For yacht lovers, boat shows offer the same experience as any milestone event—they’re memorable, fun, and potentially life-changing. Just ask the tens of thousands of owners around the world who buy new vessels every year at the top shows. Starting with the Cannes Yachting Festival in September and ending with the Newport Yacht Charter Show in June, the show “season” moves around the world, displaying the newest motor yachts at Cannes in September and the world’s largest superyachts at Monaco at the end of the month. From there, the show season moves on to Fort Lauderdale in October, moving month by month around the globe to the world’s major yachting capitals.
Opening days of every boat show share one common feature: The excitement is electric. Not only have the shipyards spent months, and even years, readying new yachts for their public debuts, but the visitors are also excited to finally be stepping aboard yachts they’ve read about and aspire to own. Yachts remain the ultimate discretionary purchase—the one item owners don’t need but often cannot do without. That’s partly because they have become modern, luxury apartments on the water, rivaling any new high-rise condo.
But the main reason people love boats so much is the freedom they offer. No other shoreside home can match a yacht’s portability. Owners can enjoy the world’s richest view of the Monte Carlo skyline, steps away from the city’s shops and restaurants, and then snorkel in an empty cove on a remote Greek island a week later. Take that scenario, transplant it to wherever water exists, and imagine the possibilities. You can see why the boat show has become such a must-attend event for yacht lovers. Here are 16 of the world’s best shows.
It might be the dead of winter, but this is a great time of year to get away to another cold clime and start planning your warm-weather activities.
Scheduled for January 19 to 27, 2019, Boot Düsselforf will be celebrating 50 years in 2019, and tickets will go on sale in September. Sixteen exhibition halls spread out over 2,368,060 square feet make up the boat show, which offers up 18 themed areas celebrating all things water. These include the Sailing Center, Motorboats, Superyachts, Travel, the Dive Center, Beach World, the World of Paddling, the Refit Center, and the Sportfishing Center, among others. Watch for superyachts from Azimut, Ferretti, Princess, Fairline, and Sunseeker in the motor-yacht category.
If you prefer sailing, you can check out models from Amel, Bénéteaum, CNB, Nautor’s Swan, Solaris, and more. In addition to the large yachts, tenders for those yachts are on display, as well. If you get tired of touring the yacht halls, head to The Wave for some surfing or the Dive Center for diving. In 2018, 1,923 exhibitors from 68 different countries participated, and 247,000 visitors attended from 102 countries. Organizers are expecting more for the 50th anniversary. —Danielle Cutler
If you’re envisioning a romantic Valentine’s-weekend holiday, nothing could be more magical than Miami during the two boat shows held over Valentine’s Day each year. If you already have plans, consider heading to the United Arab Emirates at the end of the month for a winter warmup at the Dubai show.
Miami International Boat Show
One of two Miami shows held on the same dates, the Miami International Boat Show (MIBS), held February 14 through 19, 2019, used to be a small-boat show in the Miami Beach Convention Center. The largest boat was less than 50 feet in length. Two years ago, MIBS moved to the Miami Marine Stadium on Key Biscayne, and it transformed almost overnight into a world-class, on-water show. More than 1,300 boats are on display from 170 builders from the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
The organizers also moved its sailboat show to Virginia Key last year, adding a new component as well as offering hands-on instruction and displays from hundreds of equipment and electronics manufacturers. The show is just minutes from the village of Coconut Grove—with its charming cafés, parks, and shops—and downtown Miami, with the art galleries and restaurants in the hip section of Brickell. Between MIBS’ new location and the Miami Yacht Show on South Beach, Miami is definitely the place to be for yachties in February. —Geri Ward
Miami Yacht Show
Formerly Yachts Miami Beach and then the Miami Yacht Show on Collins Avenue, the Miami Yacht Show is scheduled for February 14 to 18 in 2019 at its new location in Biscayne Bay between the Venetian and MacArthur causeways, which is just north of downtown Miami. The new venue is closer to superyacht-lovers’ Superyacht Miami at Island Gardens Deep Harbour marina on Watson Island, which hosts the show’s large yachts—up to 500 feet.
Show organizers expect more than 500 boats and yachts, additional parking and on-land exhibit space, and a new AquaZone, where guests will find demos from Flyboard, SeaBob, Rover Boat Board, underwater drones, and more. Be sure to check out the luxury automobiles, private jets, and art on display, as well.
Guests who prefer traveling as a VIP have the option of buying the VIP Experience package ($150), which includes show entry, access to the VIP lounge, and transportation to Superyacht Miami. Don’t underestimate the VIP lounge—this is where you go to get out of the sun, take advantage of the open bar and hors d’oeuvres, and take in the happy-hour events.
Watch for yachts from Amels, Benetti, Heesen, Oceanco, Christensen, Westport, Feadship, and many more. —D.C.
