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Megan Markle and Prince Harry’s highly anticipated royal wedding is fast-approaching—and now you have the perfect excuse to keep the party going. Just one day after the royal festivities (and for the first time ever in Vancouver history), an acrobatic display of equestrian skill will be gracing the heart of the city. On Sunday, May 20, more than 500 tonnes of Olympic-quality sand will be poured into the Queen Elizabeth Theatre parking lot to create a 13,000-square-foot equestrian riding ring, complete with bleachers and a jumbotron, for the first-ever Vancouver Grand Prix.
And though you’re welcome to don fascinator hats and three piece suits, the event is, more or less, polo for the people. Hosted by the Thunderbird Show Park and Vancouver Polo Club, the inaugural Grand Prix is a full day of events featuring local and international riders of all skill levels and ages—and is meant to challenge the stigma that equestrianism is just a past-time for the super-wealthy. “The equestrian lifestyle a wide spectrum of people,” says Warren Kean, director of marketing and special events for Thunderbird. “It’s really just an appreciation for sport competition.”
The main events are a 3-on-3 “Gladiator” polo match, a modified version of the game that maintains a fast pace of play, and a 1.4-metre show jumping tournament (a height just 0.2 metres short of the 1.6-metre Olympic competition). General admission is free with the opportunity for children (sorry, moms and dads) to fulfill their life-long dreams of riding a pony; parents can sip wine and dine from the nearby food trucks and beer garden. Or, if you really want to channel your inner royal, VIP tickets (which include light fare and beverages) are available.
According to Kean, equestrianism is the only Olympic category that stands out as a beacon of gender equality since men and women can compete against each other with one another—and B.C. reigns as the province known around the world for being a leader in the dynamic sport. “We just want more people in Vancouver to know what is and enjoy it,” says Kean. “You can’t really get this anywhere else.”
Sunday, May 20 (2 to 8 p.m.)668 Cambie Streetvancouvergrandprix.com