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Badminton Horse Trials

14 replies

KickBishopBrennanUpTheArse · 15/12/2018 13:38

I'm thinking of booking a weekend away to take a child in the family to Badminton this year. I know she will love it. She's horse mad and really wants to go.

If anyone has been please could you answer some questions for me?

Is Saturday the best day?
What exactly will we be able to see?
What is car parking / access like? How long should we allow to get there?
Is it likely to cost a lot once we're in? eg food or other activities

Also any tips on where to stay locally (or don't mind if it's a bit further out if it's easy enough to drive in)


OP posts:
countrygirl99 · 15/12/2018 15:54

I usually go to Burghley as it's only an hour from me but did Badminton XC day as well this year and the principle points are the same.
Get there early. We were there about 8.20 and had no hold up but there were massive queues by 9. It will be busy and we found we didn't get much of a view by the lake complex but there will be plenty of fences where you can get a great view. Joules had a little picnic area with tables about 2/3 of the way round that was nice.
Food is always expensive at these events but you have to balance that against carting it round or having to traipse back to the car so it depends on your budget. When we used to go to Burghley as a family we used to take a picnic but now there's just a couple of us we but there. Various catering outlets round the course. We do carry water as I always find its drinks that really blow the budget, especially if it's as hot as this year.
Between walking round the course, eating and wandering round the trade stands you will easily fill the day and still not see everything. Be aware that many of the trade stands are VERY upmarket but we play "when I win the lottery".

backinthebox · 15/12/2018 22:08

If you are booking a weekend away does that include staying away and paying for accommodation? If so, have you considered camping at Badminton for the duration? I work in the travel industry and my children have been to many exotic and far-flung places in the world and yet still consider their annual Badminton to be a highlight of their year.

My friend and I arrive earlier in the week and set up camp and our children turn up after school on Friday night and we are straight off down to the Lakeside to get something to eat and drink and study the scores at the end of dressage day. Sometimes you see famous riders walking the course or going round the shops - we accosted Mark Todd in the bar once and had a lovely chat with him. Saturday we walk the length of the course, stopping to watch a couple of horses at each jump. Huntsman's Close, the Vicarage Vee and the Colt Pond are all influential fences where there are decent viewing areas, and if you can get anywhere near the Lakeside it's worth having a look in there too although the public are getting ever more crowded out by hospitality these days. You must get a Badminton Radio so you can hear what is going on elsewhere on the course. At the end of XC day straight after the last horse has passed you can climb on the fences - my kids love this, and it gives you a real sense of how big the fences actually are. If you then stay by the Lakeside area you can have a drink and you see the grooms bringing the horses out to stretch their legs and graze after their busy day.

On Sunday there is the second horse inspection in front of the house at 8am. People start to get there before 7am to get a decent seat, and it's interesting from a horseman's point of view to see how the horses have come through the XC day. There was a lot of sucking of teeth this year at Oliver Townend's horse looking less than sparkling after he had beaten it round the XC course the day before and the vets made their feelings known here. After that we go round the shops (and the food stalls - free cheese samples for them, gin for us!) with the kids. Each year the chosen charity puts on events that are child friendly. This year it was the BHS and they put on a series of horse safety exercises that were fun and educational, and the kids all got a rosette. It was free to take part, as was the mechanical horse lesson our girls had. The we go for a quick visit to the funfair, lunch, and off to watch the last 20 competitors showjumping. You pay extra for your showjumping seats, but can watch it on a big screen instead in the bar area if you don't want to pay to go in.

We easily fill 5 days with stuff as adults, and the kids are never bored for the 2 days they are there. It's an annual event for us and I can't see that changing. The camping is about 500m away from the main show ground and is very reasonable, I think about £175 for the duration and 2 adult tickets and parking included. Kids under 12 are free. You won't get a hotel or B&B anywhere in the area for that price. Wrap up well though - it can be cold on a nighttime that early in the year!

KickBishopBrennanUpTheArse · 16/12/2018 08:49

Thanks both of you.

Camping is a great idea. I had looked at it but didn't realise the price includes tickets and parking so it's definitely cheaper and more convenient than airbnb or similar.

We wouldn't be there until around 8 or 9 on Friday night. Would that be a problem? Would there definitely be space?

I'm really looking forward to it Grin

OP posts:
backinthebox · 16/12/2018 20:19

You get allocated a pitch when you book. Once all the pitches are booked they stop taking more bookings, they sell out quite quickly in January so make sure you book then! You pitch will still be there on Friday night if you've booked - lots of people arrive on the Friday, only the diehards and nutters get there on the Wednesday morning Grin. It's a great atmosphere, but be warned - bring clothing for ALL the different types of British weather. My DH swam in the lake at the end of XC day last year it was so hot, but we've been there before when lots of people have abandoned ship due to storms and torrential rain. There are showers to warm up in, but in reality dry shampoo is your friend. Think festival but with tweed and horses! You won't go far wrong. The camping ticket is per pitch and includes your camp site, parking and 2 adult tickets, with all kids under 12 free. Showjumping is extra, but you can get cheaper seats if you are prepared to sit in the sun/rain (both can be relentless if you get the wrong place! We book 2 standard pitches at £250 each and we get a pair of bell tents, 2 large cars, a small trailer and a gazebo on our pitches for that. We are 4-5 adults and 5 children. If there are just 2 of you in a small tent you can book a small pitch for £190 - the small tents field is usually the closest to the event entrance.

Btw love your name. My horse has a Father Ted themed name Grin

KickBishopBrennanUpTheArse · 16/12/2018 22:17

Dougal? My lovely horse? Actually that's a great name for a horse.

Thanks so much for all the info. It would be me and a 14yo so I assume the camping ticket would cover both of us. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions. I'm not a natural tweed wearer. I did go to Burleigh once as a child to keep a friend company but all I can remember is the amazing picnics Shock

OP posts:
backinthebox · 16/12/2018 23:52

He is indeed my lovely horse. Grin Grin Grin And was named after the character - gormless and Irish. He's the best horse ever.

Normalnorman · 25/12/2018 02:21

I've always preferred Burghley over Badminton it has a more relaxed, casual easy going feel to it and you can wander in and around and be where you like on what day you prefer.

KickBishopBrennanUpTheArse · 29/04/2019 07:23

Just revisiting this thread in preparation for the weekend.

We have booked a camping pitch and will be arriving on Friday tea time. Im borrowing a friend's motor home. It has a heater so we should be ok. The weather looks fine but quite cold.

Any tips on things to bring that I might not have thought of? Also is there a guide or programme to let us know who is who etc?

And finally I haven't got tickets for the showjumping. Is it too late? I couldn't find them on the website.

OP posts:
BuzzPeakWankBobbly · 29/04/2019 07:46

Get there as early as you can. Friday afternoon/morning if you can - then you can walk round as they're setting everything up too, which might be interesting.

There is (or at least was) a single road leading in and out of Badminton and it gets gridlocked very quickly. Last time I went I arrived on site at about 6.30am Saturday and there was already traffic. People arriving not long after sat in standstill for ages.

Take clean, warm socks. I swear Badminton has some kind of automatic foot soaking mist. Also gloves and layers.

BuzzPeakWankBobbly · 29/04/2019 07:47

(By set up I mean the stalls etc - the course/arena will be done already)

MardiBras · 29/04/2019 10:02

I think the tickets for the show jumping have sold out but you can watch on the big screen which is near the main arena. You can also watch the riders and horses warming up and then when they have finished. Sunday morning is the Trot Up to check the horses are fit enough to compete after the cross country on Saturday. This is in front of Badminton House.

You can buy a programme which has extensive info about the cross country on Saturday , horses, riders etc. You can also pick up a sheet of paper which shows the running order for the day. This can be collected from the ticket office or by the scoreboard.

There are plenty of places to eat but they are expensive as are drinks, so you might want to budget for that.

It gets very busy on Saturday so it's worth looking at the tradestands when they open. It's much quieter on Sunday for a look round.

Good shoes to walk in are essential. Waterproofs, suncream,. It can be cold in the morning and tropical later in the day.

Have fun!

MyNameIsFartacus · 30/04/2019 18:38

I am also going this year and camping Grin with a few friends, we've never been and are going up on Thursday morning with a shed load of booze, can't wait! But have seen the weather is forecast to be cold so will be taking the winter woolies. But hey at least it isn't forecast to piss with rain..... yet!

Honeyroar · 02/05/2019 23:36

There will be big screens showing the SJ outside the arena. I always find the warm up arena fascinating too. It's a great time to shop too - prices often go down on Sunday and the shops are quiet while everyone is in the grandstands.

Honeyroar · 02/05/2019 23:42

Yes the trot up is worth watching.
Don't go near the shops on the Saturday if you're there all weekend!
We go the water jump 60-90 mins before Xc starts to get front row views (armed with bacon butties and coffees). We watch the first few there (lots of good riders in the first bunch) then walk the course backwards from there - less crowds that way. Take a pocketful of loo roll, it invariably has run out when you get in a cubicle! Go to the loo before you're desperate, the queues can be awful.

First time we've not been in years, too many invalids to look after at home, but I'm a bit gutted.

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