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A Guide to Unmissable Equestrian Events in Wellington, FL

A Guide to Unmissable Equestrian Events in Wellington, FL

Considered the “Winter Equestrian Capital of the World,” no other community shows as much unbridled passion for horses, riding, and equestrian competitions as Wellington, Florida. Located in the heart of upmarket Palm Beach County, thousands of equestrians, horse-lovers, and breeders have made the village their home, subsequently enjoying convenient access to some of America’s most popular equestrian festivals and events.

Recognized as a top broker in the U.S. year after year, Darlene Streit knows how important it is for equestrians and horse enthusiasts to take advantage of all Wellington has to offer. With decades of experience, and an intimate knowledge of Palm Beach County’s competitive property market, Darlene is an unmatched expert at helping interested buyers get to know the nuances of the neighborhoods they’re interested in. This guide gives visitors, potential homebuyers, and even Wellington locals, a unique insight into the community’s top equestrian events and life in the village.

Wellington International (formerly Palm Beach International Equestrian Center)

Photo courtesy of Wellington International
Recently rebranded as Wellington International, the former Palm Beach International Equestrian Center serves as a major hub of equestrian events and facilities in the region.

Home to the highly-anticipated Winter Equestrian Festival and Adequan Global Dressage Festival, the spectacular 500-acre facility features over 18 competition arenas, including a derby field and an expansive covered stadium.

The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF)

Held over 12 weeks from January to March, the Winter Equestrian Festival is the largest horse-centric event held in Wellington. Consisting of a range of equitation, hunting, and jumping competitions, the WEF is one of the world's longest-running equestrian sporting events. For its duration, riders from across the U.S. and over 40 other nations compete in junior, adult amateur, and professional riding events with a combined prize value of over $10 million.

The WEF is attended by over 250,000 spectators and guests, and people travel from across the U.S. and the globe to come enjoy the spectacle of thousands of horses and riders showcasing their unique abilities. Casual spectators should not miss the costumed relay race during the Saturday Night Lights Grand Prix, which also features fun, family-friendly activities like carousels, face painting, and live bands.

Key events throughout the Winter Equestrian Festival

The WEF provides an unmatched level of entertainment in the equestrian sporting calendar, with the following events marking the highlights of the festival:
  • FEI Nations Cup: Presented by Premier Equestrian, this is a highlight event where riders represent their countries and compete for $150,000 in prize money
  • $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5: This event serves as the season’s climax event, where the world's top show jumpers compete for the largest single-class prize money in the WEF.
  • The Wanderers Club Grand Prix CSI4: The best horses and riders compete for the last time under the floodlights with $216,000 in prize money up for grabs in the season's grand final.

The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF)

Also hosted on the grounds of Wellington International, The Adequan Global Dressage Festival is one of the world’s largest dressage circuits. As a 12-series competition highlighting skill, athleticism, and technical expertise, the AGDF has one of the highest prize pools within the discipline.

Drawing more than 1,000 horses and riders from around the world, the competition is attended by thousands of spectators who take up residence in Wellington and surrounding towns to enjoy everything the venue and festival have to offer. Throughout the festival, participants have the opportunity to earn points and possibly qualify for the FEI World Cup finals. 

Experience the best of Wellington’s equestrian showmanship

As one of the world’s premier equestrian events venues, Wellington International feels like a community within a community. With numerous shopping villages, onsite dining locations, and some of the country’s most beautiful competition grounds, Wellington International offers visitors far more than just the annual competitions to enjoy.

A world-class facility

With over 500 acres at its disposal, Wellington International is a hub of entertainment and equestrian enthusiasm. Much more than just incredible feats of horsemanship on show, the facility is split into two main regions: the Main Grounds and the Equestrian Village, with each offering unique amenities, including: 
  • Derby field with natural obstacles
  • The Van Kampen Arena, one of the largest covered arenas in the world
  • International Arena with VIP seating
  • Golf cart tracks
  • Pedestrian paths
  • Multiple shopping areas including Vendor Village, Tiki Terrace and the International Shoppes
  • More than 400 stalls and food vendors
  • Warm-up arenas
In addition to exclusive competitive events, the facility hosts a riding academy open to the public. 

