Are you planning on attending the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 and looking for all the information you need for your visit? Do you live in the Upstate region and are considering attending the games? We have put together this comprehensive guide that will give you all the information you need for the 2018 Games in Tryon including where to stay, where to eat, where to park, and what else you can do in the Tryon area.
Update 9/12/18: PHOTOS from the first day of competition are here. A FREE Community Day is happening at the games on Monday, September 17th as well. There are no competitions that day but everything on the grounds – including kids activities like the carousel- are open!
Half a million spectators are expected to flood into North Carolina in September for one of the largest horse competitions in the world, the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) in Mill Spring, NC.. The economic impact is enormous, which could trickle into the Upstate’s economy – organizers expect the games to generate $400 million into the greater Carolinas.
John Lummus is president and CEO of Upstate SC Alliance and told the Upstate Business Journal that he “anticipate[s] a great deal of eyes will be on Tryon and nearby communities like Asheville [N.C.], Greenville, Spartanburg, and the surrounding retreats.”
In a word, these games are going to be huge. They are happening at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, NC, only an hour from Greenville. This is the place that our readers just love! They have Saturday Night Lights events over the summer that are free of charge and include lots of kid-friendly activities like a carousel, face painting, pony rides, magicians, and a horse show.
What are these games?
The World Equestrian Games™ are held every four years in the mid-Olympic cycle, the largest event of its kind. The events showcases the core disciplines of reining, vaulting, driving, endurance, dressing and para-equestrian dressage, show jumping, and eventing.
The games happen from September 11-23. The 2014 games in Normandy attracted over 1,200 horses, almost 1,000 riders and 575,000 spectator. Again, this is huge.
Each discipline will have its own competition and a schedule of events are here. If you’re not familiar with horse competitions, here is what each discipline means in regular people terms:
Dressage is actually an Olympic sport and has been compared to ballet, where horse and rider work together to create a beautiful performance in tune with music of the rider’s preference.
Driving is probably the most exciting for the spectators as they watch a three-man team navigate four horses that are pulling a carriage through a specially designed course that includes water obstacles and sharp turns. The phases for the driving competition are split up into three days: Dressage, Marathon and Cones.
Endurance is exactly as it sounds: a test of both horse and rider through 100-mile course to challenge the speed and endurance of both. Mandatory rest periods and vet checks are enforced to ensure the welfare of rider and horse.
Eventing is another Olympic discipline that tests the jumping, dressage, and endurance of horse and rider over a three-day period of competition.
Jumping is the third Olympic discipline, and arguably the most popular, as it showcases the rider’s ability to control the horse as it soars over obstacles.
Reining is the only western discipline for these games and looks most like what rodeo horses do when they spin, ride in fast circles, and pull off immediate stops. This competition will happen at the indoor arena at TIEC.
Vaulting is essentially gymnastics on a horse and has its origins in the circus. There are individual, team, and freestyle competitions where the rider performs gymnastics moves on the back of the horse as it rides.
Para-Equestrian Dressage is the same as dressage except riders are scored by their division of functional abilities. The bond between horse and rider are perhaps even more evident as these special athletes demonstrate the relationship with their horse.
Are these events kid-friendly?
Yes, but some more than others. At Saturday Nights Lights, the horse competition is usually jumping and dressage and spectators are requested to stay quiet as to not spook the horses. It’s pretty amazing though to watch but sometimes the smaller kids have trouble keeping quiet.
But other disciplines are more conducive to louder environments and are exciting for the kids to cheer along. For example, Reining events encourage a loud and rowdy crowd. The Cross-Country phase of Eventing and the Marathon phase of Driving are done in an open, outdoor atmosphere and is exciting as spectators watch horses galloping through.
And Vaulting – gymnastics on a horse – is performed to might and often includes colorful costumes, both of which kids will likely love.
Kids are welcome at all events though so don’t be shy about checking out one that sounds like your family will love. Also, Reining and Vaulting are performed indoors, which could be great options if it’s a hot day. There are covered seating in the big arena outside as well.
All tickets include entry to the World Equine Expo™, which includes lot of fun activities and a kids zone. You can also buy these tickets separately.
Are tickets available?
Tickets are sold for individual disciplines, day passes, weekend passes, and all access passses. They can be purchased online. Tickets include access to all the grounds, restaurants, vendors, exhibitions, and entertainment. Parking will be an extra fee, which has not yet been released by the organizers.
Children two years old and younger are free but must sit on the lap of a ticket holder. If parents or guardians want that child to sit by themselves, they need to buy a ticket for them.
Day passes start at $20 per person. Individual competition passes start at $30 and some include more than one day and time for that individual competition.Passes for individual competition qualifiers are more expensive, upwards of $300. For the bad daddy of tickets, the All Sessions Full Games Pass is $1,380.
All tickets bought online are charged a service fee (8.5%) and sales tax (6.75%).
The Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) is only an hour from Greenville but maybe you want to stay up there for a few days or you have friends coming to town and want to check out the area near the games. There are certainly places to stay near Tryon, from hotels to AirBnbs and apartments. The official games website has a listing page of all area rentals that you can view here.
For a family-friendly place that has activities everyone can enjoy, Lake Lure is 18 miles from where the games are held. A quick Google search turns up several cabins, resorts, and vacation rentals in the area. This local website has information on where to stay as well. If you’re the outdoorsy type, there are several campgrounds in the area like Rutherford Mountain, Hitching Post, Hickory Nut Falls, or Creekside Mountain.
Asheville is an hour away from the TIEC so staying there is also an option for visitors. Hendersonville is a 30-minute drive away and other nearby towns are Landrum, SC, Flat Rock, NC, and Saluda, NC.
Many Greenville and Spartanburg hotels have reported rooms are already filling up for those dates so if you’re thinking of getting out of town and offering your own home for VRBO or Airbnb, maybe you can make some money during the games by hosting visitors.
Places to Eat Near Tryon International Equestrian Center
There are several places to eat on site at the TIEC. From full restaurants to coffee shop and general store, they have it.
Blue Ginger Sushi & Noodles: traditional sushi, rolls, sashimi and more
Campagna Italian Cuisine: wood fired pizza, Italian grill
Legends Grille: Seafood and steak
Roger’s Diner: classic diner fare, milkshakes, gluten free and diary free options
Siesta Cantina: Mexican cuisine, tacos, burritos, salads and margaritas
Mane Street Coffee: pastries and treats, serving North Carolina’s Larry’s coffee
The General Store: Ice cream, deli, along with groceries and donuts
Nearby Columbus, NC is about 8 ½ miles from Tryon. Google maps says that’s about an 11 minute drive, and there are a number of restaurants in Columbus. Here are a few with top reviews!
Mountain View BBQ & Deli: This Columbus favorite serves pulled pork, bbq ribs, brisket and more
Southern Manners: Open for breakfast and lunch, sandwiches, pastries, milkshakes
The Brick Pizzeria: Pizzeria with a variety of appetizers, salads and traditional Italian dishes
Rutherfordton, NC is a little farther from the Equestrian Center but at 12 miles away (an approximately 20 minute drive) it is still a good option for a meal. We’ve listed a few with great reviews.
Rutherford Thai: Popular Rutherford restaurant serving Thai food for lunch and dinner
Mi Puebltio: Mexican restaurant serving salads, nachos and combos loaded with traditional Mexican favorites
Scoggins Seafood and Steakhouse: Lobster, prime rib, steaks, chicken, salad bar, and a lot more!
General parking will not be available at the TIEC for this event. Parking will be available at nearby lots with shuttle service. It will not be free parking. More information on parking is still To Be Announced, check the World Equestrian Games™ FAQ page for updated parking information.
Extra Things to Do in Tryon and the Upstate
If you are looking for fun things to do in addition to attending the World Equestrian Games™, you have several nearby options. Tryon is a lovely town with art galleries, golfing, and picturesque views – you can easily spend a day just exploring the town itself! Here are some ideas to make the most out of your visit:
Go Back to Nature
The area surrounding Tryon offers excellent hiking and outdoor adventures. For example, families should check out The Gorge in nearby Saluda for an amazing zipline canopy tour. If a zipline tour over the gorge is out of your comfort zone, head to Pearson’s Falls for hiking and scenic waterfall views or to Chimney Rock State Park for amazing views of Western North Carolina.
Pick Some Apples
September is the ripe apple-picking time, and Western North Carolina is home to several outstanding apple orchards where you can pick your own bushel. Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock is a popular venue for families.
Play Like a Kid
Tryon is situated close to two super fun children’s museums. Kid Senses Interactive Children’s Museum is located in nearby Rutherfordton, and Hands On! Children’s Museum is located in nearby Hendersonville. Both are only a short car drive away from the equestrian center. Additionally, if your kids near to run off some energy indoors, Mountain Play Lodge is close by in Arden.
Tour the Wineries
Within minutes of the TIEC are several award-winning wineries, such as Mountain Brook Vineyards, Parker-Binns Vineyards, Overmountain Winery, and others, that offer wine tastings and more. To get an idea of where to start, check out the WNC Wine Trail. It will tell you where to find the area’s best wineries.
Be a Tourist
The location of the World Equestrian Games™ could not be any better. Your family can hop in the car and tour several nearby towns and popular tourist destinations, such as the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Plus, Tryon is only 40 minutes from Spartanburg, South Carolina and 1 hour from Greenville, South Carolina. Visit Kidding Around Greenville and Kidding Around Spartanburg to find out the many fun things to do with kids here. We’d love to have you visit the place we are proud to call home!
Will your family visit Tryon for the World Equestrian Games™ this September?
This website post was a collaborative effort by Kidding Around Contributors Kristina Hernandez, Jennifer Curry and Maria Bassett.