The Boat Show is Southampton’s biggest event of the year, with over 110,000 people attending this joyful festival of all things yachting. Over 300 boats and 600 global marine brands will be exhibiting in the purpose-built marina in September for the show’s 51st edition. While the yachts themselves take centre stage, with everything from sailing dinghies and RIBs to superyachts, there’s a lot more going on besides. Live music and guest speakers will keep you entertained at the main stages, while watersports trials, boat trips, and jaw-dropping displays will keep the whole family smiling.
The Southampton International Boat Show prides itself on its variety and festival-like atmosphere. For those serious about purchasing their first or next boat, whether it’s a day cruiser or a large blue water yacht, the quays are packed with the very latest models and innovation. Yet it’s also a celebration of the ocean – from those who enjoy it on the weekends to those embarking on solo round the world voyages.
For 10 days the boat show takes over the heart of Southampton’s shoreline. The city’s main ferry and cruise ship terminal is in constant use and so a purpose-built marina is erected to house the hundreds of exhibitors and yachts large and small which crowd onto the floating jetties. The main entrance to the show is from Harbour Parade.
Hottest New Boats this Year
When we say there are a lot of boats exhibiting at the Southampton Boat Show, we mean over 600 vessels ranging from two metres all the way up to 30 metres. They are the beating heart of the event, lining the quays, their ensigns flapping and their decks gleaming. Walk the jetties to see everything from personal watercraft and inflatable RIBs, to beautiful examples of sailing yachts and multihulls, motorboats, fishing boats, sports boats and racing boats. While there’s plenty to see, be sure to keep a look out for our top choices:
Gulf Craft’s Oryx: The Oryx range by Gulf Craft gives the Sealine and Fairline boats some true competition, and is certain to continue making waves in the industry. Offering excellent value for money, this sporty motor yacht is both spacious and sleek. If you’re in the market for a stand-out sport boat in the 30-40 feet range, make sure you don’t miss out on seeing the Oryx.
Princess R35: Making her global debut is this stunning speedster from British yachting giants Princess. Reaching speeds of 50 knots, and with a suave, sporty silhouette worthy of James Bond, she is most certainly going to turn heads at this year’s show.
Figaro Beneteau 3: To see a true piece of marine innovation be sure to seek out this incredible feat of engineering from the team at Beneteau and Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost (VPLP) – architects of the last two boats to win the coveted Vendee Global round the world race.
The Southampton Boat Show really does have something for everyone. A far cry from other luxury events, it brings together a whole host of exhibitors, from small dinghies and stand-up paddleboards to events, music, entertainment and an impressive selection of sailing and motor boats.
Try-a-Boat: An impressive line-up of boats – RIBS, catamarans, sailing boats and motorboats - are waiting to take you and your family out onto the water. Whether you’re thinking of buying a boat, or just fancy a little adventure, be sure to book as soon as you arrive at the show as this is a popular activity. The booking point is located in the Arena at stand A100.
Watersports Trials: This is your chance to try out all sorts of fun watersports with the show’s exhibitors offering free trials. Kids can get out on the water and have a go at dinghy sailing, stand up paddleboarding and bellboating courtesy of Rockley Watersports, while over at the Try-a-Dive pool you can have a 20 minute scuba diving taster session.
British Ocean Racing skipper Pip Hare and her boat Superbigou: See the boat and her brave sailor Pip who will be flying the flag for Britain next year as she sets sail on the solo round the world Vendee Globe Race. It is one of the most epic and difficult races on the planet, and only 100 people have ever completed it.
Shtandart Man-O-War Ship: Don’t miss seeing this vast ship – a perfect replica of the 1703 flagship of the first Russian Baltic Fleet – which will grave the boat show with her imposing prescence.
Guest Speakers: There is a packed schedule of engaging guest speakers at the Foredeck Stage, so be sure to check on the official website for dates and times. Talks will cover everything from ocean adventures to boating on a budget, environmental issues and round the world sailing.
Location: Southampton, UK
Dates: 13th to 22nd September 2019
Opening times: 09.30am to 6.30pm
Tickets: General admittance tickets cost £16.50 Monday to Thursday and £21 Friday to Sunday.
Where to Stay
Southampton has a long and proud maritime history, and is today a fascinating British city in which to experience world class museums, a vibrant city centre and the beauty of the New Forest on the doorstep. When it comes to accommodation, you’re spoilt for choice. Within a few minutes’ walk of the show and centre you’ll find high quality business hotels from the world’s biggest brands, as well as guesthouses, boutique hotels and, a little further outside of the city, delightful country manor hotels. Here are some of our top picks:
Southampton Harbour Hotel: The city’s only five-star hotel is something to behold. Built in the elegant shape of a ship, it offers views across the English Channel, a sumptuous spa, and award-winning restaurant. If you want to embrace all things maritime on your visit to the boat show, what could be more perfect than this?
The Pig in the Wall: Part of the ultra-successful Pig Hotels is this delightful little boutique hotel nestled inside the city’s medieval walls. There are just 12 rooms – each one unique – and a mouth-watering deli-style restaurant. Charming, relaxed, low-key yet impeccable sums up this fabulous choice.
Villas and Apartments: From apartments in the city centre, to dreamy country villas in the nearby New Forest National Park, there is a huge selection of high quality accommodation to be found on websites such as Airbnb.com, Vrbo and Holiday Lettings.
Where to Eat
Southampton has had a revival in recent years, and this is reflected in its great foodie scene. From funky artisan pizza haunts, to hearty British pub food with a twist, and some fancier establishments throw in too, there’s a fabulous selection of eateries. These are some we think are worth seeking out;
Oxford Brasserie: Rich, decadent, fine dining cuisine is at its best at this swanky establishment on Oxford Street. The menu offers classic delights, with game and seafood featuring in tantalising dishes. The perfect place to get dressed up and enjoy a meal after a long day at the boat show.
The Rockstone: Burgers are supersized at this informal bar restaurant. Choose from juicy beef or creative vegan patties served with lashings of toppings and a quirky selection of sides as you enjoy a relaxed meal and pint to wash it down with.
Lakaz Maman: MasterChef 2012 winner Shelina Permalloo opened this delightful little street food kitchen after being crowned victorious. In it she serves food from her home country Mauritius, with mouth-watering curries, tropical burgers and roti wraps as delicious as they sound.
Southampton International Airport welcomes a select number of flights from around Europe and is just a 20-minute drive from the show, while the larger international airports in London are just over an hour away by train. Those arriving by car will find thousands of parking spaces just a 5-minute walk away in the West Quay Podium and multi-storey, while the main bus station and train station – with connections to London – are a walk or short taxi ride away.
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