The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is a major highlight of the calendar for many countryside and equestrian lovers. People travel from across the country to visit and drink in the action in the shadow of one of England’s finest Elizabethan houses.
Located in the picturesque town of Stamford, Lincolnshire, I’m especially fond of this annual event as it takes place in my hometown. I’ve been going since I was a little girl, dreaming of riding horses as beautiful as the eventers you see over the four days.
Back in the days of Mary King and Star Appeal, I’d go home with my new grooming brushes to take to the local stables. Well, the dream of flying over fences twice my size didn’t quite come true (to my Mum’s relief I expect), but my lifelong love of horses hasn’t faded - I’m just more of a happy hacker nowadays!
Anyway, a day at Burghley flies quicker than Jonelle Price and Classic Moet, so it’s good to have a bit of a plan in mind. Here are my top tips for making the most of a fabulous day out!
1. Leave early and plan your day
It gets busy, and I mean really busy! This is a country market town and the entrances gather queues early on. You’re best to get up and get there early, then enjoy a nice relaxed breakfast once you’re in and plan your day.
2. Do your shopping first and know your key stops
Ok, controversial one as I know a lot of people like to browse then go back to their favourite stands at the end of the day, but I recommend doing your shopping first.
If you take my first piece of advice and get there early, you’ll be primed and ready to get your hands on exactly what you want. Don’t forget, some of these stand holders have come from miles away, so once a best seller is gone, it’s gone. Don’t miss out! If you have something specific in mind, do your shopping, put your bags in the car, then enjoy the rest of your day (and pick up any extra bits you fancy along the way).
I always start my Christmas shopping at Burghley so I can’t wait to see what gems I can find. Top of my list this year are Katie Cardew Illustrations, Hi Ho Silver, Fairfax and Favor, Culinary Concepts and Joules, although I’m super excited to find some smaller businesses to support.
3. Get your lunch spot sorted
Whether you’re picnicking or planning to indulge at some of the many naughty food stalls, make sure you think about roughly when and where.
If you’re having a picnic, I wouldn’t recommend picking the furthest spot on the cross country course - it’s a solid trek across the parkland, and with all that fizz and food you’ll soon be tired! There are some wonderful spots to picnic near the action but not a million miles away from the different car parks - so much easier to grab the supplies and drop them back off once you’re done.
But, to be honest, one of the highlights of such a big show is the volume and variety of food stands and artisan producers. You can pretty much build your own picnic, or snack your way through the day, and you’ll be offered so many samples at the food stands you’ll be lucky to fit in a full lunch!
This is one area to meander back through at the end of the day, gather up supplies and head home to put your feet up with some delicious treats after a full day of fun.
4. Don’t forget the horses!
This may sound like an obvious one but you’d be surprised how fast the day goes! Make sure you check out when your favourite riders are set to start and head to the arena or a favourite fence out on the cross country course to catch some of the action.
What with ALL the shopping, tasty treats and friends to catch up with, it can be far too easy to suddenly realise they’re on the last rider of the day and you’ve yet to see a horse! (Yes, I have been here on dressage day in a previous year. No, I won’t let it happen again!)
5. Meet up with friends for a fizz towards the end of the day
One of the best things about Burghley is the fabulous atmosphere. People arrange to see friends, laughter reigns supreme, the fizz flows and it feels like an escape from reality.
I love to meet up with friends from across the country while I’m there, but I also know I’ll enjoy being with them far too much and time will get away from me (see point four!). So I try to do all the bits I want to do, then meet people towards the end of the day when we can take our time over a G&T, chat about our day and not worry about getting back to that favourite stand before it shuts.
The bars buzz as the day goes on, and if you’re lucky and the sun is shining in that beautiful golden September way, the parkland looks like something straight out of a romantic novel. Cheers!
There’s nowhere quite like Burghley, and whatever you do with your day, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.
Tickets are still available on the gate. If you’re going, let me know, I’d love to say hi.
You can DM me on Instagram or pop me an email - Rhiannon@garnetpr.com.