With the start of the eventing season just round the corner, now is the time to put this year’s must see events in the diary. The following 10 events offer more than just horses – which means you can take a non horsey other half along too.
Kick off the season with this amazing event in the grounds of the historic Belton House, which will be open to visitors. Beside the ubiquitous trade stands – (the food here is particularly good) – the event has a classic car show, a dog show and 10k trail run (all on Sunday) while Friday is billed as ‘ladies day’. Dress warm though. The ‘wind-chill’ factor here can be punishing.
You have to go to Badminton just because it is the world’s best known three-day event and everyone who is anyone in eventing will be here. It’s not necessarily an event for the uninitiated – if you don’t know your Oliver Townend from your Austin o’Connor and aren’t up for any shopping there’s not much for you here – but Badminton is located in a beautiful part of the country; Tetbury, Malmesbury, Painswick (location for A Casual Vacancy) and Bath are all within 20miles.
Take a caravan and stay in the grounds of Chatsworth Estate. Caravan membership, includes access to a members enclosure and a 2-for-1 offer to visit the famous house and garden. You’ll have a lovely holiday. The renowned Chatsworth garden alone, with its sculpture, maze, greenhouses and speciality gardens, will while away a day. But don’t forget to watch some horses too.
Saumur, situated on the banks of the Loire, offers the perfect weekend break less than a three-hour drive from the ferry port of Caen. Stay in the town; its pretty square is a great place for after event drinks and eats. Visit the famous chateau or take a guided tour of the Cadre Noir. And – the best bit – you can buy cases of delicious Loire wine to bring home.
Just 11 miles from the cosmopolitan city of Dublin, Tattersalls is situated opposite Fairyhouse Racecourse. Even if the weather is atrocious, there’ll be a cilvilised (mud free) restaurant and bar in Tattersalls Country house. The event is the usual mix of horses, hounds and trade-stands but with wonderfully enthusiastic Irish commentary on cross-country day.
It’s true, Bramham is a horsefest. As well as international eventing there is real showjumping, showing, a stallion parade, mounted games and a young event horse qualifier, so much to entertain. If you need a break from horses though, the former spa town of Harrogate is just 13 easy miles away, for one of Betty’s famous teas.
Christmas shopping alert! Burghley’s shopping arcades and marquees are the best of all the events. You could happily spend the whole weekend there without setting eyes on a horse. Then there is the Park and ultimately the beautiful town of Stamford to explore if any time is left. Buy a season ticket and enjoy breakfast in the member’s car park while enjoying the unique view of Burghley House – there is no other like it.
Book a tipi or yurt for four days of glamping, Scottish hospitality and stunning scenery at Blair Castle, situated between Perth and Inverness. The Bruador Country Fair runs alongside the event that will witness the best event riders in Europe battling it out for the medals.
This Oxfordshire event enjoys a stunning location at the eponymous palace and 2000 acre park – and the weather can be surprisingly kind at this time of year. Blenheim Palace is a huge visitor attraction and a day out on its own without seeing a horse and there is also good shopping, a food marquee and a member’s ringside restaurant.
One of the most civilised fixtures in the eventing calendar. The World Young Horse Championships take place just outside Le Lions D’Angers another easy drive from Caen. Stay at a local chateau or in the nearby town of Angers. On site there’s mud free shopping, excellent champagne bars and a restaurant for an extremely civilised French lunch. Enjoy the autumnal scenery and artistic cross country fences whilst supping on a glass (or two) of vin chaud.