What in the World is a Bonspiel?

Curling at one’s local curling club is fantastic, but perhaps even more exciting to most curlers is participating in a bonspiel every so often. Bonspiels offer curlers from around the world the opportunity to get together, compete against one another, and help grow their local curling clubs through increased exposure. So what exactly is a bonspiel and what makes them so fun?

A bonspiel is basically a 2-4 day curling tournament held typically at a local curling club. Any number of teams from around the world could compete, however typically most tournaments are open to a total of 24 to 48 teams on a first come first serve basis. The teams are placed into brackets and play multiple games over the course of the tournament. These events vary widely in terms of competitiveness, there are some which award large cash prizes to winners and there are others towards the other end of the spectrum where more of the focus is coming up with elaborate team costumes and just having a blast while curling.

Hosting a competitive event is both a lot of work but also a great marketing opportunity for a local curling club. The hosting club must secure the ice time for the 2-4 day period, organize the logistics of the tournament, and do their best to ensure all teams have a very positive experience while visiting. This is a great way to build and foster the reputation of a club because visiting curlers from around the world will return to their hometowns and hopefully speak positively about their experience at the host club.

From a team’s perspective, traveling to a tournament is one of the most enjoyable curling experiences one can have. The team gets a chance to bond while “on the road” and also meet a ton of other curlers from around the world, share tips, and develop friendships. Another benefit is the amount of curling the team gets to do during a bonspiel which is typically 4-8 games depending on the set-up. Generally a team would get to play one game per week at their local club, but a bonspiel offers the opportunity to play sometimes as many as 3 games in a single day! This can do wonders to improve one’s curling game; practice makes perfect.

Bonspiels are a wonderful thing from both a club’s and participant’s perspective. There are plenty of opportunities to participate in one almost anywhere in the U.S. In fact, there are approximately 260 of them every year in virtually every corner of the United States alone. Cost can vary, however most entry fees range between $400-$600 per team. This is a tremendous value for both the experience alone as well as the amount of curling time a team gets for the price. For a complete list of U.S. bonspiels, check out our bonspiel calendar.