One of the largest events in horse sport comes to Western North Carolina in September 2018. Asheville is the Preferred Destination Partner of the FEI World Equestrian Games™.
One of the largest sporting events in the world of equestrian sports will take place in 2018 in the nearby community of Tryon, just 45 minutes southeast of Asheville, North Carolina.
The 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games are expected to draw nearly 500,000 people from more than 70 countries to the Tryon International Equestrian Center, September 11-23, 2018.
Much like the Olympics, the Games are held every four years and are second only to the Olympics in importance on the world equestrian calendar. Eight world championships will be decided during the 14-day event. The competitions include:
Tryon joins an impressive list of cities to host the Games, including Stockholm, Sweden (1990), The Hague, Netherlands (1994), Rome, Italy (1998) and Normandy, France (2014).
As the largest city (population 89,000) within 45 minutes of Tryon, Asheville is the Preferred Destination Partner and the ideal basecamp for enjoying the best of the region during the World Equestrian Games.
Visitors staying in the walkable downtown can enjoy mountain views from guest rooms and rooftop bars, as well as the city’s best independent restaurants, breweries, shopping and culture— including the iconic Friday night Drum Circle. And Asheville’s many neighborhoods and nearby towns all offer their own experiences, from cozy bed-and-breakfasts to secluded mountain retreats.
There are so many things to do in Asheville, before, during, or after the FEI World Equestrian Games. Asheville has been called a “culinary and cultural capital with a thriving art and music scene.” The mountain community in Western North Carolina is also the site of America’s largest home, Biltmore Estate, which will be hosting an exhibit by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly beginning in May.
A short drive from downtown, the Blue Ridge Parkway—dubbed America’s Favorite Drive—winds amid the highest peaks in the Eastern U.S. A great spot for mountain views, the Parkway also leads to dozens of popular hiking trails.
Or explore the French Broad River (the third oldest river in the world) and its surrounding neighborhoods. Water sport outfitters offer adventurous whitewater rafting and relaxing inner tube floats or sunrise stand-up paddle boarding tours. And the colorful River Arts District features more than 200 working artist studios house in former warehouses.
Book a uniquely Asheville tour to learn more about the area’s history, food, art, beer or even cheese. And explore the city’s neighborhoods and nearby towns—from trendy West Asheville and historic Biltmore Village to cozy Black Mountain and Weaverville.
The Tryon International Equestrian Center, created by Mark Bellissimo, attracted the Games in large part because of its world-class facilities. The 1,600-acre venue features 1,200 permanent stables and 12 arenas. The arenas include a floodlit international arena capable of accommodating up to 12,000 spectators, with VIP seating for up to 1,500, and a covered arena that has another 5,000 seats. In addition, the International Equestrian Center has a top-notch cross country course used for Eventing and Driving, and it is surrounded by hundreds of miles of equestrian trails for Endurance.
In addition to the equestrian facilities, the TIEC also boasts seven on-site restaurants—ranging from sushi and wood-fired Italian, to a coffee shop and classic diner. Nearly a dozen shops feature products for horse and rider, including designer apparel home accessories.
During the summer months (May-October), the TIEC hosts “Saturday Night Lights”—a family-friendly event series featuring free entertainment such as pony rides, live music, and carousel rides, as well as themed offerings like beer festivals and car shows.
The Games kick off on Tuesday, September 11th with the Opening Ceremony, followed by the first Endurance, Reining and Dressage competitions on Wednesday, September 12th. They continue for almost two weeks—taking a day off on Monday, September 17th and concluding with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, September 23rd.
During the entire two weeks of the Games, the TIEC will also be hosting the first-ever World Equine Expo with the theme “Celebrate the horse, celebrate the sport.” This tented exposition will offer free demonstrations as well as a music festival, film festival and more. A $20 ticket (on sale soon) admits visitors to the Expo, as well as to the shops and restaurants at the TIEC—and all WEG tickets also include Expo admission.
And when the sun goes down, look forward to the excitement of the very first WEQx Games—a showcase of “extreme” equestrian sports, such as Gladiator Polo (think: arena hockey meets traditional polo), show jumping and relay. In all, there will be nine competitions that make up the WEQx games. The competitions will take place between 8-10 p.m. nightly.
Here are a few things to know about attending the Games:
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Slideshow and eventing photos courtesy of FEI; Rooftop photo by Jared Kay; Parkway photo by John Fletcher; TEIC Photos provided by Tryon Resort.