National Snow Show Claims Success
22nd October 2021
Last modified on November 4th, 2021
Thousands of snowsport fans have been at the first ever National Snow Show that took place at the NEC, Birmingham last weekend. PlanetSKI was among them. So, how was it? UPDATED
Skiers and snowboarders gathered for two days of speakers, retail brands, interactive features, entertainment and face-to-face access to resorts and destinations.
For many it is finally a chance to talk snowsports and look forward to the winter ahead after an 18-month layoff caused by Covid-19.
It is currently the only ski and snowboard show in the UK.
Almost 10,000 visitors and 150 exhibitors attended the two-day exhibition.
Organisers have dubbed the event a ‘phenomenal success’ despite hugely challenging circumstances for the entire industry.
There was a 6m indoor SnowDome slope and Skate Mini Ramp from Graystone Action Sports.
With all the other UK shows dropping by the wayside in recent years this is the only one around.
At 8.30 on the first day, half an hour before doors opened, there was a queue of several hundred people eager to get inside.
“The show will welcome seasoned snowsports lovers as well as visitors who are curious about going on their first winter holiday,” said the organisers.
“It will be packed full of the biggest brands in the industry, providing prime opportunity for visitors to try-before-you buy with expert advice and opinion.”
And with that the show was opened.
Visitors shopped for the latest gear from brands including Ski Exchange, Decathlon, Salomon, 2 Pure, Ellis Brigham, MPI, Pulseroll and AfterJam.
PlanetSKI has been following the plans for the show over the past few months:
As well as shopping the latest technical gear, the event played host to resorts and destinations who were providing advice to visitors helping them find the perfect resort and deal.
Companies including Crystal Ski Holidays, Andorra Travel Services, France Montagne, Ski Andorra, Snowsport Scotland, LAAX and the Aosta Valley.
Great to see so many people at the @natsnowshow and to have lots of enquiries for Aosta Valley. If anyone couldn’t make the show and would like some info on winter sports in Aosta, just DM us! ⛷️#snow #snowshow #snowlover #wintersports #aosta #aostavalley pic.twitter.com/RJl8sigzyY
— Aosta Valley, Italy (@AostaValley) October 25, 2021
The talks were perhaps the most popular part with a number of speakers including including Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Chemmy Alcott, Jenny Jones, Billy Morgan, Warren Smith and many more.
They were sharing their stories and advice on the Snow Stage and Snow Skills Stage, before meeting visitors face-to-face on the show floor.
It was an informal mix and mingle affair.
Warren Smith gave talks on ski technique.
And there was standing room only for Chemmy Alcott.
To round off the event visitors could take a load off tired feet, drop their bags in the Shop and Drop area.
Then hit the Alpine Bar sponsored by AfterJam, to sample the alpine themed drinks, catch up with friends and plan their next holiday…
So, is the National Snow Show here to stay after its first outing or is it just a flash in the plan?
Our editor, James Cove, has been to more UK Ski Shows that he cares to remember. Dozens and Dozens with the first ones back at Olympia and Earls Court in London in the 90s.
At 2pm after a couple of hours at the National Snow Show in Birmingham I bumped into one of my long-time ski mates and fellow ski hack, Alf Alderson.
“What do you reckon of it?” he asked me.
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” I responded.
“I always thought the numbers would be good as there were so many ticket giveaways in order to get people through the door.
“But what has surprised me is the interest level and the general atmosphere– people are buying gear and showing a genuine interest in the resorts here.
“There is a buzz about the place.”
It was probably always going to be so.
The mountains have out-of-bounds for 18-months and this was the first chance for many people to indulge in their passion and immerse themselves in snowsports.
Further conversations with visitors, various exhibitors, resorts and tour operators supported that view.
The views of the exhibitors was more positive than I expected.
The place was full.
Mid-afternoon another long-term ski mate of mine, Warren Smith, was giving a talk on ski technique on the main stage.
The talk was full.
“You know James after all this time with Covid people are desperate to ski again and get to the mountains. I haven’t detected such a positive vibe at a ski show in years”.
