Everyone loves a bargain. And flea markets and Antiques Fairs have become rather hip in the UK over the last few years, mostly as a way to decor and furnish on a budget. Flea markets also offer an endless array of products that provide a more sustainable way to consume, based on recycling and saving money.
The demand for vintage and second-hand products mainly comes from young adults searching for originality at a low price. From used furniture, lamps and kitchenware, to quilts, toys, clothes, jewelry, or crockery, garage sales and flea markets around England are a true heaven for antiques collectors and savvy consumers.
From antiques exclusive to design classics and retro kitsch, here is the list in descending order of the best 9 best flea markets and antiques fairs in the UK.
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #9: Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair
Built in 1873 as a place of leisure for the public, north London’s Alexandra Palace sits on a hill looking south over the city. For more than 25 years, its bright and airy Great Hall has served as the setting for a large and impressive flea market, the Antiques, Collectors, 20th-century and Art Deco fair.
As its name suggests, Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair focuses on 20th-century collectibles alongside more traditional antiques. Ceramics, by producers such Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Carlton Ware, SylvaC, Poole, Midwinter, Hornsea and Ridgway, are featured here, as are glassware, jewelry, early plastics, advertising items and toys.
Art-deco design is quite popular at the fair, as well as chromeware, glass, clocks, lamps, figurines, tea services, prints and posters. A number of vendors selling at Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair specialize in vintage clothing and accessories – handbags, fur coats, compacts – and some carry 1960s and 1970s kitchenware, catering to an appetite for that period among a younger clientele.
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #8: Great Wetherby Racecourse Antiques Fair
The Great Wetherby Racecourse Antiques Fair and flea market, not far from York, is definitely one of those events that feels connected to its surrounding region, in terms of vendors and customers and in the items for sale. Several of the outdoor stalls of this antique fair & flea market feature rustic household items and agricultural implements recalling the area’s rural heritage. A few vendors also sell railway memorabilia.
Shoppers visiting the inside stalls of Great Wetherby Racecourse Antiques Fair will find ceramics, glassware, prints, books, ladies’ clothing and accessories, everyday kitchenware, jewelry and watches, with an emphasis on vintage rather than antiques. All in all, antique professionals and flea market enthusiasts alike stand a fair chance of picking up something appealing and affordable at this friendly and down-to-earth antiques fair.
Where: Wetherby Racecourse, West Yorkshire, UK
When: Flea market takes place Saturday and Sunday, up to eight times a year. Entry from £4
Read the complete review of Great Wetherby Racecourse Antiques Fair on fleamapket
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #7: Malvern Flea & Collectors Fair
The Malvern Flea and Collectors flea market, held outside Great Malvern against the backdrop of the Malvern hills, is a sprawling and wide-ranging event. At stalls inside the main exhibition hall or one of several interconnected sheds, or filling the perimeter outside, vendors at this unabashedly eclectic flea market cater to every taste.
More traditional collectibles like china, silver, figurines and glassware, for instance, are displayed alongside tools, hardware, garden pots, vintage clothing, enamelware, mid-20th-century dishes, taxidermy, papers, advertising items, West German ceramics, fishing gear, sewing notions, kitchen utensils, early plastics, books and costume jewelry.
It’s all a bit random and hodge-podge but the formula seems to work well, judging by the crowds. The casual and relaxed atmosphere may owe something to the flea market’s rural surroundings and the feeling they engender of being in a real and rooted place. And I love the way that, interspersed among the collectibles vendors, are people selling homemade pies, jams and jellies, and real hot chocolate.
Where: Three Counties Showground, Worcestershire, UK
When: Sundays or bank holiday Mondays, up to 10 times a year. Entry £3
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #6: Shepton Giant Flea & Collectors Market + Shepton Mallet IACF
The Royal Bath and West Showground is the site of both the Shepton Giant Flea & Collectors Market event and the Shepton Mallet International Antiques and Collectors Fair (also a very interesting and significant event). If your tastes lie toward the vintage and everyday – rather than the more traditional and antiques – end of the spectrum, this flea market will be right up your alley. It is eclectic and lively.
Shepton Giant Flea & Collectors Market offers a focus on vintage of all sorts: 1960s and 1970s West German ceramics, advertising items, sunglasses and handbags, linens, quilts, kitchenware, plastics, lamps, toys, costume jewelry, sewing notions, teapots and crockery. At the same time, shoppers with more traditional collecting tastes will also find much of interest at Shepton Giant Flea & Collectors Market, since many vendors also feature a large selection of porcelain, silver, crystal, paintings and militaria.
Where: Royal Bath and West Showground, Somerset, UK
When: Sundays, up to eight times a year. Entry £3.50
Read the complete review of Shepton Giant Flea & Collectors Market + Shepton Mallet IACF on fleamapket
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #5: Lincolnshire International Antiques and Home Show
Hosting thousands of antique vendors over 200 acres, the bi-monthly Lincolnshire International Antiques and Home Show is one of the largest antique markets in Europe, and is often considered an antiquing extravaganza.
Lincolnshire International Antiques and Home Show is held almost back-to-back with the Newark flea market nearby and is a popular destination for foreign and domestic professional buyers, though it also attracts many casual collectors and browsers, some no doubt drawn by a much-reduced entrance fee on the second day.
