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Olma St. Gallen Review: From Cattle Shows to Swiss Folk Music

Last Updated on November 29, 2023 by Darla Uhl

Olma Messen St. Gallen is the Swiss Fair for Agriculture and Food, held in St. Gallen, Switzerland. It takes place every year in October. To determine if Olma Festival St. Gallen is worth your time, let’s examine it in greater detail.

Image of a Cow, Olma St. Gallen Festival by TouringSwitzerland.com

The Olma St. Gallen Fair has been held since 1943 with a basic concept of showcasing products and selling them as well as educating visitors. Despite its focus on agriculture and food, it attracts exhibitors and visitors from a wide variety of industries. The event is organized by Olma Messen St. Gallen, a public company that organizes trade shows, exhibitions, and events.1

Overview of Olma St. Gallen Fair

Olma Festival is the most popular trade fair and event in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The name comes from the German words Ostschweizerische Land- und Milchwirtschaftliche Ausstellung, which translates to “Eastern Swiss Agricultural and Dairy Exhibition.”

Although it traces its roots to the agricultural and dairy industries, the festival has evolved and incorporated other industries such as beverage (wine and beer), construction, and more. It is one of the most popular and largest trade fairs in Switzerland, attracting visitors from all over the world.

The company that organizes it, Olma Messen St. Gallen, also organizes wedding fairs, finance events, comedy festivals, spring fairs, and more. The location serves as a venue for concerts, conferences, and other events. The center boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including multiple exhibition halls, conference rooms, and a large outdoor area.


Olma St. Gallen Fair Review

Image of Olma St. Gallen 2023 by TouringSwitzerland.com

We recently had the opportunity to visit Olma St. Gallen and explore their diverse exhibitions and displays, and I must say, it was an enjoyable experience.

To make the most of your visit, I’d recommend arriving earlier in the day or planning your visit during the week when the crowds are thinner.

Taking public transport to Olma St. Gallen is a smart choice, and that’s what I’d suggest. We didn’t spot any nearby parking spaces because the area was bustling with market vendors selling delicious sweets, autumn goodies, and more.

Getting there early in the day worked well for us as we didn’t have to wait in a long line. If you can, I recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance to skip the line at the ticket counter. However, even if you decide to buy your tickets on the spot, the lines move pretty swiftly, thanks to the multiple staff members available at the counters.

It’s essential to note that the crowd dynamics change as the day progresses, particularly on weekends. Early in the morning, it’s relatively calm, but as the day unfolds, the halls become densely packed, and maneuvering through the exhibits becomes a bit of a challenge. As we were leaving, the line to get inside had gotten considerably longer compared to when we first arrived.

The exhibition center is spread across multiple large halls and an open-air arena. The exhibitions are impressively well-organized, with each hall dedicated to a specific theme. For instance, animals are housed in one hall, while wine producers showcase their products in another. Lifestyle and culture have their designated space as well. This thoughtful arrangement made it a breeze to navigate the venue.

If you’re wondering where to find your interests, worry not. Although they didn’t provide physical flyers, you can easily access a map online and use your phone for guidance. I personally found it simple to navigate and find what we wanted to see.

Every year, the fair features a guest Canton or place. In 2023, Zurich was featured as their guest. They showcased products from Zurich as well as a massive replica of the Böögg.

Just like at other fairs, there are culinary exhibits where you can sample milk, cheese products, and more. While we didn’t take advantage of this, I’m aware that some visitors make it a point to seek out these free samples.

Image of Silkie Chickens, Olma St. Gallen 2023 by TouringSwitzerland.com

What sets the Olma St. Fallen Festival apart from other large fairs in Switzerland is its focus on livestock shows. You can observe a wide variety of cows, sheep, goats, and chickens from the region. But that’s not all; they also offer entertaining events like pig races, where you can bet on your favorite pig and watch them compete.

Additionally, you can gain insights into livestock and animals through various short presentations and discussions, even though they are primarily conducted in German.

Visiting the Olma St. Gallen Festival is best enjoyed with family and friends. It’s a fun day out, and it’s an excellent option even when it rains because you can spend a good amount of time indoors exploring the various exhibits in the large halls.

Aside from the exhibits, there are also enjoyable events like games, such as tug-of-war, musical performances, and traditional Swiss music. Additionally, there’s a gaming area where teenagers and gamers can have fun with various gaming options.

For those who are interested, there are numerous food and drink options spread throughout the venue.

All in all, I highly recommend this activity for people of all ages, from the littlest toddlers to teenagers and older adults.


How to Get to Olma St. Gallen Fair

Image of Cows, Olma St. Gallen by TouringSwitzerland.com

I recommend taking public transport because of the crowd. We took the Olma St. Gallen bus, which leaves right from the St. Gallen train station.

If you come by car and need a parking lot, I suggest going a bit further away from the halls. There will be a lot of cars and visitors near the venue, so it will likely be quicker to park a bit farther away.

Here are the choices available to you:

Address:Splügenstrasse 12
9008 St. Gallen
Bus:St. Gallen, Olma Messen
St. Gallen, Rosenheimstrasse
Train:St. Gallen St. Fiden (15 minutes away on foot)
St. Gallen (21 minutes away on foot)
Car:Olma Parking: Sonnenstrasse 27, 9000 St. Gallen (near Olma)
City Parking: Steinachstrasse 41/43, 9000 St. Gallen (5 minutes away on foot)
Parkhaus Migros Bach: Bachstrasse 29, 9008 St. Gallen (16 minutes on foot)

Olma St. Gallen Fair – Is It Worth Visiting?

Image of the Böögg, Olma St. Gallen 2023 by TouringSwitzerland.com

In summary, Olma St. Gallen is a one-of-a-kind and fun event that provides a wide array of experiences for its visitors. With a special focus on agriculture, food, and culture, the fair serves as a platform for businesses and individuals to showcase their products and services.

I highly recommend visiting it, but I must caution you that it can get exceptionally crowded. The website mentions an annual visitor count of around 800,000, and during my visit, I found it challenging to enjoy due to the limited space. So, my tip is to arrive early.

If you have the flexibility to be in Switzerland and plan your visit, be sure to check the daily program, as the events change from day to day. This way, you can select the best day to make the most of your visit.

Olma St. Gallen truly caters to all age groups. We are certainly looking forward to returning. It’s an event that has something for everyone, whether you’re a family with children or an industry professional. From the impressive livestock shows to the delectable food and beverage options, there’s an abundance of entertainment and opportunities to learn at Olma St. Gallen.

All in all, Olma St. Gallen is a must-visit for those intrigued by agriculture, food, and culture. Its unique blend of entertainment, education, and shopping makes it a genuinely fun event that should not be missed.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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