OCTOBER 26th - 29th
This year sees the 35th annual Internationale Spieltage with COMIC ACTION at Messe Essen in Germany.
If you are thinking of going and you haven't booked an hotel yet then you better be prepared for a 15-30 minute drive in each day as all the hotels in Essen and the surrounding area book up quickly every year. Many Essen attendees book hotels in Mulheim so that's a good place to start looking.
From the UK you can drive to Ashford and take your car on the train through to France or take one of the ferries from Dover, Folkestone or Harwich and then drive down well paved motorways straight to Essen - it's about a 3½ hour journey from Calais. This year there will be more trains travelling to Messe (right outside the event centre) and more car parking plus an excellent local transport system even on the Sunday.
You can fly into Dusseldorf Airport and take the train into the Central Station in Essen.
SPIEL Essen is classed as the World's largest consumer board and card game event and for number of stands and attendees shares the number one spot with GenCon Indianapolis with UKGE taking the third place above Origins, in other words SPIEL is huge. Where Essen is different from UKGE and GenCon (although UKGE is growing into this) is the amount of sit-down-and-play tables at the exhibitor tables.
SPIEL is a Thursday - Sunday (4 Day) games buying and games playing event that opens at 10am and closes at 7pm each evening except Sunday (6pm). It is growing each year and has been for a number of years now with the amalgamation of the COMIC ACTION event so that this year will see around 11 hundred exhibitors and 175000 (Turnstyle) visitors.
It is specifically designed for families to come along together and have a great time playing games together. Many new games are launched at Spiel each year and it is definitely the most international of games events with companies from all over Europe and the UK, plus the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Scandanavia demonstrating their latest games and game accessories. Core boardgamers are in their element here as they get to play games with some of the greatest and best known board game designers and/or make new friends by joining in a game on a table with players from different countries.
There is also a massive LARP and CosPlay attendance with companies selling all manner of costume and weaponry (be aware that some of the weapons on sale may cause you a problem getting them through customs on the way home) and a high number of card game companies. At least two huge halls are set up specifically for younger attendees with all manner of rides and garden games for them to play and enjoy.
There are numerous stands displaying and selling collectible and new comics and graphic novels as well as all the merchandise that goes with them. Superb figures of Heroes and Villains from your favourite comics, belt buckles, tee shirts etc plus many famous comic artists are there for signings and who will often draw your personal character to your specifications so that you have a unique piece to take home and frame.
Getting into the Fair:
New entry through the Galeria this year will help visitors get in quicker and safer.
A One Day Family Ticket costs €30 (2 Adults + 3 Children)
One Day Adult ticket €13.00 Four Day Adult ticket €31.00
One Day Child ticket €7.00 Four Day Child ticket €18.50
You can also purchase One Day and Four Day Group tickets (minimum 10 people) for €11.50 / €28.00 per person €6.00 / €16.50 per child
First Time Special at Spiel:
There is a musical concert written to accompany the RPG "Shadows of Esteren" taking place in Saal Europa at the Fair on the Friday
Playing Games at Spiel:
Throughout the Halls most exhibitors will have tables for you to sit and play their games. The larger exhibitors will have a dozen or more (usually more) tables to play their games on. There aren't really a lot of free tables for you to play your own games on but the idea of Spiel is that you try out games at the publisher's stand and then purchase the ones you like to play at home, try before you buy!
Food & Drink:
There are a number of stands dotted throughout the event selling drinks and snacks and there is a good restaurant there also. In the streets around the Messe and 10 minutes down the road in Essen itself there are dozens of restaurants and fast-food places so you can enjoy all manner of cuisine including German, French, Italian etc or grab a burger and fries and then head on back to your hotel to play games - most hotels have rooms where players can spend their evenings gaming.