Cologne's Gamescom trade and consumer expo is back next week, after its hugely successful 2009 debut. It all kicks off from August 18th – but to get you started we've put together an in-depth guide to the show.
GAMESCOM: THE FACTS
Wednesday, August 18th to
Sunday, August 22nd
(August 18th is a day for trade visitors and the media only; event opens to the public on the Thursday; business area will be closed on the Sunday)
Koelnmesse – Cologne, Germany
Cologne Exhibition Centre
The business area is open every day from 9am to 7pm; exhibitors can access the entertainment showfloor an hour before and after its usual hours of 10am to 8pm.
Gamescom Business Area
Designed as a place for retailers, publishers, service companies and developers to do business.
Gamescom Entertainment Area
An E3-like showcase of upcoming product designed for both trade and consumer visitors. Basically, that's eye catching booths and lots of exciting, noise. Individual gaming zones for specific genres such as sports, lifestyle, action and e-sports also ‘make this trade fair unique'.
Runs from Wednesday, August 18th to Sunday, August 22nd. Starting with a music concert, the festival will stretch beyond the exhibition centre to include a number of different events to showcase the culture and variety of gaming.
Running ahead of the main Gamescom event, from August 16th to 18th, this developer conference promises a mix of keynotes, lectures, roundtables and workshops with speakers from across Europe and around the world.
Taking place on Thursday, August 19th from 10am to 6pm, this is a special forum dedicated to discussing the issues around the increased popularity of online and social games. The forum is backed by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (where Cologne is located).
The ancient German city of Cologne boasts some remarkable buildings and landmarks from throughout history, such as the Roman gate, the Cologne Cathedral and the Mediapark.
Visitors to the city can take in the incredible architecture, as well as visit the many museums, memorials and art galleries on offer. The city also features plenty of bars, clubs, cinemas and restaurants, as well as hundreds of hotels and guesthouses for people to stay in. Across these pages is a run down of the places to sleep, visit, eat and drink while in one of Europe's great cities.
Cologne boasts some 36 museums and over 100 art galleries, featuring everything from Roman and Medieval exhibits to contemporary art and even chocolate.
The Ludwig was founded in 1976 and contains 350 works of modern art by Irene and Peter Ludwig. Alongside are works of classical modern, expressionist and pop art.
Amazing relics such as numerous sculptures, works of art and St. Peter's crosier can all be fond in the vaults of the Cathedral Treasury.
Visitors are encouraged to enter a mouth-watering trip through three millennia of Chocolate, from Cocoa tress and Aztec ambrosia to modern bars.
One of the Europe's most important collections of medieval art can be found in the former St. Ccilia collegiate church.
City History Museum
Built in 1600, the former historic armoury gives visitors insight into Cologne's economic, political and cultural history, from the Middle Ages to modern day.
BARS AND CLUBS
Cologne has a vibrant night life, with countless concerts, discos, theatres and cinemas. But the real thing to look forward to is that German beer. Here is a run down of some of the top bars to spend your time in until the wee hours.
Harry's New York Bar
Visitors here can enjoy top cocktails on the ground floor of the five-star Interconti Hotel.
Piano Bar at the Maritim Hotel
Live music, club ambience, dance floor in this glamorous bar.
Probably Cologne's most stylish nightclub, the former train station waiting room has become the top place to party with a mix of black music, soul and '80s hits. And that's not to mention Depeche Mode parties.
This High-class cellar bar boasts prize-winning cocktails (at about €8 a pop), and there are 200 to choose from.
Featuring electronic music, this club can hold 400 guests and runs regular theme parties. The venue also puts on great light shows and is apparently ideal for the older party goer.
The highly popular pub-caf-crperie is for all ages, and according to locals often attracts bizarre crowds.
The classic Cologne club has something for everyone, including funk, techno, house, electronic and new jazz sounds. It is situated in the basement of the Stadtgarten restaurant.
Koelnmesse has over 100 partner hotels for their various events, which have been selected for their high standards of in terms of quality, cleanliness, service and value for money.
Many of the hotels are available close to the trade centre, with over 60,000 beds available in and around Cologne. Visitors can book rooms as part of an overall travel package that includes flights and/or hire car at www.koelnmesse-service.com. Hotels include the following:
Up to 2km from the convention centre
CityClass Hotel Caprice
Daily rate: e114.00 (inc. Breakfast)
+49 221 920540
Daily rate: e219.00 (Breakfast e25)
+49 221 130710
Maritim Hotel Kln
Daily rate: e156.25
+49 221 20270
CityClass Hotel Europa
Daily rate: e139.00 (inc. Breakfast)
+49 221 20580
Hyatt Regency Cologne
Daily Rate: e260. (Breakfast e27.00)
+49 221 8281234
2.1 - 5km from the convention centre
Hotel Im Wasserturm
Daily rate: e236.00 (Breakfast e28)
+49 221 20080
Daily rate: e79.00 (inc. Breakfast)
+49 221 376310
Express by Holiday Inn
Daily rate: e96.00 (inc. Breakfast)
+49 221 297700
Daily rate: e104.00 (inc. Breakfast)
+49 221 920470
Best Western Premier Hotel Regent
Daily rate: e100.00 (Breakfast e16)
+49 221 54990
5-15km from the convention centre
Daily rate: e70 (inc. Breakfast)
+49 2203 990080
The New Yorker Hotel GmbH
Daily rate: e65.50 (Breakfast e10)
+49 02203 92685
Hotel Friends Kln
Daily rate: e85 (Breakfast e10)
+49 221 6711880
Best Western Hotel Brenner
Daily rate: e155 (exc. Breakfast)
+49 221 9486000
Mercure Hotel Kln West
Daily rate: e121 (Breakfast e17)
+49 2234 5140
Walking through Cologne is much like a walk through time, given its mix of architecture from Roman churches to post-modern buildings. Here is just a handful of attraction on offer…
The Cologne Cathedral (Klner Dom) is an architectural masterpiece. It sees six million visitors a year and features two gigantic towers that dominates the landscape. Admission to the Cathedral is free, although there is a small fee for those wishing to ascend the tower.
