The Tempel Lipizzans

It’s a beautiful summer evening. A blue sky, a slight breeze…a gorgeous night to be at Tempel Farms. If you grew up in Lake County, you might have been to a performance by the Lipizzan horses when you were younger. I did, and recently I got to take my own family.

Located near Hunt Club Road and W. Wadsworth Road in Old Mill Creek is Tempel Farms where the Tempel Lipizzan training facility is located. Lipizzan horses are the oldest European breed of horse. They are highly trainable and have been used in war, for driving carriages, and in dressage. The Lipizzan performances show the training that is done at the Tempel Lipizzans, including dressage (which is an Olympic sport) and work in hand (the trainer leads the horse from the ground).

Before the Show

When getting to Tempel Farms, please note that my GPS did not completely take me to the correct entrance. You may need to travel a little further east than the navigation system directs. There will be a sign for the correct entrance. We got there about an hour before and parking was not a problem. Note: the parking lot is not paved (as well as the barn if you do a tour afterward); you may want to keep that in mind when choosing shoes. (Speaking of dress: no dress code required.)

A golf cart shuttle is available to go from the parking lot to the tent or the seating area, if needed.

The gates open an hour and a half before the show begins (show times are 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.). There is a tent to purchase food and drinks (including wine and beer), catered by Chez Vous, so if you arrive early, you can relax and have a nice meal. There are quite a few tables under the tent as well picnic tables overlooking the farm. Food and drink are also allowed in the show seating area. (Also in the tent are souvenirs for purchase, such as stuffed animals, floral hair vines, books, and postcards.)

Food and drink tent

Seating on both sides of the arena is bleacher-style and first-come. There is also reserved handicapped seating on the grass (chairs).  The seating area has a covering, however, depending on where the sun is, you may need sunglasses and sunblock for the day show. We went to an evening show; we were not attacked by bugs, but it doesn’t hurt to prep for that just in case. It did get a little chilly for the kids, so bring jackets or a blanket. If it rains, the performance will take place indoors (Note: there is not air conditioning, so dress accordingly.)

Got antsy kids? As you wait for the show to begin, you can walk around. Some of the horses were out beforehand at the top of the hill. We stood at the bottom of the hill and watched them getting ready. There were also coloring sheets, clipboards, and crayons in the stands. You may want to bring your usual artillery of things to do while you wait for the show to begin. As for bathrooms: there are porta potties near both sets of seats.

Watching the horses before the show.

During the Show

Fittingly, the performances are described as “ballet on horseback.” This is quite true. The horses perform leaps, jumps, and even pirouettes. Like a ballet, the show is broken up into different segments and set to classical music, including Mozart, Vivaldi, and Tchaikovsky. Before each, an explanation is provided (as well as being in the program). The performances are done is in the order of training, beginning with the mares and their foals and ending with highly skills horses. My kids loved seeing the young horses having fun in the arena. They definitely saw themselves in the foals playfulness.

Other numbers include a horse-drawn carriage, a tribute to the Olympic Sport of Dressage (with a guest rider), and Work in Hand/Airs Above the Ground (various tricks the kids will love, such as the horse leaping through the air!). It was a nice variety of performances.

The show from start to finish was a little under two hours, including a short intermission.

If you’re wondering if your little ones will be too squirmy, no worries. You can easily get up between segments to take a wiggle break. A woman in front of me had a baby and she stood off to the side for part of it. In that respect, it’s not like a dance performance where you’re locked in until the end of the show.

After the Show

Following each show is a self-guided tour of the stable. You can see the indoor arena, the stalls, and meet the horses and riders. One of the riders and her horse were stationed out in front of the stable, and families could get pictures with them. In the stable, some horses were out of the stalls so people could pet them.

This was such a unique experience for the family and conveniently located in Lake County. If your children love horses, they will enjoy the magic and grace of the Tempel Lipizzan performance. Melissa made a video of her Barn Tour Experience last year.

The Tempel Lipizzans
17000 Wadsworth Road, Old Mill Creek | 847-244-5330
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2017 shows run through September, see full schedule and prices online


What do you love about the Tempel Lipizzans?

Dance academy of Libertyville
About Natalie Rompella 37 Articles
Natalie is the mom of two humans and one nonhuman. She is the author of more than forty books and resources for kids, was a teacher and a museum educator, and will always be a Lake County native. Natalie enjoys insects, sled dog racing (observing!), crafting/experimenting with her kids, and forming a world safe from peanuts. Find out more about her and her books at www.natalierompella.com.

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