The history of RAI Amsterdam | RAI Amsterdam

RAI Amsterdam has a rich history. What started in 1893 as an association for the bicycle industry has grown into an internationally leading trade fair and conference organisation in just over a century. Many valuable meetings have taken place, often with prominent people. For example, at a public meeting in 1968, Martin Luther King addressed hundreds of people about change. During AIDS2018, Bill Clinton and Prince Harry, among others, spoke to those present about the impact of the global epidemic. Major bands and artists have taken our stage, such as Frank Sinatra, Ike & Tina Turner and U2. During these events, people have been inspired and/or knowledge was shared. Over all these years, we have gained enormous experience in how to set this in motion.


Dive into our history with this timeline.

Our history in a nutshell

In the early years - until 1922 - we did not have our own exhibition centre. The Amsterdam Paleis voor Volksvlijt was used for bicycle exhibitions. The very first RAI exhibition was organised there in 1895. From 1922 we settled - for forty years - in our own building on the Ferdinand Bolstraat in Amsterdam. With a total area of 13,000 m2, we attracted more and more exhibitors and visitors. Specialised trade fairs from other branches took off. The RAI building turned out to be too small.

The municipality of Amsterdam became a partner to finance a new, large exhibition complex. They were happy to participate because of the favourable consequences for the local economy. The RAI Association and the City of Amsterdam together formed a limited partnership from which the exploitation of RAI Amsterdam, which was separated from the RAI Association, was financed.

In 1961 we settled on the Europaplein in Amsterdam. Over the years we have added various halls in addition to our well-known Europe hall (Europahal). Partly due to market developments and the rapidly growing appeal of the city of Amsterdam, we attracted more and more international, multi-day events. To this day, we fill a large part of our event calendar with these type of events. From major annual trade fairs and conferences such as Horecava, International Broadcasting Convention, Interclean and various theatre performances, to public events such as Kingsland and Amsterdam Winterparadijs.

With the spatial vision of the future, we see us maintaining the current location on Europaplein for a long time. We focus on sustainable development, with a healthy balance between social (people), ecological (planet) and economic (profit) value creation. The events that take place at the RAI are increasingly contributing to this.