A look ahead to Southampton Boat Show 2017
PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 September 2017
The Southampton Boat Show is a landmark in the marine calendar and a fitting climax to the sailing season. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever. Here’s a taster of what’s to come between September 15 and 24
The Boat Show is back in Southampton this month, with new attractions, a new sponsor and plenty to keep all the family entertained on and off the water.
Now sponsored by YachtMarket.com, Europe’s largest boating festival is in its 49th year and organisers are keen to stress that this is not just an event for seasoned sailors. One of their priorities is to get more people out on the water enjoying sailing or watersports such as paddleboarding and kayaking. So novices and even landlubbers are welcome.
The YachtMarket.com Boat Show is organised by the boating industry trade association, British Marine, through its subsidiary. That means profits from the event and its other boat show in London go back into the industry.
For the children
The organisers have really pushed the boat out to keep the young ones entertained, and also introduce them safely to the joys of sailing and watersports. A good place to start for the over 8s are the free Get Afloat sessions runs by Rockley, with professional instructors on hand for dinghy sessions and stand up paddleboarding.
Gemma Hunt, from CBeebies programme Swashbuckle, will keep the children entertained from day one with a pirate song and dance show, meet and greets and autograph signings. She will also climb aboard the show’s Tall Ship, the Kaskelot, a three-masted sailing vessel and one of the largest wooden ships in commission. Visitors are welcome onboard.
Other family-friendly attractions, alongside live music and entertainment include Bell boating, a twin hulled open canoe seating up to 12, the Adventure Canoe River and Bumper Boats for children aged three to 13.
If you prefer to sit back and be entertained rather than hoisting the mainsail, there’s plenty on offer. Top tribute act Might Be Buble deliver the best of Michael Buble’s repertoire and So Sinatra bring Ol’ Blue Eyes back to life. The Caribbean sound of Steelasophical and Latin rhythms from The Pedro Lopez Trio complete the easy listening line up. Other events are being added all the time, so based on last year expect fashion shows, displays and talks. Keep checking the show’s website for updates.
Food and drink
From fine dining to quick bites, the show has got it covered. The Champagne Bar in Solent Park (opposite the live music stage) is as good a place to start as any, or there’s Pimms at the Street Food Harbour. Beer lovers can grab a pint at The Marina Bar in Solent Park or at Windward Wharf in Mayflower Park Mariner’s Grill is the show’s fine dining pop up restaurant in the Mayflower Hospitality Complex with views across the Marina, or for those in a hurry the Tapas Bar serves great food in a more casual atmosphere.
Take to the water
There’s not much point being here if you don’t at least dip a toe. There is so much to do on the water and a lot of it is free. For example, the whole family can try a giddying range of boats without charge just by booking at stand A101.
Or go for a free mini cruise on Southampton Water aboard the show’s mini cruise ship, the Ocean Scene.
It’s equipped with sundecks, bars and loos, each cruise lasts about 20 minutes and there are two sails every hour as follows:
• September 16, 17, 22 & 24: noon-4pm
• September 19, 20 & 21: 1pm-4pm
The show’s new Paddle River Experience in Solent Park is also free. All ages can canoe or paddleboard around a 60 metre course at their leisure, or race against the clock. For the more intrepid, why not get a 90-minute taste of sailing aboard a 72ft round the world Ocean Race Yacht, taking the helm, hoisting and trimming the sail or grinding the winches under the supervision of an experienced team. It’s suitable for novice and experienced sailors alike and costs £60, including an entry ticket for the show. All activities on the water are subject to suitable weather and there are age restrictions for some activities.
Boats & stuff
We all love a spot of browsing and you could spend all your time at the show just looking at the boats on display. From the smallest dinghy to the most luxurious craft, there are a giddying number to be seen and you can hop on and off them, with more than 300 boats on show on two kilometres of pontoons in Europe’s largest purpose built marina. Get the gear too with a spot of nautical shopping for everything from clothes to sails, satnavs and even engines in the huge Ocean Hall.
• When: Friday, September 15 to Sunday, September 24, from 10am-6.30pm except the final day, when gates close at 6pm. They will open at 9.30am on Friday 16, which is a public preview day.
• Where: Mayflower Park/Town Quay, Southampton SO15 1AG
• How: Follow the AA road signs on the M3, M27, M271 and main roads into Southampton. The postcode above will take you to the show entrance. There are 4,000 parking spaces a five-minute walk from the show. See west-quay.co.uk/visitor-info/parking or go to southampton.gov.uk.
• The closest railway station is Southampton Central. Exit from platform 4 to get to the show, a short walk or City Link bus ride away (£1 fare).
• Visitors from the Isle of Wight or Hythe can use Red Funnel Ferries and the Hythe Ferry to Town Quay, which is a five-minute walk from the show.