The must-see car shows of 2020

Carlton Boyce / 15 November 2018 ( 05 November 2019 )

Plan your year ahead with our guide to some of the best car and motoring shows in the UK.



Every motoring enthusiast loves a good car show: whether it’s the opportunity to enjoy gazing at cars we can’t afford or just being able to spend a few hours in the presence of like-minded folk, many of us will attend at least one car show during the coming year.

It’s a burgeoning scene too, and while there is something out there for everyone, such a wide choice can be paralysing.

So, here are some of my favourite car shows the UK has to offer but if you think you know better, why not email us on web.editor@saga.co.uk and tell us what your favourite car show is?

Race Retro 2020

Many petrolheads see Race Retro as the first ‘proper’ car show of the year. As the name suggests, Race Retro is a motorsport-themed gathering with the emphasis on classic race and rally cars. As well as the usual static displays of cars and accessories there is a live Group B rally stage and a huge autojumble.

Based at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry, this year's event has passed, but next year's takes place on the 21st- 23rd February 2020.

More details can be found at raceretro.com.

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The Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed has morphed over the years into a hugely popular, highly commercialised event, a move that has annoyed some purists, who now insist on calling it The Festival of Greed.

But events become this become popular for a reason, and the reasons in this case include a staggering breadth and depth of cars, wild show-boating by world-famous drivers who see this as an opportunity to let their hair down, and a truly astonishing level of attention to detail; no-one frets over the small stuff like the staff at Goodwood do, which is why it’s still one of the must-see events of the year. If you attend just one motoring event this year then please make the time to visit Goodwood on the weekend of the 9th - 12th July 2020.

Full details can be found here.

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The Goodwood Revival

While the Festival of Speed is held at Goodwood House, the Goodwood Revival Meeting is held at the nearby Goodwood Circuit. It is a vintage-themed event, with almost every attendee wearing period dress and costume. Obviously, this means that it is referred to as the Festival of Tweed…

It’s held on the weekend of the 11th - 13th of September 2020, and more details can be found here.

Oh, and if you are struggling to find the right outfit, you could always buy a pair of authentic overalls from the Goodwood shop and team them with a headscarf or a pipe, depending on what kind of look you’re going for.

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Isle of Mann TT

Not a car show per se, but the Isle of Mann TT races - held over the course of a week from Saturday 6th June 2020 through to Friday 12th June 2020 - are the Holy Grail of events if you are a motorcyclist or speed demon.

Not for the faint-of-heart, the sheer speed and the skill of the riders provide a mesmerising spectacle that even the most cautious of newbies can appreciate. There’s a lively social scene during the week too and because it’s held on public roads, you can ride the actual course. (When it’s not closed for racing, obviously…)

Full details, including where to find accommodation, can be found here.

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Harewood Hillclimb 

Another not-a-traditional-car-show event, the annual Harewood Classic and Vintage Hillclimb is a living, breathing affirmation that most vintage car drivers are utterly bonkers. The event, held just outside Leeds, West Yorkshire, features everything from cheap ‘n’ cheerful Austin 7 specials all the way to priceless Bugatti racing cars worth more than a million pounds.

While the race itself is held on Saturday 6th June 2019, Harewood also hosts a very good series of Driving Academy days throughout the year, where they’ll teach you to drive the course just like the guys and gals you’ve just been watching. I’ve done it, and loved every minute.

Click on the links for full details of the Classic and Vintage Hillclimb and Driving Academy.

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Beaulieu

Beaulieu hosts a number of events throughout the year, including one-marque car shows like the Simply Land Rover, Simply Porsche, Simply Ford, Simply Jaguar, and Simply VW shows that are sprinkled throughout next spring and summer.

They also host a Supercar Weekend and an enormous spring autojumble. Plus, of course, the National Motor Museum is there too. You can see what they’ve got planned by following this link.


Model Engineering Exhibitions

Another not-a-traditional-car-show but the chances are that if you like cars and driving then you’re a bit of a frustrated engineer at heart. If so, then you are going to love the London Model Engineering Exhibition.

2019's show featured 2,000 engineered models from more than 50 clubs, and will be returning 17th-19th January 2020.

Alternatively, you might like to visit the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition at the Warwickshire Event Centre in Leamington Spa, 15th–18th October, 2020. 

The Bicester Sunday Scramble

The Bicester Sunday Scramble is gaining a bit of a cult following among hard-core petrolheads for its informal atmosphere, great location, and eclectic collection of vehicles.

The events are held throughout the year on the Bicester Heritage site and tickets cost just £6 each but booking in advance is recommended; while the first event in 2014 attracted just 100 visitors, they are now approaching a five-figure attendance.

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CarFest North and South

The brainchild of Radio 2 DJ and Top Gear host Chris Evans, CarFest North and South are both wildly over-subscribed, which can only be a good thing as the aim is to raise money for Children in Need.

While cars might take centre stage, food and music some a very close second, making this a fantastic place to spend the day looking at cars, and the evening dancing to a variety of fantastic bands, both old and new.

CarFest North takes place at Bolesworth in Cheshire on the weekend of the 24th - 26th of July 2020, while CarFest South is being held on the weekend of the 24th- 30th of August 2020 at Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire.

Tickets are on sale from Wednesday 20th of November 2019.

Pendine Sands Hot Rod Races

Organised by the Vintage Hot Rod Association, the Pendine Sands Hot Rod Races are only open to members in their pre-1949 vintage hot rods. Honouring a long line of high-speed racing, Pendine Sands is hallowed ground for the true motoring enthusiast, making it my left-field event of 20120. Expect eye-watering exhaust fumes and lots of noise.

The 2020 meet is being held on the 4th-5th of July. Spectating is free, although expect delays on the day given the huge influx of spectators that are expected.

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Donington Historic Festival

The Donington Historic Festival is held at Donington Circuit, the most perfect venue for a series of hard-fought races you can imagine.

Spread over the three-day Bank Holiday weekend of the 1st-3rd May 2020, it features a series of races comprising classic racing cars driven by drivers who appear to have forgotten just how valuable some of the machines are.

Day tickets are TBC for 2020, but in 2019 they were £15 for the Friday rising to £30 on the Saturday and Sunday. Children under 12 go free.

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Silverstone Classic

The Silverstone Classic is all about, er, classic cars being thrashed around Silverstone. That much is obvious. What might not be quite so obvious is the sheer scale of the event, which incorporates a car auction, aerial displays, a Saturday night music gig, and more shops than even Kim Kardashian could browse. (Award yourself bonus points if you have no idea who I’m talking about. I wish I didn’t.)

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, tt's being held on the weekend of the 31st July-2nd August 2020, and prices start from £35 a day, with children under five going free.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.