What’s going on with toy trade shows and events?

Published on: 9th July 2020

Your guide to what is happening with all the toy and licensing trade shows and events in 2020 and early 2021.

trade show

The past few months have seen the majority of physical toy, licensing and nursery trade shows and events cancelled, both here in the UK and across the globe. Many shows which were initially postponed to later dates have subsequently been cancelled for a second time, leading to some confusion across the toy community. Having received a succession of calls and emails enquiring about the current status of certain shows in recent weeks, we thought it would be helpful to pull together a handy round-up of what has happened to the key events and what may happen over the coming months.

We don’t profess to have a crystal ball, but we hope that the following guide will help to summarise the current state of play, and offer a few pointers as to what may lie ahead.


The show, due to take place in September, has been cancelled and replaced with a virtual event.


The original May show was postponed to September, and now the September show has been cancelled. Next year’s event will revert to the traditional May timeline.


A streamlined buying event is still scheduled to take place at the end of September, replacing the full-blown show, which had been postponed from April. However, government guidelines on trade shows would need to change in order for the show to be able to go ahead – the belief is that we would need to reach level two on the ‘Nando’s scale’, which would mean a further virus outbreak would be deemed unlikely.


An announcement is expected imminently as to whether the show will go ahead as planned in the first week of October, whether it will be replaced by an ambitious ‘online festival’ – or whether a combination of virtual and physical shows would be on offer.


German government edicts are different to the UK: there, trade shows have been placed in a separate category to other mass gatherings, and are legally allowed to go ahead with strict safety measures in place. Despite this, the September show has been cancelled, indicating that exhibitor and visitor sentiment plays a huge part in the decision to hold a show: whether or not it is legally able to take place is clearly not the only arbiter.


Based on extensive feedback, few Hong Kong based companies are expecting international visitors to travel this year. There is still an international travel ban in place until at least the end of September, and that may well be extended, so it may not even by physically possible. Even if the ban is lifted, there could potentially still be quarantine regulations – in theory, you may have to isolate for two weeks when you land, turning it into a potential three or four week trip.


Similar to Hong Kong, the general consensus is that the event is looking increasingly unlikely to take place this year, especially given the scale of new cases being declared in those US states which most enthusiastically embraced relaxing lockdown measures while virus transmission was still increasing. A US travel ban currently remains in force for UK visitors, as well as anyone from the Schengen zone and China, although this could of course be lifted in time. There is are also travel restrictions between certain US states, a situation which is changing all the time, although California is not currently affected.


As suggested at the head of this article, we don’t have a crystal ball, and if the past few months has taught us anything, it is the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. When the virus initially took hold, few would have believed it would still be a problem by this autumn, yet alone 2021 – and yet, here we are. Like everyone else, we hope the situation improves across the globe in the coming months, allowing all of the traditional January and February toy trade shows to go ahead as planned.

As previously indicated, the fact that trade shows are currently permitted in Germany, along with the organiser of the Nuremberg Toy Fair owning the showground where the show takes place, puts it in a very strong position. Hong Kong seems to have been able to control the virus better than many other countries, so that offers hope too. Here in the UK and over in the US , the lifting of lockdown measures indicates gradual progress towards an eventual return to normality.

Undoubtedly, all toy fair organisers are working on plans and measures that would allow them to deliver a safe and successful show in the current climate. Toy World will keep you posted on how those plans are progressing over the coming months, and what these developments will mean for exhibitors and visitors alike.

For a full list of 2021 trade show dates, venues and show organiser contact details, you can visit the Toy Fairs page on this website.


The Sidemen co-create new card game Hit Send

The Late Late Toy Show showcases this year’s top toys

Did Black Friday boost retail footfall?

It’s the back of the net for Golden Bear’s Soccer Bot

Spin Master’s Unicorn Academy secures top spot on Netflix

Spring Fair announces major upgrade to show experiences

International pavilions well supported at Spielwarenmesse

Profits rise at Smyths Toys in Ireland

Canada’s Mastermind Toys under creditor protection

Master Replicas brings back Doctor Who statue line