Festival of Quilts


The biggest quilting event this side of the Atlantic is back for its 20th year, says Holly Douthwaite

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A stunning kaleidoscope of patchwork quilts hung throughout the light and airy convention hall is a sight to behold, and with eleven curated showcases from renowned groups and well-known artists, there is plenty to marvel at.

The Festival of Quilts is Europe’s biggest quilting show and its set for a bumper 20th birthday in the brilliant Birmingham location. It's a fantastic opportunity to fill your patch pockets with fat quarters from notable textile and haberdasher suppliers like Liberty and Higgs & Higgs as well as being the ideal place to see beautiful designs and meet other quilting fans from around the world.

Shapes and colours

An exhibition of artwork from the International Quilt Museum, the European Quilt Association, and the Quilters Guild Museum Collection is set over several different galleries. Each gallery follows a different distinct theme and style including Flower Power and Diverse Patchworks. Artists on show include Denise Labadie, Joe Cunningham, and Ekta Kaul, whose beautifully understated pieces in unbleached white, muted blue with contrasting running stitch references her Indian heritage.

Quality quilting materials

You’ll also have a great opportunity to bulk up your reserves or find that one specific fabric that will add the finishing touch to your current project. You’ll be able to browse through plenty of great quality quilting materials from well-versed vendors who can offer expert advice on fabric, patchwork, patterns, sewing machines and general haberdashery for all projects, not just quilting. Check out the full list of vendors, brands, small businesses, and individuals coming to the event via the link below.

The more you know

Once you’ve finished taking in the colourful galleries and finding that perfect purchase, you can get yourself involved at a workshop, or listen to a masterclass or talk from the masters themselves. A huge selection of hands-on and lecture style sessions is available for all ages and abilities ranging from specific techniques and designs to general tips, tricks, and helpful suggestions. Make sure you book and pay in advance to snap up your spot (on their website after buying tickets).

You’re a winner, baby!

Got a quilt you’ve made yourself and want to show it off? The UK’s largest open quilting competition is available for all attendees to enter (for a fee), with the chance to win a share of a prize fund totalling a whopping £34,000. There are several categories to enter, but be quick, as entries close on the 12th of June.

How to get there


Birmingham International Station is attached to the NEC. It has great links into London, Reading, and Bournemouth as well as Manchester, Edinburgh, and Liverpool. There’s paid parking too.

Where to eat


Resort World is opposite the NEC with all the favs like Nandos, Five Guys and Costa. There are also convenience stores and sandwich places within the NEC itself, although they’re likely to be busy during peak times.



The NEC is fully accessible with lifts and many seating areas available. Assistance dogs are welcome.

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