Last weekend (23rd & 24th April) the inaugural Great Northern Dive Show was held at Event City in Manchester. Right from the off, it promised to be something a little bit different, and it certainly was. Comic Con characters, including a fantastic Batman, walked among the stands. Mermaids were seen swimming in the pool, and there was a beach where kids played and learnt about the marine environment and plastic pollution.
The main stage had a runway down the middle so that speakers could strut their stuff and engage with the crowd. The team running the main stage were amazing, with multiple screens and high quality sound that reached the entire audience of the show, rather than just those in the front rows. Each presentation was also signed for deaf members in the audience. Never have I been to such an inclusive show.
Kids were happy to stay all day whilst parents looked at dive gear, because the organisers had thought about them, providing a huge array of child friendly entertainment.
The pool was the highlight for many. It was a feature that had crowds of people around it from the start of the show on Saturday morning until it was closed on Sunday afternoon. With glass panels, visitors could see all the action going on in the pool. It was deep enough to dive in.
In the morning, mermaids (who were actually amazing freedivers) took part in an underwater photo-shoot, and then showed off their skills in both the sporting aspect of freediving, as well as the graceful moves as mermaids. Both kids and adults were enchanted. In the afternoon, there were try dives, kit demonstrations and diving technique reviews.
With all this going on, we must not forget to mention that there were stands showing off diving and underwater photography gear, dive training agencies, marine charities, dive holiday companies that focused on exotic holidays, and UK dive operators too. Teaching organisations offered advice on training on scuba and freediving and local clubs showed off their boats and told people about what they get up to.
The Great Northern Dive Show was a success. It was different from other dive shows. Everyone we spoke to really enjoyed it and there was always a happy buzz around the hall throughout the day. We hope it returns in 2017 and is even bigger and better! See you there.
Here is a quote from Ruth Mort, organiser of The Great Northern Dive Show:
“Thank you to everyone who took a risk and backed this show. It was a risk, but it was a total triumph, and that is such a nice thing to be able to say. So a special massive big thank you to all the exhibitors, photographers, Mermaids, visitors, divers, comic con characters, the runners, the Event City staff team and my family and my team who all made this possible. Without them, there wouldn’t have been a show!!!
“The pool was a great feature and shall be making a second appearance in 2017, as will the Mermaids. Some of the same speakers will be attending, but we will be introducing new ones too.
“One of the exhibitors told me they were ecstatic at the high standard of the venue, the ease of free parking, the quality of visitors, and everyone their staff spoke to gave it a thumbs up!”