As the best of the British outdoor leisure industry gathers once again in the halls of Birmingham’s NEC, we’ve picked out the best bits that you should look out for when you visit this weekend. 

It goes without saying that this is the perfect opportunity to see inside the newest ‘vans on the market, with the UK’s main manufacturers and major dealerships displaying their 2020 ranges. There’s plenty more going on at the show, too.

There’s plenty of activities to keep the whole family busy, such as the climbing wall at the back of Hall 4, the adventure golf course that is new for this year in Hall 1, the Electric In Motion area (also new for this year) in Hall 4, and of course the Top Dog Arena, to name but a few. 

Plus, in Hall 2 you’ll find the Freedom To Go theatre, with a host of familiar faces lined up to speak on all sorts of subjects, including campervan cooking demonstrations and inspiring tours. 

Elsewhere, there’s free campervan test drives and the Caravan and Motorhome Club is providing motorhome manoeuvring sessions which are great for improving confidence or brushing up on old skills. 

Here are just a few of our personal highlights to look out for when you visit: 

California 6.1

NEC visitors buzzed around the two new Volkswagen California 6.1 models – one Coast (from £55,281 OTR) and one Ocean (from £63,591 OTR). The vehicles come with a new electro mechanical steering system, which provides access to all sorts of safety systems such as trailer and cross wind assist. 

Inside there’s a digital cockpit (standard in the Ocean) and just below the mirror a new digital control panel from which you can control the roof and lights. It even has an inclinometer so you can see if you need to put your chocks in.

The main difference between the two models is that the Coast has a manual roof, while the Ocean is electric and has a higher spec. We particularly liked the smart sunrise function which allows you to wake up slowly as LEDs in the roof and living area gradually increase the level of brightness.

Bailey reveals new ambassador

As well as revealing details of its latest adventure – an upcoming 20-day motorhome trip to the Sahara – Bailey also introduced one of its new ‘ambassadors’ at the show. Andy Torbet is an underwater explorer, adventurer and TV presenter; “a motorhome isn’t just a great base for my exploration, adventure and filming projects, it also helps to balance the time away from home this work creates,” he said in a recent blog on the Bailey website. 

Torbet is due to join the Bailey convoy to the Sahara in March; the journey will see a crew driving 3500 miles over the edge of the Atlas Mountains to the desert.

Adventure accessories galore

Throughout the halls, there are plenty of accessories that stand out and promise to breathe new life into adventures on tour, including the Kayacat inflatable catamaran that fits in a backpack. It’s perfect for those that like to explore out on the water.

We were also impressed by the outdoor seating options from Helinox, including the Personal Shad that features in the UK Outdoor Industry Awards stand in Hall 5. Don’t forget to visit the stand and cast your votes for your favourite outdoor accessories!

One of the most eye-catching displays has to be on Ribbles Cycles’ stand in Hall 5, near the camping zone, which features a bicycle hanging from a colourful collection of balloons. 

Visiontech Automotive 20/20 Vision

Visiontech Automotive has created a camper van with real leather furnishings, an electric bed, and a TV that drops down from the roof bed even when you’ve put the kids to bed upstairs and sealed off the hatchway. It doesn’t come cheap, however. Brand new, the VW T6-based conversion costs from £87,000.

On-site entertainment is stepping up

The Camping Cinema stand in Hall 2 shows the potential to transform movie nights when you’re on tour. The packages of high-end projection and audio equipment make up the ideal portable cinema, perfect for cosy nights in the ‘van.

Thinking of visiting the show before it closes at the end of the weekend? Visit the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show website for full details. To keep up to date with all things motorhome, make sure you’ve subscribed to get each issue delivered to your door.