Beginner's Guide to Boat Shows: What is a Boat Show?

A good boat show combines the elements of a convention, a reunion, a swap meet and a treasure hunt all in one event. Boat shows range from gigantic, international events like the Miami International Boat Show to regional and local shows, which may be in a shopping mall, an arena or even a big parking lot. They all share one key element: lots of boats, accessories and information, all in one place filled with people like you who love being on the water.

What is a Boat Show?

The boats are the main attraction, of course, and a boat show offers the opportunity to see a lot of them all in one place. Larger national-level shows will often feature boat displays presented by the manufacturers, which may be staffed by the factory or by local dealers. New boats are often debuted at these shows.

At regional and local shows, all the dealers and boat brands available in your area will be represented. This makes it very easy to comparison shop, among, for example, all of the pontoons, ski boats or bass boats offered in your region, or all of the dealers offering similar boats. At larger shows the engine manufacturers will also have displays. Even if you are not boat shopping this year, it’s fun to see what’s new or trending, and you may spot a feature or accessory that intrigues you.

Explore Different Boat Types

boat show guide for beginners


Boating Accessories

Vendors offering everything from dock lines to electronics to wake boards to foul weather gear to fuel additives will be at the show. Where else can you compare 20 different styles of boat shoes, and actually try them on? See new fenders in every size and color? Meet an artist that will hand-letter a boat name on your transom, or even paint a portrait of your boat? In a marketplace increasingly dominated by on-line shopping it’s almost a joy to be able to actually see and touch a product before your buy, and to speak to a real expert about it.

To learn more, be sure to visit our Boating Accessories Guide.

The Deals

Boat show season runs from late fall to early spring, the time when dealers and vendors are anxious to get a jump start on the new season, and so are ready to make a deal. Boat manufacturers often offer special boat show incentives, such as lower pricing, package deals and special financing, at the boat show.

Boating Education & Seminars

Bigger boat shows often have a number of demonstrations or seminars, most free to attend, on topics ranging from boating safety and seamanship to fishing tips from pro anglers. Each is a great way to rest your feet and learn something new.

boat show education seminars


Boat Show Locations & Venues

At many boat shows you’ll also be able to visit booths promoting marinas and boat-rental or boat-sharing businesses operating in your area. You’ll be able to compare amenities and fees, and ask questions, without tapping away hunting for websites.

Looking for boat shows near you? Explore the Boat Show Calendar.

Read Next: Boat Show Buying Tips

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