Most dive shows around the world boast how many decades they have been going, but the reality often is dive shows can often feel like an exclusive club for middle-aged overweight men rather than representing the amazing world of diving (whether it is Freediving or Scuba Diving). So it’s refreshing to find a new show starting up, trying something new coming out of the UK and working hard to create something truly unique that appeals to both hardcore divers and newcomers.
The Great Northern Dive Show is in its second year out of Manchester in the Northwest of the UK.
Over the course of 2 days, 3,579 attendees got to see nearly 60 exhibitors – featuring manufacturers, tour operators, training agencies, conservation groups, dive centers, and clubs – at an exhibition center near one of the largest shopping centers in the Europe.
Ruth Mort, the organizer along with her husband Duncan, have worked hard to craft a dive show that brings in a different crowd than normal – especially people bringing their families along something you rarely see at most other dive shows.
To attract a different crowd (and especially families and new divers) the show had a number of unique features like an opening ceremony with an X-Factor singer (Olivia Garcia), Star Wars characters like Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers, an indoor beach for the kids, a rather realistic dinosaur and the Aqua Theatre, the world’s largest portable open windowed tank in the world, featuring dive skills exercises by top Tech Divers such as Mark Powell & John Kendall, as well as some very popular mermaids. As I was reading about these features on my way up to the event I felt very much like a “gimmick” but all worries I had were dispelled once I got to the event.
However, as I was reading about these features on my way up to the event I felt very much like a “gimmick” but all worries I had were dispelled once I got to the event.
In the end, everything came together well and the show had the right mix of diving and features designed to attract a different crowd. Nothing felt out of place and the event hummed along nicely with everyone enjoying the venue, features, and exhibitors.
The biggest issue in my view will be whether the show can move from being a local/regional show to a larger national or, given the right chance, international show that attracts a broader audience from further afield. All the ideas behind the show give it the potential to attract a very different crowd to normal and become more of a lifestyle show – very much like The Blue Wild Show in Florida.
It has all the ingredients needed to be a successful show that can help attract more divers into the industry but – and this is a big but – without more exhibitors and, most importantly, more attendees it’s going to be hard to compete on the exhibition circuit in my view.
Ultimately, The Great Northern Dive Show has grand ambition and is a show full of heart and fun for divers of all ages, types and skill level. I commend Ruth and the team on a great show for a second year and my hope is that with the right promotion and support the show can only get better for next year.