The term antique has fallen out of favour in recent years, but the quality, look and feel of well-made furniture never goes out of style, and on many items prices have never been more affordable. Whether your taste is for Mid-century style or country chic, these are the 10 best antiques fairs in the country, perfect for a rummage, a haggle and for taking home a bargain.
Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair is included in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Go and you will see why. The fair draws dealers from Europe, North America and Asia who all seem to be serious players. The vibe may be businessy but the huge choice, high quality and knowledgeable vendors make for a particular – and particularly fun – day out.
The bi-monthly fair at the Lincolnshire Showground is large and diverse without being overwhelming. The range is wide in terms of wares and prices, and it’s popular with professional buyers and browsers alike. In the marquees there is furniture and finer collectables, while at pitches outdoors you’ll find more rustic items, and the buildings house smaller decorative pieces.
Ardingly, West Sussex
Ardingly International Antiques and Collectors Fair’s proximity to the Channel means vendors come from Europe and further east to sell here. In this charming countryside setting you can find just about anything, taking in the traditional antiques trade, vintage, and rustic, primitive and everyday objects. You will also find decor and design types looking for quirky pieces.
Chichester, West Sussex
Goodwood Racecourse Antiques and Collectors fair, while not huge, is substantial – especailly when the weather allows for outdoor pitches as well as the indoor stalls. Larger items stay outside, while inside is devoted to fine ceramics, watches, silver, glassware and vintage fashion and accessories. The jewellery, whether high-end or costume, stands out and prices are reasonable.
Alexandra Palace, London
For more than 25 years, Ally Pally’s Great Hall has hosted the Antiques, Collectors, 20th-century and Art Deco fair. As its name suggests, ceramics by such as Clarice Cliff, Poole, Midwinter, Hornsea and Ridgway are featured, as are glassware, jewellery, early plastics, advertising items and toys. Vendors also bring vintage clothing and accessories, and some carry 1960s and 1970s kitchenware.
Shepton Mallet, Somerset
The Royal Bath and West Showground is the site of both the Shepton Giant Flea & Collectors Market event and the Shepton Mallet International Antiques and Collectors Fair. There is a focus on vintage of all sorts: 1960s and 1970s West German ceramics, advertising items, sunglasses, lamps, costume jewellery and crockery, with plenty to interest more traditional collectors too.
The Malvern Flea and Collectors Fair is a sprawling event catering to every taste. Traditional collectables appear alongside a jumble of vintage clothing, mid-20th-century dishes and taxidermy, and people selling homemade pies, jams and jellies. The casual feel may owe something to the rural surroundings and the backdrop of the Malvern hills, which give a real sense of place.
Among the largest in England, the Peterborough Festival of Antiques is busy but with a relaxed atmosphere. It makes for a fun day out while offering a huge variety of items in a range of styles and periods. Some vendors specialise, others bring a mix, meaning interesting bargains can be picked up.
Held at Kempton Park Racecourse, Sunbury Antiques Market is accessible by train from London, offers free parking, and charges no entrance fee. The astonishing variety of wares from continental and UK vendors attracts dealers, collectors, interior decorators, prop buyers and young hipsters looking for distinctive decorative pieces. There’s a range of collectables, furniture, and industrial and architectural salvage. Business starts early and winds up around noon.
Wetherby, West Yorkshire
Not far from York, this friendly fair feels connected to its area. Outdoor stalls feature agricultural implements and household items that recall a rural heritage, as well as railway memorabilia. Inside you will see vintage ceramics, glassware, prints, books, ladies’ clothing and accessories, everyday kitchenware, jewellery and watches. There’s every chance of picking up something affordable.
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