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After a decline in public events in recent years due to the impact of the Covid pandemic, we are finally seeing the volume of Christmas markets returning worldwide increase.
A firm favourite in the calendar, Christmas markets are a popular pastime that sees families and friends get together to enjoy the range of goods on offer, whether at their local Christmas market or further afield.
As a result of Christmas markets hitting the headlines again for positive reasons, we’ve undertaken some research to identify the most popular Christmas markets in Europe, with Manchester taking the number one place.
Here’s how we chose the top ten Christmas markets in Europe
Analysing 50 Christmas markets, Heald’s new index¹ is based on the average number of visitors and stalls, overall Tripadvisor rating, global search volume, length of opening and TikTok views.
According to our Christmas market index, the top ten Christmas markets in Europe are:
Let’s break it down:
Our study highlights Manchester’s Christmas market as Europe’s favourite, drawing in an average of 9 million visitors annually. Our new ranking indicates that this festive event has 220 stalls, 13.2 million TikTok views, and an overall Tripadvisor rating of 4.5. With up to 40,500 monthly searches, it’s clear that this is a popular destination among families and groups of friends to get in the festive spirit. This Christmas market is open for 41 days.
Manchester’s population has risen by 20,571 in the past year², impacting the footfall of public events. With this in mind, we recommend increasing vigilance in busy areas such as Christmas markets, including using temporary bollards such as our award-winning Matador Bollard System.
A close runner-up, Vienna is the second Christmas market on our new index. The Austrian market welcomes around 3 million visitors annually, is open for 45 days, features 150 stalls, boasts a trip advisor rating of 4.5, receives over 8,000 monthly searches, and has 1.5 TikTok views.
Open for 52 days, Birmingham’s Christmas market is the third-best, boasting 180 unique stalls and attracting a whopping 5.5 million visitors. The bustling Christmas market in the heart of Birmingham attracts millions on foot and has generated 2 million TikTok views and a large search volume of 33,100.
Paris takes the fourth spot in our study. As one of the world’s top tourist destinations with excellent transport links, this Christmas market draws in around 15 million visitors. The event features 200 stalls and boasts an impressive 4.5 Tripadvisor rating. This event is clearly popular, with an average monthly global search volume of 2,900 and 4.3 million TikTok views. This event is open to the public for 36 days.
Glasgow & Frankfurt
Paris is closely followed by Glasgow and Frankfurt, drawing in fifth place. Scotland and Germany are both favoured spots by many to enjoy the festivities. Located at St Enoch Square and George Square, the Glasgow Christmas market is open to the public for 46 days, boasting an array of 50 authentic stalls for all ages to enjoy.
Meanwhile, Frankfurt’s Christmas market offers visitors 240 exciting stalls and welcomes a yearly attendance of 3 million. The Frankfurt Christmas market is not only renowned for its sheer size and vast number of visitors but is one of the most significant Christmas markets in Germany, first originating in the early 13,000s.
Coming sixth in the ranking, Cologne’s Christmas market is a strong contender for festive events. Alongside a 5-star Tripadvisor rating, this event, for years, has remained a desired location attracting flurries of visitors; 4 million to be precise.
With routes straight from the Centre of London, visitors from the UK can get to Cologne on the Eurostar in under 5hrs 30mins from St Pancras International, with a quick train change in Brussels. In no time, many visitors can enjoy the 150 authentic stalls on offer and experience the authentic Christmas occasion.
Managing Director Sales at Heald GmbH , Michael Dahinten, comments on the key challenges faced when securing Christmas markets in Germany: “The most challenging situation is to ensure the defence points are closed in the inner city area. These must be securely closed, protecting the Christmas markets using hostile vehicle mitigation.
“It is also very important to merge the decision makers at the event. This collaboration is essential. All the installed HVM products must be crash-tested to IWA14 and PAS68 standards, and the HVM strategy must act as a part of the wider security concept – we install Heald’s Matador system to provide the ultimate protection.”
