Hamburg welcomes FESPA Digital 2011 - information about the city


Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city and its definitive media capital, provides the perfect urban backdrop for FESPA Digital 2011 (Messe Hamburg, 24th – 27th May 2011), with a commercial and industrial cityscape that chimes with the show’s parkour-themed marketing campaign.

Frazer Chesterman, Managing Director at FESPA, comments: “Hamburg is a contemporary city, open to the world and with a certain attitude to life which chimes with FESPA’s focus on the importance of constant evolution.  Hamburg embodies the dynamism, culture of positive change, and global worldview which are fundamental to our community’s growth.”

As well as being a major trade and industrial centre, Hamburg is one of the most important media business locations in Germany.  It is the original home of the famous publications ‘Stern’, ‘Die Zeit’ and ‘Bild’, and is home to the headquarters of many creative and advertising agencies.  Hamburg's publishing and printing industry, communication, multimedia and broadcasting companies generate significant revenue streams for the local economy.  This thriving community makes Hamburg the ideal host city for FESPA, underlining the blossoming role of wide-format print as a creative ingredient in today’s complex media and marketing mix.

The Messe Hamburg exhibition centre has a distinctive city centre setting, between the Alster Lake and the River Elbe, easily accessible from the centre and from the main transport hubs.  Hosting about 45 exhibitions each year, with a total exhibition space of 107000 m², it is only 25 minutes by car or train from Hamburg’s international airport.  It is easy to take advantage of all the city has to offer, with Hamburg’s comprehensive public transport system.  The Hamburg S-Bahn (overground railway) system comprises six lines and the U-Bahn (underground) three lines.  The Hamburg Tourismus company ( provides visitors with the Hamburg Card, a convenient discovery ticket to enjoy travel and discounts on entrance fees at many tourist attractions.

In among the action-packed schedule of FESPA Digital 2011, show-goers may find time to soak up the sights and take in Hamburg culture. For those wanting to discover some unique sides to the city, here are some jumping-off points:

Something fishy...

Attracting locals, tourists, early-birds and late-night party goers alike, market vendors use the Sunday open-air fish market to promote wares of every type - not just fish.  The city’s oldest, most traditional open air market, dating back more than 310 years, the stall owners are renowned for the unique, humorous patter they use to draw custom.  When the market closes, it’s common to see streams of people pouring towards the historic fish auction hall for breakfast with a side order of jazz, skiffle or country and western music.  But don’t make it a late night on Saturday; to see the market, you have to be up early as the action starts at a sleep-depriving 05:00 am.

A hard day’s night

The remarkable Beatles Tour is a must for fans of the Beatles, as well as anyone fascinated by the origins of 60s music.  Telling the story of how rock'n'roll came to Hamburg, you’ll learn how The Beatles - still a five-piece at the time and still without Ringo Starr - arrived in Hamburg and took on their first gig at the Indra club.  You’ll discover how three members of the band came to be arrested and deported from the city at the end of 1961.  And for an alternative Beatles tour of the city, the Beatles Bus delivers a ‘rolling concert hall’ with a singing bus conductor.

Exploring the seamier side

Hamburg’s most famous street, the Reeperbahn in St. Pauli, is probably the world’s most notorious legal red-light district outside of Amsterdam.  The history of this area is fascinating, and there are a host of groups, including the Historische Hurentour, happy to escort you and offer a captivating look at the past and present of the ‘oldest profession’ in Hamburg.  The female tour conductors stand out from the crowd wearing the red and yellow wing caps that marked out 16th Century German ‘ladies of the night’.

The darker days of Hamburg’s history

Some visitors may be more interested in the harder hitting history of the city.  For those, the Neuengamme camp memorial is worth the short trip to the outskirts of Hamburg.  Commemorating those imprisoned in what was the largest concentration camp in northwest Germany during World War II, visitors to the area can also tour one of the many permanent exhibitions on site.

