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The story of Tampere Trade Fairs

Entrepreneurs needed a platform for their products


The first actual fair was organised in Tampere in 1950, when entrepreneurs were keen to show and advertise their products. In 1949, the regional association of entrepreneurs had called a meeting of Tampereen Kauppaseura trade association. The meeting was attended by representatives of several local and national crafts associations and industries and representatives of Tampere Chamber of Commerce. The regional association of sole traders was the driving force in planning the first fair in Tampere.

This first general fair was built around three neighbouring schools in the city; Aleksanteri School, Rellu High School and Tampereen yhteiskoulu, and the yards and parks connecting the buildings. The fair was opened by Governor of the Bank of Finland Sakari Tuomioja, who had also acted as the Minister of Industry. The fair attracted 337 exhibitors and 115,000 visitors over nine days.

The second fair in Tampere was organised in July 1955 with programme provided by the Pyynikki Summer Theatre, bus tour operators, orchestras, fashion shows and Fair TV. The association of sole traders in Tampere was also responsible for the last fair in the city centre in 1959.



Bigger events - bigger organisation


In July 1964, Tampere Fair moved to the Kaleva area, away from the city centre. The opening ceremony of the industrial fair was held at the university, and the exhibition was set up at Sampola School.

Organising the events began to be too much work for the regional association of entrepreneurs, and plans were made to set up a bigger fair organisation after the fair in 1964. In June 1967, the City of Tampere, Entrepreneurs of Pirkanmaa, Tampere Chamber of Commerce and the Tampere Association of Crafts and Industries founded Tampere Trade Fairs, led by Mayor Erkki Lindfors.

In July 1969, Tampere Trade Fairs organised its first general fair. The patron of the fair was Urho Kekkonen. The area of two hectares rented from the city and located next to the indoor ice rink housed 648 exhibitors. This first fair organised by Tampere Trade Fairs still holds the current visitor record: 200,000 visitors.

After the first fair, events were organised slightly more often. The programme included the earthmoving fair of 1971, the housing fair of 1972 in Kangasala, and the general fairs of 1974 and 1978. In 1990, Tampere Trade Fairs organised its last general fair.



This made way to specialised fairs


The first specialised fairs were organised by Tampere Trade Fairs in 1980. In April, it was the Holiday Fair; and in May, the Omta exhibition of machinery and equipment used in the clothes and footwear industries, as well as the hotel and catering event Resta.

In 1985, Pirkkahalli was completed to the north of the old aircraft hangars of Härmälä Airport, the new home of Tampere Trade Fairs. The first event organised by Tampere Trade Fairs in Pirkkahalli was the Pinta Fair of 1985 for the coating and insulation industries. The same year also saw three more trade fairs. Their themes were safety, community development and hi-tech.



First steps of internationalisation


Tampere Trade Fairs began taking its first international steps fast when planning the first Subcontracting Fair. The seed was planted in 1984, when Managing Director of Tampere Trade Fairs, Rafik Neuman discussed organising a subcontracting fair in Tampere with representatives of the Union of Metal Industries in Helsinki. When planning the Subcontracting Fair, excursions were made to similar events in Paris and Sweden, and the interest of industrial organisations, entrepreneurs and commercial councils of foreign embassies was surveyed.

In October, 1988, Finland’s first Subcontracting Fair was organised, and the industries presented included metal, plastic, rubber and carpentry. The biggest trade event of Tampere Trade Fairs was born, attracting a total of 11,000 visitors to Pirkkahalli during three days.

It was clear to the Tampere Trade Fairs’ Board of Directors that in the future, Finland’s EU membership would continue to attract more and more international exhibitors to Tampere. For example, the Finnresta fair in the autumn of 1994 presented food products produced in EU countries. In June 1996, Tampere International Air Show offered breathtaking entertainment and aircraft, such as the Swiss Air Force air show team with Tiger fighter planes. Today, the programme of Tampere Trade Fairs includes several events bringing numerous exhibitors and visitors to the region from all over the world.



Events produced since the 1990s


The operations of Tampere Trade Fairs have expanded over the years, and already in the 1990s, 8-10 annual events were organised along with dozens of seminars and congresses to go with them. For example, events such as the Asta Constructor Fair, EuroSafety Trade Fair and Finnclean, which are still in the programme, were first organised in the early 1990s.



Involved in the Union of Finnish Trade Fair Organisers


In January 1996, six fair organisers established the Union of Finnish Trade Fair Organisers. Tampere Trade Fairs was accompanied by Jyväskylä Fair Limited, Lahden Messut, Nord Finland Fair, Finnish Fair Corporation, and Turku Fair Centre. The purpose was not to restrict competition between fair organisers, but rather to prevent similar events from overlapping in the future.



Premises at Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre (TESC)


In order to house larger events, Pirkkahalli needed to be expanded, and a restaurant wing was completed in 1996. The old aircraft hangars located between the halls have also been preserved, totally modernised. In front of TESC, you can see the work of sculptor Kimmo Kaivanto, the Leonardo statue that was unveiled by President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari in 1999.

In 2003, the office of Tampere Trade Fairs moved to Pirkkahalli. Previously, the office had been located in the Kaleva area of the city and in Kehräsaari.

In 2005, Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre Ltd was established, and in 2006, Pirkkahalli officially became Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre. The same year saw the completion of hall D and the adjacent seminar and meeting premises. In the autumn of 2010, extension of the car park area was completed, bringing the total number of parking spaces to approx. 4,000.
The versatile premises of Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre with the four large halls and 14 meeting and seminar rooms and restaurant services, along with large car parks, provide an excellent setting for successful events and functions. The meeting and seminar rooms can accommodate anything from a meeting for ten to seminars with an audience of hundreds. The premises are also suitable for a number of corporate events, meetings and celebrations.



Tampere Trade Fairs provides a service


Today, the programme of Tampere Trade Fairs includes over 30 fair events. There are approximately 20 annual events, some of which take place at the same time. The average number of exhibitors is over 3,500 and number of visitors approx. 150,000.


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