Stratford upon Avon
Would I be making a mistake in attending Lucca rather than Essen? I would be pleased to receive some views on the merits of the former.
Yes. Essen is the biggest and best, with 140,000 boardgamers meeting to see and play board games.
Lucca is smaller, around 40,000 in 2005 I believe. It has grown from a comic convention. The Board games section has grown considerably and is now about half of the show. Essen's comic section is much smaller, say 15%. In 2006 there was really only one large tent for serious boardgames at Lucca, as opposed to nine or ten (larger) halls at Essen.
Because of its comic background Lucca offers quite a few fun sights though, especially if the sun is out... in 2006 people arriving in fancy dress were let in free!
What you do get at Lucca is proximity to the wonderful walled city and some great food. Its well worth going for that and spending time in the city, using the fair as your excuse to go. My flight from Coventry in 2005 was free except for taxes!
If you go to Essen, both the Grugga Park next to the halls and the town centre (for shopping) are worth visiting, but Essen lacks the historic buildings.
Essen in an essential visit for all gamers, Lucca is a luxury.