The enormous exhibition centre at Ciney, south-east of Namur, stages various fairs and markets throughout the year, including two out-of-the-ordinary antiques fairs every spring and autumn. The first of these in 2017 spans Easter weekend (15-17 April). Both events combine an antiques fair specialising in dolls and toys with a more rough-and-ready flea market. Many of the 700 international exhibitors sell their wares off the back of their trucks in the car park. They arrive on Friday morning and open for business at precisely 2pm – not a minute earlier. This is what makes the fair unique. As the clock strikes two, the covers of the trucks are pulled back – prompting a sudden stampede of visitors hoping to snap up a rare or unusual object at a knockdown price. Saturday and Sunday are less eye-catching because most of the bargains have gone, but these are the days when you can track down the bulky or more expensive items on sale.
One of Europe’s largest military memorabilia fairs is held on two Sundays every year at the well-appointed Ciney exhibition centre near Namur. This year’s dates are 30 April and 29 October. The centre’s two large halls can accommodate up to 550 exhibitors who come from all over Europe to display and/or sell all things military, such as uniforms and helmets, medals and weaponry, flags, books and charts. If you look hard enough, you can even find spare parts for old military vehicles - just in case you’re in the process of restoring a Jeep or an armoured car! The fair appeals to the young as much as the old. Exhibits are closely monitored to ensure that everything on display is legal, safe and inoffensive. Admission is €15 per person, and the fee includes free parking. www.cineyexpo.be
Just west of Namur, the Temploux International Flea Market is among the biggest in Western Europe, with more than 1,500 stalls and food outlets cramming the village streets for an entire weekend in late summer. This year the flea market comes to Templous over the weekend of Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th August. Daytime on Saturday is restricted to professional buyers and collectors, so the real fun starts when the ‘amateurs’ arrive in the evening and the show goes on throughout the evening – with a break for a fireworks display at midnight. There’s no antiques fair quite like it. Fake items and anything ‘modern’ are strictly prohibited, but you can find virtually anything else that is blessed with the patina of age: dolls, comics, records, books, coins, stamps, cameras, posters, pens, watches, toy soldiers and gadgets of all kinds – and you can be sure that every item is a genuine antique.