Dubai International Boat Show
Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS), scheduled for February 26 to March 2, 2019, is a true crossroads of the yachting world, bringing together 26,000 visitors from 76 countries. The show has all the major U.S. and European yacht brands, not to mention local yards like Gulf Craft, which has found an international following for its Majesty superyachts. DIBS’ organizers relocated the show last year to Dubai Creek, a more intimate and elegant setting for the exhibitors and visitors.
Beyond the yachts displayed at the marina and along Superyacht Avenue, the show also has a Super Car Promenade, Luxury Boulevard (with luxury goods and decor), and Dive ME Expo to promote the region’s exceptional reefs. Dubai, of course, is known for its international lifestyle, and that shows up in restaurants like the Armani Hotel as well as the cafés on the Dubai Marina. The Emirate also has world-class shopping centers like the Dubai Mall, with its top-brand stores and glassed-in indoor ski slopes with real snow, or Saga World Dubai, which displays exceptional masterpieces of jewelry, watches, carpeting, and artwork. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, features a 124th-floor observation deck that gives exceptional views of the fast-growing city. —G.W.
Need to change up your usual spring-break ski trip? Balmy Palm Beach is beautiful this time of year.
Palm Beach International Boat Show
Palm Beach International Boat Show, held March 28 to 31, 2019, was once an afterthought to the Fort Lauderdale and Miami shows; however, it has been steadily growing over the last few years, adding extra dock space, more yacht brands, and ever-larger yachts. It now has $1.2 billion worth of boats on display. It’s also in the admirable position of offering the same levels of quality and excellent weather as the other major shows, but without the big crowds. This year, Palm Beach introduced a VIP Experience that includes a dockside indoor club with open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and other luxuries that make it an oasis in the heart of the show.
The event also features a cool AquaZone, which has demos of jetpacks, electric surfboards, paddleboarding, and many new water toys. For a break from the show, the shopping on Worth Avenue is similar to Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue, but without the urban background. The exhibits at the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum or shows at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts are also cultural distractions in one of America’s wealthiest zip codes. —G.W.
Check out spring in Singapore for a high-end tropical vacation with a sophisticated city as your home base.
Singapore Yacht Show
Showcasing top-notch yachts, supercars, luxury fashion, watch and jewelry brands, and more, the Singapore Yacht Show is scheduled for April 11 through 14, 2019, at One°15 Marina in Sentosa Cove on Sentosa Island. Supported by the Singapore Tourism Board and the international yachting community, guests can explore such on-water yacht exhibitors as Azimut, Benetti, Feadship, Ferretti, Gulf Craft, Heesen, Lürssen, Monte Carlo Yachts, Sanlorenzo, Westport, and others. The 2018 show hosted more than 15,000 visitors over the four days, spread out over the almost 90,500 square feet of exhibition space, and featured more than 90 yachts and 14 world and Asia debuts. —D.C.
Does one really need a reason to visit Barcelona? The architecture, the weather, the museums, shopping, the beach, boating, sangria… And then there’s Greece.
MYBA Charter Show
Head to Barcelona for the MYBA Charter Show on April 30 to May 3, 2019, at OneOcean Port Vell. Tailored to professionals in the charter-yacht industry, the 2018 event featured 53 yachts, 96 exhibitors, and 1,885 attendees. Events include the annual chefs’ competition, pitting yacht chef and crew against yacht chef and crew to determine which team has the best Meet and Greet process, “tablescaping” display, and, of course, food. The 2018 challenge was for each participating chef to prepare five different finger foods to be eaten without cutlery, breaking down to three savory and two sweet items. Legendary yachts such as Oceanco’s 269-foot Alfa Nero and the 254-foot explorer yacht Legend from Icon Yachts participated in 2018, along with their representatives Burgess and Camper & Nicholsons, respectively. —D.C.
Presented each year for yachting professionals by the Greek Yachting Association in Nafplion, Greece, the Mediterranean Yacht Show also showcases charter yachts, parties aboard those yachts (allowing guests to get to know each other and the crew), and a chefs’ competition. The fifth edition of MEDYS proved to be the best yet, with 107 charter yachts and more than 400 yachting professionals from all corners of the globe, making it the largest event of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean. The GYA expects an even larger number of yachts for 2019, currently estimated to be 120. The 2019 show is scheduled for May 4 to 8, a day longer than the 2018 event. —D.C.
Take a break from the Hamptons and head to Newport, Rhode Island, to catch a glimpse of the large yachts in town for the charter show.
Newport Charter Yacht Show
One of two summer yacht shows, set in America’s sailing capital, is unique because only charter yachts take part. The Newport Yacht Charter Show, which will be held June 17 to 20 in 2019, is a professionals-only event designed to show the high standards of the charter sector to owners and brokers, with four days of open houses on the yachts. During the last show, the 24 charter yachts ranged from the 198-foot Blue Moon to the 54-foot sailing-catamaran Tohora, with most of the fleet measuring over 100 feet.
