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Festival of the Unexceptional

Hagerty’s Festival of the Unexceptional returns on 31 July to celebrate the most marvellously mundane motor cars

by Antony Ingram
24 March 2021 4 min read
Hagerty’s Festival of the Unexceptional returns on 31 July to celebrate the most marvellously mundane motor cars

After a Coronavirus-enforced hiatus in 2020, the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional returns in 2021, taking place on Saturday, July 31 at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire. Tickets for visitors are now available via this link and vehicle entries for the concours are invited via this link.

As ever that means our location will be considerably grander than the vehicles that congregate in front of it, but that of course is the joy of the festival, which celebrates the ordinary, maligned and unloved cars of the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

2021’s event will be the seventh Concours de l’Ordinaire, and the 16th Century Grimsthorpe Castle’s grounds will allow more space than ever for unexceptional vehicles and a wider range of activities too.

With plenty of picnic areas and a new range of food stalls (we’re licking our lips at the thought of them already), as well as comfortable seating areas, visitors to the world-famous event will be well catered for. And for more interaction and entertainment, families will be pleased to know there is a children’s play area, and once you’ve taken in all the wonderfully unexceptional metal on show you can unwind with a walk around the castle’s beautiful grounds and gardens.

Not sure if your car qualifies? There’s an element of discretion as to what constitutes unexceptional here, but if your car, motorcycle or light commercial vehicle was built between 1966 and 1996 that’s a good start. As for the kind of vehicle, think Bluebird rather than Firebird, Marina not Miura, and 309s rather than 308s.

Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional 31 July 2021
The lawn of Grimsthorpe Castle awaits the star cars of the Concours de l’Ordinaire

The event traditionally promises as much joy in the car park as on the concours lawn, though as ever our expert judges and those pretending to be expert judges may pluck the most ordinary vehicles out for special treatment.

There will of course be judging and award ceremonies, so if your Alfa Arna keeps getting turned away from Villa d’Este then there’s always the chance of some silverware in the Concours de l’Ordinaire instead. 2019’s victor was a 1977 Morris Marina Deluxe Estate, so the bar to entry is high. Or is it low?

You can now apply to enter your car for the concours via the Car Festival Booking site – click this link to go straight to the right page. Visitor tickets for the 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional are now available so jump to it and follow this link to reserve yours.

FAQs – 2021 Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional

When is it?
Saturday, 31 July

Where is it?
Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire

When do tickets go on sale?
Tickets for the 2021 Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional are now on sale. Click on this link to submit a car for the concours and also reserve tickets to the event.

Can anyone enter a car for the Festival of the Unexceptional’s concours?
Yes! Anyone can enter a car for the 2021 Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional but not any old car will do. Cars must pass a selection and judging criteria. See below…

Which cars are eligible for the Festival of the Unexceptional concours?
Generally speaking, judges welcome vehicles registered between 1966 and 1996. They will place an emphasis on originality and ordinary, less ‘exotic’ versions of cars. So an L would be considered more desirable than an SRi, for example. Judges also like to learn about the story behind the car, as this can make the difference when having to choose between a number of the same make and model. So sell your car to us when you submit it for entry to the concours!

How do I enter my car for the 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional?
That’s the easy bit. Just click this link and submit the details of your car, a description and some photographs.

How much does it cost to enter the concours?
Rejoice! Entrants selected for the concours don’t have to buy a ticket.

What if I’m a visitor – are tickets free?
The first 999 to apply for tickets and arrive on the day in a classic or unexceptional car will get them for free. There are also 500 tickets available for visitors arriving in a modern car, which cost £5.75 each. Once the initial 999 free tickets have been reserved, we will make a further 1000 available at £5.75. You can click this link and go straight to the ticket reservation site.

I entered the Festival of the Unexceptional before. Does that mean I can automatically take part again?
No. You’ll know from personal experience how popular the event is – and how competitive it is too. So we require anyone wishing to enter the concours competition to submit a new entry for 2021.

If my car is a prime example of an ‘Unexceptional’ car, can I just turn up and put my car on show?
No, afraid not. We’d be delighted to see you and may even direct you to parking where your car will be in good company with other marvellously mundane motor cars, but it won’t qualify for the concours competition.

Are children welcome?
Absolutely. Children 12 and under go for free, and you don’t need to apply for a ticket for them. Those older will require a ticket. There’s an adventure playground as well as wonderful grounds at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire which will be open to visitors.

Will there be food at the event?
Yes, and it’ll be yummy, too. We’re laying on food stalls, but you’re equally welcome to bring a picnic or packed lunch too.

Will there be a bar?
Yes. (That’s all you wanted to know, right? We won’t go into the cocktail or mocktail list here…!)

Can I bring my dog?
Dogs are welcome but the venue stipulates that they must be kept on a lead.

Can we camp overnight?
There is no camping available

Are you accepting trade stands at the show?
Sorry, there will be no trade stands at the Festival of the Unexceptional.

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  • Mark smith says:

    How much are the tickets for the festival of the unexceptional on 31st of july 2021 thank you how do you get tickets

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Hello Mark, as we noted in the article ticket details will be announced soon, so keep an eye out on the website.

  • Daniel skidmore says:

    How can i get tickets please for car event 31.7.21

  • Jon says:


    Are you taking trading stands at the show? I have a small business making and selling car inspired gifts, toys and homeware I also have a few cars I’d like to bring.
    Thank you


  • Mark Baker says:

    Hello. I have an almost original 24v V6 3.0 1995 SWB Shogun. The only thing changed is a Stainless exhaust from the cat back. It has an after market stereo, but that’s not what I want to show, merely my ole faithful in her glory. Would I be able to park it so people could look, not looking to enter into any competition or anything? Grimsthorpe is fairly close, so failing that, I would just park with the public in the car park whilst I walk around looking at the exhibits. It’s so I know what ticket I would need to purchase once they are available you see. Thankyou.

