Ever since I was little, I wanted to go to crufts....I watched it on the tv every year and swore one day I would go. When I got my Labrador, I finally went with a friend (without the dog!). Since then I've been every year.
For a dog lover/ owner it's a fantastic day out. Tickets are best bought online to avoid the huge queues for tickets when you get there. Shuttle buses run from the car park (it's not a long walk, but after a day around Crufts you will be glad of the sit down!). They sell show guides (around £6 last time I had one) which if it's your first time, is well worth the money. Once you've been once, things are easier to find as the rings and main stands stay in the same place. The show guide also gives timings of displays and a list of trade stands.
So, you're in, what to see? There are the breed showing rings and benching areas. Each breed will be (more or less) together on benches and they will have a time and a ring where you can watch the showing. If you're interested in a particular breed, it's best to check which day they will be there!
Discover dogs (usually in hall 3) has stands where each breed of dog can be found, along with experienced owners/ breeders of those breeds. If you are looking into getting a particular breed, this is the place to come...ask questions, find out contacts for the breed clubs, see the dogs in the flesh.
There are (also in hall 3) booths where information about dog activities can be found. These are manned by dogs who take part and their handlers. So if you've ever wanted to do competitive obedience, agility, flyball, rally, heelwork to music, Gundog work or anything else with your dog, it's definitely worth a visit. They run displays of each sport and will answer (or try to) any questions.
Lastly (still in hall 3) there are the YKC rings and the good citizen ring. Both are worth a visit. YKC (young kennel club) is obviously for the children/ teenagers to compete in various finals, in a huge range of disciplines from breed showing to heelwork to music. They have a timetable of various classes per day. The good citizen ring has demonstrations of the good citizen scheme plus the safe and sound scheme. Again a timetable will be found at the ring, along with information about classes and clubs.
In hall 5, there is the obedience ring. This is where all the competition obedience classes are held. Definitely worth a look. On Thursday it will be the inter regional competition where competitors of various levels (in area teams) compete. Friday and Saturday are the obedience championships, where the top obedience competitors compete to win the crufts obedience championship. These are split into dogs and bitches and on the Saturday evening, the winning dog and winning bitch do a display in the main arena. Sunday is then World Cup obedience, with teams from as far as Canada competing.
The arena (accessed from hall 1) holds a huge capacity audience and here you can watch agility competitions, flyball competitions, heelwork to music plus a huge variety of doggy displays. There are usually police dog displays and some lovely gundogs. Each evening, the best of breed winners compete to go through to best in show. You can watch, with the exception of Sunday night, which is by ticket only, as it is best in show night. Best in show tickets can be purchased in advance, and these allow you arena access for the last group judging sessions, the agility championships judging, a heelwork to music display and the best in show judging.
There are hundreds of trade stands, selling everything doggy you can think of, from collars to wellies for dog walking. There are also charity stands and stands concerning dog training. Then of course, there are lots and lots of dogs!
All in all, there's so much to see, you might need more than one day! Crufts is held over 5 halls in the nec plus the arena, so comfortable walking shoes will be a big bonus! It gets very busy, especially at weekends, so children need to be watched carefully....would be easy to get lost.
The disadvantages are few. Taking your own lunch is probably a good idea, as the refreshments are quite expensive and the choice not brilliant. Plus the queues at lunchtime are very very long! Car parking charges are also very expensive, parking all day is around £10! It's also worth pointing out that getting out of the car parks, especially at around 4pm when the breed dogs are allowed to leave is a long process....queues should be expected and the motorways are normally a little busier than normal too. There are train services which are excellent and pretty much drop off right to the nec's door....worth checking out, especially if you are not planning on doing huge amounts of shopping.
I'm not really a "Dog" person. I prefer cats if I have to make the choice. But, my husband really wants a Beagle (like Snoopy), so we decided to visit Crufts in March at the Birmingham NEC.
We bought our tickets online and they were a very reasonable £17 for a day ticket. The event is on for four days and each day has a different dog theme- ie Working and pastoral/ Toy and Utility/ Gundogs.
The NEC is huge. Crufts filled around 5 arenas. We could have spent two days just walking around the place (we went early in the morning and left around 7pm) so it makes a long long tiring day. You will walk for miles just walking around the arenas.
When we first walked in we headed straight for the dog sections where each breed of dog has a representative- there are rows and rows of little booths each with a few examples of that breed of dog. This is brilliant to show all the types of dog and the dog handlers are on site to answer breed secific questions. There is a breeders section for people who go to Crufts to make contacts to look at buying digs too.
There are also sections for charities such as Guide Dogs for the Blind, Dogs for the Disabled and Cancer Detection Dogs. They put on displays and have people on hand again to answer queries.
There are trade halls (I counted two full halls) of stalls full of dog attire- from worming remedies to clothing for dog walkers. Everything you could imagine to buy related to or for a dog is here!
