It’s funny how often we miss out on the local attractions literally in our backyard. The Tempel Lipizzans are very close to us and every summer I swear I will find the time to take the boys, and every summer wraps up without making it there. Hopefully THIS summer will be the one!
Best known for seemingly gravity-defying leaps that have prompted many to describe their breed as the equine equivalent to Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Tempel Lipizzans will begin performing their internationally-acclaimed “Ballet of the White Stallions” on Saturday, June 21, this summer. Performances are scheduled for 6 – 8 p.m. on select Saturday evenings, and 1 – 3 p.m. on select Sundays and Wednesdays, through Sep. 13. All shows take place at Tempel Farms in rural Old Mill Creek, Ill., where the rare Lipizzan horses are bred, trained and perform.
Set to classical music, Tempel Lipizzan performances follow the horses’ training from the basic movements of the youngest stallions, through “high school” dressage – rhythmic, choreographed dance steps on the ground – and the dramatic Pegasus-like “Airs Above the Ground” for which the breed is famed. Lipizzans are one of very few breeds that possess the combination of physical power, athleticism and suppleness to perform these airborne moves.
An early breed established in Europe many centuries ago, these powerful horses were originally trained for medieval battle maneuvers for royal armies. Their graceful moves were refined to a form of entertainment during the late Renaissance in the royal courts of Europe. Today, two places in the world are most closely associated with classical Lipizzan performance, the famed Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, and Tempel Farms in Chicago’s far north suburbs. Here, the dancing stallions continue to entertain and delight audiences ranging from local horse lovers and history buffs, to urban families seeking a countryside getaway, and international tourists.
Following each performance, guests are invited to enjoy a self-guided tour through the stallion stable, visit the yearlings in the pasture, and ask questions of Tempel Lipizzan rider-trainers. Tempel Farms’ outdoor café opens for lunch at 11:30 a.m. on performance Sundays and Wednesdays, and at 4:30 p.m. on performance Saturdays for dinner and drinks.
Tempel Farms is located in northern Lake County, Ill., a 50-minute drive from Chicago or Milwaukee, near Great America. Saturday evening performances are scheduled for June 21, July 19, August 16 and September 13. Matinee shows will be held on June 25, June 29, July 6, July 9, July 13, July 23, July 27, Aug. 3, Aug. 6, Aug. 10, Aug. 20, Aug. 24, Sep. 3 and Sep. 7. Tickets purchased in advance are $25 for adults, $20 for active military and veterans, and $15 for children under the age of 15. Tickets purchased at the gate are $30 for adults and $20 for children and active military/veterans.
The Tempel Lipizzans began in 1958 when the late Tempel and Esther Smith imported 20 Lipizzans from the Austrian stud farm in Piber and started what became the largest privately owned herd of Lipizzans in the world. Their prestigious appearances include several Presidential Inaugurals and special exhibitions at the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Taste of Chicago, Ravinia Festival, Arlington Racecourse and Madison Square Garden. In 1997, the President of Austria presented the Smith family with the Officer’s cross, Grand Declaration of Honour for Service to the Republic of Austria, in recognition of their “careful management of a cultural institution with such close ties to Austria.” Tempel Farms is the only place in the United States where these rare white horses are bred, trained and perform on the same property.