offer rider signings, famous faces and informative talks you won’t want to miss out on, plus some four-legged friends will also be making an appearance here.
Travelling to London International Horse Show
If you are planning to drive to the show, be aware that the ExCel is in the ultra low emission zone and you may need to pay more to enter this zone. Check your vehicle registration number here to find out what charges apply.
For certain performances (Thursday evening, Saturday evening, Sunday evening and Monday evening) a joint coach travel and ticket package is available. Coaches will depart and return to pick up and drop off points in Southampton, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Crawley.
It is straight-forward to travel to the show by train. Find out more about how to get to the London International Horse Show.
Find out about all the London International Horse Show tickets, including how H&H readers can save money.
Where to stay
There are several hotels, in all price ranges, nearby to the venue. Find out where to stay near the London International Horse Show.
Where to eat
There are plenty of food outlets that visitors will see around the show, catering for all tastes and diets.
The Champagne Taittinger Bar and Brasserie will be housed in its own exclusive tented structure. It boasts its own outdoor garden with views on to the collecting ring. All top price ticket holders will receive badges with their tickets which will give them access to the Champagne Taittinger Bar & Brasserie.
While the show does not allow eating in the arena seating, there is plenty of seating outside the arena where you can eat the food you have brought with you or food you have purchased at the show.
London Horse Show tickets discount code
Keep an eye out for a 25% discount with code HAHOUND23 – excluding top price tickets – for Thursday afternoon and evening, Friday afternoon, Saturday evening, Sunday evening, and Monday afternoon and evening, which is available to Horse & Hound readers online.
Exploring outside the ExCel
There are several eateries within walking distance of the ExCel. A few options include:
- China Palace (11 minute walk)
- Docklands Bar & Grill (10 minute walk)
- The Windjammer (22 minute walk)
- Fox Connaught (5 minute walk)
- The Oiler Bar (13 minute walk)
- Tapa Tapa (3 minute walk)
- Nakhon Thai Restaurant (14 minute walk)
- Bonnane Restaurant Pizzeria (14 minute walk)
There are other things to do around the ExCel which may appeal to non-horsey members of your party, including:
- Royal Victoria Dock and Bridge (11 minute walk)
- Brick Lane Music Hall (16 minute walk)
- The Dockers Sculpture (10 minute walk)
- The Crystal (13 minute walk)
- Thames Barrier Park (20 minute walk)
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