All day there are judging events going on. You can walk around and watch the dogs being trotted around small greens of felt and judged in elimination rounds until the breed winners are found that go forward to the Show's final on the Sunday.
We had a walk around the dogs in small pens/ holding areas and I expected the owners/ handlers to be quite "get away from my dog"- but no-one was like that and my husband made a beeline for the beagles and wandered around stroking the dogs.
The facilities are ok-- there are several toilets and although you can expect to queue it is nothing out of the ordinary. The food court areas are expensive and basic. Jacket Potatoes, burgers, chips etc., We went out of the Halls and ate in the Wetherspoons of the NEC itself that only had a limited food choice but the service was quick.
After getting really tired walking around the halls and dogs, we made our way into the quite empty Main Arena (the bit you see on TV) where we found there were displays and things on all day.- ie police dog of the year/ awards ceremonies etc., We also watched the main judging event in the main hall and saw the dog who went on to win Crufts 2009 win in its heat.
Overall- if you like dogs don;t even hesitate to visit crufts. I dont really like dogs and I had a great time and saw lots of adorable dogs like mini sausagedogs... Dogs that are rare and you just will not see them in real life. It is educational and a good day out. But it is VERY tiring. I would suggest taking your own food too.
I own a KC registered dog but never had any intention of showing or breeding from her. When my niece asked me to take her a few years ago I was not sure what to expect, I had seen bits of it on tv but going had never really crossed my mind.
I have now gone for the last two years and fully intend to go again in 2009. I live near the NEC so I will get a two day ticket just to make sure I get to do it all!
There are hundreds of rings with dog breeds getting judged in, stalls in all the arena halls selling any doggy related product you can think of and many other things, the discover dogs section has owners with their dogs for I think all the KC registered dogs, a smaller stage/arena as well as the massive main arena with things happening all day long.
The reason I will be going over two days next year is simple, I have struggled to fit everything my neice and I wanted to do into one day. She loves the discover dogs section, seeing dogs she had never seen before and getting to stroke and hold many of them. I like looking around the stalls and thanks to crufts have several leads, collars and harness' when I know I only really need one! We both like seeing the arena shows as well as the YKC shows and any other displays on throughout the day! So next time have decided to go and do all my shopping without my niece and then take her on the weekend to do the discover dogs and shows.
Also a bonus I discovered this year is if you join children in the Young Kennel Club for around £10 they get lots of things through the post throughout the year but also get free entry to all days of Crufts the following year, which when you consider the cost of an admission ticket for one day, it can save you a lot!
Also if you think you will buy things bring a large bag, many people I have seen with holdalls and trolley bags but I have just bought the large dogs trust bags when I get there as it goes to charity!
***** Crufts *****
It was only a matter of time before I commented on the "World's Greatest Dog Show" and here it is.
Indeed, it does exactly what it says on the tin - dog's and people from around the world, it's the greatest as there's no substitute for the luxurious green carpet, it has dogs and it's a show. Well, that's it then. Review finished.
Actually, I think not.
It's incomprehensible how much is crammed into the NEC in the four days that Crufts runs. Having been last year, mother and I decided that this would be our holiday this year - we're not the saddest people in the world - it's just not that cheap, especially with the overpriced bacon-baps and necessary dog toys, treats, blankets, collars, piccies - all for the girls that are a compulsory purchase! Unfortunately, because the NEC is in Birmingham and not the Seychelles, neither of us got a tan, but equally we ate recognisable food and didn't get stung by a jellyfish. Bonus.
***** Crufts History and random facts *****
This isn't the most interesting part so feel free to skip it.
The first organised dog-show was held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the town hall in 1859 whereupon a mere sixty entries of pointers and setters appeared.
By 1870, it was apparent that a controlling body was necessary and in 1873, there was a meeting which marked the founding of the Kennel Club.
The name 'Crufts' originates from Charles Cruft, a man renowned for his organising of dog events, who died in 1938. His missus, found it all a bit stressful to continue his works and handed over the reins to the Kennel Club who, in turn, continued to use his surname.
It was not until 1948 that the kennel club ran its first Crufts at Olympia.
The venue was changed in 1979 to Earls Court and then it was moved to the even bigger venue of the auspicious NEC in 1991 where it's remained for 19 years.
It occupies over a million square feet - my blister is testament to that fact.
Nearly 23,000 top pedigree dogs compete in more than 3,000 individual classes.
1,165 dogs came from overseas.
Over 160,000 visitors attended.
The new breed being shown this year was the Kooikerhondje
The winner of Best in Show gets £100!
***** What's there? *****
Good god, I've not got all day to describe it all but I'll randomly list stuff!
Discover Dogs - over 200 recognised breeds that you can poke and ask random questions like "why is that dog bald" and "how often do you have to hoover" - my mother's personal favourite. I love this section as you learn straight from the horse's mouth what living with that particular breed is like.
Over 500 trade stands from the obvious like Pedigree and Bakers, to the sublime Urine off!- fantastic opportunity to bag as much freebies as you can. Armed with my trusty suitcase on wheels that cleverly turns into a rucksack (they won't let you take trolley's into the arena understandably) I crammed as much as I could into it on each day - Pedigree definitely had the best stand - free better by nature food (came back with 8 bags!). Don't accept the first price that's there - we bargained for everything - even blagged a free toy from Rogz.
Obedience Arena - now I'm bound to offend here but it's my opinion and I'll cry if I want to - we got tickets to this last year and it was dull. A great place to eat lunch but apart from that dull. I know the dogs work bloody hard, the teams are extremely dedicated and I admire the furry pants off the animals and handlers but at the end of the day, it's not thrills and spills for the MTV generation that I most certainly belong to. Sorry. Perhaps, it's merely jealousy on my part since I'm dead chuffed whenever Doughnut manages to sit on command so I apologise for that.
Agility in the main arena - We love this. There are variations on the agility theme such as size of dog, individual or teams and my favourite ABC agility (Anything But Collies!). I could watch this all day and due to the big screens that show replays and the bloke on the microphone, you know what's going on, who's disqualified and why and the course particulars.
Flyball in the main arena - Hilarious entertainment. This is teams of four dogs that one by one have to sprint over 4 hurdles, press a button with their clever little paws and catch the ball that shoots out. Then they run back as fast as their legs will carry them and the next one goes. The two teams race against each other and there are more complex rules but that's the main jist of it. It's brilliant - it can all change with one drop of the ball and the whole crowd gets involved as you chose which side to back.
Heelwork to Music. Dogs and their handlers 'dance' to music - mother loved this but then she's entertained by her domestic chores so I guess it's each to their own.
Golden Retriever display teams. These do the same as heelwork but with less flair and it's slightly entertaining when one of the dogs wanders off.
The Young Kennel Club has it's own ring where there are displays throughout the day.
And what Crufts is all about: Around the halls there are of course many many many different breeds being shown. Depending on what day you go depends on what breeds are there; you can find out which hall your favourites are in and what ring depending on dog or bitches. The dogs that are being shown aren't allowed to leave til after 4 so there's always plenty to look at but beware, a lot of owners understandably don't like their dogs disturbed so don't poke unless you've asked.
At the end of each day there's the Best in Group show in the arena - the top dog or bitch judged best in their breed throughout the day parade around the main arena and a judge chooses the best one to go on to Best in Show on the Sunday. Trust me, it's exciting.
***** Prices *****
On the day admission - Adults £15
Tickets online - Adults £13
Best in Show £17 (cannot be bought on the day).
We booked Friday and Sunday online through the crufts website and they arrived 4 weeks before we had to go.
Even though I tried to get Best in Show tickets in Oct (they go on sale in Sept) Crufts were sold out but we got them from theticketoffice.co.uk for the same price.
Bear in mind that the Sunday is bloody expensive - you've got to get a ticket to get in for the day plus your BinS ticket as well comes to a whopping £30 each for us.
The BinS ticket is only a reserve for the main arena after 4.00 on the Sunday - every other day, the main arena is included in your daily ticket fee.
Then you've got the £8.00 parking fee which, because we're law-abiding citizens, we dutifully paid for - actually, it's because we're more afraid of the consequences. However, in retrospect, we would not pay for the carpark (it's not pay and display) as you can pay on the way out if they spot you and it's the same price but if you're planning on staying til the very end and being the last one out (probably because you've been searching in the South when it should have been West no.3 carpark, dammit) then they don't even check.
***** Opening Times *****
Thursday til Sunday: 8.15 - 19.30. LONG day on Sunday if you're going to the show but most definitely worth it. Also, it's worth noting that due to the TV coverage and the fact it's the good ol weekend - sat and sun are manic - mother is the worst queuer in the history of the world and we spent bloody ages getting from one hall to the next - this meant that whenever we got anywhere, she immediately needed a seat and a brew - ruddy OAPs.
***** Getting There and In *****
It's the NEC in Birmingham - you can't miss it, just head for the middle of the country and there are signs everywhere. Tom tom desperately tried to get us to the front door so we ignored him - if you arrive later than 10am, expect to queue in traffic on the Saturday and Sunday - personally, I'd get there as early as poss - you get all the freebies without the queues, and if you can last til the end you get bargains as stands pack up.
There's virtually no queues to buy tickets on the door so don't worry bout that.