The chefs demonstrate their cooking prowess with specially prepared luncheons for brokers, while captains show each yacht’s unique features (water toys, luxury saloons, or beach clubs). The crew and owners even participate in costumed events which, in 2018, included Super Heroes and Under the Big Top. There are best-dessert contests among the chefs as well as “tablescaping” and specialty cocktail competitions. Newport, with its 19th-century mansions on the Cliff Walk and boutiques on Thames Street, makes the perfect New England backdrop for the show. —G.W.
If you’re ready for a cool-down from your blazing-hot summer, Australia’s winter weather—with highs in the 50s—might be a welcome reprieve.
Sydney International Boat Show
Sydney’s International Convention Centre and adjacent Cockle Bay Marina in Darling Harbour played host to the 51st edition of the Sydney International Boat Show from August 2 through 6, 2018. The event features not only yachts of all sizes from respected builders around the world but also all sorts of accessories, demonstration pools, and master classes. Plus, the Australia International Dive Expo has joined in the fun. I would recommend catching your breath while swilling a glass of bubbly at the outdoor Champagne and oyster bar on the event deck. Dates have not yet been announced for 2019. —D.C.
September is a good time to book that Airbnb in the South of France for the whole month so you can hit up all the boat shows. In between Cannes and Monaco, don’t forget to head to Southampton and Genoa to catch the shows there.
Cannes Yachting Festival
Cannes might be better known for its film festival, but the Cannes Yachting Festival—September 11 to 16, 2018—attracts more visitors and is the official launch of the yachting season. Last year on its 40th anniversary, the show had 600 boats on display, including yachts over 150 feet as well as 108 world premieres. Like the film festival, the world’s boat builders understand it’s important to be seen at Cannes. The largest new launch in the 2018 show will be the Baglietto 48 Displacement, a 158-foot superyacht designed by Francesco Paszkowski, with other launches by Custom Line, Ferretti Yachts, Conrad, Nautor’s Swan, and more than 100 others. Because France is such a mecca of sailing, the show also has a large selection of sailboats and multihull yachts. More than 50,000 visitors, about half of which came from outside France, are expected to visit the show to see the new yachts of the season. There’s typically a lively, friendly feel on the crowded docks as the builders can finally reveal yachts that will establish the latest trends in design and performance. Located in the heart of the city, dozens of cafés, bars, and restaurants are within a five-minute walk of the event. The show’s Luxury Galley includes watches, jewelry, lamps, and other custom decor. —G.W.
TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show
Held September 14 to 23 this year, TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show is celebrating 50 years. Organizers expect more than 100 boat debuts and more than 500 exhibitors. Some will be highlighting environmental research. In addition to celebrating its 50 years in existence, the show will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first single-handed nonstop circumnavigation of the globe with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili on display at the event. Sports stars and celebrities from the last 50 years will be welcomed, and those couples celebrating 50 years of marriage during the show will receive free entrance. Be sure to stop by the new Guinness Bar, which will be giving its own nod to the 1960s.
Besides the yachts and boats on display—and the various 50th-anniversary festivities—the Southampton Boat Show also features kayaks, paddleboards, sailing dinghies, and, this year, a menu at the Marine’s Grill developed by the Hairy Bikers (Si King and Dave Myers), with responsibly sourced seafood in line with the show’s efforts to support marine conservation. VIP-minded visitors will be pleased to discover the Platinum Experience, which includes a glass of Prosecco upon arrival; morning tea, coffee, and pastries; buffet lunch; afternoon tea and cake; entrance fees for the show; a private bar (drinks not included) in the Platinum Lounge; and more. The most exciting part is the hour-long tour aboard a motor yacht. —D.C.
Genoa, Italy’s national boat show, held September 25 to 28, 2018, is one of Europe’s major fall yachting events. Salone Nautica offers 1,000 boats in a Mediterranean setting from Italian yacht builders like Sanlorenzo, Azimut, and Monte Carlo Yachts, as well as non-Italian brands like Nautor’s Swan, Bertram, Beneteau, and Hanse Yachts. Located on the Genoa waterfront, the show is divided into motor yachts, sailboats, powerboats, and outboard boats. The Genoa show distinguishes itself by an inimitable sense of Italian warmth. Organizers call it the “Sea Experience,” and that includes after-show boat tests on the Mediterranean, Big Game Tournament sportfishing displays, and events for divers, kayakers, and small-boat lovers.
Beyond the show, Genoa offers many side tours, including the charming cafés of Via Garibaldi, cathedrals like Basilica di Santa Maria di Castello, the Aquarium of Genoa, and the art museum of Chiostro dei Canonici di San Lorenzo. Walks through the Palazzi dei Rolli and Chiesa Di San Donato give some sense of Genoa’s long history and importance as a maritime center. —G.W.
