Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, often called Essen after the city where it is held, is an annual four-day game trade fair held in October (Thursday to the following Sunday) at the Messe Essen exhibition centre in Essen. Many german-style board games are released at the fair.
It is a public event featuring board games, card games and collectible card games, with designers and publishers demonstrating their newest games, retailers selling games at discount, and a large flea market with a wide range of new and used games. In addition, there is usually a hall of comic book sellers, and one or two halls with RPGs and live action material, and a hall of large inflatables and activities for kids. The show sometimes has computer games, but these are unusual.
The fair typically releases turnstile attendance (the number of times a guest enters, i.e., a single visitor who attends all four days would be counted as four attendees), not actual tickets sold, making attendance figures problematic. Essen is said to have peaked with 154,000 turnstile attendees in 2011. In 2012. the organizers announced a turnstile attendance of 149,000. The attendance fluctuates; for example, numbers were low in 2007 due to a German rail strike.