  • Jaime says:

    I CANNOT wait! Can I bring my whippet?!

  • Steve says:

    Will there be any camping/motorhomes allowed overnight?

  • Gary Cant says:

    Seems a bit of a nightmare trying to book a vehicle into this show.
    After filling in the application form / history of the vehicle etc, and selecting appropriate photo’s the website failed to download the information.
    Has anyone been successful in booking in a vehicle?

  • Peter Bell says:

    Hi Can you confirm date as this weeks Classic car Weekly shows 21st July and how do i entry my car.
    Thanks Peter

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Hello Peter, we’d like to think we can get the date of our own show right, so it is indeed on the 31st and not the 21st!

      Hold tight for tickets and entries – we should have details of that any day now.

  • Pete Stanford says:

    Are dogs allowed?

  • John D’oh says:

    Is it an exceptional dog?

  • Shaun Kerr says:

    Hello there I would like to enter my 1988 Mazda 323 station wagon please

  • Mr. V. den Plas says:

    I don’t use twits, faceache or instasham. It is May very soon. People need to be able to plan things after lockdown as there are hundreds of activities kicking off 2021. Where can I obtain tickets without going on a trawl of anti-social media. A website would be a good idea.

    • James Mills says:

      The link to the ticket sales went live today. Please see the links in the story or skip to the FAQs which will take you to the booking site.

  • Mr. V. den Plas says:

    Thank you for providing the ticket link. However, the booking method is ambiguous. It says “1 ticket is required per person” so I book 2…. then asks for TWO classic registration marks. Either its a ticket per person, or a ticket per classic car. Either way, I cant provide two VRM’s. Please can you clarify and adjust accordingly.

  • wesacosa says:

    Agreed. its super confusing. It is not clear how to handle tickets for passengers in a car you book in. Do you need one ticket per car or one per person, and if its one per person how to do that if you can only use on reg number

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Hello – there were problems with this earlier but the issue has been fixed in the past couple of days. The wording is much clearer now so worth giving it another try!

  • wesacosa says:

    thanks @Antony Ingram
    I read it again and I am taking it that if I have one classic/unexceptional vehicle not entered in the concours competition and I bring a second person in the car with me then I need two of the “free” tickets. If this is wrong please advise. Thanks

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Yup, that’s correct – people who arrive in a classic or unexceptional vehicle get free tickets while stocks last (the first 999 tickets available). Do let us know if you come across any further issues though!

  • John Penquet says:

    Booked, entered in the concours and can’t wait to shine the light on my 1995 Mondeo

  • David Sharp says:

    How do I know that my car has been selected for the concourse after I enter it for the 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional? Cars must pass a selection and judging criteria. Having been instructed to sell my car to the judges when I submitted it for entry to the concourse, it remains a mystery how and when entrants judged successful are informed!

  • Laurence Sherwood says:

    I’ve booked for the concourse along with 3 tickets for the event for myself and two passengers. How will I know if my vehicle has been accepted into the Concourse? I assume that after the 31st May we will get an email of some sort?

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Hello Laurence – your assumption is correct, entrants will indeed receive notification in good time, whether or not their car has been accepted for the concours.


    Have all tickets gone? I have mistakenly booked two free car park places for unexceptional cars but simply want to book two tickets. Can you help please?

  • Dan says:

    Are all visitor tickets (for arrivals in modern car) all sold out please? I found the wording on the ticket website rather confusing so want to make sure I’m interpreting correctly before cancelling accommodation etc. 🙂 Thanks, Dan

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Hello Dan, tickets had sold out for those arriving in modern cars as of yesterday, but we’ve just added another 250, so give it another try!

  • Andy Lovatt says:

    Do tickets need to a printed or is downloaded to the phone ok?

  • Steve Barratt says:

    Want to register but can’t I enter a password so am I doing something wrong or is your booking system up the shoot?

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Hello Steve. There’s nothing wrong with the booking link that we’re aware of, but if you’re having password-related issues, it may be worth using the reset password option. If it’s the form itself that doesn’t seem to be working, try emptying your browser cache as that can sometimes fix small issues.

  • Dan says:

    Thanks Antony, I second Steve’s comment about not being able to log-in / register. Getting ‘HTTP Error 500’ on (after inputting username and password). Grateful if you could take a look please.

  • David Sharp says:

    So if not accepted for the concourse, will those individuals be offered a carparking ticket to attend in my unexceptional car anyway, as always wanted to attend regardless of whether my car makes the concourse. I also wouldn’t want to hog a pair of tickets unnecessarily as demand is clearly quite high, still slightly confusing, apologies if it just me? No-one ever replied to my first query, see above….thanks David

  • Andy Lovatt says:

    When I reserved the tickets for the show! It said to ask here if they needed to be printed or just downloaded to a phone. Can someone please advise as I don’t have a printer?

  • Laura says:

    “Once the initial 999 free tickets have been reserved, we will make a further 1000 available at £5.75. ”
    Does any one know if these extra will be for visitors in a regular car or for unexceptionable cars only? Ie should I keep an eye open incase I can still get tickets despite having a modern car?

    • James Mills says:

      Hi Laura, I have feedback from the events team, and they tell me that the only tickets left are for those arriving in a classic or unexceptional type vehicle, I’m afraid. I hope that helps. James.

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