Thousands of horse lovers to hot hoof it to Helix Park

The free event will celebrate horses
The free event will celebrate horses

Up to 15,000 people are expected to descend on the Helix next weekend for the park’s most ambitious event yet.

HorsePower is a celebration of Scotland’s rich equine heritage.

It will see a free day-long, action-packed programme of demonstrations and activities going on under the watchful eyes of the town’s iconic Kelpies.

The event on Saturday, September 9, will welcome horse stunt riders from the hit TV show Outlander and a park-wide living art exhibition.

More than 30 horses from across the country will also be on show, including rare breeds and the country’s beloved Clydesdales.

Ben Mardall, team leader for the Helix with Falkirk Community Trust, said: “We have staged big events here in the past.

“We had the Home event in 2014 to celebrate the park opening and the Fire and Light events at New Year.

“More recently we have had the Emergency Service Day in April and the Big Picnic in August.

“But HorsePower is definitely a step up.

“We are expecting between 12,000 and 15,000 people from the local area and further afield.

“I think there is now recognition from Visit Scotland, Event Scotland and Falkirk Council that Falkirk Community Trust has the skills to pull off a big event like this.

“It’s going to be a manic day but we are all very excited and can’t wait to welcome visitors on the day.”

HorsePower is part of a range of one-off activities taking place to mark the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, an initiative delivered by VisitScotland.

It is hoped the event will not only celebrate Scotland’s reliance on and relationship with horses but also promote Falkirk and the surrounding area’s heritage attractions.

Ben said: “When the themed year was announced last year, we started to look at how we could fit in with that.

“A celebration of equine heritage at the home of the Kelpies is what it’s all about.

“From there we started to engage with the British Horse Society which agreed to run its horse event here.”

The day will deliver live demonstrations of working horses including logging, barge-pulling along the canal, harrowing and shoeing.

Tickets can also be bought for pony rides for children and horse-drawn carriage rides from Falkirk Stadium will allow visitors to get up close to majestic animals – and Falkirk’s own fabulous Kelpies.

Two stunt shows from Les Amis team featuring riders from the Outlander TV series will bring history to life through impressive jousting techniques and Highlander displays in the Horsepower Arena.

A performance by UZ Arts, a Scottish artistic charity, will subvert the public with a performance inspired by the monumental Kelpies and the legendary Falkirk horse Carnera, a Clydesdale which pulled Barr’s delivery carts in the 1930s and stood nearly 20 hands high – six and a half feet from hoof to shoulder.

Spirit Unbroken brings together a horse spirit, a unicorn, an inter-active realm in which horses rule humans and a remarkable dance between a French horse, La Bête Noire, and its human partner.

Equine history and archaeology will be brought to life with the Dig It! museum container which will display a photo booth time machine, horse related artefacts and live exterior graffiti artwork.

A children’s activity marquee will also offer activities organised by the RSPB, Forth Environment Link, the Young Archaeologist’s Club and many more.

Ben added: “The programme is running twice with, effectively, a morning and an afternoon session so people can come for a half or full day.

“We will also have a food tent where 30 businesses will showcase local produce.

“There will be a team of 50 volunteers and hired stewards to marshal and sign post crowds, keeping everyone safe.

“We’re also trying to encourage people to use public transport because parking is always an issue.

“So there are free shuttle buses from Falkirk High and Grahamston stations running five times that day.”

HorsePower will be held at the Kelpies, the canal, the great lawn and the lagoon from 10am to 4pm.

For more information, including tickets and prices, visit www.thehelix.co.uk or follow the dedicated Facebook page.