The celebrations begin on Thursday with a dress rehearsal, and well over 10,000 people are expected to attend Saturday’s gala performance.
As well as a demonstration of classical dressage from the Austrian Lipizzaners and the Spanish horses, the foals and broodmares will also make an appearance.
The Spanish Riding School was named for the Spanish horses that formed one of the bases of the Lipizzan breed, which is used exclusively at the school. The modern Lipizzaner horses are a cross between Spanish, Arabian and Berber horses.
The first mention of the existence of a Spanish Riding School is dated September 20th 1565.
A document bearing this date refers to an amount of 100 gulden for creating a “Thumblplatz im Garten an der Purgkh alhie” (a playground in the garden on the castle boulevard).
An outdoor riding and tournament ground was installed at the time near the Imperial Palace on land presently occupied by Josefsplatz.
A special anniversary performance will be held on Heldenplatz at 7.00pm on Friday June 26th in front of the Office of the Federal President.
A commemorative coin to mark the anniversary will be available from an Austrian Post stand set up on Heldenplatz.
Agriculture Minister Andrä Rupprechter said that the Lipizzaners are Austria’s “cultural and tourism ambassadors” throughout the world and that he feels very proud to be able to represent them.
The Fete Imperiale summer ball will also take place on Friday – with the Spanish Riding School transformed into an impressive ballroom for a night. The arena where the Lipizzaners normally perform their classical dressage becomes a dance floor, while the galleries of the Winter Riding School are available for strolling and watching.
Dress rehearsal: Thursday, 7.00pm
Anniversary performance: Friday, 7.00pm
Gala performance: Saturday, 7.00pm