MICE news Cologne

25 years LANXESS arena

Vergleich der LANXESS arena 1998 und 2023
© Arena Management GmbH

The 11 September 1998 marks a special day for the entire cultural sector in Germany. This year sees the opening of Germany's largest multifunctional hall.

11 September 1998 marked a special day, not only for Cologne as a sports and event location, but also for the entire cultural sector in Germany. On that Friday, the first event took place in the newly built LANXESS arena, which at the time was still known as the Kölnarena, with the Cologne Sharks playing the Frankfurt Lions in front of almost 17,000 spectators.  On 17 October 1998, the new and eye-catching event jewel with the arched roof was officially opened with a concert by opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.

In the meantime, the LANXESS arena has not only changed its name, but has also successfully established itself as one of the world's leading event and cultural venues.

25 years of music

The first major performance in the "Kölnarena", which was built in 1998, belonged to Luciano Pavarotti. Since then, over 2,200 concerts and shows have followed, from newcomers and local stars to the biggest stars in the world. For the approximately 35,000,000 fans who have attended a concert or show in the arena since 1998, being able to admire their overseas stars or childhood idols live in Cologne has been an absolute highlight. Barack Obama, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Depeche Mode, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, AC/DC, Metallica, Beyoncé, Shakira, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber - the biggest stars took to the stage in Cologne Deutz. It was not uncommon for fans to camp out on the plateau of the LANXESS arena days before the concert. It was not unusual for a pre-sale to last just a few minutes before the last ticket was sold out and it was not uncommon for artists in Cologne to give several additional shows in order to cope with the rush of enthusiastic fans. From screaming teenagers to moved fathers experiencing the heroes of their youth, from moving farewell concerts to proposals of marriage to the "getting-to-know-you song" in the audience. The LANXESS arena created millions of unforgettable moments.

25 years of sport

The arena can also look back on a proud history in sport. Since its inception, the event temple from the cathedral city has been the home ground of the Cologne Sharks. In addition, various major sporting events have regularly travelled to the Rhine. For example, three ice hockey world championships (2001, 2010, 2017) and two handball world championships (2007, 2019) were held in the LANXESS arena, with the German national team even winning the title in front of a home crowd in 2007. Since 2010, Cologne and the arena have also been the annual venue for the EHF FINAL4, the final tournament of the Handball Champions League and, since this year, the REWE Final4 for the DHB Cup. Other lighthouse moments included the FIBA EuroBasket 2022, the European Basketball Championships, the EuroLeague Final Four of the Basketball EuroLeague, boxing matches between Wladimir Klitschko, Felix Sturm and Axel Schulz and the ATP tennis tournament "bett1HULKS" in 2020.

25 years of Cologne tradition

Since the arena was founded, one series of events has become indispensable - the "Laughing Cologne Arena". On 15 dates, 10,000 carnival revellers celebrate, sway and sing to the sounds of the most famous bands on the Cologne scene every session. The band Kasalla celebrated its 5th anniversary in the "giant bowl" (according to the band) and sold it out twice on two evenings - Cat Ballou celebrated 20 years of band history in the Deutzer Rund in 2019. Another tradition that has made history is the annual New Year's Eve concert by Bläck Fööss. Initially planned as a one-off "millennium concert" at the turn of the year 1999/2000, this Cologne tradition only came to an end in 2018/2019 after 20 editions and was even revived once again in 2022/2023 for the band's 50th anniversary. Whether it's Brings, who have often enriched the festive season with their Christmas show, the Höhner, Querbeat, the Räuber and many more: everyone who is anyone in Cologne is always happy to pay a visit to the Arena! The same applies to millions of revellers from all regions of Germany and neighbouring countries who celebrate the fifth season in the Arena time and again.

25 years of success for Cologne

25 years of the LANXESS arena - that also means 25 years of being a beacon for Cologne and the region. With its large and sometimes international catchment area, the arena and the events that take place there generate great economic added value for the cathedral city on the Rhine. With around 200 events a year, it is a direct and indirect employer for several hundred Cologne residents. The turnover generated amounts to well over 600 million euros. Visitor surveys show that the average distance travelled by visitors to highlight concerts is just under 300 kilometres and around 20 percent stay at least one night in Cologne hotels. Half of them even stay two to three nights in the cathedral city. In total, this means well over half a million overnight stays in hotels per year. The directly related turnover in the catering industry can only be estimated, but it also contributes to a considerable boost for the local bar and restaurant scene.

25 years - thank you!

Arena Managing Director Stefan Löcher looks back with pride: "The LANXESS arena not only has a big place in the hearts of me and my team, but many Cologne residents and guests from all over Germany can no longer imagine Cologne without the arena. The stories and unique moments from these 25 years make the LANXESS arena a very special place. The fact that we have been able to make millions of guests laugh, dance, sing and celebrate here for a quarter of a century fulfils us greatly and we look forward to continuing this for the next 25 years. It is estimated that the Arena accounts for around 10% of the total number of tourists visiting Cologne. These are dimensions that definitely fill us with pride. A big thank you to all the organisers, artists, management and fans who have visited us over the years. Of course, special mention must be made of all the employees who give their all here week after week, day after day, to offer our visitors a great event experience. Without you, the Arena would not be what it is today. Here's to the next quarter of a century!