New home for Olympia for 2021 — and maybe longer

  • ORGANISERS of Olympia, the London International Horse Show, have promised to recreate and enhance all the traditional aspects of the show at its new home for 2021.

    The event will run, from 16 to 20 December, at the ExCeL centre, London. The Olympia London venue, which has hosted the show for 49 years, is being redeveloped and as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the building work has “accelerated”, which will restrict its use in December.

    Event director Simon Brooks-Ward told H&H the show will be “the same – and better”.

    “I can understand people might say they love the Grand Hall; my brother and I have worked on Olympia since we were eight and six respectively so if anyone was to be upset, we’d be at the front of the queue,” he said. “But what I’d say to our loyal fan base, having walked round the ExCeL, is not only physically what we can do there but the can-do attitude from the people in it to help us produce an excellent horse show was extremely gratifying, and appreciated by all of us.”

    Mr Brooks-Ward said the “core” components of Olympia – top-class jumping, dressage and driving, Christmas entertainment and a family event, “with Father Christmas at the end” – will be there, along with the shopping and social side of the event.

    “We’re absolutely committed to making this work,” he said. “The team is really excited about what we can do there.”

    He added that nothing is being ruled out as to the show’s future home from 2022, and that while Olympia “certainly retains itself in our hearts and minds, it’s going to the ExCeL, and we’re very excited about it”.

    Benefits of the new venue include its access, especially for horseboxes, which can park on site at the ExCeL, and even be unloaded under cover if the weather is wet, and the space; the plan is to make the warm-up area open for public viewing, for example, and the view from some 99% of seats will be unrestricted.

    Mr Brooks-Ward added: “Our partners, sponsors and exhibitors including the FEI, British Equestrian and Longines are all supportive of the move and are looking forward to seeing a new version of the Show at ExCeL.”

    Showjumper Laura Renwick told H&H she had not been to the ExCeL before she took part in a photoshoot to mark the move.

    “I thought it not being in the Grand Hall would be strange but I think it’s going to work,” she said.

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    “It will be totally different but the same experience; they’re going to make it as close as they can but in this modern venue.”

    Laura said the improved access will be a huge bonus; horseboxes have to park a fair distance away from the Olympia venue, and the ExCeL is a simpler drive from Dover, for Europe-based riders.

    “I really think it’ll work, and from a competitor’s view, I think they’ll prefer it,” she said. “And I actually don’t mind where it is, as long as it happens!”

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