Brussels & Bruges
A match made in heaven. Brussels and Bruges’ Christmas markets make it to seventh and eighth place in our study, and being just an hour’s train journey away from each other, these two destinations are ideal places to celebrate the festive holiday.
Although Bruges Christmas market is considerably smaller than Brussels, these two markets draw in 3 million visitors and have garnered a search volume of 14,700. Moreover, Bruges takes centre stage when it comes to TikTok views, generating a huge 72.2 million views.
Dresden’s Striezelmarkt, one of the very first Christmas markets established in 1434, remains a captivating event. With an impressive annual turnout of 2.5 million, an extensive array of 240 stalls, and a 4.5 rating on Tripadvisor, this market has not lost its charm over the centuries.
It’s not just attendees from far and wide who love this famous market, but the ever-growing influence of TikTok, generating a staggering 33.8 million views. This event is open for 24 days.
Michael adds: “Installing a high-security barrier system can not always be ‘welcoming’ but has to give the real impression of security in order to protect people. In the modern-day security concept, HVM is vital to ensuring Christmas market protection. To get the job done and maintain a clear timeline, start as early as possible with planning.
“At Heald, we are proud to help and support the cities with our experience and expertise of certified products and successful installation processes.”
Winter Wonderland London & Nuremberg
In joint tenth place, we have London’s iconic Winter Wonderland and Nuremberg. Accumulating a joint TikTok view of 48.1 million, it’s safe to say these are well-loved festive events. Moreover, as London welcomes millions of visitors for Christmas shopping across the winter period, it’s no shock that the winter wonderland extravaganza attracts 3 million visitors on its own.
Nuremberg also welcomes 2 million attendees and holds a 4.5-star Tripadvisor rating.
Creating safe Christmas markets
With Christmas markets drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every winter, and this being the second year without Covid restrictions for many, it’s crucial to ensure the safety and security of these spaces to maximise attendance and provide safety.
Most UK and European Christmas markets are free to enter, posing challenges in managing pedestrian flow and ensuring order. At Christmas events, safety measures usually include pre-event planning with emergency services, increased police presence and a focus on barrier system installations. However, a good place to start is carrying out a risk assessment to protect crowds against potential threats.
During your risk assessment, we recommend considering entry points, vulnerable spaces and what security measures you will need. If you opt for perimeter security products, our experts can visit your site to help you decide what would be the best choice for the venue.
Surface and shallow mount products are ideal for temporary events because they require no excavation. Swift deployment and removal are facilitated, making them a convenient choice. Moreover, these products can seamlessly integrate into various environments with minimal retrofitting efforts.
Our Apex bollard is designed to enable simple and fast bollard installation in either a straight line or a curved array. The circular bollard is suitable for various aesthetic finishes and covers, providing seamless protection to both historic and contemporary architecture. Similarly, our Synergy range has been designed primarily for helping to secure locations where excavation presents significant challenges, such as bridges, inner cities, and footways. The crash-tested Synergy bollard system offers additional protection by anchoring the bollards into the ground upon impact, preventing the vehicle from penetrating the area the bollards are protecting.
Our hostile vehicle mitigation range has been crash-tested with stop trucks travelling at a particular speed for extra reassurance and to mitigate potential risks.
Looking to the future
While Christmas markets have evolved massively in the UK and Europe, discussions over safety issues and past events must continue to shape how the public will experience current and future markets.
To enhance safety at Christmas markets and ensure a comfortable atmosphere for the millions of attendees, event organisers should prioritise measures to prevent vehicle-related incidents, whether targeted or accidental.
Ensuring public safety should always be a high concern for event organisers. Due to the busy nature of winter events, they may face unexpected security challenges like any other large public gatherings. In light of the upcoming ‘Protect Duty’ legislation, local authorities and event organisers are encouraged to seek expert advice to implement suitable security measures and protect attendees.
We know that most authorities and organisers already consider this a priority, but this is just a polite reminder ahead of the festive season.
To learn more about which of our perimeter protection products is best for an upcoming festive event, please get in touch with our experts here: https://www.heald.uk.com/get-in-touch/
Manchester population taken from World Population Review, correct as of October 2023.