I thought I would just throw out a few ideas in case you are thinking of attending.
- I don't find it the easiest place to get to. I travelled by train from southern England to Victoria, then 30 minutes on the Piccadilly Line (changed at Green Park) to Wood Green tube station. From there it is a 30 minute walk uphill. The courtesy buses are about every 20 minutes, leaving from the road which runs perpendicular to the station exit, and expect long queues. However the W13 bus which goes from an adjacent stop does the same journey every 2-3 minutes, and the queues are fairly fast moving. You get free travel with a train Travelcard or an over 60 bus pass - I am not sure what the fare would be. Don't get off at the first Ally Pally stop for the ice rink, but the next one (don't worry the bus will be full of ladies of a certain age all going to the same place).
- We got there about 11:30am and left about 4pm, which is about right. It is packed with people but did seem a bit quieter in the afternoon. It opens at 10am but leaving it that bit later avoided having to queue to get in.
- We took a packed lunch and did what a lot of people were doing, that is sat down on the floor at the edge of the exhibition area to eat it. There are several lunch places around the edge of the main hall (all serving the same food at the same price) but they were packed. In the afternoon we managed to get a couple of seats at a table for a cup of tea but the service at the counter was very slow.
- We tackled the main exhibition room first and if you are looking to buy supplies that is the best way to do it before you run out of steam. The smaller exhibition hall also has some suppliers but also a lot of exhibitors showing artworks etc, which we weren't that interested in, so we did that last. There is also another area on the way in, next to the main Cafe, which is mostly associations and charities.
- If you have a budget, you might like to take cash and not a credit card. There is so much lovely stuff it is easy to get carried away. I heard some suppliers say they only took cash not cards for under £10 so take plenty of change.
- I read somewhere it is a good idea to take a rolling case or shopping bag on wheels to put your purchases in, but I wouldn't like to try as those who had were not very popular in that huge crush of people. I did see a few pushchairs but it must have been very hard work to push them around and try to see anything. It may not be PC to say so, but ride on mobility scooters are also perhaps not a brilliant idea in that situation.
- If you look around there are plenty of bargains to be had, eg end of lines, bin ends, large packs of branded quality yarns. But probably a good idea to make a list before you go of what you are looking for.
- I bought some quite expensive luxury yarn to knit a cardigan which was on show, but when I got it home there was no label on it. I wished I had paid a bit more attention and asked more questions as now I am not sure of the composition or washing instructions, or even who I bought it from.