Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, often called the Essen Game Fair after the city where it is held, is an annual four-day boardgametrade fair which is also open to the public held in October (Thursday to the following Sunday) at the Messe Essen exhibition centre in Essen. With 1,021 exhibitors from 50 nations (in 2016) SPIEL is the worldwide biggest fair for board games. Many new games are released at the fair each year, especially (but not exclusively) European-style board games.
Messe Essen, the event venue
At SPIEL board games are offered which are hard to find in retail because a lot of international and small exhibitors present their products. While the prices for buying the games at the fair do not tend to be significantly lower than those in retail, the games are typically available sooner than in regular board game shops, come with promotional materials (mostly extra cards or tokens with a few more game mechanics, but also T-shirts and similar merchandise) and it is an occasion where passionate board gamers can meet and chat with game designers, illustrators, and famous game reviewers.