If you’re a collector, you’ve probably been to your local antique fair or flea market. The truth is, you can find hidden gems at almost any antique show and it takes a patient eye to recognize when you’ve struck gold. After all, that’s part of the thrill.
But what makes an antique fair particularly prestigious? After sorting through countless antique fairs from all over the world that are considered the best in their region, we’ve narrowed down the list. Based on how the items are curated, their history and age, and what makes them unique, here’s our list of the 11 most prestigious antique fairs in the world.
Newark Collectors Fair – Nottinghamshire, UK
The Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair is the largest of its kind in all of Europe boasting 84 acres and up to 2,500 stalls at a single event. About a two-hour drive from London, the fair is not lacking in choice. You’re bound to find a treasure or two.
BADA Antiques Fair – London, UK
The BADA Antiques Fair is held by the British Antique Dealers Association (BADA) which means you’ll be mingling with the UK’s top 100 sellers. The annual event has been going on for 25 years and showcases items from collectors, curators, art professionals, and others.
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This fair makes our list because you can expect a curated selection of genuine antiques with BADA’s expertise to back it up. No need to worry about fakes or phonies when buying from this prestigious antique fair.
Camden Passage – London, UK
Camden Passage is the famous, car-less street in London’s Islington borough filled with eccentric antique shops open year-round. The street also hosts markets similar to what you might expect at other antique fairs or city centers, but Camden Passage is unique in the constant availability of antique shopping.
The London Silver Vaults – London, UK
As its name suggests, The London Silver Vaults have an air of elitism and secrecy that makes exploring its collections a thrilling experience. The London Silver Vaults is underground in vaulted walls and everything for sale is first authenticated by experts to ensure quality.
If you’re a silver collector, you’ll be awestruck by the distinguished English craftsmanship of the silver found at The London Silver Vaults.
Rose Bowl Flea Market – Pasadena, CA
As we move out of the UK and into the United States, we have the Rose Bowl Flea Market, the LA area’s largest second-hand marketplace. This is where you’re likely to find artifacts of pop culture – think record collections and old school Ninja Turtle lunch boxes.
It happens on the second Sunday of every month and is sure to be a showstopper for antique collectors in the area.
Brimfield Antique Show – Brimfield, MA
The Brimfield Antique Show is the largest in New England and considered legendary by antique hunters. If you collect antiques, many experts agree that the Brimfield Antique Show deserves to be on your bucket list.
They hold three shows each year with over 6,000 vendors who attend. The shows are practically overflowing with goodies.
127 Corridor Sale – Addison, MI to Gadsden, AL
Stretching 690 miles along Route 127 is the world’s longest yard sale. As you can imagine, this shopping trip will take a fair bit of patience to find the hidden treasures, but they’re bound to be there. Plus, being such a novelty, it makes our list as a must-do for antique collectors.
New Hampshire Antiques Show – Manchester, NH
The New Hampshire Antiques Show is carefully curated by the New Hampshire Antiques Dealer Association. This small show hosts only 68 vendors but you can be assured of the integrity of what you’ll find there.
With a focus on fine American antiques, this prestigious show features items like apothecary bottles and antique furniture. Collectors who have been to the New Hampshire Antiques Show deemed it to be a magical experience.
Fiera Antiqueria – Arezzo, Tuscany
Moving back into Europe, one of the first antique fairs to take place in Italy was the Fiera Antiqueria which started in 1968. It is now considered the largest and most beautiful in the country.
Not only does it take you through the picturesque, historic city, but it also features around 500 vendors from all over Italy. You’ll find everything from Renaissance art to classical archeology to rare books. Even if you’re not an expert, just being in the markets might inspire you to take up an antique collection.
Sablon – Brussels, Belgium
Sablon is Europe’s oldest antique fair with a notorious worldwide reputation. The fair dates back to the 13th century where it acted as a market for relevant sales of the times. It wasn’t until 1960 that it became a hub for arts and culture as we know it today but now, the market is hugely trendy and draws countless antique dealers.
Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (The Puces) – Paris, France
The Puces started in 1920 and is lovingly known as the mother of all antique fairs. It is by far the biggest and most prestigious in the world boasting over 1,700 vendors at a time.
At The Puces, you’re likely to stumble upon something amazing that you never expected, from lithographs and maps to tribal art and 17th-century furniture.
Whether you’re a gung-ho art collector or you’re simply looking for a bargain, these antique fairs are the perfect way to spend a morning. While some of these shows are certainly more prestigious than others, they all have something special to offer. What will you find?