26 May 2024, 14:58
By Furniture News Nov 18, 2015

A guide to the UK furniture exhibitions of 2016

The UK furniture and furnishings trade boasts a remarkably diverse range of product-sourcing opportunities, large and small, mainstream and design-led, sector-specific and catch-all. Each year, Furniture News compiles a summary of these exhibitions, to help our readers identify the most suitable events for their needs, and mark their calendars accordingly.

At the time of writing, the 2016 UK events diary differs little from that of 2015. We’ll try to keep this post updated with any new information, but please remember that you can find a full calendar of events – both national and international – here

Also, don’t forget that previous editions of the majority of these shows feature in the 2015 issues of Furniture News magazine, providing extra insight into individual events.

Top Drawer, encompassing Home, Craft, Fashion and Gift sectors – begins the proceedings at London’s Olympia from 17-19th January. Expect a contemporary feel, and a cherry-picked selection of quality brands.

Buying group AIS opens the doors to its Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre in Solihull to its members from 22nd-23rd of January, and consequently to the wider trade for the AIS Furniture Show from 24-25th. The organiser promises a number of exclusive exhibitors, some of them international, plus a free meal for pre-registered visitors.

Those second dates are significant, as they overlap with the UK’s biggest furniture show, taking place at the nearby Birmingham NEC from 24-27th. Following its launch in 2015, the January Furniture Show has quickly regained much of its traditional stature – the 2016 edition is 25% bigger – and will occupy five halls over four days once again. Featuring around 450 exhibitors, and now incorporating a Fabric Pavilion and Flooring Showcase – alongside The Furniture Awards and numerous other special features – the event remains the UK’s flagship show.

That said, there remains a fondness for smaller regional events, one of the strongest of which, North Point, returns to Edinburgh’s Highland Hall from 31st January to 2nd February.

There’s barely time for the dust to settle at the Birmingham NEC before Europe’s largest home and gift trade fair, Spring Fair, occupies the venue from 7-11th February. Boasting an improved layout, new product guides and the Wish List, an innovative online product selection tool, Spring Fair promises cross-buying opportunities from the worlds of furniture, homewares, gifts, stationery, jewellery and much more, alongside the provision of retail, technology and export advice.

The BFM’s New London Fabric Show, taking place at Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge, London from 29th February to 1st March, is gaining traction amongst the UK’s upholsterers. The show promises upholstery fabrics from 21 national and international mills.

KBB Birmingham returns to the NEC in 2016, and promises over 400 kitchen bedroom and bathroom suppliers.

AIS members are invited to return to Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre from 25-26th April for the first of the buying group’s two members-only beds events.

The month of May comprises a selection of smaller and design-led events, starting with Spring Long Point. Held in various showroom locations around the Derbyshire town of Long Eaton from 9-11th May, the show is an ideal opportunity to explore the showrooms of some of the UK’s finest upholstery manufacturers, whilst perusing the latest offers from a good complement of guest exhibitors, most of which are located in the Harrington Mill building.

Pulse promises inspirational, trend-defining homewares and fashion products when it returns to London’s Olympia from 15-17th May, while the Minerva Furnishers Guild buying group’s members will be welcomed to explore the latest samples from a large number of preferred suppliers at the National Agriculture & Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, from 17-18th.

Towards the end of the month, design fair Clerkenwell Design Week will populate many of the London district’s showrooms from 24-26th May, including special installations, exhibitions and fringe events.

Midpoint, organised by upholstery supplier Tetrad, returns to Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull, from 14-15th June.

Solex, the Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association’s annual fair, returns to the NEC from 5-7th July with a strong complement of garden furniture and barbecues, whilst Home & Gift Harrogate promises over 1000 exhibitors of interiors products, giftware, fashion and more across the North Yorkshire town from 17-20th.

July also features the UK’s second-largest furniture show, the Manchester Furniture Show, which returns to Manchester Central from 17-19th. The Manchester event is the summer’s key furniture trade event, giving retailers the opportunity to source new products and range updates in a relaxed, friendly environment.

Into August, and – whilst outside of the UK – the Irish Furniture & Homewares Show returns to Dublin’s National Show Centre for a third outing from 20th-23rd of the month. This regional event is steadily gaining ground, and testament to some market recovery in the Republic of Ireland. Also in August, from 30th-31st, AIS opens Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, Solihull, for a private members’ show dedicated to furniture.

September brings its usual glut of trade events. Autumn Fair is first up, back in the Birmingham NEC between 4-7th September, offering a smaller version of the earlier Spring Fair, yet featuring a good complement of lighting, furniture and Christmas accessories.

The year’s second Top Drawer returns to London’s Olympia from 11-13th,  Autumn Long Point sees Long Eaton’s finest open their showrooms again – in greater number than the spring event – from 12-14th, general outdoor exhibition Glee populates the NEC, also from 12-14th, regional event the South West Furniture Show is back at Sedgemoor Auction Centre, North Petherton, Somerset from13-15th, whilst another private event for AIS members takes place on 14th at Cranmore Park Exhibition Centre, this time dedicated to beds.

London Design Festival runs from 17-25th September across the capital, featuring a host of creative events that reinforce the global significance of the UK as a hub of design. Events taking place this week include high-end retail showcase Decorex International, back in Syon Park from 18th-21st, the inspirational array of interior launches that is 100% Design, again at its new Olympia location, from 21st-24th, Tent/Super Brands London, held at the Old Truman Brewery from 22nd-25th, and DesignJunction, also from 22nd-25th, the bulk of which takes place across two Central London locations, The College and Victoria House.

Simultaneously, there’s the UK’s key event for the bed industry, the Bed Show, taking place from 20th-21st September at The International Centre, Telford. An enduringly popular exhibition, the Bed Show features new beds, bed-making machinery and components, and the gala dinner which takes place at the end of the first day sees the presentation of the annual NBF Bed Industry Awards. The Bridge International Bedroom Event is back at the nearby Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Telford, also from 20th-21st.

Finally, there’s set to be a wealth of exhibitors at Minerva’s Autumn Furniture Show, which runs at The International Centre, Telford, from 11-12th October, and, unlike the buying group’s event earlier in the year, is open to the entire trade.

As always, we apologise for any errors. Whilst we’ll try to keep this post updated, it’s always worth checking the shows’ official websites for clarity.

As mentioned at the outset, don’t forget that you can consult Furniture News’ live events diary for updates to the calendar of exhibitions, both at home and abroad.

More detailed information can also be found in Furniture News magazine around each show, including interviews with organisers, details of special features, exhibitor and visitor views and new products.

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