Set in the countryside not far from Brighton, Ardingly Antiques Fair is held six times per year and is the largest antiques fair in the South of England. With close to 1,700 stalls lining the grassy verges selling antique, vintage and retro furniture and decorative items, it’s a big day out.
It can be quite overwhelming the first time you visit, so we’ve pulled together some little tips to make sure you make the most of your trip.
The first day is the one
The fair usually runs over two days, generally a Tuesday and a Wednesday. We’ve visited before on each of the two days and found that almost without fail the first day is the best. There’s a buzz of anticipation as traders set up and punters roll up to check out what’s in store for them. Good pieces will fly off the stalls, and some traders that we spoke to last time said they weren’t even staying for the second day. The entrance fee on the first day is considerably more expensive at £20, so if you’re just after a day out and don’t mind too much about the quality of goods then opt for the cheaper second day.
Get there bright and early
Don’t be fooled (like us!) by the rural location – traffic can be a nightmare on the country roads leading up to the Fair entrance. Leave plenty of time if you’re travelling on the roads, otherwise head to Hemel Hempstead by train. It takes just under an hour from Clapham Junction and the showground is a short taxi ride from the train station. On the second day of the Fair, the organisers put on a complementary bus shuttle from the train station.
Take a wheelie bag
You know those granny canvas bags on wheels that almost always run over your feet in the supermarket? Well, get one. Get two in fact. On our last trip to Ardingly we were stocking up on vases, glassware and smaller decorative items and we would’ve given anything to have one of those bags to wheel our goodies around in! They might not be chic, but you’ll thank us when you’re piling it high without a care in the world.
Wear sensible shoes
Now is not the time to try those new shoes that look super cute but you know they’re going to rub like hell. Ardingly Antiques Fair is big. And you’re probably going to walk around more than once. You’ll want to go back to the first stall you visited with the pretty green chair, and then when you get back it will be gone, and then you’ll have to walk around again to see if there’s anything else like it!
Check the weather forecast
The fair will go ahead come rain or come shine, but it’s worth knowing what the weather is going to be like in advance. Some of the European traders have told us before that they won’t make the journey over if the weather forecast is bad as the punter turnout won’t be good.
Cash is king
If you’re planning on spending big, make sure you take the cash to follow through. Most traders are cash-only, but a few will accept cheques (if you look respectable enough!). Get your cash in advance as there are a few machines on-site, but they will charge.
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