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Belgium: The Vinyl Frontier

Utrecht calling! Biggest record fair in the world this weekend.

Utrecht calling! Biggest record fair in the world this weekend.

Saturday marks the start of the 48th Mega Record & CD Fair Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. This fair can be called the mother of all record fairs, claiming to be the largest record fair in the world. Dealers from all around the world are selling records in over 400 stalls, from Mexican pressings of The Beatles to high end 7 inches, African gems, Italian soundtracks or metal music. Among the visitors are record collectors from all around the world, making Utrecht the center of the record digging world for just a weekend. A 180km car drive from Brussels takes you there in about two hours, so there is no reason not to enter this walhalla for record shopping. We talked with a few Belgian habitués about why to go there:

Geert Sermon (Doctor Vinyl Brussels) gives us an introduction:

“The fair complex ‘Jaarbeurs’ in Utrecht is known for it’s diversity. Two weeks ago you had ‘gabbers’ from all around the world celebrating 25 years of Thunderdome. This weekend it will be the walhalla for music freaks. King vinyl and queen cd will rule with an iron hand for 48 hours over the largest record and music fair in the world. The smell of vinyl mixed with the aroma’s of soggy fries and lukewarm beer is your typical first experience when entering the huge halls. Some of the finest international record traders are present and selling records like hotcakes. Interesting to know: most of the sellers are specialised in classical collector niches: psychedlic 60s music, kraut, punk, rock and alternative rock.

Fans of electronic music, disco and funk should keep an eye on the dollar bin crates who are traditionally put in front of the stalls. If you show some patience you might be able to find a few gems for no money. But you shouldn’t doubt too much since you aren’t the only one looking.

The Utrecht fair goes for almost half a decade, so it can feel pretty overwhelmingly if you are new in the game. But you’ll definitely get value for your money. There are expositions to see, dj-sets to hear, autograph signing sessions to attend and the vibe is unique. If you have some budget to spend you’ll probably find that one record you were looking for … or you’ll definitely meet a likeminded soul.”

Koen Van Immerseel (Wally’s Groove World) is a regular at the fair for 15 years now. He goes there to buy and trade records, both for his personal collection and his record shop. He shares some inside information: “On Friday you can buy a much more expensive ticket and be among the firsts to check the records. I leave home at 5 in the morning and stay until 2PM, to avoid the traffic jams. The more you go, the more you meet the sellers and the better deals you can make. I strongly advice to check the stalls and sellers that might interest you on their website, before you enter the massive fair complex.”

Philip Roosen (Phunky Phille) adds a good piece of advice: “if you’re done with the records, you can also enjoy a large ‘antiques, garage sale & collectors market’ nearby. And some of these sellers also have vinyl in stock. And there is a musical festival happening as well.”