Royal Agricultural Winter Fair – My Favourite Horse Destination

I’m writing this post to tell you guys a little bit about a show that I go to almost every year in Toronto, Canada. It’s considered by some to be the #1 all-equestrian event destination in North America – the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair!

The Fair is held in Toronto near Lake Ontario in the early fall, although in 2018 it was held from November 2nd to 11th, so pretty late! It’s basically a fair where all of the farmers, ranchers, and riders around the region gather in Toronto.

I think it’s an awesome event. It’s definitely a great outing for the kids but they’ve also got some great dining, horse buying opportunities and general entertainment.

The Royal Horse Show

The Royal Horse Show features the Big Ben Challenge, which you may be familiar with. It’s the culminating event of the two-week-long fair with some substantial prize money for the winner. Show jumpers come from all over the world to compete in the Big Ben.

The shows culminate in almost $1 million worth of prize money to the most talented show jumper! 

In addition to show jumping, there’s dressage and even indoor eventing! These are usually the evening events. Leading up to them are dog shows such as the K9-Equine Challenge featuring the President’s Choice® SuperDogs®, Rodeo events, Liberty events and more.

Another really awesome part of the Royal Horse Show is the cart racing. Ranches from around North America put together their best cart-horse teams with exceptionally maintained vintage carts. Everyone dresses up in traditional attire and put on shows for the best style, form and look overall! The heavy cart horses are beautifully groomed, exceptionally trained and a wonder to see.

In the back at the stables, they have filly and colt showings. Impeccably bred and groomed foals are walked about in front of the crowds in the back arenas for sale.

The horse show is the biggest event of the whole Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and it includes a VIP experience. A lot of the horse owners are part of families that have raised incredibly bred horses for generations. They’re usually all part of the VIP guest list — but you can get in too if you are willing to pay a little bit extra:

“The Royal Club Experience”

If you’re wanting to have a luxury experience, you can purchase the Royal Club Experience. They offer 6 packages:

  • 3 night in either Platinum or Gold
  • 5 night in either Platinum or Gold
  • 6 night in either Platinum or Gold

The main difference between the Platinum and Gold packages are the locations of the seats for the horse shows. Included in all of the packages are:

  • Premium seats for all horse shows.
  • Members-only Tanbark Club access for dinner.
  • Access to the infamous horse show after-party.
  • Premium parking area underground.
  • Exclusive subscriber-only special events invitations.
  • Concierge service for restaurant reservations, free Tanbark Club coat check & personal assistance.

Check out the Royal Horse Show website for full details:

the infamous royal horse show afterparty

“Royal” Quality Shopping

I’m not going to lie – one of my favorite parts of the show are the vendors.

You have exceptional, independent brands from all over the world to show-case their equestrian equipment, apparel and accessories. Though some can be quite pricy, the quality is the best I’ve ever seen all in one place and you’ll also get every type of look you could want.

Zach (my boyfriend) and I both got our newest Western riding boots there, and I have a dressage jacket from there too. Yes, it was pricy but everything we bought is still in excellent condition to this day, even though that was years ago. Really, it hasn’t shown any signs of wearing.

Also, I have to also mention the food. There are the not-so-great pizza and hot dogs, yes — I mean, it’s a fair. But there’s also independent vendors with candy apples, freshly made real hot chocolate and meats and cheeses that are locally sourced.

Finally, there’s a wine competition and with the show being only an hour or so away from Niagara’s prime wine country – you can be sure that the wines are terrific, if you’re an avid wine drinker yourself.

Children’s Events

The main halls are where all the farm animals are held. It’s pretty amazing actually, to drag all these animals into Toronto. I don’t know how I feel about the dragging the animals out but once they’re all there – it’s amazing to see. And it’s also a great environment because all the ranchers and farmers are out together.

In addition to showcasing some of the best bred goats, lambs, milking cows and more exotic, specialty farm animals, there’s sections with activities for the kids:

  1. President’s Choice® Animal Theatre
  2. Burnbrae Farms™ Food & Lifestyle Stage
  3. Pizza Pizza® Petting Farm

These are all events that are aimed at show-casing the amazing feats that animals can do. There’s dog shows including dog herding, tricks, and even jumping. There’s also a petting area with animals from llamas to ponies. And there’s ongoing presentations about healthy eating, food preparation and cooking.

I remember last year when I was there, one of the little boys from the audience was up with the chef making a recipe! It was really sweet.

See You There!

As someone who’s loved the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair since I was a kid and go every year, I’m obviously biased to how awesome it is. But here’s the link to the main overall website so you can take a look and get more details for yourself:

the royal horse show has everything from show jumping to rodeo

I’m hoping that over the next few years as Equestrian Boots & Bridles grows a little more and we expand our inventory and do a bigger launch of our own apparel and equipment lines that we’ll be able to participate as a vendor. Fingers crossed!

As I’m writing this, by the way, there’s just over 200 days till the show and I’m already getting excited just thinking about it!

I attend each year and this one will be no different so comment below if you’re heading there and I’ll see you there 🙂

Also if you have any questions about the show let me know.



6 thoughts on “Royal Agricultural Winter Fair – My Favourite Horse Destination”

  1. I did not know that there were children’s events as well – that is awesome.

    Toronto seems to become the destination to go for just about every reason and season, lately. Having found out about this fair, makes me want to go even more.

    We already planned to take a trip to Canada this Fall, so we might be able to squeeze it in! 


  2. This is such a great sport as well as beautiful to watch and be a part of. I have never been to The Royal Horse Show, but The Big Ben Challenge sounds amazing, I would love to go sometime. The cart racing also looks like a blast, we have something g like that at our state fair here in Colorado. However it is in no way as big as this one. Great post, great read, loved it. Thanks.

    • Hey Bobbi, 

      I love Colorado! I’ve been there a few times riding through the mountains and it’s unbelievable 

      Happy you enjoyed the post – hope you come up and check it out sometimes 🙂 



  3. The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair looks like an amazing event! (We saw the first photo with what looks like a border collie…we have two, so of course we had to leave a comment!)

    I also love in that picture that the stands are full of people. This event must really draw in the crowds. Is it overly busy / crowded? Any idea when the best times to go would be?

    We are planning a trip to Canada in the fall and would love to make this event one of our stops!

    • You would love it – they do shows entirely with Border Collies and how they heard sheep and what they’re commands are. It’s pretty amazing to watch! 

      Oh yeah, it’s an extremely popular event, I would recommend booking tickets to the evening events especially well in advance if you want to get good seats. 

      The dates for this years will be released in the summer so I can’t tell you exactly now but if you want to see the horse shows then the weekend evenings are the best. What I usually do will come in the morning on the last Saturday and/or Sunday and then stay the full day too see all the day events and then go to the final horse shows like the Big Ben Challenge! 




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