For the last 40 years in the run up to Christmas, the equestrian world descends on London’s Olympia to kick start the festive season.
The main events centre around show jumping classes but, particularly with the success of our equestrian Olympians, this year there will be more of a focus on grand prix dressage with expectations of seeing some of the medal winners perform.
With International show jumping and dressage competitions this year, both with World Cup™ Qualifiers, the Olympia Horse Show is one of the most important events in the equine calender. Returning this year is the Extreme (Carriage) Driving, but for the first time ever it will be a FEI World Cup™ Qualifying event and of course those lovely canines make a twice daily appearance on the Kennel Club Dog Agility course all topped off with the Christmas Finale – this year with a circus theme – where Father Christmas leads the audience in a hearty bout of carol singing.
Both matinee and evening performances are packed with other entertaining features such as the mounted police displays, Shetland pony grand national and the world famous Jean-Francois Pignon working his horses – which is described in previous years as “quite beautiful!” Plus, for the first time ever, this year there will be a carriage driving world cup event.
Leave plenty of time to visit the massive shopping village where you can pick up anything equestrian and there are often bargains to be had! Probably best to arrive early for an evening performance to make the most of this or stay late if attending a matinee.
If you are prepared to push the boat out you could join a party with the Team GB equestrian medalists on Wednesday night or take a box with corporate entertainment and access to an exclusive VIP bar. There are also “Rover Tickets” which allows you entrance into this area, but not into the private boxes.
It runs from 17th – 23rd December and there are some great Olympia Horse Show and Hotel Packages with two excellent hotels in particular available for the duration.
First up is the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum – a modern and stylish 4 star hotel offering its guests a warm and friendly atmosphere, excellent accommodation and a superb central London location. The hotel is ideally placed in the heart of Kensington, which is only a short tube or taxi ride away from Olympia, plus a walk away from other tourist attractions, such as Hyde Park, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall. Gloucester Road tube station is also just a minute’s walk from the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum, offering excellent access across the capital.
After spending either the afternoon or evening at Olympia guests can retreat to one of the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum’s spacious, clean and stylish guest rooms. All of the hotel suites are well equipped for comfort with air-conditioning, satellite TV, internet access, direct dial phone and mini-bar. For extra convenience the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum also boasts on-site parking (charges apply), 24 hour room service and a well-equipped gym.
As well as the fantastic room service, visitors to the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum can choose between an array of dining and drinking options. There is hearty grub and proper pints in the traditional pub, European cuisine and fine wine in the Consortia Restaurant and specialist drinks in the relaxed Cocktail Lounge.
The second hotel is the 3 star St Giles close to the hustle and bustle of London’s Oxford Street, but still being very accessible to Olympia by tube.
Boasting a superb location the St Giles Hotel is just a short walk from the British Museum, Covent Garden and Leicester Square. Within easy reach of Tottenham Court Road tube station the St Giles Hotel London provides a great base from which to explore the Capital.
After a busy day exploring Olympia return to the St Giles and treat yourself to a dish in one of the hotels three fantastic restaurants. From the splendid Il Grasso Restaurant to the Chikara Restaurant serving an array of Chinese dishes and the Japanese inspired Hakuba Restaurant there is plenty to choose from. Why not relax with a drink in the Lazy Dog Bar before retiring for the night.
Staying at the St Giles Hotel you can take advantage of the Central YMCA Health and Fitness Club, featuring a stunning 25 metre heated indoor swimming pool, Cardio Zone and free weights. There is a nominal charge to use the YMCA Health and Fitness Club payable locally. The hotel also offers reduced cost parking at the NCP car park located beneath the hotel for its guests (see the hotel concierge for details)