How to visit the World Equestrian Games this summer [H&H VIP]

  • Next month (4 March) more than 200,000 individual tickets for the Alltech World Equestrian Games (WEG) will go on sale.

    WEG, which is to be held in Normandy on 23 August until 7 September, includes all the FEI disciplines: eventing, dressage, showjumping, vaulting, para dressage, driving, reining and endurance. It is the closest the combined World Championships has ever been held to Britain.

    More than 1,000 horses will be competing in the Games from 60 nations.

    But so far many H&H readers have been finding the whole process — from buying tickets to planning accommodation — problematic.

    At the end of last year, 15,000 tickets went on sale to the public in “bundles”, combining different disciplines. That ticketing system proved a major issue.

    Gripes included an incomprehensible website and the tickets readers wanted only coming “packaged” with other disciplines.

    H&H reader Marie-Claude Ceppi said it was “frustrating”, while fellow reader Marcia Macleod branded it “ridiculous”.

    However, the tickets that go on sale in March will all be singles — so people should be able to get what they want.

    “There will be 220,000 individual tickets going on sale on 4 March — in all disciplines,” confirmed a WEG spokesman. “80% per cent of tickets for the Olympic disciplines will be available. The final 4 jumping sessions will go on sale in April.”

    Accommodation plans
    Visitors to the Games should be prepared to travel between competition venues, depending which event they have tickets for (see map and video).

    6 of the 8 disciplines will be held in the host city of Caen, all within 6min of the main Games Village.

    The official website has an easy-to-use accommodation page — detailing how far away from each event hotels, campsites and gites are.

    H&H found that gites (holiday cottages) can be booked for single rooms and for a few nights, not just whole weeks, if needed.

    However, H&H also discovered that all hotels around 1km away from the main venue are already booked, although there are rooms at hotels further out.

    The WEG team also advises British visitors to visit the regional tourism committee for Normandy, which has a comprehensive website and email for queries (see useful websites list below).

    H&H reader Ceri Kennedy has tickets for dressage and eventing and is halfway through the process.

    “We’ve booked the campsite and now just have [our crossing on] the tunnel to book,” she said.

    Catherine Rose also has tickets and accommodation.

    “We booked a B&B through a friend, who booked the place out when they went over for the endurance test event. We have the ferry booked too,” she said.

    Other readers have taken a gamble and found somewhere to stay before securing their tickets.

    “We booked accommodation ages ago,” said Sarah Lee. “We haven’t got around to tickets yet as we’re waiting for single ticket sales in March, because we didn’t want to do a package. If tickets don’t work out, it’s still a lovely trip to Normandy to a pretty cottage — win, win.”

    However, some readers have found it difficult.

    One said: “We wanted a slightly unusual configuration of rooms for a group of four friends, so we had to search a bit — particularly as some apartments we tried seemed to be available online, but were actually booked when we enquired.

    “We ended up settling for a place with plenty of space, but a less central location than we would have liked.”

    Emmie Foxall won tickets through an H&H competition, but said she’s finding it “a little overwhelming” trying to sort out accommodation and transport.

    “We are planning to drive down in a campervan then stay at a campsite with a tent and campervan hook up point on the same site,” she said.

    There are 98 campsites in the region of Calvados for Caen (which can be found on the Calvados website, see box). All campsites contacted by H&H said they had space remaining.

    A WEG spokesman told H&H more information will be released nearer the time.

    “We will explain about the transport system and all the different aspects (shuttles, parking etc),” she added and confirmed there will be free park and ride systems in place.

    Buying packages
    Another option that is proving popular with H&H readers is buying entire packages from a British company.

    Sarah Caplan of Equestrian Escapes, the UK tour operator of WEG, said British fans can buy tickets with accommodation and travel through the site.

    “We would advise Brits to buy through us, as we can guarantee you better seats and explain what you are getting,” she said.

    The company still has good availability for packages.

    The eventing package is closest to selling out and accommodation ranges from camping (starting at £370 for the trip 27 August-1 September) to hotels (starting at £995). Single travellers can also be catered for.

    A 6-night package for dressage starts at £775 for camping and £795 for B&B.

    Useful websites
    If you are travelling to the Calvados region (for dressage and showjumping)
    Or Manche (In the region of St Lô for horseball and Sartilly for endurance)
    Or the “Orne” (in the region of Haras du Pin, eventing venue)