The 2019 Motorhome and Caravan Show is officially under way, and the halls have been bustling with people already. There's lots going on this week, but here's a round-up of our highlights so far.
The show kicked off with a rather unusual feat - endurance athlete Mark Beaumont turned his cycling skills to caravanning, attempting to set a world record for the fastest speed to tow a caravan by bicycle. (We'll find out soon if he took the record!) We then joined Mark, Rowland Rivron and Matt Allwright in the live theatre (Hall 9) for the official show opening.
Bailey swiftly followed this with the first big launch of the Show as they unveiled the new Discovery range, ready for the public to see inside for the first time.
With the halls filling up with people eager to see the latest vans up close, there was plenty to draw attention elsewhere, too, with talks going on both in the main theatre and at both the Caravan and Motorhome Club's and The Camping and Caravanning Club's stands. We gleaned some useful information from both of these, on everything from insurance and travelling abroad to caravan recipe ideas.
Of course, the Freedom To Go theatre, at the back of Hall 9, promises a fascinating line-up throughout the week. One great addition this year is a daily expert advice clinic at 1pm where you can get answers to your burning questions from a panel of impartial industry experts.
We've particularly enjoyed some of the interviews - Mark Beaumont spoke about his epic cycle adventure around the world in less than 80 days (for which he did take the world record), while Helen Skelton's taste for adventure was infectious. There's still more to come, though, with Monty Halls, Karen Wright, Mel Nicholls to name but a few.
Those signed up for The Camping and Caravanning Club's towing courses get to test drive brand new Jeep models, and gain valuable towing experience. Head to the Club's stand to book your slot.
Elsewhere at the show, Coachman held a grand reveal of their new twin-axle Acadia 860, with the public now able to walk around and look inside this well-equipped family van, and new launches from Morelo, Swift, Adria and Knaus to follow later in the week.
Last but not least, don't forget to head to the relaxing area set up by the Woodland Trust. As well as the picnic area here, you can pick up a free tree. There are three varieties to choose from: Wild Cherry, Rowan and Field Maple. The Trust have launched a mass participation tree planting day, trying to get us all to come together to plant a tree by 30 November.
Reviews Editor Peter Baber's show highlights:
My favourite things from this October's NEC Show came from both ends of the market.
Adria's Astella seasonal pitch vehicle has already been bringing in the numbers, even if it is still - for this year at least - just a concept vehicle. The 9.47m-long van has an MTPLM of 2500kg, so it's only for larger towcars. Visitors to the show, however, are being asked to vote on which layout they think suits it best.
Meanwhile Freedom Caravans, hitherto known for importing ultra-lightweight Polish built tourers, has now started bringing in slightly bigger ones from Spain. Two new models on its stand, the FreeCross Premium 330DL and FreeCross Luxor 370DD, are both rebadged models made by Spanish company Across. With fixed bunks and larger than expected kitchens, they are worth a look.
Don't miss also the first 8ft-wide model in Coachman's new Acadia range, launched at the show. The 860 includes a rear corner bed, a central U-shaped dinette opposite the kitchen and an L-shaped front dinette.
There's still a few days left to enjoy the show, and tickets are still available both online and on the door.