Tryon International Equestrian Center Saturday Night Lights: The FREE Event You Should Not Miss

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Up for a FREE new adventure only a short drive from that the whole family will love? Tryon International Equestrian Center is only an hour or so from Greenville and a unique experience you will look forward to visiting again and again! We’ll fill you in on where this hidden secret is, what they offer and why you should visit!

Recently my mom and I met a lady from Landrum who shared with us her love for the Tryon International Equestrian Center. She was a really nice lady, but I honestly didn’t pay her much attention. You’ve been there, right? No offense to the lady, but I was just smiling and nodding my head to be nice. I had no intention of actually visiting Tryon, NC. I knew nothing of the town, so no thanks. (And why would I leave Greenville to visit a town no one’s ever heard of?)

Later that day we were sitting in the living room wondering why in the world we were sitting in the living room. The weather outside was gorgeous. The sun was shining and the temperature was pleasant, for lack of a more colorful word. We found ourselves falling into the abyss of, “so what do you want to do today?”

Mom finally spoke up and said, “You know, we could drive to Tryon and check out the Equestrian Center.”

Why not, I thought. It’s not far from Greenville and it was something to do. We grabbed the kiddos and set out to find this unfamiliar destination. Despite the cloud of pessimism hovering over my head, I slapped on a smile and decided to enjoy the day.

What we discovered in Tryon, NC

The forty-five-minute ride to Tryon was like driving across the picture on a postcard. Please note: as you drive up Highway 26, drive the speed limit. Troopers literally tuck themselves along the side of the road in an attempt to catch you speeding. The only reason I know this is because a friend told me. Really, it is. (Wink).

I perked up the moment we arrived. There is a security guard stationed at the gate to answer all your questions. Having never been, we had a lot. Although the festivities didn’t begin until the evening, the kind officer encouraged us to “have a look around.” So we did.

Four words came to mind: Who needs Churchill Downs? As soon as you enter the grounds, there is so much see. We went when there was nothing going on. I can only imagine what it looks like during events! The first thing our little one spotted was the carousel. There were restaurants and food/drink vendors galore. I won’t go as far as to compare it to Disney World but, during an event, Tryon International Equestrian Center could easily be the happiest place in North Carolina.

Before I go any further, allow me to share with you the best part of our journey. It wasn’t the shops, food or horses; nope, my favorite thing was the freshly squeezed lemonade! The real-life lemonade stand was parked right up front (at least it was the day we went) and they squeeze your drink right in front of you. It cost more than a quarter, but was well worth it.

Saturday Night Lights at TIEC

One of the coolest things about the TIEC is their free Saturday Night Lights program that starts in early summer and runs through October. The 2022 season kicks off May 21, 2022. You really won’t believe it’s free once you get there and find all the stuff they have for you to do.

They have a beautiful Venetian carousel, pony rides, hula hoops, a magician or two, and face painting. In the past, they’ve had fire performers, live music, and a mechanical horse. Then they have the actual horse jumping competition, which is blast to watch, even if you have little to no idea of what’s happening. The horses are gorgeous and the sport is delightful to watch.

There are vendors with fresh-squeezed lemonade and adult beverages plus places to grab dinner. Seating is first come, first serve but our favorite spot to see if the green hill on the west side of the stadium because kids can roll down it in between horse jumping.

One pro tip during the cooler months of October: bring blankets! It gets chilly and we saw so many people with blankets and considered them geniuses. They also looked very cozy. In the General Store, they sell coffee and hot chocolate, which I’d definitely recommend as well.

Yes, it really is free

You don’t have to pay for any of the activities. There are tip jars out if you want to leave something for the people who operate the carousel or do face painting but nothing there costs a cent. Even the parking is free. The only thing you’ll pay for is if you choose to purchase food or drinks.

2022 Schedule

Here is the 2022 schedule:

  • May 21st
  • May 28th
  • June 4th
  • June 11th
  • July 2nd
  • July 9th
  • July 16th
  • July 23rd
  • July 30th
  • October 1st
  • October 8th
  • October 15th
  • October 22nd
  • October 29th

Plan your own trip to Tryon International Equestrian Center

In addition to Saturday Night Lights, TIEC hosts a wide array of events that are also open to the public. See the complete calendar of events here. They also have lodgings right there at the equestrian center, which we imagine would be awesome to stay in.

Tryon International Equestrian Center
4066 Pea Ridge Road, Mill Spring, NC
828.863.1000

Would your family love a visit to Tryon International Equestrian Center?

Andrea Beam
About the Author
Andrea Beam works for the Greenville County School System, but her passion is writing! Greenville has always been her home. Her family enjoys exploring everything the town has to offer. In addition to Kidding Around Greenville, she blogs at Sunshine & Rain.

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