There's no denying that automobiles have a universal appeal, with auto shows bringing millions of people together from around the world every year. These shows play a vital role in the automotive industry, acting as a platform for manufacturers to promote their latest products and test out concepts and ideas on a captive audience. There are literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of auto shows taking place globally each year, all varying in size and commercial importance. Judging how essential these different shows are is difficult because even niche events provide value in their own way, but there are certainly a handful of events that jump out of the page, where anyone who is anyone in the car industry is sure to be in attendance. These are the most important and unmissable auto shows in the world.
Now the largest auto show in North America, The Chicago Auto Show has overtaken its Midwest rival, Detroit's North American International Auto Show for size, occupying 1.2 million square feet of the McCormick Place complex and over 1,000 vehicles being wheeled out each year for consumers to admire. Debuting in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show has a real pedigree in the automotive industry and is a must-see for American and international car lovers alike.
Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world and its auto show certainly doesn't disappoint. Japan is of course home to some of the world's premier automakers, so the biennial show in the country's capital is always a significant event. Unsurprisingly, the Tokyo event is famous for its high concentration of concept cars and offers attendees an exciting glimpse into the automotive future.
Quintessentially British, nothing says understated automotive luxury like the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Held each summer on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England, the Festival of Speed famously harks back to the early days of automobiles and is something of a renaissance festival, although it also shines a light on the world's most sought after racing and supercars. Popular with Brits and international visitors alike, the festival draws crowds of over 100,000 car aficionados on each of the three days on which it is held - a record crowd of 158,000 attended in 2003 before an advance-ticket-only admission policy came into force.
Is there anywhere that exudes elegance quite like Paris? Expert engineering and auto design are on show to complement the fine wine and works of art displayed every other year at the Paris expo Porte de Versailles. The Paris Motor Show was the first auto show of its kind in the world. Started in 1898 by industry pioneer, Jules-Albert de Dion, it remains an unmissable event on the car industry calendar where many manufacturers choose to debut their newest production and concept models.