Olympia Horse Show (16-22 December 2013) means that Christmas has really begun. It would be hard not to love a show that features international showjumping, dressage and carriage driving, plus national showing championships. Throw into the mix dog agility, the Shetland Grand National and an appearance from Father Christmas and you’d be a fool not to get yourself there in a flash.
Why H&H loves Olympia
1. The buzz
If you haven’t been to Olympia before, it’s worth getting a ticket just to be part of the electric buzz. There is elite competition, breathtaking displays and excellent shopping, not to mention the Christmas festivities.
2. The jumping
With the only UK leg of the FEI world cup series, the classes at Olympia are not to be missed by showjumping fans. The main jumping highlights throughout the week include the puissance on Thursday evening, the world cup on Saturday afternoon and the grand prix on Sunday evening.
3. It gets you feeling festive
Just a few days before Christmas, Olympia is a permanent fixture in many equestrian’s calendars. If wrapping up warm and heading to Olympia for the day doesn’t get you feeling festive, nothing will.
4. There’s something for everyone
From the displays, to the shopping and thrilling dog agility (not to mention the horsey performances), there is something for everyone at Olympia — even for your non-horsey family and friends so why not bring them along?
5. The shopping
It might be busy and a bit hectic but who doesn’t love a bit of Christmas madness? With more than 200 stalls, there’s so much choice and it’s perfect for a bit of last minute panic Christmas shopping. If you just want to shop tickets are £10 for a full day and you’ll still feel part of the Olympia excitement.
6. It celebrates all things equine
From driving to dressage, jumping, Shetland racing, Riding Club quadrilles, veteran showing and mountain & moorlands, Olympia is a true celebration of all things equine.
7. You can combine your trip with Christmas shopping in the West End
London is a magical place at Christmas and if you’ve left your shopping to the last minute then don’t despair. Not only will you be able to have a good wander around the extensive shopping village at Olympia, but you can pop down to the West End to get some last-minute presents too — and to check out the Christmas lights.
8. A chance to see FEI World Cup dressage in the UK
Olympia is your chance to see the UK’s only FEI world cup dressage leg. There are 2 phases to the competition. The grand prix that takes place on the opening day, Monday 16 with the kür (dressage to music) on Tuesday 17. If you’re a dressage purist and hate crowds order a ticket for Monday’s grand prix. The shopping village doesn’t open until Tuesday so it’ll be quieter. If you opt for Tuesday’s dressage to music, you’ll also have the chance to shop (after 2.30pm) and see some other displays.
9. Carriage driving
Indoor carriage driving is a really exciting sport and with the world’s top drivers competing at Olympia, it’s sure to be a spectacle. After first appearing at the show in 2011, and being a great success, Olympia will now host the FEI world cup leg making it even more exciting. Each driver has a team of 4 horses and competes in a speed carriage driving competition. The fast turns, skill and courage required are something to marvel at.
10. Spot a future equestrian star in the Shetland Grand National
There are only 10 places up for grabs in the Shetland Pony Grand National final and they are highly sought after. Ponies and jockeys travel the length of the country throughout the year competing in county shows and equestrian events for one of the spots. The Shetland Pony Grand National final is one of Olympia’s many highlights and it’s a race that has born many of our sport’s leading stars. Plus, they raise money for a great cause — The Shetland Pony Grand National has always given to charity, and since it first started in 1981, has raised nearly £400,000.
11. The Kennel Club dog agility
The Kennel Club Mini Agility Stakes started at Olympia in 1987 and the classes now appear in most performances throughout the week. There are 12 heats held countrywide with up to 500 dogs in each heat — they are eventually whittled down to just 30 dogs that are invited to compete at Olympia.
12.You might spot yourself on TV
Olympia is televised on BBC and Eurosport — so if you see a camera, smile and wave. You never know…
What do you love most about Olympia? Let us know below…