Martin Buhl-Wagner: The Leipziger Messe – An initiator for the region

Leipzig has always been the city of “doings and dealings”. A factor that can be identified in the trade fair’s development.

A marketplace of the world, a barometer of trends, a com­­munication platform, a reflector of economic development, the driving force of innovation and a motor for change – all key aspects emerging from the crossroads of two major trading routes. Trade fairs taking place in Leipzig have been successful for the past 850 years in ascertaining the market requirements, keeping up with the spirit of the times and providing momentum for the future. And all this has been achieved with its own identity, derived from the close connection between the city of Leipzig and the enthusiasm of its citizens for “their fair”. This symbiosis not only unfolds a sense of structural strength in Leipzig, but also in other national and international locations. Over 10,000 exhibitors and 1.2 million visitors from all around the world arrive at the fair premises every year, thus generating positive effects for the entire region. In Saxony, am annual purchasing power effect of 403 million euros and a tax effect of 37.3 million euros is generated by the Leipziger Messe. It also ensures 4,700 jobs in the state.

Leipzig is one of the oldest trade fair locations in the world. When the Leipziger Messe changed from on-site complex commodity trading to sample fairs as of 1895, it revolutionised global trade fairs. The double-M, which stands for “Mustermesse” (sample fair), has been one of the most widely known trademarks of the trade fair industry since 1917. Thanks to its spring and autumn trade fairs, Leipzig played an important role in East-West trade during the Cold War. Fol­­lowing the end of the GDR, Leipziger Messe was prepared for the future with the development of relevant industry and public trade fairs as well as the relocation to new architecturally ground-breaking fair premises in 1996. The new construction was one of the biggest investment projects in the new federal states, thus marking a milestone in the recent history of the fair.

Today, the Leipziger Messe corporate group is among the top 50 fair organizations in the world ranking and also appears in the top 10 in Germany. It manages events in Leipzig and at other different locations nationally and abroad. Thanks to five subsidiaries and the Congress Center Leipzig (CCL), the corporate group offers an integrating event competence, which is exemplary for the organisation of modern fairs, congresses and events.


The Leipzig exhibition grounds encompass an exhibition space amounting to 111.300 square metres and open grounds totalling 70.000 square metres. With the Glass Hall, the five halls including the HALLE:EINS, the Congress Center Leipzig (CCL) as well as the KONGRESSHALLE at Leipzig Zoo, the Leipziger Messe has established the best conditions for any event format. Every year, there are approximately 40 fairs, around 100 congresses and numerous corporate business and other events. Important examples of public trade fairs in Leipzig are the Leipzig Book Fair including the literary festival “Leipzig Reads”, the Manga Comic Con, the AMI Auto Mobil International, Home-Garden-Leisure, the “mitteldeutsche handwerksmesse” (Central German Handi­­crafts Fair), Beach & Boat and modell-hobby-spiel (an exhi­­bition for model building, model railways, creative arts and play). Renowned specialised fairs such as OTWorld, the international trade show and world congress for orthopaedics and rehabilitation, and “therapie Leipzig” (a show for therapy, medical rehabilitation and prevention in Germany) are sym­­bolic of the strong medical cluster in Leipzig. “denkmal” – Europe’s leading fair for conservation, restoration and old-building renovation – is not only hosted in its home town of Leipzig, but also takes place in Russia and China. “Intec” – an international specialised trade fair for machine tools, manufacturing and automation technology – is a prominent national meeting point for the industry.

Furthermore, Leipzig is one of the most popular German congress locations. The CCL, one of Europe’s most modern congress and conference centres, is host to around 100 national and international conferences – among them the International Transport Forum (ITF), which brings together experts and transport ministers from 70 states each year.
As an operator, the CCL will bring new energy to the event business segment in the new KONGRESSHALLE at Leipzig Zoo, together with the subsidiary companies FAIRNET and fair­­gourmet as of 2016. This newly rehabilitated art-nouveau jewel offers a worldwide unique mix of conference centre and zoological garden in the heart of the city centre, and is of particular interest to industry congresses and events with up to 1,200 participants.

Leipziger Messe is the first German trade fair company to be certified according to Green Globe standards. The internationally acknowledged seal underpins sustain­­ability as the key theme of its business activities. The stra­­tegic objectives are the continuous development of new events, expansion of activities in Eastern Europe, in Turkey and the surrounding region as well as China and other growth regions.

That’s why the Leipziger Messe is an initiator for its customers, industries, markets, for Leipzig, Saxony and beyond.

martin-buhl-wagnerMartin Buhl-Wagner
The author has worked for the Leipziger Messe GmbH and its subsidiaries since 1995. He has served as President and CEO for the Board of Management since 2010. Additionally, Martin Buhl-Wagner has been the Chairman of the “Interessen­ge­meinschaft Deutscher Fachmessen und Ausstellungsstädte” (IDFA – a lobby group of German trade fairs and exhibition cities) and a member of the board of the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) since 2013.