CES in Las Vegas. The International Motor Show in Geneva. Modern trade shows are big business – huge events with multimillion-pound budgets and stands the size of football pitches – backed up by a solid exhibition marketing plan, no doubt.
We’ve brought together 7 of the world’s largest trade shows to celebrate this new rock and roll and to inspire you to get ready for your next (or even first) trade show.
CES (Consumer Electronics Show)
What is it? The world’s biggest technology conference.
Set in the desert landscape of Las Vegas, CES is where the year’s biggest tech makes its debut. Expect to see Samsung, Sony and LG all jostling for space with TVs that offer eye-watering picture quality.
CES is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association, the trade association that represents the $398 billion US consumer tech industry.
CES launched around 50 years ago. Lots has changed since then though.
Where? Las Vegas Convention Centre, Las Vegas, USA
When? Held annually in January
How big? Over 180,000 attendees, 4,400+ exhibitors, 1,000 speakers
What is it? The largest construction trade show in the US.
Muddy boots, hi-vis jackets and ridiculously powerful tools and diggers take centre stage at one of the world’s biggest construction trade shows.
CONEXPO-CON/AGG represents asphalt, aggregates, concrete, earthmoving and more to connect professionals from every major sector of construction.
Where? Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA
When? Every three years
How big? 2,800 exhibitors, 150 education sessions
What is it? Largest mobile event in the world.
Much better known by its original name of Mobile World Congress, MWC Barcelona is THE event on the smartphone calendar.
Along with the CES, this tech show is so big you’ll see it and its latest phones on the evening news.
Where? Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, Spain
When? Held annually in February
How big? More than 2,400 companies, over 100,000 attendees from over 200 countries
Geneva International Motor Show
What is it? Where the world’s biggest cars make their debut.
The big one for petrolheads. First held in 1905, the Geneva International Motor Show is a film premiere for the world’s biggest new cars.
The original Range Rover and the Jaguar E-Type are two motoring icons to have made their debut at Geneva over the years.
Today, the show continues to attract the biggest manufacturers as the best way to get headlines for their new cars.
Where? Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland
When? Held annually in March
How big? More than 600,000 visitors
What is it? Biggest processing and packaging trade show.
The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute is a trade organisation that hosts many shows each year, known as PACK EXPOs.
Healthcare Packaging EXPO is a pharmaceutical event that runs annually and coincides with PACK EXPO Las Vegas and PACK EXPO International.
Where? Variety of locations
When? Multiple shows a year
How big? PACK EXPO International – 45,000 attendees, 2,500 exhibitors
Kolkata Book Fair
What is it? The world’s biggest public book fair.
Kolkata, India, has been a major destination for books and printing since the days of the British Empire. The city is packed with vibrant and well-stocked bookshops, so it’s no surprise the Kolkata Book Fair, first launched in 1976, has grown into the world’s biggest for the general public.
Some 1.9 million people attended in 2017, but this grew to 2.2 million in 2018.
Where? Central Park Mela Ground, SaltLake, Kolkata, India (2019)
When? Held annually in January
How big? 600 stalls and 200 little magazines, 2.2 million people in attendance in 2018
What is it? Britain’s leading fashion trade show.
London is one of the world’s major fashion capitals – home to big-budget shows and iconic designers. Pure London is one of the big events on the calendar.
It’s unique selling point is to house the complete supply chain under one roof. It’s the only place where you can go from checking out fabric samples from global suppliers to looking at ready-to-wear collections.
Where? Olympia London, England
When? Held bi-annually in February and July
How big? 17,000 visitors, 1,300 collections and 160 garment and fabric suppliers from 13 countries
What is it? Premier ‘marketplace’ event for home and lifestyle products.
NY NOW is an exclusive industry-only premier marketplace for home, lifestyle and handmade products. Top brands and exciting emerging companies showcase their on-trend retail creations across 400 categories. The twice-yearly event attracts attendees from across the USA and over 80 countries.
Where? Jacob K Javits Convention Center, NYC, USA
When? Held bi-annually
How big? 2,500 exhibitors from Home, Lifestyle and Handmade categories, 25,000 buyers representing 17,000 companies