The history of Messe Karlsruhe

Our development from 1950 to today

Founding and early years

The foundation stone for Karlsruhe as a venue for trade fairs was the “First German Therapy Week”, which took place in 1949. The Ausstellungs- und Kongress-GmbH (AuK), as the company Messe Karlsruhe was originally known, was officially founded in 1950.

Schwarzwaldhalle 1960 (Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/PBS oXIIIa 91)
Schwarzwaldhalle 1960 (Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/PBS oXIIIa 91)

The Schwarzwaldhalle , which is now protected as an architectural monument, was inaugurated followed by the Gartenhalle three years later in 1957.

Prominent guests in the early years included, among others, Konrad Adenauer, Romy Schneider, Sophia Loren and Rock Hudson.

Development in 1960s & ’70s

To coincide with the Federal Horticultural Show in 1967, the available space was enlarged to include the Nancyhalle.

Nancyhalle 1966 (Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/BA Schlesiger A13/51/4/11)
Nancyhalle 1966 (Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/BA Schlesiger A13/51/4/11)

AuK took over the management of the municipal halls for all event formats in the early 1970s. The new construction of the Badisches Staatstheater expanded the selection of halls to include the Konzerthaus and the entire Stadthalle . AuK became Karlsruher Kongress- und Ausstellungs-GmbH (KKA) in 1977.

Future-oriented expansions in the 1980s & ’90s

In 1985, 50,000 Karlsruhe residents celebrated the inauguration of the new convention centre with the converted Stadthalle. The KKA set up Germany’s first video conference studio and hosted Helmut Kohl and Jacques Chirac at the 1987 Franco-German Summit.

Stadthalle 1992 (Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/Bildstelle I 6277/8)
Stadthalle 1992 (Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe 8/Bildstelle I 6277/8)

Karlsruhe has repeatedly hosted national and international political events. The new Gartenhalle was built in 1990. By the time the World Congress of Chemical Engineers took place in 1991, Karlsruhe had long been renowned for its technical and scientific meetings.

With growth into the new millennium

To remain competitive as a large event location, Karlsruhe decided to build a new trade fair centre as a second venue outside the city centre and a convention hotel on the Festplatz. The KKA became Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress-GmbH (KMK). The “New Messe Karlsruhe” opened in 2003. The first major events included the European Volleyball Championship and the “Wetten, dass” television show in the dm-arena . The international indoor athletics meeting organized by the KMK was named the world’s best indoor meeting in 2004 and 2005. The KMK expanded its business with its own events in the following years.

The past few years until today

The KMK celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2013. The KMK company was restructured in 2014: with Karlsruher Event GmbH and Karlsruher Tourismus GmbH, these divisions were spun off and Britta Wirtz became the sole managing director of the KMK.

Comprehensive renovations began at the Stadthalle in 2017. A new ground surface at the Festplatz and its own underground railway station will augment the future appearance.

Another groundbreaking decision was taken in the spring of 2019: Karlsruhe’s Europahalle will be renovated for 30 million euros and is expected to again be ready for international top-class sporting events beginning in 2024.

Find out more about the company Messe Karlsruhe

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