Boat shows range from very large, international events to regional and local shows, but they all share the same key elements: lots of boats, accessories and information, all in one place filled with people who all love being on the water.
What happens at a boat show?
The boats are obviously the main attraction and a boat show offers the opportunity to see a lot of them. Larger shows will often include boat displays presented by the manufacturers, which may be staffed by the factory or local dealers - it’s a great chance to showcase new boats at these shows.
At regional and local shows you will find that all the dealers and boat brands in your area will be represented, this is great to compare what’s on offer! Even if you’re not boat shopping this year, it’s fun to see what’s new or trending and you might spot something that intrigues you.
From dock lines and electronics, to wake boards, bad weather gear and beyond - a boat show covers it all, with the larger shows often featuring demonstrations or seminars, many of which are free to attend.
Top Tips for attending a boat show
Dress comfortably - a day at a boat show includes lots of walking, so wear comfortable shoes. Most dealers will ask you to remove your shoes before boarding boats that you’re viewing. Wear loose clothing, pack light and bring plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen.
Getting around - Most shows will divide boats by category: day boats, cruisers, fishing, sailing, sport etc. Every show will have a brochure with a detailed floor/dock-layout map so it’s worth taking a close look to be sure not to miss anything. Larger shows often have a free-download app for their specific show.
Do your homework - It’s best to do your research before attending a boat show, so you can narrow down the list of boats you’re most interested in to fit viewings into the time available. You will be able to find a list of exhibitors prior to the show, look at the manufacturers website and social media to learn details about them.
Think about a list of questions you want to ask, from available accessories to warranties and servicing options etc... Know your financial position and where you can stretch. If you’re looking for items for a boat you already own, have photos of your boat so the salesperson will have an idea of what you’re looking for.
Get the best deal - You’ll find ‘Special boat show price’ signs at every boat show and the discounts can be really significant. The price offer is while the show lasts, but boat show vendors are eager to make a deal, so they will hold prices for serious buyers ready to move.
Boat manufacturers often offer special incentives, such as lower pricing, package deals and special financing. If you’re making a purchase, try and get as many products thrown into your package deal as possible - options often include items such as life jackets, extended warranties and docklines.
Exhibiting your business at a boat show
A boat show can provide the perfect platform to showcase your latest products and services, grow your brand, meet new and existing customers face-to-face and to drive sales.
You can get brand exposure to so many visitors that are all there for their love of boating and life on the water. As well as gaining new sales leads it can also be a great opportunity for forging new partnerships with other marine businesses.
5 great boat shows to visit
Now you’ve read our beginners guide to boat shows, why not plan your first trip? We’ve picked five popular boat shows for your list below...
Monaco Yacht Show - 20th to 22nd August - This is one of the most important shows in the yachting calendar and is a chance to discover the best of superyachting in glamorous Monaco.
Crick Boat Show - 20th to 22nd August - Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival.
Cannes Yachting Festival - 7th to 12th September - Cannes is Europe's leading in-water boat show; a favourite for yachting enthusiasts.
Southampton international Boat Show - 10th to 19th September - Boat enthusiasts will be hoisting their sails for this 10 day event taking place at Mayflower Park in Southampton.
Scotland’s Boat Show - 9th to 10th October - This is the 3rd largest boat show in the UK, with an unrivalled selection of new and used boats on view, attracting many visitors.
Most visitors can expect the latest, strict COVID-19 health and safety measures - it’s worth checking the websites for updates on travel and covid related restrictions before attending.