Do you love books and are in Germany? Well, then you have to check out the Leipzig Book Fair (Leipziger Buchmesse/LBM). It’s an annual German book fair and the second biggest in the country, after the Frankfurt Book Fair. It’s easy to get overwhelmed so here are my top 10 tips for newbies.
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Top 10 Tips for the Fair
Pack enough Water
This one is key! You will be surprised just how quickly you will feel parched, get dizzy and a headache. Constantly walking around, being distracted by all the shiny new books and myriads of stands, it will be a while until you realize just how little you’ve drunk.
Water can be really expensive at the Leipzig Messe and there might be queues and who’s got time for that? So bring a big bottle with you and actually drink it all in regular intervals. If you really need your daily dose of coffee, you can get that at the fair as well.
Bring your own food and snacks
Same with food, it is overpriced. Unless you insist on a warm dish, you can just pack your own lunch snack. In Germany, it’s pretty easy to just grab a ready-made sandwich/bread bun from a bakery. At the main train station in Leipzig, there are plenty of takeaway options too.
With all the running though, one meal might not be enough. To keep your energy levels up and resist the temptation to buy more food than necessary, bring your own snacks with you. Trust me, it will be very hard to resist buying all the amazing Japanese sweets from the Leipzig Comic-Con (MCC).
Avoid luggage but bring backpack
You will want to bring as little as possible. Your bags will fill up quickly enough with the new books, goodies and booklets. So better opt for a daypack because it will get heavy and you don’t want a one-sided shoulder bag cutting into your shoulder all day.
There are cloak rooms at the entrance and for a small fee you can store your stuff there. However, I left my winter coat (it was cold outside) as well as bag with overnight clothes, makeup and nightly routine things with the coat room people in the locker.
I didn’t get it back that night because the keys got swapped and they refused to break open another person’s locker. That was majorly inconvenient and not solved very well.
Get an online ticket
Online tickets are cheaper and already include a local public transport ticket. This means, you don’t need to buy an extra train or tram ticket from your hotel or trains station in the city of Halle or Leipzig.
Try your hand at cosplaying
There are a few cosplay events in Germany but the first major one is the Manga-Comic-Con in Leipzig. An entire hall at the book fair in Leipzig is dedicated to it and super full with exhibitors and stalls, selling manga, anime, Japanese goodies and food as well as plenty of merch.
However, what is even more fun than checking it out is to come here dressed up. Cosplayers from all over Germany come here to meet fellow cosplay friends, take photos and get inspiration. If you ask nicely, you are usually allowed to take photos of them too.
If you want me to take professional cosplay photos of you, send me a message through my form here.
Wear comfy shoes and strong deodorant
Especially if you are wearing a costume or are in full cosplay at LBM, you will heat up fast. This calls for a strong deodorant and I speak from experience.
With all the running around, having comfortable shoes is key. No need to choose pretty heeled shoes. This might get tricky when it’s part of your cosplay but it’s a good idea to at least pack a pair of flats to change into after a while.
Check out the events and workshops
Before just deciding to idly roam around, take a look at the book exhibition program and see what’s on at the Leipzig fair. There might be authors you would like to see or get an autograph from, maybe there are interesting workshops, etc.
If you know where and when they are, you won’t miss out. Plus, you can arrive earlier to snatch the best seat and get some rest from all the walking. You’ll definitely need that.
If you are sure what you want to see, you can take it down a notch and just enjoy the experience at the book exhibition in Leipzig.
Wander around, check out different stands, have a read, strike up a conversation and just bask in the fact that you are surrounded by books and book lovers. I mean, this sounds just so good!
Participate in lotteries and giveaways
There are quite a lot of perks that come with attending the LBM, which include giveaways. Look out for the see-through boxes on tables and small information boards telling you of prizes that can be won by leaving your email address. (You can always uncheck subscriptions later.)
Then, there are reading samples, postcards and free magazines as well. Sometimes even a book. Keep your eyes open. At the Leipzig Comic-Con particularly, there are various lotteries where you pay a few euros and then get a chance to win keychains, plushies, etc.
Take advantage of the city ticket
While you’re in the area, you might as well do some sightseeing. Leipzig is a pretty city and there is a zoo, shopping opportunities and beautiful old buildings. You gotta check it out!
Your ticket for the LBM and MCC includes public transport, such as buses, trams and the S Bahn. Double check what zones you can visit if you want to head a little outside.
