12 things you really need to know before heading to Olympia

The London International Horse Show, Olympia ‘the world’s greatest equestrian Christmas party’ will open its West London doors to the public tomorrow (17 December).

Highlights of the seven-day extravaganza include FEI World Cup qualifiers in dressage, showjumping and driving, impressive performances of horsemanship from an acrobatic display team from Azerbaijan and a 12-strong quadrille spectacle from the French Gendarmerie.

Fan favourites like the Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility will entertain spectators once again while the famous Christmas Finale will bring each session to a close. Here’s a few things you need to check out before you head to this festive equestrian bonanza…

Competition

1. This year’s event will feature grand prix dressage and freestyle to music classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings with the main showjumping competition starting on Wednesday.

2. The feature showjumping class, the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Leg, takes place on Saturday afternoon, while the ever-popular puissance will wow the crowds on Wednesday evening.

3. The top 10 drivers in the world will have the audience on the edge of their seats as they contest the World Cup Driving and Extreme Driving classes, demonstrating incredible skill and bravery as they negotiate tight, technical courses with their teams of four horses.

4. Don’t miss the chance to see the parade of Equestrian Team GBR medallists, featuring world champion Ros Canter and her victorious eventing teammates, which will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday.

Shopping

5. Another of Olympia’s major attractions is the shopping village which boasts over 250 shops, selling everything from clothing to jewellery and wines to fine art. All the equestrian household names will be in attendance alongside some lesser known brands, meaning you can get gifts for all the family.

6. Make sure you look out for the Olympia Introducing section, which features eight up-and-coming brands and is located within the shopping village. The initiative is in its third year and can be found on the Gallery level.

7. The shopping village at Olympia has its own Instagram account so follow @olympiahorselookbook to discover which brands and products will be at the show.

8. If you find yourself loaded down with shopping then visit the shopping drop-off point, which is run by the Pony Club and enables you to leave your bags for a small fee while you enjoy the competition in the main arena.

Food and drink

9. There are several bars and restaurants within Olympia including The Gallery Restaurant — A Very British Steakhouse, Pergola Olympia London and Justin’s Champagne Taittinger Bar. Smaller outlets offering street food, fish and chips, burgers, pizza, sandwiches and snacks are also in abundance while coffee shops, bars and Crussh Fit Food & Juice Bars should offer enough places to quench your thirst. Seating is also available if you have brought your own food.

Travel

10. Parking is extremely limited in the streets surrounding Olympia so if you wish to drive you are advised to book your parking spot in advance. Westfield Shopping Centre has a large car park and is a 20-minute walk away and there are alternative smaller car parks in the area. Here’s full information on car parking in and around Olympia.

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11. Kensington Olympia is a combined tube and rail station and is located directly opposite the arena, while the venue is only a short walk from West Kensington and High Street Kensington. Check train and tube timetables before travelling.

12. If you can’t make it to Olympia in person to watch the action, FEI TV and BBC will have live coverage of many of the feature classes throughout the week and don’t miss H&H’s extensive coverage. Check out dressage and Wednesday-Saturday showjumping reports in the 28 December issue (out Friday, not Thursday this week because of Christmas schedules), while showing, driving and Sunday showjumping coverage will be in the 3 January 2019 issue.

For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday