A friend and I are going this year! Neither of us have ever been. Can anyone recommend a good place to stay close to the show grounds? Beyond that, any advice is appreciated. I have already been told to pack a raincoat just in case. The show is in early May. Thanks!
Afraid I can’t advise, but I had to comment. Back in 2000, my Mum and I were traveling in England. We’d been to Badminton, did a jaunt to Ireland, and were at the tail end of our time there. I always navigated (paper map), while Mum drove, and we had a bit of friction because she wouldn’tfollow my directions.
We were just trying to get from one town to another when we got stuck in traffic. I noticed a horsebox beside us. Then saw another one a bit ahead… it finally dawns on me that we are in the town of Windsor. I knew of Royal Windsor only from reading the occasional Horse & Hound in the past.
We decided to follow the horsebox and sure enough, there was the castle and show. We went in with no idea what might be happening. Just wandered around trying to see things - we really wanted to find the fancy show ponies! Ended up watching the RCMP Musical Ride. Yep, two Canadians lost in England finally catching our own show
Hope you have a blast!
Windsor is a tremendous show because of the variety of classes, from best polo pony to Iberian horses to top notch show jumping to traditional cobs. It is also a very small site, tucked under the castle, with five rings in action all day long over the five days of the show. By UK standards, it is a long show. It requires detailed advance planning if you wish to see e.g. both tradional cobs and Iberian breeds because it is likely they are running at the same time, in separate rings, while the display you wish to see, such as the RCMP, is happening in the Main Ring. It can be slightly frustrating! Everything is easily walkable. There are multiple shopping opportunities - though but not as good as at e.g. HOYS or a big Event, partly because the site is tight. The organisers are busy yet again, changing things and introducing new ways of keeping the crowds well occupied! There seems to be a bit more of a “life style” vibe developing, more fashion and gardening.
The site is within walking distance of both rail stations in Windsor. Windsor Riverside is almost opposite the way in. Car parking is available but as this is a “greenfield site” it is on the parkland across the road from the show and in wet weather the mud can be a limiting factor. Train makes more sense.
Accommodation for people in Windsor is limited. It is a very small town with a very large castle and an overwhelming number of tourists. You might be better to look for a hotel in London and travel down by train, a journey of 30 minutes or so. Windsor is now essentially a suburb of London, divided by Heathrow Airport.
I would suggest you get one of the “membership”-type tickets that will include seats in the main arena and comfortable dedicated bar and cafe. It is good to have somewhere to sit and rest. I’ve always just purchased entry and then eaten at the multiple food options around the show ground. Be careful and look closely at the tickets. Things get a bit complicated as in past years the evening performances were ticketed seperately, car parking may or may not be included, some main arena tickets have to be purchased separately.
Don’t forget the Driving competition which happens alongside the show. The arenas for Driving are a fair walk away from the main show and the obstacles are scattered through the Home Park. It is a different world to the showing.
Wow! That sounds fantastic. And meant to be!!
It also reminds me of a family trip my mother and I took to the UK a few years later, although I was the driver and she was the driving critic. Lol.
Looking back on it now, I don’t even know how we found our way around without GPS.
Edited to add: I did manage to get to the Cheltenham races on that trip. There was a super, super cute horse in a steeplechase who looked to me like he wanted to be my next show horse, but unfortunately I could not figure out how to fit him in my carry-on luggage to bring him home with me.
I had a similar situation a number of years ago where I happened to be on a business trip that spanned the weekend of the Royal Windsor horse show. I used to travel to the UK regularly and we always stayed in Windsor. I was absolutely delighted to see the signs for the show on our way to the hotel.
So 2 non-horsey colleagues and I walked down on Saturday to see the show and had a blast. We saw the Queen in her box during one of the classes and saw Jessica Springsteen compete. We did not see Bruce but he was there as we learnt from some news coverage.
I went to the Royal Windsor last year. I was so fun. We stayed at the 76 Duke Street B&B. Very nice, the host is a little persnickety, it was raining and the wheels of our luggage tracked in leaves. She wasn’t too excited about that. But, the room was nice, it was in walking distance to the show and it all worked out great.
My best friend and I had a VERY similar trip, but in 2002! We flew in on the last day and got on the train immediately to make it to the show. Totally worth it, but we both had to buy rain coats there as we had not packed anything water proof (we were 21 and it never crossed our minds lol).
My parents made the trip to the Royal Windsor Horse show the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and they consider that the best trip they have ever and will ever take. They went with the Carriage Association of America and got to see Prince Phillip pretty up close, I believe he was driving a carriage at the time.
OP, as others have suggested, you might want to just find a place in London and commute. Windsor is tiny and will likely have limited availability. Public transport is reliable there and everything is much closer than what we are used to in the states.
My best buddy is the one who organizes the CAA trips these days! Windsor is always the highlight of his year and he’s been trying to get me to go with him for eons. He would have a million suggestions for this thread. Alas I have none lol.
I am quite sure my parents would know him. They always have an AMAZING time on their trips and have nothing but wonderful things to say about each trip. You can let him know that his work is well appreciated! My sister (who doesn’t ride any longer) and I have both discussed joining the CAA just based on my parent’s glowing recommendations.
I’m sure they do, he knows everyone in carriage land I will pass on the kind words, he really works hard to plan out a good time. Next year’s group trip is to Portugal I believe!
The Trade Turnouts are, IMO, some of the best classes at Windsor, sponsored by the CAA. These are vintage delivery vehicles, beautifully restored and maintained, pulled by appropriate horses or ponies and driven by people dressed to the nines in their appropriate historic garb. It is fascinating to see the diversity of vehicles. The standard is amazing.