Life’s a beach

If Hamburg in May is sunny and dry, FESPA-goers can rest their show-weary bones on the sandy beaches lining the river Elbe.  Lounge on a deckchair on the StrandPauli, or sip cocktails by the Landungsbrücken pier (where boat hire is also possible).  With palm trees and sandy shores, Hamburg’s beaches could be confused with a Caribbean resort, though if you want reminding that you’re in Europe’s second largest port city, head to the Strandperle beach where you have a great view of the port and its massive ships.

Harbour lights

Hamburg has a special maritime charm, and the harbour, second only to Rotterdam in Europe, is one of the city’s main attractions.  Each year about 12,000 ships deliver and take on millions of tons of goods here.  One vessel that is not going anywhere is the 1896 Rickmer Rickmers, a three-masted sailing ship which now serves as a museum and restaurant.  For more water-based exploration, visitors can hire a wide variety of boats or board a steamboat to explore one of the many canals that branch off the Alster Lake, hopping off for a snack at one of the lovely lakeside cafés.

Architectural highlights

Hamburg's baroque Rathaus (town hall) is one of the most opulent in Europe, with its spectacular coffered ceiling and more than 640 rooms.  But for some visitors, the city's most remarkable building is the Chilehaus (, located in the oldest quarter of Hamburg.  This brown-brick building is shaped like an ocean liner, with curved walls meeting in the shape of a ship's bow and staggered balconies to look like decks.  Designed for a merchant who derived his wealth from trading with Chile, the 1924 construction is a leading example of German Expressionist architecture.  If you are keen on churches, the main attraction is St. Michael; Hamburg's most famous baroque landmark,  its 453 steps are worth climbing to experience a stunning view.

Shop ‘till you drop

Shopaholics should head to Jungfernstiegstrasse, which provides plenty of quality department stores and boutiques.  When hunger strikes, Hamburg offers diverse cuisine, from local fresh fish to foreign specialities.  The city started brewing in medieval times, so beer dominates its social life and it’s difficult to choose between the huge variety of bars and pubs.

A run for your money

Finally, if you plan to go to Hamburg a couple of days before FESPA Digital’s kick-off and would like to warm up for the show’s free-running theme, you could join the 26th Hamburg marathon, taking place on the 22nd May (  The race goes through one of the most beautiful areas of the city, including a long stretch along the River Elbe and another around the Alster Lake.  You might even encounter FESPA’s own marathon man, sales and marketing director Marcus Timson, on a training circuit of the lake.

Hamburg fast facts:

  • Hamburg takes its name from a fortress ordered to be built by Emperor Charles the Great in 808AD against Slavic incursion and called Hammaburg, where “burg” means fortress
  • Hamburg's official name is the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
  • In total there are more than 120,000 enterprises in Hamburg, with over 70,000 people working for the city’s vibrant media landscape
  • Hamburg was destroyed and occupied several times: as well as several great fires, it was ransacked by the Vikings in 845, burned down by King Mieszko II of Poland in 1030, and in 1350 at least 60% of Hamburg’s population were killed by the plague
  • The famous St. Nicholas's church was the world's tallest building in the 19th century
  • There are more than 40 theatres, 60 museums and 100 music venues and clubs in Hamburg. In 2005, more than 18 million people visited concerts, exhibitions, theatres, cinemas, museums, and cultural events.
  • The beef patties in a bun were named after this city but you won't find any "traditional hamburgers" in Hamburg. The original ‘hamburgers’ were sold on stands in the New York City harbour, and, to attract German sailors, were offered as "steak cooked in the Hamburg style."

Hamburg websites of interest:

The main Hamburg Tourism site- - provides a comprehensive overview of the city, including:

  • The Hamburg Card for free public transport and discounted events
  • Hamburg hotels
  • Hamburg transport
  • Overview of Hamburg’s interesting sites
  • Hamburg events and nightlife
  • Hamburg city tours
  • Tourist information centres
  • Hamburg city map
  • A guide to markets and festivals in Hamburg

For restaurant guides and reviews visit:

[Picture shows Hamburg, with credits to HMC C.Seigert]