Where will you be over the weekend of 30/31 October? Don't make any other plans until you've seen what's happening at the NEC in Birmingham
Diving celebrities are still being signed up to speak at this year's Dive Show, but there is already an impressive list of names on the free presentation programme.
Wreck enthusiasts in particular will find plenty to suit their tastes, with explorers such as John Chatterton, Leigh Bishop & Teresa Telus (left), Innes McCartney (right) and Monty Halls ready to share their experiences. And the UK's much-vaunted artificial reef HMS Scylla will be another highlight of the programme.
In the exhibition hall, more than 300 companies will be looking forward to showing you the latest in dive gear and dive wear, holiday destinations and much more.
You can examine and compare products and holidays at your leisure or, if you can't wait, just lay your money down then and there!
With its many visitors from diving (continued overleaf) locations the world over, the Dive Show at the NEC is quite the global village, but it now has three sub-groupings. The PADI and Caribbean Villages are joined by the Asia-Pacific Showcase, ideal for anyone planning a Far Eastern dive trip.
All this, plus services, training, conservation groups - and always the chance that the next person you bump into will be someone you enjoyed diving with on holiday last year!
John Chatterton, visiting the Show from the USA, has spent more than 20 years as a commercial diver and boat captain. His passion, however, has been researching and diving deep shipwrecks of the world. In 1991, his discovery of the German submarine U-869 off New Jersey caused a stir, and it has been the subject of several TV documentaries and a recent book by Rob Kurson called Shadow Divers. John, who hosts the US TV programme Deep Sea Detectives on the History Channel, was also one of the first divers on the Lusitania, the first rebreather diver on the Britannic, found "treasure" on the ss Carolina and has dived the Andrea Doria no fewer than 140 times. There's no doubt that he's going to draw the crowds.
Monty "Superhuman" Halls in association with Diver, was the organiser of a round-the-world expedition on which his group set out to dive 10 of the planet's top wreck destinations, from Scapa Flow to New Zealand. They dived wrecks with such resonant names as the Thistlegorm, Rainbow Warrior, Zenobia, Yongala, Lermentov, Coolidge and Bianca C.
With great footage from Dan Burton (also speaking in his own right at the Show, on getting the best from under- water digital photography) this is your chance to join in the ultimate wreck tour.
Diver's regular tek-wrek contributor Leigh Bishop and fellow-diver Teresa Telus will be repeat ing their presentation on the wreck of the Britannic, which attracted big audiences at LIDS earlier this year. The talk illuminates exactly how the Titanic's sister-ship met her fate off Greece and goes deeper into the technical aspects of this 120m dive, on which rebreathers gave the divers longer bottom times than ever before.
More than 2 million people watched the two-hour Channel 4 documentary on diving wrecks of the Battle of Jutland, while the series Wreck Detectives regularly attracts even bigger audiences. Submarine authority Innes McCartney led the Jutland expedition and also found the German submarine UB-65 off Padstow with which he featured in a recent episode of Wreck Detectives.
He'll be talking about his experiences, and the whole business of making shipwrecks TV-friendly.
The frigate Scylla, sunk off Plymouth in March, has surpassed all expectations as a diver magnet. There has been some controversy (as this wreck was "pre-designed", some people have seemed shocked to find that it has sharp edges and tight corners to negotiate - just like a real wreck!). Its owner the National Marine Aquarium says it is now working on a mini-sub so that even non-divers can get in on the act (without any sharp edges). Claire Hopkinson from the aquarium will be showing film footage of the attraction and talking about how the Scylla's marine colonisation is developing.
Ocean Weirdos is the intriguing title of a film that will receive its world premiere at Dive 2004. It's a collaboration between award-winning film-makers John Boyle (right) and John McIntyre and features some of the strangest creatures in the ocean, from the deepest abyss to the shallows. It will show the longest creature in the world - a jellyfish, not a whale - fascinating footage of a monkfish catching a cod and all sorts of other strange entities. John Boyle is becoming a regular show attraction; for former BBC correspondent John McIntyre this is his first appearance.
Meanwhile Erling Svensson and Frank Emil Moen (left), the Norwegian divers whose new book Marine Life & Invertebrates of Northern Europe was published recently, will tell us more about the stranger creatures of northern waters, illustrated by Erling's often remarkable images.
No Dive Show would be complete without people getting wet, and the regular Try Dive and Rebreather Pools will allow you or a companion to do just that if you area) a beginner and want to know what scuba gear feels like or b) a more advanced diver and want to know what a rebreather feels like. There will be marine creatures in attendance at this year's Show, too, and they will be hanging out in the British Marine Life Aquarium. Test your fish identification skills and take part in our Spot The Species competition to win great prizes!
A surprising number of people always leave the Dive Show having won diving holidays or kit. This year's main Show Draw prize, drawn at random from among all ticket-holders, is for two people to spend a fortnight enjoying a fantastic two-centre Caribbean diving holiday in the Cayman Islands (pictured). The prize, courtesy of Cayman Islands Tourist Board, starts with seven nights' B&B accommodation at Cobalt Coast, a small oceanfront resort on Grand Cayman. You get five days' diving with Divetech (including Stingray City) and unlimited shore-diving plus free underwater scooter rental! (see www.cobaltcoast.com)
For the second week you'll move on to the idyllic island of Little Cayman and Pirates Point Resort for an all-inclusive (except drinks) treat of a time. Your second five-day dive package will give you the chance to dive the famous Bloody Bay Wall (see www.piratespoint.com)
There are advantages to block-booking Show tickets in advance for eight or more buddies, too. This year the Eight Or More Draw prize will be a week's holiday for eight in Hurghada, Egypt organised by Diving World. This prize, worth £4200, will see you and your pals based at the La Perla Hotel and enjoying two great Red Sea dives a day.
Dates for the 2005 London International Dive Show (LIDS) have been confirmed for 5/6 March at ExCeL, the state-of-the-art exhibition centre.
A record 14,329 people visited this year's LIDS, the highest attendance since the event moved to ExCeL. The show is organised by Diver Group in association with the BSAC.
"We were delighted with the feedback from visitors and exhibitors at this year's show, and have already booked our tenancy for 2005," says Exhibition Director Michael Eaton. "We're looking forward to another record-breaking LIDS."
For more information call 020 8943 4288 or visit www.diveshows.co.uk
Tickets for Dive 2004 cost £7 each if purchased in advance or £9.50 on the door. Tickets for children under 12 are £2 each.
Order your tickets online at www.diveshows.co.uk or use our telephone hotline 020 8977 9878