Especially international guests and those unfamiliar with the Cologne area should keep an eye on the arrival and departure situation around Gamescom this year.
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The last week of August will be a stress test for the greater Cologne area: because in addition to Gamescom (the largest games convention in the Western hemisphere), other major events will provide hundreds of thousands of additional guests in the cathedral city. Many events are taking place at the same time, which is likely to push rail and road to their limits.
This is because the event epicenter in the coming days will be within a radius of 2 kilometers around the Köln Messe/Deutz train station. However, the main impact is expected to be on the left bank of the Rhine, i.e. around the cathedral including the main train station, Neumarkt and Heumarkt – plus access roads that are already under pressure such as Deutzer Brücke, Zoobrücke, Severinsbrücke and the feeder highways A55 and A55a.
Gamescom 2023: Tips for getting there without getting mad
Here are our comprehensive travel tips for all those who are planning a visit to Gamescom or one of the other events in Cologne – we are grateful for further tips via comment or e-mail (side note: As GamesWirtschaft is a B2B publication we’re not able to provide individual information regarding public transportation, connections, timetables, ticketing etc.).
The most important tip: Those interested in a timely arrival and a relaxed departure should plan a generous safety buffer (depending on day, time, means of transport and destination) in view of the increased traffic volume. Both the city of Cologne and the organizers advise this.
Also recommended: Use public transportation whenever possible. Although Koelnmesse has considerable parking capacity, the bottleneck is the freeways and the infamous Cologne ‚rings‘. What also speaks in favor of public transport: In combination with a valid day ticket and ID, the use of regional transport within the Rhine-Sieg Transport Association (VRS) is included in the Gamescom admission price (note conditions – not valid for Devcom).
The situation is most relaxed for all those attending the international developer conference Devcom (Monday, August 21 + Tuesday, August 22). Exception: Train services to and from Düsseldorf are restricted due to construction work – substitute buses will be used in some cases, and some stops will be cancelled completely. Therefore, tip 1 applies here as well – and the urgent request to inform yourself about alternative connections.
There is also a slight all-clear for the trade visitor and media day (Wednesday, August 23) and the first regular day of the trade show (Thursday, August 24). Due to the visit of high-ranking politicians (including Vice Chancellor Habeck and NRW Prime Minister Wüst), there may be isolated temporary closures or detour.
The situation is „more critical“ for the first time on Friday (August 25), because on this day several events coincide in time and place: Gamescom + Helene Fischer (world famous in Germany) + Helge Schneider (musician). Koelnmesse is directly adjacent to the large event venues Lanxess Arena and Tanzbrunnen, as well as the Köln Messe/Deutz train station – up to 100,000 people will make their way there this day, plus exhibitors and suppliers.
Gamescom is open to private visitors from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Gamescom Friday (trade visitors and media: from 9 a.m.). Because experience shows that many visitors leave the site from the late afternoon onwards, the departing visitors will meet the arriving visitors in the evening hours – admission to the Fischer concert will be from 6 p.m. onwards, starting at 8 p.m. Helge Schneider already starts at 7:30 pm. The operators of the Lanxess Arena are already warning of a „very high volume of traffic“.
The game will be repeated on Saturday (August 26) and Sunday (August 27). Although the business area of Gamescom is closed – the more private visitors are on the road. The Saturday of the fair is already sold out, which indicates 70,000 to 80,000 visitors.
On Saturday evening, starting at 7 p.m., the local Cologne band Bläck Fööss will perform at the Tanzbrunnen. Already in the afternoon (from 3:30 p.m.), Bundesliga club 1. FC Köln receives VfL Wolfsburg for a home game. Although the RheinEnergie Stadium is located in the west of the city, the streetcar/subway line 1, one of the most important feeder lines, stops at the Köln Messe/Deutz station. In the evening hours (i.e., after the end of the game until 8 p.m.), increased passenger traffic can be expected here.
Important for rail travelers to Cologne and all those staying overnight on the left bank of the Rhine (around the cathedral): During the Gamescom weekend, Cologne Central Station will not be served by long-distance trains due to construction work – as an alternative, trains (ICE / IC) will stop at Köln Messe/Deutz station. Please inform yourself in good time to what extent your connection is affected and whether departure times may change.
Please note that due to the Gamescom City Festival (Saturday, August 26 + Sunday, August 27) the Hohenzollernring is closed in sections – namely between Friesenplatz and Rudolfplatz. Because there are particularly many hotels in this corner, access by car and cab may be limited or not possible at all – so use public transport.
If you are arriving by car no matter what: Find out in advance about construction sites and detours. Drivers should keep an eye on the freeway closures in the north of Cologne. If you’ve made it to the city area: The digital traffic guidance systems will show you the way to parking garages.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator