The exterior of Alexandra Palace.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Alexandra Palace celebrated its 150th anniversary this year, so by comparison the 48-year-old Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors’ Fair is a spring chicken.

This year the event is under new ownership after IACF announced its September 2022 edition at the venue was to be its last (as reported in ATG No 2571).

Once running four times a year, it is now just an annual fair and a lot has changed in the antiques trade in those past five decades or so.

But this north London show is still an important event for many with more than 250 dealers stalled out and 3000 visitors when it returned on July 2.

Philip Carroll, a BADA and LAPADA ceramics dealer, made the pilgrimage from Gargrave, North Yorkshire, to the ‘people’s palace’ and was pleased with his day when Oriental items proved popular.

He said: “Overall it was a productive fair. There were people there who wanted to buy reasonable quality items and business was good. This is not a 10-minute jaunt for me, I come down from North Yorkshire, so it was a good weekend’s worth of work.”


Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors’ Fair.

Carroll has been attending the north London fair on and off since the late 1980s and said the dearth of fairs in the capital had led him to return.

The event incorporates fairs-within-a-fair from Pop-Up Vintage Fairs (fashion and homewares) and newcomer VIP Record Fairs (vinyl records) but there were noticeable absences from some of the stalwart antiques exhibitors.


Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors’ Fair's Pop-Up Vintage Fair.

Gaps were filled on the day by dealers spreading out their stock, taking up to four extra tables each to use the space.


A sign for VIP Record Fairs within the Alexandra Palace venue.

Many visitors were disappointed by the empty spaces and the absence of some of the previously regular dealers. Visitor Theresa Stockland, who collects a variety of antiques including jewellery and glass, did not buy as the dealers she had hoped to see were not there.

She said: “I believe it is mainly down to stall prices. The organisers must remember that stall holders are the bread and butter. Antiques fairs across the country are losing dealers. I visit many and it is the same reason time and time again.”

Rising costs

However, as in all areas of the economy, costs are rising.

In December it was revealed that the owner of the venue, The Alexandra Park and Palace Charity Trust, reported costs had risen by 132% in 2022 largely down to energy prices.

If the costs of operating a venue rise, these are passed on to the event organisers, which in turn are passed on to exhibitors.


Small collectables dealer Ralph Moss from north Hertfordshire was pleased the fair continues. He had his own shop for 30 years before moving into fairs which he has done for the past 20 years.

Organiser Paul Kelly said the costs of running the fair have doubled since he organised it 10 years ago.

Kelly, who also organises Bermondsey Antiques Market in south London, is a former director of Nelson Events which previously ran fairs at Ally Pally pre-IACF.

He announced his plan to relaunch Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors’ Fair (APACF) in March this year and acknowledges improvements are needed.

He said the 3000 visitors was “lower than expected” but “not surprising” due to a number of factors including that it was a late organised event and more marketing is needed as historic web listings show the event as ‘cancelled’ (meaning many people searching online may not have known it was taking place at all).

Kelly is hopeful for next year and has a provisional slot booked for June but is also discussing alternative dates.

The venue is at present only allowing one a year and he said: “I am disappointed that, as someone who worked with the venue when they had very few events, that we have not seen more loyalty.”


Michel of Michel Posters, who is also a regular at Islington’s Camden Passage and Judy’s Vintage Furniture Flea and fairs at Kempton and Ardingly, sold a number of his “high-quality reissued” advertising posters for £45-85 and vintage posters for £150-350. @amazing_french_posters @parisartboy

However, he has plans to grow the event. “We are actively making contact with non-competing event organisers. In the medium to long term there is opportunity to create a mega collectors fair encompassing all types of collectables from books and stamps to memorabilia and comics. There are two other halls that we could grow into. The success of the vintage and record fairs here has proven it works.

“But antiques is the heart and soul of the show and we want to attract back more antiques exhibitors too.”


Clarice Cliff wares on the stand of LAPADA ceramics dealer Andrew Muir. Muir sold a range of Clarice Cliff, William Moorcroft, studio pottery and cameo glass to buyers he knew with a price range of £200-3000.

LAPADA ceramics dealer Andrew Muir said the key to a successful fair is promoting yourself beforehand on social media.

He added: “It is incumbent on dealers to do their own promotion to get buyers to the fair. Alexandra Palace has the potential to be a fantastic fair. But it needs to be supported by dealers. It is very reasonably priced. Where in London can you go and get a 18ft stand for £380, 12ft for £280 or 6ft for £158?”

On the map

Even without a full house this year, dealers were pleased with how it went.

Paul Vening of Vintagemap said: “By having the record and vintage fair it brought in more younger people to the event which is good for me as they were fascinated by my maps.”


Paul Vening of Vintagemap, selling vintage maps, books and prints on his stand. He sold this map of Cornwall, related to a St Austell brewery, for £95 to buyers who have a house in the county.

He said it was “great to be back at Alexandra Palace” and “personally it was very profitable and the organiser did a good job”.

Jewellery, silver and watches dealer Peter Breitenbach of SW15 Collectables said: “It was my best fair since lockdown. I think Paul and APACF did a good job in a short time at what is a difficult time of year.

“There were not the hordes of public we experienced before Covid, but it was well attended throughout the day.

“Those I spoke to told me they though it was good value and, variously, that they’d either missed it or were first-time visitors to an antiques fair who said they had enjoyed it and didn’t realise there were such good and unusual bargains to be had! It would be nice to get the European trade back, but I guess Brexit has done for them, just as it has at every other fair.”

Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco dealer Marion Potts of Marion David Decorative Arts in Hertfordshire said: “We had a successful day but it was significant that people weren’t spending huge sums, everyone seemed to have a spending level in mind. It is difficult to get the high-end items sold at the moment but understandable in the current economic climate.”

She added: “All customers were very enthusiastic about the fair wanting to know when the next one will be held. Of course, it used to be four times a year, but only one was held last year and only one this year, which is a pity. However, like Ally Pally being resurrected twice in the past after devastating fires, hopefully the antiques fair will continue to be resurrected.”

With its loyal dealers and Kelly’s APACF planning its return in summer 2024, the fair looks to remain “resurrected” for the foreseeable.