Drupa 2021 cancelled: show to return in 2024

Jo Francis
Thursday, December 3, 2020

Drupa organiser Messe Düsseldorf has bowed to the inevitable and cancelled the physical expo planned for 2021 entirely, along with a raft of other events including Interpack.

Düsseldorf will not be Drupa city again until 2024
Düsseldorf will not be Drupa city again until 2024

An exodus of big name exhibitors and ongoing travel restrictions and uncertainty because of the Covid-19 pandemic had led many in the industry to believe that cancelling the show was the only sensible course of action.

Instead, the Messe will run a ‘Virtual.Drupa’ from 20-23 April next year, while the actual exhibition will skip an entire cycle and return in 2024.

“Our primary goal remains to support the industry," said Sabine Geldermann, director of Drupa and Print Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf.

"To this end, we will be holding an interim event from 20 to 23 April, providing our exhibitors and visitors with an additional sales channel and allowing them to make reliable plans.”

A host of other events planned for the first half of next year at the Messe are also cancelled, including Interpack.

Messe Düsseldorf chief operating officer Erhard Wienkamp said that the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic had caused too much uncertainty in terms of exhibitor and visitor attendance, and many companies were also affected by budget restraints.

“We have taken this decision in consultation with our partners, who are entirely supportive of it. It was preceded by a detailed process of considering the current conditions and the needs of the industry,” he stated.

Drupa president and Koenig & Bauer chairman Claus Bolza-Schünemann, who until recently had maintained staunch support for the exhibition going ahead, commented: “A virtual event is exactly the right format in the current time.

“Attending Drupa under the usual parameters was just too great a risk for many exhibitors, given declining export and turnover figures, as well as significant travel restrictions, which would also affect visitors.”

K&B said it had "already decided" to participate in the "exciting" Virtual.Drupa event.

Many seasoned Drupa exhibitors and visitors viewed the decision to cancel as inevitable.

Landa Digital Printing founder Benny Landa, who celebrated his 70th birthday at Drupa 2016 and recently professed his love for the show, described the situation as "sad".

He told Printweek: "I will be 78 at the next Drupa – but still plan to do every theatre presentation!"

Picon would have been at Drupa with its ‘Picon Pavilion’ supporting UK manufacturers and distributors.

Chief executive Bettine Pellant said: “Obviously it’s disappointing as Drupa is such an important show, and bearing in mind the circumstances of the pandemic April would have been a good time for recovery. But this probably didn’t come as a great surprise and I think it’s the only decision in the circumstances.”

John Charnock, director at consultancy Print Research International and a veteran of many Drupas as both visitor and exhibitor, commented: “The challenge our business has is momentum. I feel a real lack of momentum at the moment. As an industry we need a ‘kapow’ and that’s what Drupa was. Drupa was where you got excited, saw ideas and met with people. Drupa is a global stage where the world of print comes together.

“The Irish Bar must be putting out a profits warning,” he quipped.

One seasoned exhibitor said he “didn't fall off my chair when I heard the news”, and questioned whether a virtual Drupa would really hit the mark.

“Drupa is a great show and the organisers should stick to what they are good at. While they have been dipping their toes in the water with the lacklustre Drupa Preview many other suppliers and organisations have been building their own platforms that meet their specific needs. It's going to be a hard sell to get people on board for yet another virtual event in April."  

It’s not clear what will happen regarding exhibitors that had already cancelled their presence at Drupa 2021 and paid the resulting cancellation fees.

A Messe spokesperson said: “The processing of returns and individual customer inquiries are handled directly via the exhibitor contacts. The exhibitors were informed separately about the further procedure.”

Drupa 2021 had been due to run from 20-28 April, having already been shortened to nine days from 11.

The exhibition was originally set to take place from 16-26 June 2020.

Ironically, Drupa would have taken place in 2019, and would have missed the pandemic, if exhibitors at the last Drupa in 2016 had not pushed back on the Messe’s plans to switch from a four- to three-year cycle.

Drupa 2024 is scheduled for 28 May to 7 June 2024.

Interpack was scheduled for 25 February to 3 March 2021, and will now take place in May 2023 instead, keeping the two large shows well apart. The precise dates for Interpack 2023 are not currently available. 


Printweek welcomes informed debate, but all comments must comply with our house rules which can be read here: A-Z of using the Printweek forums


© MA Business Limited 2023. Published by MA Business Limited, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PB, a company registered in England and Wales no. 06779864. MA Business is part of the Mark Allen Group .