The Essen International Stamp Fair is the oldest event of its kind in Germany, or for that matter, in the entire world. Collectors have been visiting the fair from near and far since 1976. Since 2006 the event has been held on an annual basis at the beginning of May. A significant presence of foreign exhibitors has become a hallmark of the Essen get-together over the years. With over 40 foreign postal administrations and agents, the fair has taken on an unmistakable international atmosphere. The list includes almost all major European countries, and a sampling of overseas administrations: Åland, Alderney, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Faroe Islands, France, Greenland, Great Britain, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Iceland, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechia, UNPA, Vatican and Belarus.Completing the scene are an average of around 80 specialized dealers, auction houses, accessory producers and publishers with one-third coming from outside Germany. This year you could see (and buy) millions of stamps from all over the world. And there was more to marvel at: The Block Issue \”500 Years of the Sistine Madonna.\” Because it was a great success the German and the Vatican post office appreciate it on the stamp fair – a real highlight for philatelists.The proven practice of combining a dealer course with a topnotch thematic exhibition will also continue. Starting in 2010, the German and European Championship for Thematic Philately will be hosted in alternate years together with the International Stamp Fair.