Tips for visitors to Hugglets Festivals
To help you feel at home and make the most of your visit to a Hugglets Festival here are some practical tips. You'll probably find them helpful even if it's not your first time. If you think other things should be added to this page please let us know by emailing email@example.com
Those who arrive before the opening time of 10.30am will find a queue winding its way down towards Kensington High Street. Some people arrive very early as they are keen to get the best choice of bears from one or other artist but otherwise the main advantage to arriving much before 10.30am is the free chocolates passed down the line!
(For those very new to bear collecting, ‘bear artist’ is the term given to bear makers who design their own original bears, often one-offs and limited editions.)
If you are coming by car it's possible that the underground car park at the venue will be full by mid-day so the earlier you arrive the better chance there is of getting space (otherwise the alternative is in the nearby Young Street car park - which unfortunately costs more).
Before joining the queue we recommend you obtain your entry ticket from the Hugglets reception desk at the entrance to the halls. If you already have the correct ticket, from the back of the UK Teddy Bear Guide or Festival Programme for example, you can join the queue directly.
Tickets cost £4 on the day for adults or £2 for children. If you have registered on the Hugglets website and live in the UK you'll receive by post the Festival Programme with exhibitor list, floorplans and one free ticket.
Festival programmes are sent out approximately 3 weeks prior to each event to our mailing list.
The Teddy Bear Guide contains the contact details of most exhibitors as well as two free tickets for each event and a lot more besides. If you prefer to purchase the Guide in advance you can order it online here.
The queue often gets very long but despite this we usually manage to get everyone in within ten minutes because tickets are already held. If someone in the queue doesn't already have their ticket they just step aside when they get to reception we sell as fast as possible but a short delay for these ticket buyers is inevitable.
The venue is suitable for wheelchair access (please come directly to reception via the entry point higher up Hornton Street to avoid external stairs). An internal lift is available between the three floors as well as the internal stairs. There are toilet facilities on both the top floor and basement but disabled toilet facilities are limited to the basement. Official guide dogs may enter the venue but other pets are not allowed.
Before handing in your ticket at the inner door (just past reception) please make sure you complete the prize draw details on the back to stand a chance of winning one of four £50 vouchers to spend at the event. Winners are announced and invited to collect the voucher from reception. If you need to leave early don’t worry if you win a prize we’ll post the voucher to you to spend at the next Hugglets Festival.
If at any time you need to leave the venue and return please ask for a pass-out card as you go out. You might need to step outside because phone reception is patchy or for a bit of fresh air (or to smoke). Not all exhibitors can take cheque or card payments, especially those from overseas, so it’s a good idea to have sufficient cash for your proposed purchases. You may need to visit one of the nearby cashpoints/ATMs on Kensington High Street (the nearest are at the corner of Hornton Street).
If you have coats and bags with you, you can deposit these at the free cloakroom in the basement (hall 3). You can also use this facility if your purchases mount up during the day but don't forget to collect them!
From the point you enter the event everything is open to you over 10,000 teddy bears and related collectables (sometimes called 'soft sculpture' - including rabbits, cats, monkeys, dogs etc) on sale in an enormous variety of styles, sizes, colours, ages and prices.
The event takes place on all three floors and in four different halls. The ground floor has halls 1 and 2 (the first one you come to is actually hall two). The top floor is called hall 4 and the basement hall 3.
The number of stands in each hall is as follows
Hall 1 - 69 stands
Many people find it helpful to review the list of exhibitors before the event. If you've not already received one in the post a floorplan showing exhibitor positions will be available on the day from the reception area. You can collect one when you arrive and review it while waiting in the queue. You can view the exhibitor list and basic floorplan on our website in order to plan the order of your visit. It's a good idea to identify any stands you particularly want to visit early in the day when more bears are still available. If there are cancellations, additions or changes to the published programme these are posted in various places as you enter the venue.
For about two months prior to a Festival we also provide clickable links to take you to the websites of our exhibitors. This is great for previewing the sorts of bears offered by each exhibitor. The links remain available on the site for about a year after the event to help you track down an exhibitor if you later regret not buying one of their bears!
If you are especially intent on buying a particular bear or a bear from a particular artist it may be worth contacting the exhibitor in advance in case a bear can be reserved, or perhaps you can buy in advance and collect on the day.
There are so many great bears it will be hard to know where to begin. Most of the leading teddy bear artists in the UK will be there.
Hugglets Festivals also offer a rare opportunity to meet bear artists and other exhibitors from overseas - so you’ll not want to miss these. There are usually about 40 exhibitors from overseas. They are located through all the halls but can be readily identified on the printed exhibitor list by a round dot. Countries often represented include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden & USA.
A quick word about photography - if you want to take photos we won't be surprised because the displays are wonderful and the artistry amazing but please ask permission of the exhibitor first.
Just past the reception area you'll see a bear repairer. You may be lucky to find a repair can be done on the day but often teddies need to become in-patients.
If you are thinking of selling an old bear there are many dealers in old bears who may be pleased to see your bear and perhaps make an offer. One or more specialist toy auctioneers may also have a stand and so be able to advise you.
By now you might be getting hungry! On the top floor you’ll find the snack bar. An alternative is to take a break outside at one the local eateries or find a seat in the balcony area overlooking hall 1 and break out the sandwiches! If you do go out for food please note that fast food cannot be brought back into the premises so you’ll need to finish it outside.
If you are coming with a party it is a good idea to arrange a meeting time and place in case you split up. Sorry, we generally won’t make public announcements to reunite you with your friends, but we make an exception if children are lost.
On the subject of things being lost, please keep hold of your bags. You may need to put them down to cuddle an irresistible bear from time to time but remember to pick them up again. If you do lose something please report it to the Hugglets reception at the entrance. We'll take your contact details and reunite you with your property if it is handed in. If you find something, please bring it to reception and if it is next to a stand please also bring it to the attention of the exhibitor.
In case you feel unwell during the event (overwhelmed by all the bears?) there are two St John Ambulance staff on site to help you - please ask at reception.
The event finishes at 4.00pm so you'll want to regroup and make sure you've visited all the halls before then. At 3.45pm we'll make an announcement to recommend you make your final purchases before the journey home. If you have left items in the cloakroom please collect them. Anything still there at the end of the day will be transferred to the Hugglets reception desk.
If you are hoping to get a taxi we advise you to walk down to the main road and hail one from there. Phoning for a cab is not always successful.
If you have parked in the car park, you’ll need to pay at the machine or at the manned booth before rejoining your car.
Have a safe journey back and we hope your adopted bears settle well into their new home! If you have taken pictures of your day or wish to write an account of your visit please send us a copy - we may be able to include it on our website.
Glenn & Irene Jackman,
Additional tips from visitors:
I can think of one tip that I think would be useful. Wear a sensible pair of shoes or boots as you will be standing a lot of the time looking at all the stalls and also queuing up to get in. G.S.
When I travel I attach small bells to my purse and bag to act as a deterrent. K.M.