Light installation of the Messehaus West, © Rainer Schimm

Fairs in NRW

In­ter­na­tion­al in­dustry meet­ings and trend­set­ters

North Rhine-West­phalia with its four ma­jor ex­hib­i­tion sites in Co­logne, Düs­sel­dorf, Es­sen, and Dortmund as well as in­ter­na­tion­al lead­ing trade fairs, is one of the world’s largest and most im­port­ant trade fair centres

NRW is turning Germany into the number-1 trade-fair location by international comparison. After all, North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the world’s largest trade-fair sites with its four major exhibition sites in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, and Dortmund, coming in ahead of Hanover, Frankfurt am Main, Valencia, Milan, Paris, and Chicago.

Six million visitors from around the world flock to NRW every year to establish and maintain contacts at one of the 100 international leading trade fairs, or to hear the latest news and learn about fresh trends in an industry sector. Thanks to the state’s excellent infrastructure, with the two major Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports, as well as its central location and dense highway and railway network, world-leading trade fairs such as the drupa, boot, anuga, and photokina have come here to stay. Some major public trade fairs such as gamescom and the Internationale Spieletage SPIEL have been based in NRW for years as well.

NRW can look back on a long tradition as a trade-fair location. Dortmund, for example, with the Westfalenhallen as the site of 30 trade fairs per year, had its first event of this kind in 1925. International industry gatherings attract around 700,000 visitors to the city every year now. The trade fair site in Cologne-Deutz opened its doors even earlier, in 1924, and has grown into the world’s fifth-largest trade fair venue since. It is bound to be expanded even further and modernised in the next few years under the banner of Koelnmesse 3.0. |

Messe Essen, already one of the top ten venues in Germany with 50 trade fairs and exhibitions drawing 1.4 million visitors per year, is being developed into one of the most cutting-edge exhibition centres in Germany. Just as many guests, including about a third coming from abroad, are counted by Messe Düsseldorf each year, where two of the largest public trade fairs in the country are organised with boot and Caravan Salon. |

“boot” for action and recreation

From luxury yachts with beach club, sauna, and lounge area to simple inflatable boats, the prettiest watercraft come to “lay anchor” at the trade fair premises in Düsseldorf every January. boot comprises 1,800 exhibitors from around the world, presenting everything and anything water sports enthusiasts may be looking for, and some things they were only dreaming of, for nine days. The world’s largest meeting place for the industry is considered a trade fair of superlatives, combining business and event, technical innovation and worlds of experience. Not only international boat manufacturers are presenting their million-dollar innovations in Düsseldorf, but divers, anglers, surfers, and rowers will find equipment to their liking there as well. The latest trend sports are presented to the public while tour operators beckon to visitors with the most beautiful vacation destinations in and on the water. Many adventure worlds invite the nearly 250,000 visitors to try things out for themselves each year as well.

Holiday-related trade fairs

Let us return to dry land: the show will go on on four wheels in the 17 Düsseldorf exhibition halls in summer (August/September). Caravan Salon, the world’s largest trade fair of its kind, offer a full overview of everything that is new in the growing market of motorhomes, caravans, hiking and trekking equipment. With caravanning and hiking vacations ever-growing in popularity, several thousand hiking destinations are now also presenting themselves at these two leisure fairs. 

Early in the year, the Camping + Reisen trade fair at Messe Essen is another event dedicated to the ongoing trend towards mobile travel and active holidays in nature. More than 90,000 visitors recently came to the industry meeting, where dealers and manufacturers presented their latest models, from small two-seaters to luxury liners with an integrated garage for a small car. Visitors to the trade fair can also learn all about the accessories they need for a proper camping holiday, as well as finding the best campsites in Europe that have received awards from the Deutscher Campingclub. At the same time as “Reise + Camping”, bicycle fans have felt the attraction of the test courses at the Fahrrad Essen trade fair, where more than 200 exhibitors inform about the latest bicycle trends as well. 