There are 12 Romanesque churches found within the old city walls. For centuries, the tower of Gro St. Martin has been a significant part of Cologne's panorama, which is framed by the twin towers of St. Kunibert in the North and St. Severin in South. The St. Gereon church, which is named after a Roman officer, is the principle attraction in the North of Cologne's Old Town.
Found near the inner city, the Mediapark is the centre for IT, communication and media technology. The giant area is home to futuristic architecture, a huge film palace called the Cinedom and the Saturn electronic superstore.
The former office building and Gestapo Prison was named after Cologne businessman Leopold Dahmen. The building's shell was modified by the Gestapo for inhuman purposes and is now a memorial, with hundreds of inscriptions found scratched into the walls of the cells.
This Spa provides rest and recuperation after a long day at Gamescom. Located in the Rheinpark and Roman in style, it is one of the nicest therma baths in Europe, with natural spring water, indoor and outdoor pools, sunbathing areas, catering, various types of saunas, steam baths and therapeutic treatments.
There are over 4,000 places to eat in Cologne, and that's not including fast food outlets. Below is a handful of the key places to dine out, while you can reserve tables and view menus online at www.globalguest.de
Based at the Mediapark, the Maybach is reasonably priced, has a cross-cultural standard and features a large beer garden.
Hotel im Wasserturm
One star Michelin chef Hans Horberth shows of his culinary skills at the La Vision restaurant on the 11th floor of the Hotel im Wasserturm. The food is French and features a stunning view.
Campi im Funkhaus
Decorated in a 1950s style, this eatery features Italian bistro cuisine and appeals to VIPs and journalists.
This former chapel of a monastery is now a cool restaurant with 55 indoor seats and a further 40 outside. An ideal place to eat if you're after something a little different.
Heising Und Adelmann
Featuring creative cuisine in the heart of Cologne's night life hotspot, the Heising Und Adelmann is famous for its long bar, large inner courtyard terrace and beer garden.
The second Gamescom in Cologne is a five-day games expo for consumers and trade. Along with a mix of festival-style events, the show consists of content for both trade and non-trade attendees with dedicated entertainment, conference and business areas.
The exhibition centre consists of 11 halls with 284,000 square meters of potential exhibition space, four entrances via the boulevard, a sizeable outdoor area, more than 60 meeting rooms, two modern press centres and a spacious VIP area.
In terms of layout, halls four and five are reserved for trade partners and businesses, meanwhile halls six through nine are set aside for the entertainment areas, with 80,000 square metres of exhibition space. All of which is connected through the boulevard, which
features food and non-food shops, a bank, a travel agency, telecommunications services including wireless LAN hotspots, a postal service and parcel delivery.
There are many ways to get to Cologne and the trade fair, with everything you need to know about travel arrangements available at www.koelnmesse.com.
During the trade fair, your admission ticket or trade fair pass is valid as a travel ticket on all local public transport. The passes are also valid as travel tickets for an extra two days before and after the fair.
Cologne is roughly 90 minutes or less away from almost all of Europe's capital cities, and about 15 minutes by car or direct train from Cologne-Bonn Airport. There are direct flights to some 160 countries, while Dsseldorf Airport is roughly 45 minutes by car or 25 minutes by train.
Visitors can take the train directly to the event, with trains stopping at the Koelnmesse/Deutz station opposite the exhibition centre. There are also connections to the ICE 3 high-speed train route to Frankfurt, daily connections via train firm Thalys from Cologne Brussels and Paris. There are also daily connections by Eurostar via Brussels to London.
Cologne has an excellent network of motorway and access roads. When in the city there is traffic guidance for access to Koelnmesse without traffic lights or intersections (simply follow the green signs), while the motorway exit leads you straight to the exhibition centre car park. There is parking space for some 15,000 vehicles, and there are shuttle busses around the exhibition ground.
If you need to book a hotel for Gamescom last minute, there are over 100 partner hotels, which can be viewed and booked as part of a travel package at www.koelnmesse-service.com.
MOBILE AT GAMESCOM?
Left your MCV in the office? The magazine will be in bountiful supply throughout the Gamescom business area if you need to check our guide at the show.
Alternatively, you can check the exhibitor directory via your phone, point your browser at gamescom.ausstellerdaten.mobi.
Plus, you can download an exhibitor app for Windows, Java or Blackberry phones at www.gamescom-cologne.com – you can find it under ‘Exhibitor Search'.