The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is one of the country’s most popular destinations for horse lovers for a lot of reasons. There’s the four-star level equestrian competition, of course, but also the shopping, the exhibitions, and the beauty of the Kentucky Horse Park in the springtime. The only downside might be when you have to leave the park at the end of each day.
The Kentucky Horse Park Campground, adjacent to the park itself, offers spaces for campers and RVs, and it’s popular–it sells out during Rolex week every year. But this new option is a different experience. Glamping, a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping,” is a form of outdoor living for the not-so-outdoorsy. Glampers are close to nature, but with some of the comforts of a nice hotel room. And while the glamping accommodations at Rolex sound pretty cushy, the real appeal is the access that comes with them.
“This is the first time we have offered camping inside the park,” says Lee Carter, Executive Director of Equestrian Events Inc. “Fans often ask if there are any ‘exclusive access’ or behind-the-scenes opportunities. We thought glamping was something where someone could say, ‘I spent the night inside the Horse Park during the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.’ It’s also nice to say that you just stepped out of your tent to watch cross-country!”
The experience doesn’t come cheap. The cost of a glamping package is currently listed as $1,850 for a four-night stay for two people. The package includes two four-day access passes which will allow glampers to come and go during the day. Separate tickets are required for seating in the stadium during the dressage and show jumping phases. They will also have access to the campground amenities, which include showers and bathrooms. A designated parking spot at the front of the general parking area is also included. Dogs are permitted with an additional fee.
Accommodations promise to be quite a bit more comfortable than primitive camping—potentially even a bit nicer than some hotel rooms. The structures are waterproof canvas tents with either two twin beds or a queen bed set up with comfortable bedding, plus a table and two chairs. A community gathering area with a phone-charging station and a fire pit will give glampers a place to socialize together in the evenings.
This initiative might be a first for the equestrian world, though it has been done at other festivals and some dude ranches have embraced the glamping trend. Carter says that there are 10 spots set aside for this year’s event, but with a location next to the cross-country course, there is plenty of room for growth if it turns out to be a popular offering.
Find out more about glamping packages as well as other ticket options for the 2017 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at www.rk3de.org.
This article was updated on 1/23/17.
Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. www.lesliepotterphoto.com