Visitors to Jagd & Hund, a regular event at the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund for the last 35 years, are another group that spends plenty of time outdoors year-round. The annual German Deer Caller Championship is a highlight at Europe’s largest hunting fair with multiple event areas and demonstrations.

Motorcycles, cars, and technology

At the end of the season, Messe Essen is speeding up once more, virtually changing gears for Europe’s largest and most important performance show for tuning, motor sports, sporty series vehicles, classic cars, and motorcycles. The Essen Motor Show in the Ruhr region is a firm entry in the calendars of hundreds of thousands of motor sports enthusiasts and trade journalists from around the world, and certainly not only for men. Drivers from all racing series, from Formula 1 to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) can be found in the exhibition halls when the automobile manufacturers present their latest production vehicles and gleaming racing cars to the public while engines roar in the motor sports arena. All offers related to vehicle tuning form a special attraction of this passionate mixture of HP show and information.

Technology is turning increasingly important for people, in particular in old age: The Rehacare trade fair, an annual autumn event in Düsseldorf, offers comprehensive information on assistance for a self-determined life with disabilities, for nursing, and in old age. About 750 exhibitors present their innovations in the fields of mobility, communication, medicine, safety, sports, and leisure, while associations and organisations are offering advice to visitors.

World-class comics and art

Messe Essen turns into a gigantic playground once a year, when the Internationale Spieletage “Spiel” are hosted on an area of around 63,000 square metres, featuring dice, tactics, and games across the entire market range. Manufacturers from around the world present the entire range of new children’s and family games along with strategy, adventure, fantasy, science fiction, and computer games at the world’s largest public trade fair for parlour games. About 160,000 visitors take the opportunity to try out innovations at the gaming table and get some inspiration, or to join a game of backgammon or chess, every autumn. Comic Action, hosted at the same time as “Spiel”, adds an overview of the international market for drawn stories, making collectors’ eyes shine at the sight of a large antique comic bookstore. The Deutsche Spiele Preis is traditionally awarded in Essen on the eve of the two fairs.

gamescom, one of the youngest public trade fairs in NRW, is at the same time one of the most highly frequented ones. Koelnmesse counts well in excess of 300,000 visitors, comprised of children and adults alike, every year when the computer screens and game consoles are running hot in its halls. Trying things out is explicitly encouraged here. The event was launched in Leipzig in 2002, then called the Games Convention. Since then, gamescom has grown into the world’s largest trade fair for interactive entertainment and the trading centre of a steadily growing, high-revenue industry. The uninterrupted gaming fun in the Cologne-Deutz exhibition halls is supplemented by a gamescom festival with many stages at the Cologne city centre.

Cologne, or, more precisely, Deutz, hosts what likely is the world’s largest art gallery. Every spring, the German and international art scenes meet in the exhibition halls there for Art Cologne. About 200 galleries present top works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries here, while also highlighting industry trends. After all, the fine arts fair, first launched in 1967, is where investments in collector’s items worth millions as well as in works by young artists still in the early stages of their careers are made. The “New Positions” and “New Contemporaries” programmes, for example, are devoted entirely to contemporary art and offer a platform for young galleries.

Images and videos

Be inspired: images of your NRW

South Entrance Koelnmesse, © Koelnmesse GmbH
Exterior view Westfalenhalle Dortmund, © KHC Westfalenhallen GmbH
Messe Düsseldorf aerial view, © Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH – Fotograf U. Otte
gamescom 2015, © Tobias Vollmer, Foto Koelnmesse
Photokina 2014 Audience, © Thomas Klerx, Foto Koelnmesse
Besuch bei der Messe Essen, © Messe Essen GmbH
Fair Hunting and Dog Bird of Prey, © Messe Westfalenhallen Dortmund GmbH
fvw Kongress & fvw Travel Expo
Fachkongress mit begleitender Fachmesse der Reise- und Mobilitätsbranche, © Messe Essen