Shopping around the showgrounds

When not enthralled by spectacular riding and beautiful horses, visitors to Wellington International have ample chance to enjoy the many shopping and food stalls in the various onsite shopping villages, including:
  • Hunter Hill
  • The International Shoppes
  • Bridge Deck
  • Vendor Village
  • Tiki Terrace
The villages are home to many boutique stores that sell everything from fine art and jewelry to men’s and women’s fashion. The shops are also well known for stocking high-end tack and are a great place to pick up a new bridle or set of spurs for your riding pursuits.

During festivals and events, many of the stalls in the shopping villages also sell freshly made food, snacks, and drinks that keep visitors coming back for more.

Delight your taste buds

Photo courtesy of Veuve Clicquot Suites
Wellington International is home to several restaurants. For those in the mood for a quick bite, there are many specialty vendors selling tacos, burgers, sweets, and other fast foods.

However, the facility’s upscale dining experiences are not to be missed. The Veuve Clicquot Suites, with unbeatable arena views, offer a full buffet and signature bar options during popular events. There are also many more sit-down eateries around the grounds, including MDI Lobster & BBQ, Harry’s Lemonade, Anonymous Coffee, and the Island Kitchen. Group lunches and guided tours can also be arranged upon request during the WEF season.

National Polo Center (formerly The International Polo Club/IPC)

As the premier polo destination in the world, the USPA National Polo Center is a world-class facility, home to the most prestigious polo events in the country. Set on a 248-acre property, the club features well-manicured greens, a lake, lush landscapes, and exclusive sponsor booths.

Here, the sporting season typically starts on January 1 and ends in late April/early May, culminating in the U.S. Open Polo Championship to close the event. Besides hosting several highly anticipated polo matches and events, the facility is also home to many other outdoor sports fields, including rugby, field hockey, and soccer.

The most popular public events outside of key U.S. Open matches are undoubtedly the Sunday feature matches which take place every Sunday, as the name suggests, and are open to the public with free admission.

Besides being a top-of-the-range polo venue, the IPC is also home to a polo school for all ages, and several restaurants where visitors can enjoy intimate meals and a delightful Sunday Brunch, accompanied by extensive wine lists and highly attentive service. The IPC also has an onsite spa and fitness center, where visitors and members can take advantage of the many services and amenities they provide.

Palm Beach Masters Series

Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Masters
Held on the impressive grounds of Deeridge Farms, the Palm Beach Masters Series is a high-performance exhibition and competition of some of the best show jumping in Wellington and the U.S.

With events scheduled in the peak show months between January and March, the surrounding land is often filled with eager boutique vendors and stalls ready to sell delicious snacks and souvenirs to spectators and equestrians alike.

The series’ penultimate event, the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup in Wellington, offers prize money of over $200,000 and draws stiff competition from across the country and around the globe. The series is also known for the popular Deeridge Derby, where immaculate show hunters take center stage and compete in several events including the highly competitive USHJA International Hunter Derby.

Explore Wellington with an Expert

The above-mentioned shows, events and competitions merely scratch the surface of Wellington’s thriving, energetic equestrian events scene. Horses are the lifeblood of the village, and as such, the community hosts a range of smaller gatherings throughout the year that draws spectators and competitors from across the state and country.

For new residents and potential Wellington homeowners, navigating the various schedules of multiple events and festivals in the village can be as tricky as finding your perfect Wellington home. Darlene Streit, a Wellington expert with decades of experience, has an uncanny ability to match buyers to their dream homes. Whether you’re searching for acreage to house your own horses, or are simply an enthusiast looking to buy a house near a riding school and stables, Darlene has an intimate knowledge and unrivaled expertise in Wellington.

Whether it’s Wellington or Palm Beach County real estate, Darlene Streit can help you find the perfect home, gain priceless community insights, and provide unmatched responsiveness to your requests and questions. If you're looking to learn more about living in the winter horse capital of the world, contact Darlene today for more Wellington insights, and also browse the buyer and seller resources on her information-packed website.

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