Organisers of the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses have announced the date for the 2019 National Shire Horse Show.

The Shire Horse Society will return to Staffordshire Showground for the fourth time next year – staging its annual show from 22  to 24  March 2019.

Expected to attract around 250 pedigree Shire horses from across Europe, the show is the flagship event for the organisation which is the only charity dedicated to the protection, promotion and improvement of the Shire horse.

Visitors can watch the iconic breed in all its finery, with horses put through their paces in-hand, ridden and in-harness.

There’s the chance to find out more about Shire horses and their role throughout history. Plus, the popular stable tours introduced for the first time in 2018 will return in 2019.

New for next year’s show is a dedicated Food Hall – selling artisan and speciality foods – which will complement the wide range of trade stands that provide browsing and shopping opportunities for visitors.

“We’re pleased to announce the date for our 2019 National Shire Horse Show and are looking forward to returning to Staffordshire Showground from 22  to 24  March next year – our fourth visit to the venue,” said Shire Horse Society secretary Victoria Clayton.

“This event is the opportunity not only for our members to compete and win prizes in their classes, and to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show, it’s also the chance for us to raise the profile of the Shire horse, which is currently regarded as an ‘at risk’ breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

“It’s really important that we continue our valuable work to support and protect the breed, which was in danger of dying out completely just a few decades ago, and we look forward to welcoming lots of members, supporters and visitors to our flagship event once again.”

The Shire horse has played a huge role in the history of Great Britain, but as a breed it is still regarded as an endangered species, with fewer than 300 pedigree Shire horse foals registered every year.

The Shire Horse Society’s National Show gives visitors the chance to get up close to the gentle giants of the horse world and help secure the breed’s future, added Victoria.

Tickets will go on sale later this year on the Shire Horse Society’s website