A Handy Guide to World Fairs

World fairs can often be highlights on the international calendar. Each one has the potential to be a huge event – a massive public exhibition, where countries from all over the world gather to showcase art, technology, architecture and culture.


It’s not just the exhibitors that gather from around the world to attend the event. Fairs can also draw crowds from across the globe, travelling from near and far to see what can be a combined creative collision curated carefully, clearly and considerately by competing countries.


Who Hosts World Fairs?

Any country can host a fair. Since the inaugural event, back in 1851, many, many cities have played host to this exciting international event. Paris has been host several times, as have San Francisco and Brussels. Many more have hosted an expo and many more will in the future.


To host a fair, a number of countries apply and are then shortlisted. The few that are shortlisted then campaign based on a chosen theme. The theme can centre on anything – culture, science, technology, sustainability, mankind’s relationship with nature – and it usually plays a core role in the event. The country or city that wins the right to host the fair is almost always the one that creates an effectual campaign based around its chosen theme.


The Fun of the Fair

A world fair is often packed full of exciting and enthralling exhibitions and displays. Cities usually pull out all the stops to try and impress visitors throughout the duration of the fair. Throughout history it has usually been the same. The head of the Statue of Liberty was unveiled at the 1878 fair in Paris, while the Space Needle in Seattle was built for the 1962 event.


One of the potential highlights of each event are the pavilions. At each world fair, a number of participating countries build pavilions of varying shapes and sizes. These pavilions are, more often than not, in line with the central theme of the event.


Why go to a Fair?

There are so many reasons to go to world fairs. The atmosphere, the pavilions, the exhibitions, the creativity. Perhaps, to some, the main reason to go is to be part of a potentially historic international event.



Dubai, UAE, is competing against four other candidate cities bidding to host the 2020 World Fair, including Ayutthaya (Thailand); Ekaterinburg (Russia); Izmir (Turkey); and Sao Paulo (Brazil).