There is a general feeling that shows are getting smaller but with over 130 traders to go at; many of whom have more than one table and all of them showing hundreds and sometimes thousands of objects you will find it a challenge to cover the show in a day. It is plenty to go at and well worth a weekend.
Being a couple of hours away we always leave early enough to get to the opening on Saturday and I trawl the arena for the whole day while my other half occupies himself - usually at any local NT place (mostly for the lunch!). We then stay over night so we can repeat the process the next day.
I confess 'old age' kicked in and I only managed something over three hours each day this time, so I only just about covered it. More energy and I would certainly have done double that. I honestly only managed to get round once in that time.
Very few shows are 'day returns' for any of us but I think that if I build a visit to a show into a short break/holiday of some sort it helps validate the cost of going. There is certainly enough to do for a few days in and around Birmingham - as a Brummie born and bred this is not just bias on my part. The city is worth a visit whether your interest is in its new parts or seeing the Victorian underbelly. The Art Gallery is a gem. Gas Street basin and the back-to-backs are worth a trip. History buffs (or looking for inspiration for your project) can 'fill their boots' visiting Ironbridge. There is a ton of stuff when you start looking and of course only a skip and a jump to Stratford or the Cotswolds. I commend it to you heartily.
The show is a good mix of the basics for beginners or people who are really working on collecting for a dolls house 'proper'. For anyone seeking something more unusual and even quirky that is there too. Best of all, for me, beside the joy of 'shopping' at a zillion dolls house shops, there is also the element of artists showing work which will always be beyond my budgets but it is glorious to be able to see it. So at a show you get shops and mini art galleries and museums all rolled into one.
Beith Miniatures is the first to come to mind. I spent an age drooling over the most wonderful square piano. It is fully strung, keys move, has a sound board and the 'volume control' opens and closes. The construction and finish is incredible. Please take a minute to look at the link here at some of the very best work you will ever see. I am also a huge fan of Mike Sparrow's silver. Traders like Stokesay Ware and Ray Storey are there for the day you treat yourself and there are many, many others.
Here are photos of a fraction of the work of just three of the vendors.... a fraction of a fraction of the show:
The parking is free, although we were given a 'get out of the car park free' ticket at the show so I was confused by that. You can get a shuttle bus from the car park to the show but if you park in the car park nearest the show building it is not too much of a step there - as long as its not raining!
There is a cafe in the show itself and some eateries within the atrium so you are OK for a snack or lunch.
This year the organisers added a 'sitting room'. This was an area with tables, chairs, newspapers and even 3D puzzles to have a go at. Probably not used much by the actual hobbyists as they just keep going and going not wishing to miss anything, but it was decidedly used by quite a few chaps who, like mine, may well have been the chauffeurs rather than the enthusiasts. Mine didn't use it as it was within the showroom and so you would have to pay an entrance fee. My other half would rather stick pins in his eyes than enter a mini domain. Maybe this area could go on the other side of the checking-tickets-desk for all the weary souls who drop off and pick up mini nuts?
On Sunday there were many other events in the halls so there might well be something to occupy anyone who has come with you who is not interested in the game. Mine toddled off to the Gadget Show but, on discovering it cost £25 to get in he toddled back again. Little does he know what money leaked through my fingers.
There are a couple of workshops. On this occasion neither were useful to me. I wish we had this as well organised as the shows in the USA do. Some of those run workshops for as long as a week, wrapped around the show!! At the larger shows there are these and a ton more on offer during the show days themselves. Tom Bishop's Chicago show, for example, is offering 69 workshops so far for his November show. Almost all are booked out well in advance of the show so I have only managed to get to one, but it was absolutely brilliant. I learned a load of things, came away with a finished project and lots of extras.
You might think all this is a bit much for one UK venue but when you hear that someone travelled from South Africa, mostly to attend this show and I know someone in the States who is beginning to organise a trip for a group to visit the Autumn one, there must be a market for it?
So - Miniatura is held at an easy to find venue, motorway, airport and railway connections to it. There is plenty of good free parking. In the hall itself there is somewhere to rest, somewhere to eat and a large well lit, carpeted, spacious and neatly arranged arena, what's not to like.
There are thirty photos over on my Dalton House blog (click on the name) showing what I bought - assuming you are a glutton for punishment.
I hope to be adding a postscript to this post soon as I am looking forward to getting a press pack from Miniatura.