100 years in the heart of Scandinavia

The world is changing. And so are we. You too. But there is still nothing to beat the power of meeting face-to-face. We are the living proof. Every day we see how successful meetings drive developments forward. Ideas become reality, challenges find solutions, businesses develop and new contacts are created.

In 1918 we hosted Sweden’s first major trade fair in Gothenburg. Today, we are a global meeting place with everything from hotels, shows, restaurants and spas to trade fairs and every type of space for people to get together.

We continue to develop. Our vision is to become Europe’s most attractive meeting place by offering the best overall experience. Right at the heart of Scandinavia.

Our 100th birthday was celebrated in multiple ways throughout 2018. We invited customers from all over Europe to celebrate with us, gave away a grant to stimulate innovation in the meetings industry and released a prize awarded history book. That and much, much more.

We are now continuing our successful journey and are looking forward to meet you! 

Get a glimpse of our anniversary

A grant to stimulate innovation

As part of our 100th anniversary we gave away a grant to stimulate innovation in the meetings industry. Swedish startup CarbonCloud was awarded the grant for their innovation, CarbonAte, which enables restaurants to calculate the climate impact of their food. The grant was SEK 100,000 (approximately EUR 10,000) and the aim of the grant was to foster the meetings and hospitality industry.

100 years in 100 seconds

100 years of meetings

How do you really capture a century of fascinating meetings – and everything that has happened in between – in a single book? The answer is that you don’t. It’s simply not possible. So instead, we have picked out a series of moments in our centurylong history that hopefully define what the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre stands for and aspires towards. The goal of becoming the most attractive meeting place in Europe, with the best total experience. Enjoy your reading!

Quick & Easy

The foundation for what is now the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre began in autumn 1917 when book printer Waldemar Zachrisson proposed a new meeting place in Gothenburg for the Chamber of Commerce. No sooner said than done. On 8 November the same year they appointed “a committee for preparing the case regarding the organisation of a trade fair in Gothenburg”. Just half a year later, on 8 July 1918, the first trade fair was held in Sweden.

Swedish Exhibition Committee 1918

The board of the Swedish Exhibition Centre in 1918.

Greeks & Romans

The symbol in our logo has remained almost unchanged since the start. A few minor changes have been made to emphasise and adapt it, but the main elements are the same. Our name is combined with a stylised image of the patron of trade, the Roman god Mercury, who incidentally shares many characteristics with the Greek god, Hermes.

Fair posters

Example of fair posters over the years.

Sky & Sea

Gothenburg is not a city on the water, but it is definitely a city by the water. And that water is spectacular. The coastline and vibrant archipelago offer some of the most enchanting views in Sweden. This gave rise to a strong tradition of boat use, and the whole experience of being in and around boats is an important part of life for many people in Gothenburg.

Gothenburg is also home to the biggest event in west Sweden for boating and sailing enthusiasts, Gothenburg Boat Show. The boat show is one of our most enduring events. For almost 60 years it has been a friendly port, where exhibitors give visitors advice on boat purchases, servicing and equipment for life at sea. But there is much more between sky and sea – from sport fishing schools and treasure hunts to exciting stage programmes and the biggest mobile aquarium in Europe.

The Gothenburg Boat Show 1962

Gothenburg Boat Show 1962.

Towers & Pinnacles

It is said that all good things come in threes. Such as our towers. Like the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, it has been a constant journey upwards with each new building. First 78 metres, then 83 metres and now 100 metres with the latest addition. We have not yet reached the castle in the clouds, but we are surely well on the way. The towers are linked by two glazed sky bridges and together provide space for 2,700 hotel guests per day. And according to our future plans, good things may also come in fours or even fives.

Window cleaner at the Gothia Towers facade

A fearless window cleaner hangs 100 metres above the ground at the Gothia Towers facade.

Read the full book!

Historic milestones

1918: The first exhibition

The Swedish Exhibition Centre is inaugurated and the first trade fair takes place, attracting an impressive 42,153 visitors.

1923: The move

The Swedish Exhibition Centre moves from premises at Gothenburg School of Trade (Göteborgs Handelsinstitut) to its current location by Korsvägen.

1939: New exhibition halls

Halls A and B replace the dilapidated anniversary hall, providing a base for events such as handball, tennis, boxing, concerts and religious meetings.

1945: Attendance record

The Second World War ends on the very same week that the exhibition opens, on 12 May. 152,000 jubilant visitors come to the exhibition centre – a new record.

1950: International scope

Companies from our neighboring Nordic countries are invited to exhibit at the Swedish Exhibition Centre for the first time, and three years later exhibitors are invited from the rest of the world.

1957: Main exhibition hall

The Main Exhibition Hall is opened at Korsvägen. The Swedish Exhibition Centre also begins renting out office space to balance its unsteady income.

1971: Growth

Hall C is opened, linking the Main Exhibition Hall to the other halls. We acquire Scandinexpo and its four trade fairs, and take the step from renting out halls to organizing and promoting exhibitions.

1973: Fourteen

The General Trade Fair (Allmänna varumässan), held annually since 1918, takes place for the last time. Exhibitions for the trade and public take over, with a full 14 exhibitions on the programme. Four years later the new Hall B is added.

1984: Opening of hotel

The Hotel Gothia opens next to the Swedish Exhibition Centre. The new Hall A replaces the timber exhibition hall built in 1939.

1992: Congress building opens

This is a major investment during a deep recession, but the new building is vital for our growing congress and conference business.

1993: Self-management

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre takes over the Hotel Gothia from Sara Hotels AB. This is the start of a new business model – managing the hotel and restaurants ourselves. This process eventually leads to our present one-stop offering, with everything under one roof.

1997: Expo

The Expo Hall opposite Liseberg is opened, giving a boost to event business. The Hall increases capacity at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre by 33 percent and helps us attract the Annual General Meeting of the Swedish Society of Medicine in 1998. The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre now attracts a million visitors each year.

2001: Tower number two

The second tower is completed and the Hotel Gothia Towers now has over 500 rooms. The EU Summit is held in the city in the same year and is attended by all European leaders and the US president, George W. Bush.

2014: Tower number three

The third tower is completed along with a string of other initiatives, including restaurants, a spa, lounge areas, art and pop-up stores.

2015: Billion turnover

The business breaks SEK 1 billion in turnover.

2018: 100 år!

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre celebrates its first centenary and is well prepared for the next 100 years.

2023: Big strides towards a sustainable meeting place

For the first time since 2019, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers can complete a full financial year without pandemic restrictions. In line with its purpose to promote business, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Foundation generates approximately SEK 3.4 billion in tourism industry revenue. During the year, we take major strides in our work to move towards the goal of being a sustainable meeting place.