Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag
Experiencing fair

Organizing major events sustainably: Kirchentag in Nuremberg

The German Protestant Kirchentag with around 50,000 visitors daily was the largest guest event of 2023 in the Nuremberg Exhibition Center. Sustainability aspects played an important role in the cooperation between the organizer and NürnbergMesse.

For the NürnbergMesse project team, many things were different at the German Protestant Kirchentag 2023 ("Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag"). The dimensions of the major event, the diversity of the participants and the support of around 4,000 volunteers clearly distinguished the Kirchentag from the trade fairs that the team usually organizes. "People on picnic blankets in the exhibition park and children playing in the central entrance are rather untypical for our events," recalls Sybille Hergenröther, Manager Guest Exhibitions & Convention Center at NürnbergMesse and one of three project managers for the Kirchentag. "It was a wonderful, colorful and quite happy event, the likes of which I have never experienced in my 24 years of experience in the event business."

"Now is the time": In June 2023, thousands of visitors came to the Kirchentag in Nuremberg.

Flexibility in mind and on the ground

The team of technicians and service partners of NürnbergMesse fully accepted the challenge of the Kirchentag: "This showed the will to tackle things, to get involved in new things, across all hierarchical levels and at all times," says Janine Rolfsmeyer, Director of Organization at the Kirchentag, "that testifies to flexibility in the mind and on the site." Quick action and reorganization in an exceptional situation was already necessary on the first day due to a storm with heavy rain and hail. "That's when the concept of short distances at our exhibition center proved its worth," says Marcus Körnbach, event technician at NürnbergMesse for 16 years. "The storm warning and the quick securing of visitors worked perfectly - and even the lawn in the exhibition park was passable again without any problems on the following days."

Planning in different scenarios

Jan Gerrit Ebener, responsible for guest events and congresses, knows: "Flexibility is the be-all and end-all, otherwise you can't survive in the event industry." That means reacting quickly to the unexpected, communicating clearly through all channels, and finding solutions under pressure. It also involves perseverance, as in initiating the acquisition of the Kirchentag. "The first contacts with the organizer took place back in 2016/2017, and more intensive talks then took place at the 2019 Kirchentag in Dortmund," Ebener describes. The requirements of the major event were flexibility, being able to plan in different scenarios. The trade show manager recalls: "In total, there were about a dozen updates to our offer. At all times, the cooperation was characterized by partnership and acting at eye level."

Sustainable NürnbergMesse

The city of Nuremberg was finally awarded the contract to stage the 38th German Protestant Kirchentag in 2023 - for the second time since 1979. Sustainable aspects were also decisive in this decision. In 2007, the German Protestant Kirchentag was the first major event to be certified via the European Eco-Management and Auditing Scheme (EMAS). NürnbergMesse scored plus points in this respect with, among other things, its good public transport connections, its experience with other trade fairs on the subject of sustainability, such as BIOFACH, and the possibility of using bicycle couriers and cargo bicycles on the site.

"We didn't have to start from scratch," explains Janine Rolfsmeyer, "but were able to benefit from NürnbergMesse's know-how." Oriented to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (17 SDGs), NürnbergMesse is well positioned in this respect. The Kirchentag organization team was impressed by the ventilation and air-conditioning concept in the halls, the sustainable energy management, which uses 100 percent green electricity and is also ecologically cleaned. The international trade fair company was recently nominated for the German Sustainability Award 2023 for its long-standing commitment to sustainability.

In exhibition halls, congress halls and even in the exhibition park, the Kirchentag took place in the Nuremberg Exhibition Center.

All cogs mesh together

Sybille Hergenröther emphasizes the partnership approach of NürnbergMesse in the organization of guest events: "We always try to find the best solution for the organizer together with him. So it was no problem that the Kirchentag was able to move into its implementation camp on the site four weeks before the event.

The two organization teams from the Kirchentag and NürnbergMesse had this good relationship right from the start. There is hardly any other way to organize such a major event, where at peak times up to 300 technicians, security and cleaning staff, caterers and other service partners have to be controlled and commissioned. Sybille Hergenröther knows from her many years of experience: "We at the Nuremberg exhibition center are very fortunate that we have very reliable and loyal service partners who sometimes step into the breach for us. One thing is quite clear: the whole thing only works if all the cogs mesh - and they do with us."

Redaktionsmitglied Reinhold Gebhart
Reinhold Gebhart
Online Editorial // Editor for Vincentz Network
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Image credits:

  • NürnbergMesse/Thomas Geiger