London Boat Show
The London Boat Show is held each January at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London, just opposite the O2 and the centre of London's business and entertainment centre. It is a large event, now in its 60th year, which uses one of ExCeL's 32,500 square metre halls. It is organised by National Boat Shows, which is a subsidiary of the British Marine Federation, the trade association for the UK boating industry.
The Show features a wide range of boats, boating equipment and clothing with interactive sections and feature attractions devoted to boating. There is also a display of tall boats and other vessels in the Royal Victoria Dock immediately outside the exhibition centre.
One of the major benefits of ExCeL Exhibition Centre is that it is an on-water location where, every year, the show hosts a dedicated marina and a naval ship (either a destroyer or frigate). ExCeL is also the only exhibition venue in London that can host a regatta.
The first London Boat Show was held at Olympia, before moving to the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in 1957 due to increase in demand. A popular feature of the show during its time at Earls Court was the use of the venue's pool area to host floating boats for visitors' inspection. Up until the Second World War, sailing was very much a sport for the rich, but in the post-war years, with the launch of cheaper boats such as the dinghy, sailing became accessible to the middle classes and so there was demand for a show which could satisfy this trend.
The London Boat Show moved to ExCeL in 2004 because the old venue could no longer accommodate the vast selection of boats and equipment suppliers that visitors demanded from the show.Link text, additional text. The inclusion of smaller craft such as Dinghies, Kayaks, Canoes and Stand up Paddleboards, as well as popular watersports like Wakeboarding, led to the inclusion of the Watersports Action Pool, where visitors could watch the craft in-action indoors. Additionally Earls Court couldn’t accommodate the larger boats that visitors wanted to see and buy.
The move from the intimate space of Earls Court, to the more functional space at ExCel, has been felt by some to be detrimental to the visitor's enjoyment of the show, and was subsequently blamed for the steady decline in both visitors and exhibitors. However analysis of the figures shows that the downward trend in visitor attendance began before the move to ExCel, and is continuing despite various attempts by the organisers to increase the attractiveness of the show, such as introducing a Boardwalk indoors to allow visitors to view the larger boats below the waterline and a Used Boats Marina.
Earls Court had a great central feature, the pool, where some boats could be displayed on the water and there would often be some kind of show or demonstration. The orange tinged lighting gave it the feeling of being out in the sun (a flavour of summer in the midst of a London winter). It also had the balcony where you could look down on the central area and watch the show or just admire the boats from above. And of course the ceilings were very high in the central area of Hall 1 and in Hall 2 at Earl's Court, so that some yachts at least, could be displayed with their masts up. None of these features were carried forward to Excel which is a much more bland exhibition space.
Here are the attendances of recent years of the Show.
|2003||145,845||ABC audited||Last year at Earl's Court|
|2004||213,801||ABC audited||First year at ExCeL|
|2007||130,000||National Boat Shows press release, 14 January 2007 (unaudited)|
|2009||112,000||National Boat Shows press release, 18 January 2009 (unaudited)|
|2010||102,655||National Boat Shows press release, 17 January 2010 (unaudited)|
|2011||109,778||National Boat Shows press release, 17 January 2011 (unaudited)|
|2012||102,841||National Boat Shows press release, 16 January 2012 (unaudited)|