On entering the building you get handed a really handy guide that hangs round your neck - tells you what's on in the arena and various rings, and a map. You can also buy an official guide book which is really good - £6. On each separate day you can buy another book which tells you all the dogs that are being shown in each ring - important if you've a particular breed in mind and particular breeder too. We spent a lot of time looking for Doughnut's breeder on the Friday - we know her name, the dogs, name and kennel name but because the benches just have numbers on them, you no chance in hell of finding a person unless you know a number - this is where the book would have come in handy but it was too much pennies and we had pig's ears to purchase. Eventually, the aforementioned woman and dog was spotted so all was not lost but the place is massive so don't underestimate the importance of the free map and any GPS tool you have to hand. Mother frequently got lost and after 3 days she still couldn't negotiate her way round - luckily she's got a few marbles left to work her mobile. Luckily, there's loads of people around to answer any questions like, where's the nearest toilet? Where's my mother? Where's my mother's camera? God love her though! It's a nice safe place where I feel I can leave her in a seat and she'll be safe til I return, rather like a well behaved dog. Oh, that reminds me, there's a crèche - didn't go in it but it's there and I saw it.
The food is the usual café's and stalls that are to be found at the NEC - pricey but average - not to condone theft, but we helped ourselves to a rather large breakfast at the hotel which provided a lovely lunch otherwise you're talking about £2 for a coffee and nearly a fiver for a butty.
***** Summary *****
Crufts is the World's Greatest Dog Show. There's sommat for everyone and tons for your dog. It's the best holiday I've had in ages and probably one of the most expensive!!
Worth every single penny and more exciting than it looks on the telly.
Thanks for reading!!
Review may appear on other opinion sites.
The national exhibition centre in Birmingham is fantastic and hosts many exhibitions each year with literally thousands upon thousands of people visiting. One of these which is an annual occurrence is the legendary Crufts which is for dog lovers everywhere. I went last year and had a great day out with my mom and sister and would definitely go again. Hopefully in this review I will get over why this is a great show to go to especially if you love dogs.
Ok so the address of the NEC is as follows;
National Exhibition Centre
You can get there by car via motorway links which is easy enough and the NEC has a huge car park for hundreds of cars so you will be fine. Expect to pay between £5 - 10 to park depending what shows are on. You can also get there via train which costs a few pounds. Get to Birmingham New Street and then a short ride to Birmingham International and you are there.
Ok so Crufts is on once a year and as you probably know from seeing it all on the television, it is a massive show and attracts thousands of people. As a dog lover I have been meaning to go for a while and I had no expectations really and just went along. I loved it and I will go through what you can do there now.
Now of course the reason you are here at Crufts is to see all of the wonderful dogs who are bought in high hopes to gain some recognition. They have to show how good they look and how well behaved they are. As you walk into Crufts which is basically a massive showroom you will see all of the dogs.
They are all in categories so west highland terriers will all be together and so on. You do have to choose a day to go to Crufts and depending on what day you go will depend on the types of dogs you see.
Hundreds of people bring their dogs and you can walk around where all of the dogs are being kept and watch owners getting ready and also have a chat to them about Crufts. There are dogs everywhere and we must have spent at least two hours wandering around and stroking them. They were lovely!
This is a massive area where they wait and takes a while to walk around.
In the main hall you will see several small shows which assess the dogs and you can sit and watch as many as you like for as long as you like. These are however just dogs walking around in a circle but still nice to watch.
Now in the main theatre you will find lots of dog shows. You may have to wait a little to get in there but you can visit as many times as you like and stay for as long as you like. Here they have lots of shows and we sat and watched several assault courses, guide dog show, police dog show and a safety show. They are all very enjoyable and last around ten - fifteen minutes each which is good.
You do get a seat in this theatre and is a must to go and watch some while you are at the show.
As you can imagine at Crufts there are a lot of dog stalls for you to visit selling everything you could ever want for your dog. We sat transfixed for a while watching dogs on treadmills and they loved it. We also bought lots of treats which were on special offer, dog leads and a nice basket.
Unusually enough there was a cat stall which I noticed and as you can imagine there are lots of charities there including the RSPCA that you can go and take a look at. There are souvenir stalls to which are of course animal orientated but nice to look around and I got a really nice art work from here.
When you are at an exhibition at the NEC you will always find that there are food and drinks stalls all around you so you don't have to walk far to find one.
Toilets are everywhere in the NEC and staff are always on hand to help if you need them. As this is a dog friendly place you will see lots of dogs and the atmosphere is great as animal lovers are usually lovely people.
We stayed for about six hours and could have stayed longer really but we arrived late. It is a fantastic day out and you do get to meet some lovely animals and some obsessed owners. I would definitely return to Crufts as it is wonderful and tickets costs between £10 - 40 depending on the day that you go.
I suggest if you are thinking of going to check the categories on the day you are thinking so you can see the type of dogs you want to. A fantastic exhibition!!!
Thanks for reading.