This year my trip to see the bedspreads (!) was just a day long and I could only visit at the weekend rather than my usual two day Thursday/Friday trip. I had won a ticket from a My Bear Paw giveaway and found reasonably priced trains which gave me just over 5 hours at the show (and plenty of tickets when I went to collect them!).
As many people say you need more than one day to see everything, I was interested to see just what I could fit into a day and how busy it would be on a Saturday. So, in keeping with my short visit, here is a short report on my trip, hopefully with some ideas for how to make the most of a short visit.
- Arriving just after 10.30am meant no queues to get in and still time to get to Empress Mills for their early bird discount. Unless you can arrive very early to get a place at the start of the queue, you might as well arrive 20-30 minutes after the doors have opened to give the queue chance to clear.
- I had made a list of stalls I wanted to visit and their stand number so I could find them quickly. Shopping was quieter than I expected for a Saturday and I managed to get most things on my list (and some things not on my list) in the morning.
- It is difficult to compare how busy the show was with previous years as I went on different days, but my impression was that it was quieter than last year. It was certainly easier to look around the stands, but this might be because the number of exhibitors was slightly down this year compared to last year.
- I didn’t book any workshops or talks this year, but I found time for a 30 minute talk about Hobbs wadding on the Lady Sew and Sew stand.
- As in previous years, I brought some lunch with me and this year there was plenty of seating in the concourse area for a sit down, including some nice new padded seats.
- I prioritised looking at the modern, contemporary and traditional quilts and had plenty of time to see them in the afternoon. I did come across one 3D piece in passing which made me smile, but I walked quickly past the others.
- I managed to miss one complete gallery, but I have done the same in previous years even with double the time to look around.
- Virgin trains offer a 25% discount on trips to/from NEC events, so by splitting my return journey at Stafford, I was able to avoid changing at New Street (not my favourite station) and do the final leg of my journey in First Class comfort for a similar price to my outward journey.
Even though I had to leave an hour before the show closed, I found I was ready to head home by then and had seen/bought what I wanted. If you do want to see everything and have a long shopping list (particularly if looking for fabrics), then a day is probably not enough. However, you can fit a lot into one day, especially if you can plan to leave after the show closes as it is much quieter in the last hour or so. If I go again next year, I won’t be in such a hurry to discount a day trip, unless there are particular workshops I want do. Even then, I think I could fit a one hour workshop into a day trip by getting a slightly later train home.
After coming back slightly disappointed from my last two trips to Festival of Quilts, I wonder if I might have found what works for me - don't try to see it all, just see what interests me.