Hi everyone! With only two weeks left until this year’s London Book Fair, I thought I’d write a short list with a handful of tips to help you get the most out of your experience in case you’re thinking of visiting. This time last year I, along with my bookish friend Celine, was heading off to London to experience what the fair had to offer for the first time. I’ve read one or two people’s short recaps of the 2012 event but the enormity of it all still took me by surprise.
The venue & getting there
Once we arrived at Earls Court, the first thing that took me complete by surprise is how massive the venue is. Each of us got a map but even with the help of that, we got lost quite a few times. So, tip number one for anyone going to the book fair for the first time: make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before your first seminar and take some time to properly look at the map and find out where everything is before entering the main exhibition area. I’m not kidding when I say it’s like a maze. With all these people running around, it’s very easy to lose your way and it’s even worse if you’re running late (as we were).
Speaking of being late, once you found your way and know where your seminar is going to be, make sure to go there as soon as you can. Some of the rooms are quite small so if you’re the last one to arrive, you may not find any free seats and standing at the back of the room for an hour isn’t too much fun.
The other mistake we made last year is that we were too far away from the venue. We looked at a few hotels before booking and decided to go with the cheapest option (I had a train and a flight to catch on the last day and had to be close to the station) but neither of us realised how long it took us to get to Earls Court. Some of our seminars started quite early but with such a long commute, we didn’t have too much time in the morning and we were constantly running late. So if you don’t live in London and have to find somewhere to stay, I’d probably say try to find a hotel as close to Earls Court as possible. It might be more expensive, but you might be able to save money on transport. If you’re only a walking distance from the venue, you don’t have to worry about rush hour traffic or getting a travelcard.
One of the cheapest options I found was Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. It’s within a 15 minute walk from the book fair and 2 minutes from the closest tube station, which is great if you want to head into Central London in the afternoon and explore the city.
Food-wise, I would definitely recommend packing a sandwich or a light meal in the morning. If you want to go to as many seminars as you can, you might not have too much time between two events. There are some cafés and places you can buy a sandwich inside Earls Court but they’re quite expensive and the queue is always enormous. A home-made sandwich might come in handy when you only have 10-20 minutes.
Also, if you have more time between seminars and want to have a proper lunch, go outside and have a look around the area. There are quite a lot of cafés and restaurants nearby and you’ll probably find something cheaper and better outside the venue.
I know a lot of you said you’re planning on going this year so I hope you all have a FANTASTIC time and I hope you’ll find some of my tips helpful. If you’ve already been to the book fair, do you have any tips you’d like to add to my list? 🙂