Spiel'21 will take place as a physical event from October 14th to 17th in Essen. After the international game days were relocated to the Internet last year, fans can now stroll through the exhibition halls on site again - assuming negative test evidence, vaccination or recovery. There will also be personalized tickets.

"After a round, it's time again, 'On your boards, get set, go!'" is how Friedhelm Merz Verlag, organizer of SPIEL'21, announces this year's edition of the world's largest trade fair for parlor games. For a long time it was unclear whether and in what format the International Spieltage would take place, but now it is certain: SPIEL'21 will be offered at Messe Essen as an on-site event. Due to the relaxed but still dynamic corona situation, however, the following applies: as of now.

Hygiene concept: more space and mandatory registration

After the world's largest trade fair for board games took place exclusively digitally last year, the Essen exhibition halls will open their doors again for board gamers in October 2021. Many hoped that this scene highlight could - more or less - take place as usual this year. And given the much more relaxed Corona situation, things are looking good for SPIEL'21. But: Nevertheless, current plans are to be seen with a certain degree of flexibility because the regulations can change. In Essen, the incidence recently climbed to a value of 9,1 – it is not far to the threshold of “incidence level 0”. If this is exceeded on eight consecutive calendar days, the first level applies. The next higher incidence levels would be reached even after three days. The current development shows how important it is to continue to consistently comply with the applicable regulations.

However, according to the NRW Corona Protection Ordinance, only the state incidence is to be taken into account for the implementation of trade fair events. As long as this is below 100 - in NRW then incidence level 3 or lower - trade fair events are possible in consultation with the responsible authorities. According to the regulation, the following is required: “The number of visitors present at the same time must not exceed one person per seven square meters of the area accessible to them, and at events in closed rooms, proof of a negative test is also required for participating persons. In addition, a special hygiene and infection protection concept is required, which must contain measures in particular for maintaining the minimum distance, special infection hygiene through adapted cleaning intervals, sufficient hand disinfection opportunities and information boards on infection protection behavior [...]". To what extent the incidence value in October still applies is a question that politics and science are currently dealing with.

"For decades, board games have enjoyed ever-growing popularity," says Friedhelm Merz Verlag, the organizing company, underlining the relevance of the Essen games fair. In the last five years in particular, there has been a real boom, which reached its peak last year when the German games market once again grew by an impressive 21 percent.

Apparently there are other reasons why it is better to return to an event in person sooner rather than later: "As positive as this development is, the Corona crisis also makes it clear how important SPIEL is for the introduction of national and international innovations that are traditionally presented to a broad audience for the first time at the trade fair,” says Friedhelm Merz Verlag. Communication within the scene was also made significantly more difficult last year due to the elimination of the face-to-face trade fair, and so the industry had the "fervent wish" at the beginning of the year that SPIEL could take place again this autumn.

“We were very pleased about the remarkably large response and the trust placed in us. Especially because our trade fair planning had to start in the spring and our registration deadline was still in the middle of the lockdown. In the meantime, more than 500 exhibitors from 41 nations at SPIEL Registered. Including almost all of the major game publishers. Some exhibitors have even significantly enlarged their areas so that SPIEL will now start in Halls 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and the “Galeria”. Halls 7 and 8 will also be used for admission and other activities, as last in 2019. There are further entrances via Halls 1 and 3 ″, reports publishing director Dominique Metzler.

Even if SPIEL'21 will take place at the usual location, the framework conditions have changed significantly in view of the past pandemic crisis situation: In order to be able to implement the applicable corona protection rules, all aisles were said to have been significantly widened as early as the planning phase. "All visitors and exhibitors will have to be tested, vaccinated or recovered," says the note on the mandatory hygiene requirements. The general hygiene and distance rules will also apply in the halls, including wearing a medical mouth and nose protection heard. The proof of a negative test should not pose a major organizational problem for non-immunized visitors: According to information from the Essen city administration, there is a rapid test center in which free citizen tests are carried out directly in Rüttenscheid - the "CTG Test Center Grugahalle" is located on site at the exhibition square 2. More information is available here: www.coronatest-gruga.de.

Even if only the on-site fair can spread the SPIEL spirit for die-hard fans, the organizers are relying on a hybrid concept, at least in part. SPIEL'21 is therefore “digitally supported”. Thus, the trade fair platform SPIEL.digital, which last year almost 150.000 individual visitors was able to record, at the start again this year.

Visitors to SPIEL'21 will also have to register with their contact details. For this purpose, personalized tickets are offered, which from August will only be available online at www.spiel-messe.com will be available.


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