The grown up’s guide to the Southampton International Boat Show 2024

Top tips to make the most of your boat show visit

The Southampton International Boat Show 2024 is a nautical spectacle not to be missed. If you’re venturing to the show with friends or a partner, while the kids are with the grandparents or if they’ve already flown the nest, here’s your complete guide to making the most out of this year’s show and indulge in a sophisticated exploration of the finest boats, luxury goods, and waterfront festivities.

Arriving at the show

Set in the vibrant port city of Southampton, the show’s venue is easily accessible by train, car, or even by air. The entrance to show can be found adjacent to the West Quay Showcase Cinema, a departure from its previous location along Southampton’s Town Walls outside West Quay’s food court.  As you enter the show, you’ll be greeted by an impressive line-up of 40 lighthouses from the ‘Light the South’ trail, raising funds for Southampton Children’s Hospital, one of the top children’s hospitals in the UK and the show’s charity of the year.

Once inside, to help you find exactly what you are looking for, the show is made up of zones.  Each zone is a mini ‘show within the show’ dedicated to a particular type of boating or activity, including the:

  • Watersports Zone
  • Dinghy Zone
  • Classic & Day Boat Zone (sponsored by Classic Boat Magazine)
  • On the Water Zone
  • Mayflower Park & Ocean Hall
  • Shipyard (delivered by GAC Pindar)

Pick up a copy of the show map to help you navigate around the 70,000+ square meters of events, attractions and boats galore!

The biggest and best line-up of boats in the UK

A must visit is the event’s purpose-built show marina. The largest of its kind in Europe, here you’ll find more than 350 boats of all types, shapes and sizes from all over the world on display – making it the perfect place to find your ideal boat.

With halyards clacking against masts, flags fluttering in the breeze, and sunshine (hopefully) reflecting off shining decks, there’s nothing more exciting than spending time on the pontoons at the boat show.  You can fully explore a wide variety of different craft from all over the world, inside and out and side by side. From massive superyachts, to foiling powerboats; blue water cruisers, adventure and explorer powerboats, seaworthy fishing boats, tenders and toys, the options are endless.  Look out for leading brands such as Sunseeker, Beneteau, Suzuki, Bavaria, Fairline, Hanse, J Boats, Princess Yachts, Arcona, Ruster… the list goes on and on!

To help make it even easier to find and compare all these amazing craft, this year the marina is undergoing a significant layout redesign focusing on a more zonal approach grouping different categories of boats side-by-side.

The marina is also home to a whole host of attraction boats, including the tall ship Thalassa. Look out for details of our full line up of attraction boats as and when they are announced.

Across the show, you will also find loads more craft of all shapes and sizes.  So take your time wandering around the miles on pontoons and shoreside displays to admire all these maritime beauties up close.

Interested in Buying a Boat?

If purchasing a boat is on your agenda, then what better please to find exactly what you are looking for than at the UK’s biggest boat show.  With a whole host of experts on hand to help you navigate the boat buying process.

If you are new to the marine world or making your first purchase, make sure you drop by the Foredeck Stage on Saturday 14, where our panel of leading experts will be sharing their top tips on boat buying.  Our specialists will be discussing, finding a vessel that suits your lifestyle and budget, surveys, financing options and much more.

It is also you chance to speak directly with boat manufacturers, dealers and marine experts from across the industry.  It’s a great opportunity to ask questions, gather brochures, and get expert opinions on the latest marine technology, trends, and sustainability practices. The experts are on hand to assist with the paperwork, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free buying process.

Once you’ve considered all your options, it might be time to make that exciting purchase!

Try before you buy!

With even more demonstration boats* available, why not select a couple of boats that have caught your eye and experience them firsthand on the water. This can be a pivotal moment in the decision-making process, giving you a true feel for the handling and performance of each vessel.

There are also lots of opportunities to get on the water for free, with Try-a-Boat, from helming tips on a sailing yacht to powerboat skills and manoeuvring tips for RIB handling, step aboard and pick up some top tips from our experts.

*Please note, not all craft are available for demonstrations.

Beyond the boats

At the show, you will also discover an array of luxury lifestyle brands, including Bentley, Hydropool, and Crown Pavilions. Whether your interests lie in the latest luxury car models, sophisticated spa pools, or elegant garden pavilions, there is plenty to capture your interest.  Additionally, you’ll find all the essential kit and apparel from top-notch brands like Musto, Helly Hansen, Dubarry, and Sebago, to name just a few.

