Saturday nights in July and August mean polo at Morven Park.
The historic 1,000-acre estate on Leesburg’s northern boundary has long served as an international stage for top equestrians, but these events are as much about the party as they are about the ponies.
In addition to offering an evening of family fun, the program is intended to introduce more people to the former home of Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis, which trustees envision as a central park for the region, offering everything from miles of hiking trails to Olympic-caliber training facilities.
Each night of the Polo in the Park season features two matches, with one starting at 7 p.m. and the other at 8:30 p.m. Gates for spectators will open at 6 p.m.
The matches feature polo players from around the world.
Polo is considered to be one of the oldest team sports and was first played around 600 BC in China and Persia as training for cavalry units.The sport came west in the 1800s as it was adopted by British soldiers in India and was an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1936.
Arena polo is played on a 300-foot by 150-foot field enclosed by walls. The match consists of four chukkas, periods of play of seven and one-half minutes each. Teams of three players who battle to score goals by striking a mini soccer sized ball with mallets while maneuvering their horse at high speeds across the dirt surface. The action is fast-paced and nonstop as the ball bounces over the dirt and ricochets off the walls.
At Morven Park, spectators will see some of the best, including internationally renowned players Juan Salinas-Bentley and Doug Barnes of Destination Polo.
During the intermission between the two matches, organizers offer a variety of family-oriented events inside the polo arena.
Admission is by the carload, with general parking passes available for $35 in advance online at morvenparkpolo.org for $35, or $40 (cash only) at the gate. A limited number of tailgating passes provide reserved spots to set up a pop-up tent and table. Those VIP spots are already sold out for the opening night event.
What to bring: blanket, folding chairs, coolers and a picnic dinner.
What to leave at home: your pets (service animals excluded); grills with an open flame of any kind; pop-up tents, canopies, umbrellas; your smokes, vaping, smoking, e-cigarettes, and cigars are prohibited.
Stone Tower Winery is the official wine sponsor will be onsite at each event selling wine by the glass or bottle. Guests may also bring their own wine to enjoy.
In the event of inclement weather, a decision on whether to cancel the night’s activities will be made by 4 p.m. In that case, tickets may be used for that the following week’s matches.