I could only agree and changed my view from “pleasantly surprised” to “this show is rather good”.
Warren, like me, has been a regular at the various ski shows in the UK for many years.
The show at Birmingham is now the only one, though a show in London may make a return next year.
As I sat having a coffee I asked the woman next to me what she thought of it.
“To be honest I am disappointed as there are not many exhibitors and so few ski resorts here. I wanted to decide where to ski next winter but all the stands are selling clothes and equipment and I want to find out about where to go skiing next winter.”
Once she left I asked the family that replaced her.
“We’d like to see more resorts here but we have visited the Aosta Valley stand, the Andorra one, the France Montagnes one and a few individual places like Laax in Switzerland. It has really inspired us to get to the mountains next winter. We’re increasingly interested in a trip to Andorra.”
I then spent the next 10-minutes encouraging here and telling her of my experiences with my young family a few years back.
A couple of snowboarders I spoke to bemoaned the lack of interesting stands for boarders.
It seems you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Now forgive me for being a little bit self-indulgent but as I passed by the Ellis Brigham stand the legend that is Dan Egan was signing copies of his latest book and caught my eye.
“Hey James, good to see you again. PlanetSKI is brilliant, I love it… keep up the good work. This show is great. We must have a ski next time you pass through on one of your US road trips.”
It has always been a very difficult task launching a new ski show in Covid-19 times.
I’ve had private conversations with the organisers in the past year or so and there have been some worrying moments – not least if it would even happen at all.
The show attracted many retailers, but not some of the big resorts and UK tour operators.
There is no doubt the organisers want to see them make an appearance next year.
There is plenty of room.
Private conversations with them over the past 12-months say it was not because they didn’t like the idea, but rather investing up front in Covid-19 times was a huge risk.
Plus it was a new show that they didn’t know what they were buying into.
They are keeping their powder dry rather than ignoring The National Snow Show.
And as the after-party started my good friend Henry Druce – ex-editor of the Telegraph ski magazine and a central figure of the past London ski shows asked my my view after the full day.
I changed my view from “this show is rather good” to “this show has been brilliant”.
I said that to Henry having not had a drop of alcohol (yet), and based my view on canvassing opinion and keeping my eyes and ears open as I spoke to the visitors, the organisers and the exhibitors.
“It has been great to see everyone again from us industry folk to everyone else,” I said.
“I think I persuaded a family to go Andorra as I love the place and reckon it would suit their requirements.
“We’ll have to wait from Stephen to hear about the numbers, but I detect something may be happening here.”
Stephen Morgan is the show’s director and gave his view to the exhibitors at the after-party.
“Well, we did it and what a great success it has been. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
And with that I accepted a Snow Show beer and toasted its success.
And reflected on what I liked most about the National Snow Show in Birmingham.
Simply seeing keen skiers and snowboarders clogging up the aisles, sitting around talking about their passion and dreaming, finally, of their next trip to the mountains.
I am pleased to report that the passion for skiing and snowboarding in the UK is stronger than ever.
I’ll be back in Birmingham next year and suggest others might like to do so as well.
Here are the more considered views from Stepehen Morgan after the event:
“We knew the event would be good but we were blown away by the reaction from both the industry and the visitors.
“It was a hard 16-month slog to get the show to where it was, in hugely challenging circumstances, no one knowing what the state of the travel industry would be in 21/22 and following on from the toughest year the industry has faced in a very long time.
“The support of key organisations, the faith our early adopter brands showed and the appetite from the public to attend a snow show meant we were able to deliver a very successful event.
“We have huge plans for the Show with 2022 already shaping up to be double the size.
“We have already signed more brands than we had at this year’s event and have some incredible speakers booked up– watch this space because 2022 planning is already underway.
“We have received a lot of feedback from the event and we are taking it all on board, we are planning to have more brands, more space, more have-a-go experiences and more destinations with the latest kit available to buy with a healthy mix of consumer focused content and trade opportunities.
“If you are interested in getting on board for 2022 we would love to have you and together we can give our industry the boost it needs.”