Crufts – the busiest dog show in the World – hosted in 5 halls at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. If you haven’t been before, or even if you have, here are a few of my top tips on how to enjoy and get the most out of your visit.
Will it take all day to see?
OH yes! And more – if you haven’t planned your trip.
There is SO much to see but some of it won’t be of interest to you which is why I suggest you make a list of events and stands you really want to visit.
The Crufts website has a list of exhibitors with their stand numbers, how about making a list peeps you want to see in each hall – this way you might find you want to see 5 in Hall 4 ) and just one in Hall 2. Then start with the one you have the most in and get there early, before the crowds build up.
What day shall I visit?
If you really want to see the Hound groups then you will need to come on Saturday this year – they alternate the days for each group every year – now, a word of caution, the weekends are VERY busy days so arrive EARLY – as early as you can. They start the judging before the public are allowed in, but if you are keen to see any whippets they are usually judged in Hall 4, I would head over later in the day, when the shopping areas get very crowded it is nice to grab a cuppa and have a sit down to see some beautiful hounds in the ring.
If you are coming to see a particular event, again you will need to check which day, which might be a busy weekend.
If it isn’t important to you which day you come because you really are only coming for the shopping I would strongly advise coming on the Thursday or Friday, these days are always quieter than the weekends but still can get crowded in the afternoons – this is where your list will really come in handy!
What shall I wear?
Lightweight layers – it can be chilly then get hot when the crowds are in full swing! If you've arrived by car, it’s worth leaving your coat in the car and being a little chilly walking into and possibly queuing to get into the Exhibition Centre! You will then have less to carry when inside.
Comfortable shoes are an absolute must, you can really cover some ground if you plan to get the most out of your visit, the last thing you want is sore feet! This lady assured me these shoes were actually comfortable to her, now me I prefer my boots with rubber soles, but wear what you know will be comfortable all day - it's a long one!
What will I need to bring?
Lots of reusable bags, and if possible, a shopping trolley! You might think you aren’t going to buy much but this show is dog shopping heaven and you are bound to come away with more than you planned!
Your dog's measurements!! it sounds obvious but so many people don't bring them and can't make decisions at the show because they don't know their dogs vital stats!
Cash – the internet is patchy in the halls and many sellers experience issues taking card payments. There are cash points in the foyer areas.
Re usable coffee cup – you will need refreshment during the day and many of the coffee shops will give you a few pennies off for using your own mug and just think of all those disposable cups that won’t be used.
A notebook and pen, or have your phone fully charged if you like to take notes on that. There are bound to be things you see during the day that will be useful to you or someone you know and remembering why you have that leaflet in your bag at the end of the day probably won’t be possible!
What’s really worth a look?
Discover Dogs – if you are thinking of getting a dog, considering a different breed or just a dog lover, which I’m guessing you are if you've read this far! It's a delight and you can chat to owners, meet the dogs and get your hound fix! Take a look up toward the ceiling for the huge signs to guide you to the breeds that interest you!
The Flyball – if you are able to get a seat, this event is wonderful, especially as the current champions are mostly whippets!
Scruffts – This is a lovely little show that celebrates cross breeds and many rescue dogs, guaranteed to bring a smile and a tear to your face.
The Rescue Stands - they are great for education and often have lovely products for sale with all the proceeds going back to the charity - look out for Winnie - she's the Just Whippet Rescue poster girl this - find them in Hall 4.
What food is available?
There's a huge variety of food available within the halls but my tip is to visit the food hall in the foyer, often they're not as crowded and if you have a gluten intolerance like me, I recommend the Greek food stand, opposite the Wetherspoons, they do a really hearty lunch with no pitta, very very tasty!
There are all the usual ‘chips with everything’ stalls but it is possible to grab something healthier like a soup or salad in the shops around the edges of the halls such as:
Made – on the edges of Halls 1, 3 & 4
The Oak Kitchen – on the edges of Halls 1, 3, 4 & 5
All correct at time of writing March 2020.
Enjoy the show - you will need a day to recover from it all!