A visitors guide to the Frankfurter Buchmesse (FBM)

It all began in 1949, and now, the Frankfurter Buchmesse is the largest book fair in the world. A key business event, a cultural model and a hub of ideas and creativity, the Buchmesse is well worth a visit for fans of the arts. With over 7,000 exhibitions, and over 100,000 weekend visitors, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at this event.

So here are a few tips to surviving and making the most of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Note: This guide is aimed at visitors, for a professionals guide see here.

What is the Frankfurt Buchmesse?

A showcase of literature, culture and art. The book fair targets anyone with a love for literature. It’s a critical marketing event for book launches, licences and sales as well as  an opportunity to get information about the publishing industry. Attendees include: agents, booksellers, illustrators, writiers, film producers translators,artists, media companies, tech companies and tourists.

More than just books…

There are opportunities to meet authors,buy books, learn about publishing but there are also various other events, exhibitions and stages. Basically, there’s something for everyone!

Weltempfang stage:
This stage is the centre for politics, literature and translation. Featuring discussions about general social developments, inspiring conversations and highly political content

On the weekend,  fans of comics, manga and fantasy bring their favourite characters to life at the Frankfurt Cosplay ‘Wonderland’ which, in 2019 has been extended throughout all areas of the buchmesse

EDU Stage
Featuring everything relating to education and knowledge. With talks on technologies and business models as well as workshops and speed-mentoring programmes

The Arts+

This sho

wroom has a range of art installations and new digital technologies, as a dedication to the future of creativity.

Frankfurt Audio
New exhibition that opened this year, for audio themes. An area dedicated to all audio content, and exhibitions, such as podcasts, audiobooks and voice assistants.

Gourmet Gallery
A centre dedicated to all things culinary. Food, drink, demonstrations, cookery books and tastings.

And much more…
Including a bazaar to buy handcrafted gifts, art installations, children’s events and music!

Guest of honor

Every year a Guest of Honour is featured as a way for visitors to experience another country’s literature and culture. The guest country presents its literature, culture, art, music and stories at the fair and across

numerous locations in Germany throughout the year. 2019 saw the Guest of Honor as Norwegian literature with the slogan ‘The Dream We Carry’, based on a poem from Olav. H. Hauge. Norweigen authors such as Jo Nesbo, Erika Fatland, Karl Ove Knausgard and Maja Lunde all attended this year.

Handover Ceremony

On the last day of the fair, the Guest of Honor will pass on the Guest Scroll to the future GOH. This year, saw the passing on to Canada with the theme for 2020 ‘Singular Plurality’.

Upcoming years

2021: Spanish Literature
2022: Slovenian Literature

Top Tips

1. Study the downloadable map

This map will become your best friend as you try to navigate your way around the book fair. The messe is BIG, there are many halls, booths and stands. So try to understand the layout before you go to save time. Make a note of the most important routes for getting from event to event. Guided tours are also available.

2. Study the events list
Each stage will have multiple events happening over the entire weekend, so plan beforehand what you would really like to see and check for any clashes.
Looking at these lists with give a general idea of what the different areas focus e.g. Arts, Authors Stages, Politics etc.

3. Prepare

Being organised is really the main key to making the most out of the weekend. Create a diary/guide or calendar of all of the things you don’t want to miss. Make a plan – whether its realistic to get from one event to the other. Or which hall is worth exploring at what time.

4. Bring refreshments
Water is vital and a good breakfast before you arrive. (There are not many breakfast options at the fair). Food can be pricey and not the best quality and queues are always long. It is recommended to bring snacks, or a packed lunch to save time and money. Security is subject to change with the rules of food/drinks so check with the fair beforehand.

5. Arrive Early
There are over 100,000 visitors across the weekend, so queues are always long, including the queues for security checks andcloakrooms

6. Sunday Sales
Sunday is a great day for buying books, and other items at the bazaar. Some stalls will only sell on a sunday, and others will have a sale, so try to save the spending until Sunday

7. Be Comfortable
The bookfair is big, and hot. There are shuttle buses and moving sidewalks however, it still requires a lot of walking. So wear comfortable shoes and clothes, and make the most of the cloakrooms.

8. Download the app
The Frankfurt Buchmesse now have their own app, with includes list of events, a floor plan a digital tours. Just make sure to have a portable phone charger handy.

9. Ticket prices
Starting from 22 Euros, there are various different. Some exhibitions or events may also require an additional tickets. Some events, such as the evening Literary Gala, will sell out, so make sure to book in advance. A weekend ticket (30Euros) is recommended.

Things to note:

  • The first three days are for professional visitors only, and the weekend opens up for the general public.
  • There are shuttle buses and moving sidewalks to get from hall to hall but it still takes some time, be aware of that when you need to use the bathroom or get to an event quickly
  • Bring a backpack for all the freebies and sweets!

(Words Contributed by: Kira Crabtree 28.10.2019)