The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) circuits hosted at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) from January to April each season in Wellington, FL, have quickly become the equestrian headquarters of the world. Steeped in history, the venues provide riders from around the globe a winter haven to perfect their talents and prepare for a competitive season stateside or in Europe or South America during the spring, summer, and fall months.
The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) is owned by the Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP) headed by Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of the group and CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, the entity that is responsible for operating and managing the group’s properties. Following the conclusion of the season in 2016, Bellissimo and WEP announced the acquisition of the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), the heartbeat of polo in the United States.
The beautiful Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is home to the season’s major events. It encompasses a total of 500 acres, with competition rings alone covering over 80 acres. PBIEC has two core facilities containing over 18 competition arenas, including a beautiful grass jumping field, and the largest covered arena in the world.
The 2017 season marks the 38th year of the Winter Equestrian Festival, which will run from January 11, and through April 2. The largest and longest-running equestrian circuit in the world, WEF awards over $9 million in prize money and offers unrivaled opportunities for international show jumpers to earn valuable FEI World Ranking points.
Making the event truly unique, WEF hosts more than 70 different divisions for competitors of every level, from leadline to Olympic-level show jumping. Children, juniors, adults, amateurs, and professional riders of every age, from 43 countries and 50 U.S. states, bring more than 6,500 horses and ponies to participate in events at PBIEC throughout the winter season. With so many opportunities to compete over the 12-week circuit, WEF provides fantastic education and experience for every horse and rider and is the world’s most popular winter equestrian destination.
A number of the world’s top contenders base in Wellington, FL, for the winter season, including elite U.S. riders Georgina Bloomberg, Jessica Springsteen, and Kent Farrington. Bloomberg, who has shown at the venue for the majority of her riding career, commented on the strength of the circuit’s show schedule, stating, ““WEF is the hardest competition in the world because you not only deal with the best riders, but also the biggest numbers,” she continued. “You are riding against good riders, and a lot of them! You have to be on your game every class if you want to win; there are no easy wins at WEF.”
Highlights of the 2017 WEF circuit include four weeks of FEI CSI5* competition. The five-star grand prix events will be featured on Saturday nights February 11, February 25, March 11, and March 25. The $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, previously held in the twelfth and final week of competition, has been moved to week 11 this season, and is sure to be one of the best nights of the season.
On Saturday nights, the family-fun atmosphere and adult nightlife comes alive at PBIEC’s “Saturday Night Lights” events. The Kid’s Fair is always popular, featuring the Venetian carousel, bounce houses, face painting, pony rides, magicians, a petting zoo, and more. As always, families can choose from a variety of food vendors. A live band and different performers from the local Wellington elementary schools also entertain the crowds each week.
The Veuve Clicquot Suites offer a spectacular setting to watch the largest Grand Prix class of the week as top equestrian athletes and Olympians compete for international titles. Guests are treated to a VIP evening with family or close friends while enjoying live music, food, and crowd performers from the comfort of their Suite. The Veuve Clicquot Suites provide an intimate setting with optimal viewing for small groups of six or parties up to 22 people – all right in the middle of the equestrian action.
Beachside at WEF, one of the most popular seating areas to watch show jumping action is an open-air ringside seating area just steps away from world-famous show jumpers galloping by. Table purchases include buffet and table service. It will offer the legendary Veuve Clicquot with VIP packages. To book your Veuve Clicquot Suite at WEF, call 561-784-1136 and to book a table at Beachside, call 561-603-2958.
Located just across the street from the hotbed of the Winter Equestrian Festival is the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, which hosts the world’s richest dressage circuit, and one of the most prominent competitions of its kind. The series will offer more than $800,000 in prize money this season and feature some of the world’s top competition for dressage including the only FEI CDI 5* in the Northern Hemisphere, and the only non-championship Nations’ Cup™ CDIO 3* at the end of March to conclude the season.
Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to come out and enjoy all that the venue has to offer. Thomas Baur, Director of Sport at AGDF, commented, “AGDF is an excellent place for spectators to come and watch some of the best dressage riders in the world compete. There really is so much for the audience to do. Shopping, entertainment, and fun on Friday nights. There is also a new opportunity this season for spectator participation with a mobile audience test scoring app.”
There are several hospitality options available at AGDF in the VIP Pavilion and West End Pavilion throughout the week and during the highlight “Friday Night Lights” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, hosted each week of international CDI competition beginning at 7:00 p.m.
For more information on Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) please visit www.pbiec.com and to learn about the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) please visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.