The Boat Show
The Boat Show – Inside Local Knowledge
The Boat Show in question is the Southampton Boat Show. The Boat Show is an annual event hosted by the vibrant port of Southampton in Hampshire, UK. I live just 10 minutes from this wonderful city and would like to impart my local knowledge to the readers regarding the boat show, how to get to the Boat Show, where to stay, where to eat and the best places to park.
The Boat Show – Dates:
2021: 10 – 19 September 10:00 – 18:30
The Boat Show – Venue:
The Boat Show incorporates 3 main areas, Mayflower Park, Herbert Walker Avenue, and West Quay Road. Stairs and raised walkways carry visitors over the two roads and to each area of the Boat Show. There is disabled access to each area if the stairs cannot be used.
Entrance to the show can be found in front of The Quays Swimming and Diving Complex. For mapping purposes use – SO15 1AJ this is the show entrance, but you cannot park here. See below for details on where to park.
How to Get to the Boat Show
Southampton Central is the nearest mainline railway station to the Boat Show. It is approximately 1 mile from the station to the Boat Show, but it is an easy, flat walk through shopping areas. Alternatively, there are usually plenty of taxis waiting outside the station if you would prefer not to walk.
Trains from Waterloo, Portsmouth and Weymouth have direct lines through to Southampton Central. If you are travelling from the West you can change at Salisbury and any Northern routes can change at London Waterloo, Basingstoke or Reading. When leaving the station leave by the South entrance and turn left towards the pedestrian crossing just after the footbridge. Cross over and follow the path ahead which runs up the side of ToysRus. Head across the car park towards Furniture Village and then walk around FV to the left towards JD Sport and Decathlon. Walk around to the left of Decathlon and then follow the path ahead, past the car park entrance, until you see the entrance of the show.
Park and Ride
There no longer seems to be a park and ride scheme in operation for the boat show.
There is a National Express Coach Station between 1/2 and 3/4 of a mile from the Boat Show entrance. The station address is National Express, Harbour Parade, Southampton, SO51. See the map below for the location of the coach station.
Southampton is easily accessible from both the M3 and M27. The AA is very good at providing signage for the show and indeed their yellow signs are in place weeks before the event, so I won’t give you alternative directions for travel into the city, just head for junction 3 of the M27.
There are approximately 10,000 car parking spaces in Southampton but with approximately 100,000 visitors coming into the city to attend the Boat Show over the 10 days, some inside knowledge would be helpful. If you can, try and park in one of the city council car parks. Their prices are reasonable and they will not be increased during the duration of the show, unlike some of the privately-owned car parks in the city. All the city council car parks are open for 24-hour stays and most charges apply from Monday to Saturday 08:30 – 17:30 and Sundays 12noon to 17:30, however, there are some exceptions so please check.
The city council car parks nearest to the Boat Show are:
The Quays South; Albion Place; Castle Way; Bargate Stree; Harbour Parade; The Quays North.
Southampton City Council has details of other city council car parks.
West Quay Shopping Centre car park is very close to the entrance and in my view is the best. This is privately owned but doesn’t raise its prices and I’ve parked here a few times. Currently, they are offering all-day parking for just £5. It is, however, the main car park for the shops in the West Quay Shopping Centre so it can get very busy.
AVOID the NCP car parks, they have been known to raise their prices just for the 10 days of the Boat Show.
Parkopedia have a very good website detailing all the car parks and their charges.
Places to Stay
Living so close to Southampton I have not needed to stay overnight for the Boat Show. However, along the West Quay Road in Southampton, just along from the Boat Show there are a great many hotels. The best of all is the Devere Grand Harbour Hotel. Within crawling distance of the Boat Show, this is the place to stay if you have money to burn! Within a stone’s throw of the Boat Show, there is the Holiday Inn, and opposite the entrance a Premier Inn and a new Moxy hotel. Further along West Quay Road, there are numerous cheaper hotels such as Novotel, Etap and Ibis. I know all the hotels near to the Boat Show get booked up very quickly so you need to book well in advance and you may see a price hike too. You could consider staying a little out of Southampton in one of the surrounding towns. Romsey is a lovely market town with Broadlands Estate, home to Lord Mountbatten. There are a few hostelries in the town namely The White Horse in the centre, and The Dairy, or The Mortimer Arms Inn a little further out.
Places to Eat
There are plenty of food outlets inside the Boat Show, and if you are planning to spend all day at the show then this will be your easiest option. The organisers of the Boat Show, in their infinite wisdom, do not allow re-entry to the show. Once you have left they did not allow to come back in. The vast majority of the food outlet can be a little pricey but do try and find the Mayflower Park Kiosk. This is a small cafe that usually serves the visitors to the park, but when the Boat Show comes to town the cafe is swallowed up inside the showground. However, their prices remain reasonable and they do a roaring trade during the duration of the show. There is a small playground for young children too. The cafe can be found over in the furthest section of the showground. When you come down the last set of stairs and onto the tarmac turn left and head between the Beneteau and Jeanneau stands towards the food outlet area, walk just a little further on and you will see the cafe tucked away on the left next to the playground.
The Boat Show is very close (2 minutes walk) to the West Quay Shopping Centre in Southampton, 90 stores over 3 floors and a food terrace on the 3rd floor. There is the new West Quay complex right next to the show with restaurants and a cinema. So before or after visiting the show, you will have plenty of restaurants to pick from. West Quay is also near to the old city shops, so there is a wealth of eateries. A cheap option would be the Ikea Restaurant. You can’t miss the big blue and yellow building close to the Boat Show, and the restaurant is close to the main entrance so you don’t have to traipse around the store to reach it. They have a fantastic view of Southampton Water and the Cinema! My favourite is the John Lewis Cafe. This is in the West Quay complex on the top floor and has a great view too, at least it did before Ikea popped up! Kuti’s is a pan Asian Thai restaurant located at the Royal Thai Pier (sandwiched between the showground and the Red Funnel ferry terminal). This is a very popular place to eat so booking in advance is recommended. One last place to try would be Ocean Village. A 15-minute walk from the showground. If the weather is good you can sit out here overlooking the marina. Admire the many boats and watch all the watery activities.
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