The Most Enjoyable High End Yacht Shows

The most enjoyable high end yacht shows are not always the largest, the most exclusive or the best known. On the contrary, enjoying a show to the utmost is often as much about the broader venue as the scale and calibre of the exhibition spaces. In fact, in some cases, the venue feels like an extension of the show itself, giving you a first-hand taste of precisely the lifestyle that a high-end yacht exhibition attempts to champion. In terms of the shops, bars, restaurants and entertainments; in terms of the local events and cruising grounds; in terms of the climate, the people, the styles and the atmosphere, a yacht show’s venue is often what convinces potential yacht buyers that the lifestyle is for them. Viewed in that context, the following seven events should be on every potential yacht buyer’s list…

Cannes Yachting Festival

With a fine position at the apex of the French Riviera, lively, cosmopolitan Cannes is a top destination. Its annual six-day yachting festival is held every September at Le Vieux Port, where 700 boats from seven to 180 feet are supplemented with plenty of global debuts and some distinctly exclusive brokerage craft. And once you’ve earmarked your new yacht, there’s plenty of nearby entertainment to enjoy. You can head for the beaches, indulge in some prestige shopping on Boulevard de la Croisette or take a stroll among the elevated backstreets of elegant Le Suquet in search of authentic provençal cuisine at a rustic local bistro. And if you really want to embrace the lifestyle, why not take a detour to Menton and enjoy a meal at three-star Mirazur, recently awarded the lofty accolade of ‘World’s best restaurant’.

Antigua Charter Yacht Show

Okay, so it’s not so much about sale as charter and it’s more a business-to-business event than a shopping spree for the well-heeled yachtsman. But with motoryachts and sail boats for charter in both mono and multi-hull configurations, from 18 to 80 metres in length, all set against the glorious backdrop of Falmouth Harbour Marina, Antigua Yacht Club Marina and Nelson’s Dockyard, a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua’s Yacht Show venue is arguably the most special in the world. Some of the industry’s most illustrious brokers and yacht management companies are here, so you can investigate putting your yacht up for charter or else find your perfect charter yacht and begin planning your summer itinerary. Whatever your intentions, December in this part of the Caribbean is an extremely rewarding experience.

Salon Nautico International Boat Show, Barcelona

Although there is now a very prestigious superyacht show held in Barcelona each May, the city’s October Boat Show at Port Vell remains far and away the more enticing event for most visitors. With a broad range of exhibits, from kayaks to superyachts, both on land-based displays and in the water, plus an engaging spread of activities and a range of accessories for fishing, surfing and diving, it’s a great event in its own right. The fact that it also happens to be held at a world-class marina, just a short walk from Barcelona’s famous beach, at the heart of one of the world’s most celebrated cities, makes it a must-see event.

Southampton International Boat Show

As an outdoor event at the heart of the south coast’s boating scene, with the largest on-water display in Europe and an infectious festival atmosphere, the Southampton Boat Show is a magnificent event. Now in its 51st year, this iconic end-of-season exhibition features more than 600 marine brands, encompassing every form of marine recreation from kayaks to superyachts, alongside a huge range of services and accessories. Famous as a hub for world and European product launches, it combines its vast variety of hardware with a wonderful taste of lifestyle indulgence, all hosted at the apex of an authentic maritime city that embraces the event with the utmost carnival vigour.

Salone Nautico, Genoa

The Genoa International Boat Show, which runs over five days in the middle of September, is enviably positioned at the heart of the Italian Riviera. Now in its 59th year, the event has been a big favourite on the European calendar for many years and, with its dramatic Alpine backdrop, sandy beaches, boutique shopping and first-rate cuisine, it’s easy to see why. Surrounded by towns and fishing villages that range from ultra-chic to salty and rustic, Genoa itself is a pleasantly approachable blend of the worldly and the classical. You can mingle with a highly cosmopolitan crowd of around 175,000 visitors at the Fiera di Genova exhibition centre or lose yourself to happy meandering among the city’s multicoloured mishmash of ‘old town’ villas.

Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show

Held in May each year on Australia’s Gold Coast just south of Brisbane, the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show describes itself as “the southern hemisphere’s premier marine event” but it’s far more than that. With its carnival atmosphere, its gorgeous cruising grounds, its easy access to restaurants and bars and the relative inclusivity of even its high-end exhibits, this four-day event is one of the easiest in the world to enjoy. Powerfully supported by Superyacht Australia, the 300 or so exhibitors display everything from kayaks and fishing boats to marine tech and superyachts.

British Motor Yacht Show

Held in mid May at Swanwick Marina, with easy access to the River Hamble and the Solent, the British Motor Yacht Show is an exhibition with a difference. Organised by Premier Marinas alongside Britain’s three largest motor yacht distributors, Fairline, Princess and Sunseeker, it is dedicated exclusively to the needs of the motor yacht buyer. Now in its eighth year, the show’s proven formula brings together prestigious motor yachts from the UK and overseas, with high-end tenders and easy access to practical advice on every aspect of satisfying boat ownership. Conceived as a “boutique pre-season event”, the majority of exhibits are stationed on floating pontoons and there is plenty of scope for private viewings alongside industry experts from some of the world’s finest builders.

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

Positioned at Florida’s southeastern corner, just a short hop north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a powerfully maritime city, cut through with canals and lined with expansive ocean beaches. With its fondness for upmarket bars and boutiques, it’s a natural hub for superyachts and, after 60 years in business, the vast Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) has become one of the very best. Its 3 million square feet of exhibition space, which is spread across seven locations, comprises every conceivable form of high-end lifestyle accessory. Around 1,500 boats are supplemented with everything from handmade furniture and original artworks to supercars and ‘haute horologie’ timepieces. With more than $4 billion worth of exhibits, it’s one not to be missed.

Palma International Boat Show

Set a short hop from Palma’s imposing cathedral, the Palma International Boat Show is a delightful event. Featuring around 600 boats, half of which are on the water, this spring exhibition brings plenty of variety in terms of boats and watersports, plus a delightful climate and a very modern show element in terms of sustainable boating and environmental responsibility. If you favour the really big stuff, the Palma Superyacht Show in the adjacent Moll Vell Marina runs over the same five days and adds charter, sail and a generous selection of 80-foot plus superyachts to the mix. Either way, Palma is full of lively bars, suave cafes, and chic city squares, alongside the kind of artistic and cultural verve that sees cruise ships flock here from all around the world.