The show is also a fantastic place to bag a bargain.  With over 1200 square meters of retail and chandlery stands for you to explore selling everything from the latest clothing, footwear, beachwear and accessories to specialist chandlery items such as shackles, ropes, electronics and engines and everything in between, you are sure to find just what you need.  And remember to keep a look out for those special show deals!

Food and Drink – you’ll be spoilt for choice

After a day of exploration, relax and reflect at one of the show’s many dining options, from casual seafood stalls to upscale bars. Enjoy a fresh seafood platter and a pint, a gin and tonic, or a sparkling beverage as you ponder over your potential purchases.

The Quarterdeck Bar & Restaurant is the city’s top pop-up waterfront bar, with over 50 meters of open decked balcony and ample indoor seating. It’s always a popular spot for lunch, offering a wide range of food and drink choices to suit everyone’s tastes.  This year look out for a burger specially curated for the show by Michelin-star chef, Jordan Bailey, it’s one not to be missed! It’s also the perfect spot to marvel at all the action on the On the Water Stage.

Over in the Shipyard, delivered by GAC Pindar, you will find a whole selection of incredible street food vendors. Our handpicked selection of top-notch catering trucks, each promise to tantalize your palate with an array of mouthwatering delights. Get ready to indulge from the likes of…

  • Chicken and Blues
  • The Mac Shack
  • Seawise
  • The Duck Shed
  • Grounded Coffee
  • Bratwurst
  • Greek Souvlaki
  • Heard Burgers

Or why not head over to the show’s famous Guinness bar, a traditional meeting place for sailors to get together and spin their yarns, accompanied by a pint of mild stout, alongside other cold drinks, tasty street food and sweet treats, it’s definitely one to add to your show itinerary.

Celebrate in the Shipyard

After a successful day of browsing, boat buying and bargains, head over to the Shipyard to celebrate.

Launched at the 2023 show, the Shipyard, delivered by GAC Pindar, brings the festival vibe to the show with an array of live music performances, delectable street food, and captivating entertainment, and this year we’re introducing late night opening.  On both Saturday 14 and Saturday 21 September the Shipyard will extend the revelry until 9pm for the opening and closing parties.

Legendary DJ Chris Moyles takes over the decks for the opening party on Saturday, September 14. Prepare for a “90s Hangover” party that will have you dancing the night away to the biggest hits of the decade. While headlining the show’s closing party on Saturday 21 September, will be the incredible Symphonic Ibiza. Prepare for a night of electric energy as Ibiza’s finest dance anthems meet the thrilling harmonies of a live orchestra.

Alongside all the amazing music lined up, The Shipyard will also bring you the action live from the America’s Cup, with special guests direct from Barcelona, alongside live UK and international sport, including football, cricket and F1, on the Shipyard’s big screens.

Join the Quayside Club for a touch of luxury – with a tantalising new menu courtesy of award-winning chef

Make your visit extra special with tickets to the Quayside Club, where you will enjoy first-class hospitality, giving your boat show experience that added touch of luxury.

This year, the club unveils a new location within Mayflower Park, offering a spectacular view of the marina and the On the Water Stage, plus a tantalising new menu courtesy of award-winning chef, Jonas Lodge.  Ticket holders enjoy exclusive access to the Waterfront lounge, prime views, and complimentary drinks and cuisine, plus access to the brand-new Shipyard bar, VIP area, featuring a covered roof terrace offering spectacular views of both the stage and the show marina in the distance.

Make an occasion of it

Extend your stay by booking a night at one of Southampton’s luxury hotels. Many offer special rates for show attendees and are conveniently located near the venue. There is also an amazing selection of local restaurants to suit all palettes close to the show, from delicious tapas to fine dining.  So why not treat yourself to a special dinner before enjoying a comfortable night’s rest after a fulfilling day at the show.

The Southampton International Boat Show 2024 is more than just an event; it’s a lifestyle experience that caters to seasoned aficionados and newcomers alike. With a blend of luxury, leisure, and expert insights, it promises to be an unforgettable outing. Whether you’re buying your dream boat or simply soaking in the vibrant atmosphere, this event is sure to enrich your love for the maritime world.

Have you got your ticket yet?  Buy tickets.