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5 Board Game Conventions Worth Traveling For

Posted Sunday, 16-Aug-2015

Why not combine your next holiday with some gaming at a top global convention?
Contributed by Andrew Knighton


You’ve been to your local games convention and it was great, but now you want to go further afield.  Maybe you want a sneak peak at the next expansion for X-Wing, to discover the next Colt Express, or to see the spectacle of hundreds of gamers playing a giant Settlers of Catan.

Here’s our guide, just for you, to five conventions worth going that extra mile for.


Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, aka Essen

By far the world’s largest and most prestigious games event, the annual board games trade fair at Essen draws over a hundred thousand gamers from around the world.


Just a small part of the Essen crowd. Photo by Bo Jorgensen via Flickr Creative Commons
Just a small part of the Essen crowd.
Photo by Bo Jorgensen via Flickr Creative Commons


Though the event is organized around the buying and selling of games, with that many players in one place there are inevitably hundreds of games in surrounding bars, hotels and cafés.  It’s the heart of the global board games industry, and for the biggest, most memorable gaming experience, it’s unbeatable.

Technically, SPIEL isn’t a convention, but it’s the world’s biggest gaming get-together, so that’s a technicality most people ignore.



Selling itself as “the best four days of gaming”, GenCon is North America’s top event.  Taking place in Indianapolis, it attracts tens of thousands of gamers, as well as previews and new releases from hundreds of companies.




More play-oriented than Essen, GenCon is a spectacular celebration of the joys of gaming.


UK Games Expo

A big up-and-comer of the gaming world, the UK Games Expo has seen relentless growth in recent years, and is constantly looking for more space to occupy in Birmingham, England.  As well as stalls and demonstration games, it plays host to a number of gaming tournaments.


UK Games Expo
UK Games Expo


If you want to get outside the USA but prefer places they speak English, UK Games Expo is a great option.


Game Market

Known more for electronic games than board games, Japan still has a thriving scene, and its own growing convention at Game Market in Tokyo.  Held twice a year, it draws thousands of enthusiasts, and enthusiasts don’t get more enthusiastic than the Japanese.


Tokyo Game Market
Tokyo Game Market


A related event is planned to take place in Kobe in 2016.



Not the biggest event, but one that draws many of the most experienced and knowledgeable gamers, BGG Con is the convention of the internet’s biggest board games site, BoardGameGeek.  Held in Texas, it’s a coming together of one of the most active and passionate communities on the internet.




If you’re a dedicated gamer and you live in North America, then it’s a smaller but equally exciting companion to GenCon in the annual schedule.

In recent years, BGG has added not only a Spring version, but also a cruise version, known as BGG@Sea.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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