Monaco Yacht Show
Every September since 1991, yachting enthusiasts, buyers, charterers, yacht builders, and brokers descend on the principality of Monaco for the annual Monaco Yacht Show. And I’m sure this year will be no different. Scheduled for September 26 through 29, 2018, show organizers are expecting 120 custom superyachts from builders, owners, and charter brokers around the globe to moor at the docks of Port Hercules. In addition, 40 of these yachts will be making their worldwide debut. The average length of participating yachts is 160 feet, but this year there will be seven superyachts between 230 and 328 feet in length. And four of them will be making their world debuts. In addition, watersports lovers can view and sometimes try out the 40 different tenders and toys on display. For those into automobiles, 10 different luxury models will be exhibited at the show’s Car Deck. And we mustn’t overlook the two helicopters scheduled to appear. Overall, 580 companies participate in the annual show.
For superyacht clientele, the Monaco Yacht Show offers a VIP visit pack, the Sapphire Experience, which provides exclusive services to new yacht buyers and current owners. Crème de la crème visitors may participate in two invite-only events held the evening of September 25: the Monaco Yacht Summit—mini lectures and discussions with a panel of yachting-industry experts to explore the practical questions of future yacht charterers or buyers—and the Inaugural Gala Event and 5th Monaco Yacht Show Superyacht Awards, where 400 guests celebrate the most spectacular yachts at the show.
Last year’s Monaco Yacht Show saw 36,400 people roaming the tents, halls, and docks. And usually, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco takes a (highly secured) stroll through the event, as well. —D.C.
Sights are most likely set on South Florida for the Fort Lauderdale boat show, but don’t rule out a quick trip to beautiful Abu Dhabi for its fairly new event.
Abu Dhabi International Boat Show
Scheduled for October 17 to 20, 2018, the newcomer to the list will hold its inaugural event this year. Organized by the same company that puts on the Southampton show in the UK, the Abu Dhabi International Boat Show promises to be an impressive debut. The UAE capital has become a boatbuilding center in the Middle East and one of its most beautiful cruising grounds, with more than 300 miles of coastline and 200 islands. It has also hosted some world-class events, including Abu Dhabi Sailing Regatta, Commodore’s Cup, and a stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race. Islands like Yas, Saadiyat, and Sir Bani Yas have become big destinations, and some have world-class marinas. The show will feature yacht builders from 18 countries, including Sunseeker, Benetti, CRN, Mangusta, Princess, Ferretti Yachts, and Pershing.
Many local shipyards will also have their boats on display. Beyond yachts and powerboats, the show will feature Volvo Ocean 60 race boats (Abu Dhabi has been a big sponsor of the Volvo Ocean Race) and F1 Powerboats that accelerate to 100 mph in four seconds. The in-water section will be in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company’s marina, while the rest of the show will be in the adjoining ultramodern exhibit center. —G.W.
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show
Every fall at the very end of hurricane season, boats and yachts big and small arrive from all over the globe to take part in the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the biggest in-water boat show in the world, held this year on October 31 through November 4 in the Yachting Capital of the World. The 2018 edition marks 59 years of this show, which hosts more than 1,500 boats—along six miles of floating docks—1,200 exhibitors, and 110,000 visitors at seven locations around Fort Lauderdale.
Not only will visitors find all kinds of boats—from superyachts and sailing yachts to jet boats and runabouts—but also watersports gear, exotic cars, and everything else nautical. General admission is $33 for adults; $15 for kids ages six to 15; and free for children under six. Choose the Windward VIP Experience for $300 a person for one day. The package includes entrance to the show, access to the Windward VIP Club, and rides on the Water Taxi. But the Windward VIP Club is what makes it appealing—it’s located at the Swimming Hall of Fame, which is a pretty central location, and offers up air-conditioned lounge areas to hang out and cool off in, a dedicated concierge, and private indoor bathrooms (worth any amount of money). If that didn’t do it for you, it offers up a private dining area and a premium open bar. —D.C.
And that’s a wrap. End your year in the warm and wildly beautiful West Indies.
Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting
Another show catered to marine-industry professionals, the Antigua Charter Yacht Show is scheduled for December 4 through 10 at Nelson’s Dockyard Marina in English Harbour, the Falmouth Harbour Marina, and the Antigua Yacht Club Marina. New for 2018, all registered yachts remain at the docks for the full five viewing days, with the fifth day being a Sail Day, when charter-management companies can showcase their yacht with a cruise around Antigua’s waters and islands in a sort of charter sampler. Festivities include a chefs’ competition (this year’s mission is a New Year’s Eve dinner party), a stewardess competition (a New Year’s Eve decorative table setting), and nightly events. The Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting is a nonprofit and allocates funds to various schools, scholarships, police stations, flood victims, and more. —D.C.