German Language Blog

All You Need To Know About Messen Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Culture, Traditions

What if there was a place where you could find out everything you always wanted to know about anything? About the most niche thing you can think of? Well, this place exists. In Germany: Messen.

Finde deine Leidenschaft

In Germany, Messen (trade fairs) are held for all kinds of different things and topics. From the coffee, tea and cocoa Messe in Hamburg to the Whiskyherbst Messe in Berlin, you can find your Leidenschaft (passion) and the corresponding Messe to it. There are many different Messen throughout Germany, all with large exhibition halls to make sure that even the most niche competitor in the industry can get a Stand (stall).

Where do Messen come from?

Messen originate in the Mittelalter (Middle Ages), when a supra-regional goods or money market was held at some days of the year.

Because back in those days, most people were staunchly religious, Messen were often combined with a kirchliches Fest (church celebration). A lot of people would visit that, and so they would also visit the Messe and see the goods. This is also where the word comes from, as Mass in Catholic church (basically everybody was Catholic back then) is called Messe in German.

Due to the places being trade nodes, cities such as Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Aachen and Hamburg already early on had Messen.

What is there to see?

Leipziger Messe. Shot just before the Buchmesse, as you can see by the logo on the stairs on the right.

Back in the day, you could only buy stuff at Messen, like at a market. However, that changed in the Industrial Revolution, when Messen were increasingly used to show Muster (models) of products that could be bought. Visitors could then order such products on the spot, instead of buying them there. This started in Leipzig, which since 1895 was called Mustermesse (“Model Fair”).

It was until the late 1920s that Messen were places where merchants of all different branches came together and showed their products. Then, Fachmessen emerged: specialized fairs for certain industries or branches.

In recent years, the Messen have grown a lot and reach an international audience. Germany now is the most important country for fairs in the world, because many international ones are held in Germany and more than 50% of Besucher (visitors) are foreigners.

So now, you can see all kinds of stuff there. I actually worked at a Messe in Leipzig. It was a cardiologic one, where they had live operations projected on gigantic screens with doctor teams from all over the world tuning in. A great way to learn about the latest developments in the field for the doctors, of course!

Another huge event is the Leipziger Buchmesse or the Frankfurter Buchmesse (Book Fair). These fairs draw tens of thousands of Besucher from all over the world. I was there for the one in Leipzig. The first few days, it was only open for Fachbesucher (professional visitors), and in the last days the doors were also open for “normal” people.

Normal Besucher at the Leipziger Buchmesse. Lots of people!

The Buchmesse goes beyond just books, even though they are a huge part of it. There are anime, cosplayers, TV, audiobooks, book prizes… Anything related to books, you can find here! It is the largest event of the year for the Messe Leipzig.

Who goes to Messen?

Anyone and everyone that is interested, with a ticket! There are restrictions, though. There are Verbrauchermessen (consumer fairs), which are open to the general public. There are also Fachmessen (professional fairs), where only Fachbesucher (professional visitors) are allowed to go. And some Messen combine this: Some days are reserved for Fachbesucher, and on others, the doors are open to everyone.


What kind of Messe would you be interested in? Let me know in the comments below!


Tags: , , , , ,
Keep learning German with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Martha Osgood:

    Kloeppelspitze Messen!

  2. Jon:

    I am bit disappointed that you omitted the Speilzeugmesse since between 1800-1960, if you bought a toy anywhere in the world, it most likely came from Germany. The Nürnberg Speilzeugmesse is one of the largest in the world and still the most important, though it is increasingly full of made in China products. Unfortunately, many of the small German companies can no longer afford to do the fair.

    My first visit to the DDR was to attend the Leipziger Messe. It was still on the old grounds.

    • Sten:

      @Jon You are absolutely right! There are many wonderful Messen with a rich history, thanks for telling us about this one! 😀

  3. Pia Lord:

    im interested in the Leipziger und Frankforter buchmessen. When are they held , which dates?? thanks

  4. Isha:

    That’s so cool…but do they take place in major cities only or in smaller ones too Ingolstadt or Wuerzburg ?

    • Sten:

      @Isha There are smaller Messen too, but yeah, rather in the big cities…