This week’s NEC motorhome show – running from 19 – 24 February – is traditionally the quieter of the two annual events at the Birmingham venue; bit it’s still well worth paying a visit.
There’s more of an emphasis on dealers, rather than manufacturers, but there’s also more of a focus on accessories – so you might pick up a bargain on a drive-away awning or that barbecue you always wanted.
And, even with the focus away from new-motorhome launches, there are always one or two to see. Follow our guide to find out what’s worth viewing.
Possibly the biggest draw at the show will be the UK debut of the Volkswagen Grand California. Based on the Crafter, rather than the Transporter, the new ‘van is available in two layouts.
There’s the 680, with a fairly standard layout of fixed single beds in the rear, and the 600, with a transverse bed and a striking roof with optional bed.
The ‘van includes innovations such as speakers that can be controlled by Bluetooth, and a heating system that can expand to run on gas or diesel. Other features include an awning, an air-conditioning unit and a Wi-Fi router.
It won’t just be Volkswagen showing off its new models, however. WildAx Motorhomes has the second of two ‘vans it has produced this year.
The Elara, based on the Mercedes Sprinter, includes a rear island bed and front lounge. It joins the Triton, based on the Ford Transit Custom.
Danbury, which unveiled its Avenir range (produced by parent firm Pilote) at the NEC last year, promises to bring out another model at this show.
Rolling Homes will show its uber-luxurious Kingsley, first mentioned in our February issue. The camper, based on the VW T6, is designed to celebrate the Shrewsbury firm’s 10th anniversary.
Painted in Mercedes’ Ruby Light Red, with an automatic gearbox and 20-inch alloy wheels, it has a standard side kitchen with English walnut woodwork, Bilstein suspension, a Milltek exhaust system, lithium-ion batteries and a 150W solar panel on the roof. It should also feature Napa leather throughout, including on the dashboard and door trims.
Richard Baldwin Motorhomes will also be at the show, launching the campervan version of its Masters special-edition range. Extra features include its 360-degree vision system – a European first when it was launched in 2015 – ESP, and much else.
The Carvaggio is based on the Volkswagen T6 and will be available as a raising-roof or high-top.
Partly because there is less of a focus on new vehicles, the February show tends to emphasise accessories and awnings; so now might be a good time to find yourself a bargain drive-away or campervan awning – all of the major manufacturers will be out in force.
Prima Leisure will be launching the first motorhome version of its Deluxe Infinity Air Awnings at the show.
With single-point inflation, these awnings are designed to be easy to put up, while fully removable ‘no trip’ doors will allow bicycles and mobility scooters easy access.
The MotorDeluxe Infinity Air Awning is available in two heights and three widths, with an additional height to account for larger motorhomes.
It can fit box or roll-out Thule or Fiamma awning channels. A model will be on display at the Bailey stand, opposite Prima Leisure.
On the Outwell motorhome awning stand in Hall 5, you can see the latest example of its drive-away awnings, which don’t need to be attached to any vehicle to remain standing.
The dome-roofed Milestone Nap Air (£949.99) builds on an idea introduced in the Milestone Pace, but which, along with air inflation, now includes roll-up canopy sides that can be closed up to the vehicle’s sides for more protection from wind and rain.
This awning also includes three fully opening sides and an optional five-berth annexe, which also has a night-sky feature.
On the same stand, you will find the more tubular Scenic Road 250SA awning (£1089.99), which does attach to the vehicle.
If you’d prefer something more permanent, the Ripple Motor 380SA M awning (£1224.00), on the Outwell stand in Hall 1, is designed for people with larger motorhomes who want an awning that is easy to set up, rather than easy to drive away from.
This model comes with Outwell’s Smart Air single-point inflation system and pre-angled air tubes for easy assembly. The sides close up against the motorhome with pads, and you also get curtains that can be unfastened around 360 degrees.
At the Westfield by Quest stand in Hall 5, you can see the latest ‘van awnings in its Travel Smart Pro range. Designed for the mid-market buyer, these use middle-weight fabrics and Westfield’s Advanced Air System 2, which allows you to swap between multi-inflation and single-point inflation.
The models on show at the NEC will include the Aquarius 300 Pro, which is designed primarily for use with campervans, and the Hydrus 420 Pro, which is available in two heights and has a layout that has been turned sideways, so you can make the most of a standard pitch. Both still have sewn-in groundsheets.
Among the awnings you can find on display at this French company’s stand are the dome-roofed Bali and the more conventional Santa Cruz – both drive-away awnings – the Sapporo, which attaches to the rear of a campervan, and the Nagano, an all-season porch awning.
As its name suggests, newcomer Boondock Trailers is mainly focused on caravans. But look out for another product for which the company has exclusive UK distribution rights.
The Road Shower fits to the roof of a motorhome or campervan, and its black cover can heat the water inside to around 40 degrees within a couple of hours. Depending on the model, the Road Shower tank can hold between 15 and 37 litres of water – ideal if you’re touring off-grid.
Other attractions to look out for
The show includes a starry line-up of celebrity speakers, mainly in the Freedom to Go theatre, hosted by presenter Rowland Rivron.
This time, you can expect to hear from adventurer and author Alastair Humphreys, and travel blogger Claire Hall. Former Great British Bake Off contestant Karen Wright will join others, including the Chef Campers and barbecue expert Richard Holden, keen to show you how easy it is to cook in your ‘van.
For motorcaravanners new to our pastime, or for those who simply want to bush up their skills, there’s the chance to try motorhome manoeuvring with free tuition. Experts from the Caravan and Motorhome Club will be on hand to guide you – just visit the Club’s stand to book.
The NEC show runs from 19 – 24 February and is open each day from 10am to 6pm.
Tickets cost £8 in advance for adults (£7 for those aged over 60) and £10 on the door (£9 for those aged over 60). Entry is free for children 15 years and younger.
For more details and to buy tickets, see www.ccmshow.co.uk.
The February show tends to emphasise accessories and awnings; so now might be a good time to find yourself a bargain