It’s almost that time of year again when all Quilters start to become focused on one thing. The annual visit to the Festival of Quilts. Suddenly all the talk over at the Facebook Groups is about this and for those who have not been before here’s a beginners guide. It might help those of us who have been before too.
If you are driving:
Prebook NEC parking before you arrive .. it will save you money.
Don’t worry about which carpark you are using when you arrive .. there’s a free shuttlebus service from the Carpark to the Main Hall every 10/15 minutes so save your legs for the day around the stands and quilts.
When you Arrive
Its a busy day for everyone so plan your visit, but we are told the layout has changed this year. There are as many traders to see as there are quilts so pace yourself. The quilt areas tend to be less hectic, so a wander over is relaxing if the crowds get a bit much for you. If you have any questions speak to the Stewards who will do what they can to help. Never try to touch the quilts but if you want to take a look at the backing or if it’s a double-sided quilt then the Steward will help. The Stewards are all Volunteers giving up their time to help you all.
There might be workshop places left which are displayed on a board in the Hall if you fancy a go at something.
We really don’t need these reminders, but its always worth a comment:
There’s lots of room and space for everyone, so be polite and don’t push.
If you encounter a fellow quilter using a scooter help them out by allowing a little extra space for them.
If you are using a scooter for the first time, or an experienced user please take care, especially when turning corners.
Wear comfy shoes! It can be a very long day and achy knees and ankles are likely .. the creak of quilters achy bones at the end of the day is deafening [ok — joking but its sensible advice].
If you decide to use a rucsac be aware the aisles can become crowded sometimes so please remember you have the extra bag on your back! The zippy bits and buckles can catch as you turn. FOQ Organisers do limit the size of rucsac you can bring along too to protect the quilt displays. Leave large bags and rucsacs in the cloakrooms for safety.
The UK Quilters United Facebook Group will have meet-ups twice daily hosted by the FB Admins – when and where will be announced over at the FB Group so go along and meet up. These are great meetings and it’s lovely to speak to people you have met in the virtual quilt group too.
Comfort stops and Food and Drink
Toilets are around the perimeter of the halls .. plenty for all to use. The ones eat the back of the Halls tend to be less busy [just a thought if you are in great need of a visit].
There are eating places dotted around [lovely jacket potatoes last year] and several restaurants situated in the main Foyer. They don’t cost much more than any other place, but if you prefer there will be places provided to sit and eat your own food too. These are more likely to be towards the rear of the Halls.
Of course we all like a sit-down, but be fair to everyone and don’t hog places for people .. share the quilting experience and share tables. Talk to one another and you never know what you might discover.
The eateries and restaurants are not open in the evening, once the exhibition closes they do too.
If you are staying on the NEC site the restaurants in the pubs and hotels tend to very busy, especially once the exhibition has closed for the day and one or two have been known to run out of food even if you have pre-booked. Here’s a tip … a 20-minute car ride into Central Birmingham, to Broad Street, and you will have many more restaurants to suit most tastes. Birmingham is one of the curry capitals of the UK, along with all the main chain restaurants so there is plenty to choose from.
It can be very hot in the halls so make sure you drink plenty – this helps to avoid headaches from dehydration as well.
Take cash as well as cards as systems have been known to fail.
Wear the UKQU badge if you have one – many traders may offer discounts but it’s not a given at all stands.
There has been an increasing darker element creeping in over past years of shoplifting in the Hall. If you catch sight of this, try and mark the person or persons and point them out to the security guards at the entrance. Do not attempt to tackle this yourself for your own safety.
Similarly, keep your own money and purchases secure. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we didn’t have to keep reminding ourselves of this!
The Festival of Quilts website has lots of information to help and a list of the Galleries you can visit this year too
The Festival Organisers are happy for anyone to take pictures so share them with everyone at the Facebook page. Try your very best to note the makers of the quilts so they can be credited. Many of the FB members will be unable to visit for many different reasons, so fill the group with lovely pictures, and close-ups of detail too. Take pictures of the crowds and of the stands, mention good behaviour and any exemplary service you find. Keep the posts positive!
The UKQU Badge and other merchandise is available here
Enjoy your visit and say hello if you see a fellow UKQU member .. many great friendships have started from a single hello at FOQ.