If you live near to a major town or city, or are a determined genealogist, chances are you will have visited family history fairs that are staged around the U.K. Organised by local and regional family history societies, the fairs feature data products and other items of interest to both the keen amateur and professional family history researcher. Books, maps, Data CD's and advice and guidance is available aplenty from the numerous stalls.
The great thing about family history fairs is that information is available from both the 'host' society on local genealogical matters and also societies from other areas of the UK that attend the fairs. This gives the researcher the opportunity to ask for (and buy) information on areas of interest relevant to their family history. It's also a useful exercise if you've hit that research 'brick wall' and are struggling to know which direction to turn next. Asking a local expert can make all the difference and help you overcome that research hurdle. The typical family history fair will also feature guest 'talks' and occasionally the presence of companies that provide products and services that can be used by the family history researcher. The talks are well worth attending, providing informative, useful information that can only help you in your research. Often the talks are given by leading 'personalities' in the industry, such as Nick Barratt who formerly assisted on the BBC 'Who Do You Think You Are?' programme and Mark Bayley, Head of the Online Division from TheGenealogist.co.uk who provide nuggets of help and advice for the family history researcher. As well as the local family history fairs, there is also the major fair, held at Olympia in London. Organised by 'Who Do You Think You Are?, it is by far the largest and features the widest selection of genealogical products and services available. As the online method of research is becoming more commonplace and more essential for the researcher, it is worth taking advantage of the show 'offers' that are often available at these events. You will often see a special discount available for online subscriptions to family history research websites and it's worth taking advantage of these offers. Just look out for the stands at your next local show, often they can demonstrate how the website works and what records it contains so you get a feel for what the site looks like. If you're unsure if there's a family history fair near to you, it's worth a Google search to find your local city/town/ county society and they will have a page dedicated to when the next local fair is scheduled. Then enjoy your visit! The current schedule published so far for Family History Fairs for 2013 is: 2013 January Sun 27th Bracknell Family History Fair (Bracknell) February Sat 16th FHS of Cheshire Family History Fair (Northwich) 22nd to 24th Who Do You Think You Are? Live (Olympia) March Sun 3rd Merseyside & Cheshire Family History Fair (Port Sunlight) Sat 16th Harrogate Local & Family History Day (Harrogate) April Sat 13th City of York Family History Fair (New Earswick) Sat 27th Family History Fair (Pudsey) May Sat 4th Gloucestershire FHS Family History Fair (Gloucester) Sat 11th Sussex Family History Fair (Haywards Heath) Sat 11th Scottish Association of FHS's (Galashiels) Sun 19th Kent Family History Fair (Maidstone) June Sat 1st Sheffield & District FHS Family History Fair (Sheffield) Sat 29th Yorkshire Family History Fair (York) September Sat 7th The National Family History Fair (Newcastle) Sat 21st The Yorkshire Group of FHS's (Doncaster) October Sat 5th Oxfordshire FHS Open Day & FH Fair (Woodstock)