I have been to this once before, many, many years ago and was amazed to find this year's one so small relatively, compared to the previous visit. It was a little hard to judge as for the last two years, the organisers have moved the show to the larger hall in the Palace which is a vast improvement as there is now more breathing space. But there did seem to be less stands, and this appears to be backed up by others' comments. I think, the way the economy is, has a lot to do with it. Having attending exhibitions as a participant, albeit in other fields, I know from experience that's it's expensive, and a lot of hard work.
Attendance by shoppers however does seem to have been up. I heard several comments about the fact that by ten past ten, the car parks were all full. Bearing in mind the show only opened at ten am, this is some going! I have to say though, that all credit to Alexandra Palace in that the parking in the park here continues to be free (for the moment at least!). Bearing in mind it's in London, that really is a feat to be appreciated. The NEC in Birmingham, whose extortionate parking charges literally double the charge of an admission ticket to a craft show there should take note!
The emphasis did definitely seem on the 'Stamping' side of things, rather than the 'Scrapbooking' which, as a scrapbooker much more than a stamper, was a little bit of a shame to me. There were hardly any papers for sale. I have heard that several companies stopped bringing papers to shows as people weren't careful when looking at them, and they ended up damaged. I can understand the logic of this. Perhaps having one sheet as a display and the others under cover or away might be an answer to that problem. Either way, the majority of stands were more geared to the stampers among the craft community, so if that's your thing, you were in Heaven, I'm sure.
The queues during the hour and a half I stayed were pretty enormous! Reading some comments, I've heard of people queueing for nearly half an hour on some stands. I admire their patience! So, be prepared for some standing around, and also the stamina to get into some of the stalls as although there was plenty of space between stalls, inside them was another matter altogether!
Because the show is now in the big hall, and isn't packed to the rafters with exhibitors, the organisers had put plenty of large round tables around the perimeter of the show, so there were plenty of places to sit down, should you need to. And, of course, you could always get your hand stamped and come out and sit in the relative calm of the Palm Court for a little breather. With the Palace being set in it's own beautiful grounds, there's plenty of room for a wander around and a walk or just a quiet sit to gaze down over London, if the weather's conducive!
On the whole, I'm glad I went for a look around. I did manage to come away with a few sheets of scrappy paper and my first 'actual' Smash book (I've made them previously) to have a play with. Well, it would've been rude not to get anything, wouldn't it!
The show returns to Alexandra Palace in September for those of you who weren't able to make this weekend (or just want to go again!), and then visits the East Midlands the following month. All the details can be found at the official website here Don't pay too much attention to the exhibitor list though. Unfortunately it's not always kept up to date, so if there's a particular company you're wondering about, it's probably best to contact them directly to ask them if they will be attending.
If you went, I hope you had a wonderful time, and are enjoying your new goodies!