Essential Preparation for your Fair Visit
Where to stay in Leipzig?
To not get caught up in trains that much and to have your ticket cover your transport costs, it’s a good idea to stay in the centre of Leipzig or Halle. Both cities are linked with several local train lines and there are regular trains leaving during the day.
Also, trains get crowded like crazy during the LBM and you can easily miss your connection because of the resulting delay (as I did), so staying close to the fair is just smart.
There are plenty of hostels and hotels in Leipzig alone, so you have quite a selection. Make sure to book in advance to be able to take advantage of that as many rooms will be booked. Here are a few picks for you:
For a sleek and clean hostel, go for Hostel Multitude. It’s only 3km from the centre and located in a renovated historical building. This Leipzig accommodation features an in-house bar, comfy mattresses, lockers and games in the common room. Reserve a room here.
To stay right in the middle of Leipzig, opt for Vienna House Easy Leipzig. It has a minimalist yet colourful interior style that can be described as a mix between modernized Bauhaus and Scandinavian simplicity.
The lobby functions as bar, living room and creative meeting at the same time. There is free high-speed WiFi. If you want to step out for some air and want a city view, step onto the outdoor terrace. Plus, the main train station is only 2 minutes away. Check availability now.
For a comfortable stay in Halle, check out the 4-star-rated Dorint Charlottenhof Halle – Saale. This one is perfect if you want to treat your sore feet and body after quite a few days of running around at the book fair. You can take advantage of the hotel’s wellness and fitness area.
Also, it’s super easy to grab a snack at the Vital Club and rest on the terrace, enjoying the view. The hotel is super close to the train station as well as bus and tram. This way, you are excellently connected to public transport. View the available rooms here.
Top 10 Things to Pack
It’s easy to forget the essentials when you are busy just drooling over all the freshly minted books. Don’t forget to check in with yourself and see if you’ve drunk enough, etc. I speak from experience here as I tend to forget. To take care of this in advance, here is what I found I absolutely needed to pack:
At least 1L bottle to stay hydrated. It’s better if you drink double that while you’re at the fair and then some afterwards because those stuffy halls really do leave you parched.
On that note, bring lip balm as well. Your lips might dry up easily, too. Especially if it’s still cold outside.
Your ticket. Don’t forget to bring your ticket with you, preferably printed. Maybe have the online document digitally on your phone just in case. It’s easy to lose your ticket, so a backup is a good idea.
Comfortable shoes and clothes. You will be walking quite a bit. The distances aren’t small. And there’s no need to dress up for the fair. I’ve seen people with hiking clothes and a backpack. Not that you should copy that. Just saying. (I swear by my Lowa shoes, which I nearly wear every day. No joke.)
Good backpack. Skip those shoulder bags, fancy purses and totes. You will lug stuff around all day, no need to hurt your back or tense your shoulders for hours. A small backpack or daypack with padded straps that sits well is key.
Snacks. Bring your own lunch and snacks for the fair so you don’t end up emergency buying an overprized hotdog. There are food stalls around the halls and yards, but if you want to find something to enjoy and that won’t break the bank, it’s good not to be starving.
Phone charger. I don’t think there’s need to remind you to bring your phone. But if you’re taking pictures all day and try to log into the overused wifi, your battery will steadily decline. I also use my phone for offline maps and navigating my way, so I need it alive! That’s why I bring my own portable external charger and cable.
No luggage. Unless you really have to, I would not want to store my luggage here. It’s too bulky to get on the train and cart over to the cloak room. Too many people, too much of a hassle. Since you can use the public transport for free with your ticket, I’d leave it at your hotel reception.
Cash. In Germany, we don’t typically use credit cards and not all book stands have card readers, I think. Just to be safe, I would bring enough cash with you.
Costume. Well, if you love comic and anime/manga characters, why not pay tribute and unleash your inner child? Try on a costume. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or extravagant, low-key is perfectly fine. Maybe just slap on a wig and wear your beloved merch.
Travel tip: How to travel with wigs
Is Going to fairs in Leipzig worth it if you don’t speak German?
That’s a good question. There were international exhibitors from neighbouring countries but honestly, I couldn’t find English books. Everything was in German. So are the events.
If you are a cosplayer, you can enjoy mingling with others, stock up on merch, Japanese food, costumes, clothes and more. For that, it would make sense.
However, if you really don’t speak any German, this probably won’t be worthwhile for you.
Now you: Have you ever been to a book fair?