Is It Worth Making The Trip To San Diego?

Conv Ctr View.pngView of the coronado bridge from the San Diego Convention Centre

2016 has the opportunity of being one of the best LIGHTFAIR’s ever.  Our US editor Randy Reid took a one-day leave from the CES show in Las Vegas and hopped over to San Diego to check out the new digs for the 26-28th April show.  According to him, here is why it is going to be great:

  • “We are privy to some of the new products that will be launched at both LIGHTFAIR and Light + Building.  We have heard of a few bold luminaires and sources as well as key IoT software that are pretty cool.
  • The convention centre is unlike any we have seen for LIGHTFAIR.  Sleek, modern and beautiful.
  • The hotels are grouped together better than at any previous LIGHTFAIR. The vast majority of attendees will reside within walking distance of the convention centre.  We visited several hotels and they are very accommodating.

AMC, Inc, the manager of LIGHFAIR, IALD, and IES are to be commended for their insight in choosing such a great venue.  Now it is up to the industry to do our part and ensure the people, products, and services are properly represented at the show.”

In times gone by, the main event for Lightfair was on the East coast. That happens in the year that Light+Building doesn’t take place. The West coast event was often referred to as ‘the off year’ and was a much smaller, regional show. But in recent years, the West coast event has grown both in the number of exhibitors and the number & quality of attendees. In 2012 & 2014, I was amazed at how many Europeans I recognised on the show floor.


So if you are based in Europe, is it worth the long flight and high expense of attending both shows? Well, as in so many things in life, the answer is – it depends. It all boils down to what you are going to the show for. If you are attending (just) to see the latest and greatest products & trends, then you probably don’t need to make the trip. With the number of exhibitors present at Light + Building, you will probably not miss anything that our industry has to offer by staying in Europe. In fact, you will be able to get ‘up close and personal’ with thousands of products and systems in Frankfurt and even if you attend the whole week, you probably won’t see everything.

But if you are a European based company that wants to expand into the North American market, then Lightfair is for you. There you will meet a very select crowd of manufacturers, designers and distributors who know all there is to know about the market there. The networking opportunities are immense and as Randy mentioned, the geography is such that the close proximity of everything will foster a lot of business and social gatherings.  For some people, Light+Building is so immense that you can easily miss companies & products because you run out of time. In that respect, Lightfair is far more intimate and friendly.


One major difference between the two events is education. Light+Building is a trade show pure & simple. Lightfair on the other hand is a trade show and conference. The seminars and workshops on offer are of a very high standard and can be used  for continuing education credits. No matter what level you are, there is always something for everyone. And I really like the fact that the organisers have a strict non-commercial policy so the seminars don’t turn into a badly disguised sales pitch.

Light+Building takes place 13 – 18th March and is just over a month before Lightfair. So it is do-able if you want to attend both. But because it is first, I think that all the major new product announcements will happen at L+B unless it is from a company who only operate in North America. Perhaps there won’t be many surprises for you in San Diego if you have already been to Frankfurt. However, whether you attend one or both of these shows, you won’t be disappointed. I always find that the meetings and impromptu conversations around the shows are invaluable and often lead to new business opportunities and ideas.

I hope to see you there!

Written by Julie Allen

14 Jan