Lincolnshire International Antiques and Home Show is a longstanding and well-organised flea market, held indoors and outdoors, and offers a huge scope in terms of wares and prices. At stalls in the marquees, vendors offer furniture and finer collectibles, while at pitches in the rest of the field visitors will find more rustic items, kitchenware, vintage of various sorts and generally more modestly priced goods.
The buildings themselves house vendors of smaller decorative items: china, glassware, silver, figurines, jewellery, watches, vintage handbags, ginger beer bottles, ice cream moulds, linens, cameras and canes, toys.
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #4: Ardingly International Antiques & Collectors Fair
Ardingly International Antiques and Collectors Fair, one of the top vintage and antiques fairs and flea market in England, also has an international flavor – in terms of sellers and buyers. Its proximity to the Channel means vendors come from continental Europe and further east to sell here, and buyers come even from Asia and North America.
The setting of this substantial flea market is almost pastoral – and its great appeal is that you can find just about anything. It embraces the traditional antiques trade (fine china, silver, jewellery, paintings), collectors (stamps, coins, postcards), the fast-growing vintage crowd, fans of rustic, primitive and everyday objects, and decor and design types, looking for unusual bits of furniture or quirky accent pieces.
Where: South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex, UK
When: Tuesday to Wednesday, up to seven times a year. Entry £20 Tue, £5 Wed
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #3: Sunbury Antiques Market
Held at Kempton Park Racecourse in conjunction with the Sandown Antiques Market, Sunbury Antiques Market is one of the real gems among English venues. It is one of the largest and longest running twice-monthly market in the UK, and a sprawling, substantial flea market. It is easily accessible by train from London, offers free parking, and charges no entrance fee. However, the greatest thing is its astonishing variety of wares, fine and rustic, antique and vintage.
Vendors come from the continent as well as other parts of the UK to sell at Sunbury Antiques Market, and the customers include a wide international clientele. Over 700 antiques and vintage dealers showcase their wares to a mix with collectors, interior decorators, prop buyers and young adults looking for something distinctive and unusual to decorate their flat.
In addition to the huge range of collectibles, Sunbury Antiques Market is a good place to pick up unusual furniture, “shabby chic”, and industrial and architectural salvage. Business starts early in the morning and winds up not long after noon at this very busy flea market.
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #2: Peterborough Festival of Antiques
Among the largest flea markets in England, the Peterborough Festival of Antiques offers a wide array of items, from finer porcelain, glass and silver to vintage kitchenware, gardenware and tools.
Though Peterborough Festival of Antiques is a busy and densely packed flea market gathering twice a year over 1,700 stallholders and more than 15,000 visitors from all over the world, its atmosphere is casual and relaxed. One gets the feeling that, for some, it represents a fun outing, a day out spent browsing the stalls and picking up something appealing to take home.
While many vendors selling at Peterborough Festival of Antiques specialize in particular wares, others offer an eclectic mix, making the prospect of an interesting find at a reasonable price a strong one.
Be prepared to spend several hours browsing the stalls of Peterborough Festival of Antiques, as it will take at least that long to get a good look at the huge variety and scope of what is on offer here: from china and pottery, to figurines, silver, glassware, paintings, furniture, tools, gardenware, books, jewellery, militaria, toys, dolls, and advertising, Peterborough Festival of Antiques caters to all tastes and desires.
Where: East of England Showground, Cambridgeshire, UK
When: Friday to Saturday twice a year, in spring and autumn. Entry £5
Read the complete review of Peterborough Festival of Antiques on fleamapket
Best Flea markets and Antique Fairs in the UK #1: Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair
The huge and longstanding Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair enjoys the distinction of being included in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. The enormous 84-acre site and its 2,500 booths, is a magnet for dealers from across Europe, North America and Asia who, along with domestic buyers and collectors, make regular pilgrimages here for some serious purchasing.
The atmosphere at Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair is lively and busy; there is a buzz here, a feeling of energy. This is a compact and crowded flea market, with vendors in a number of buildings around the showground site as well as in marquees, or exposed to the elements outside.
Fortunately, Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair is also a well-organised event, with facilities and services aimed at making a trip there as smooth and enjoyable as possible. The great appeal of Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair lies in the massive amount of choice for every conceivable collecting taste, from traditional to offbeat.
In addition to fine decorative antiques and collectibles – china, glassware, silver, paintings, jewellery – the flea market features rustic items and unique signature pieces – gardenware, metal advertising signs, wicker chairs, industrial lighting, distressed metal cabinets, stained glass windows — sought after by home decor professionals and enthusiasts. The quality is usually high and vendors tend to be knowledgeable about what they’re selling.
Where: Newark and Nottinghamshire Showground, Nottinghamshire, UK
When: Thursday to Friday, up to six times a year. Entry £20 Thur, £5 Fri
Bonus: the UK’s best antique shows and flea markets on a map!
With our tool Fleamapket, you can view 50 of the best antique shows and flea markets in the UK on a map! Not only did we include some of the flea markets and antique fairs that made it into this ranking, but we also added some of the country’s most acclaimed antique shows to the mix.