As Christmas markets worldwide make a comeback following the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study from the UK’s leading specialists in hostile vehicle mitigation, Heald, has ranked Europe’s top ten best Christmas markets. Manchester tops the list, and Heald’s managing director offers security tips to event organisers and local authorities.
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 Heald’s Christmas market index, the top ten in Europe are:
Glasgow (UK), Frankfurt (Germany)
Winter Wonderland London (UK), Nuremberg (Germany)
The study highlights Manchester’s Christmas market as Europe’s favourite, drawing in an average of 9 million visitors annually. Heald’s 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.
Additionally, Manchester’s population has risen by 20,571 in the past year, which will undoubtedly further impact the footfall of public events.
Top ways to create a safe Christmas market
Most Christmas markets in Europe are free to enter, posing challenges in managing pedestrian flow and ensuring order. Christmas market organisers should consider crowd control measures as a solution, such as surface and shallow mount security systems and temporary barrier systems, which are easy to install and remove. These products can seamlessly integrate into various environments with minimal retrofitting efforts.
Heald’s Managing Director, Debbie Heald MBE, comments on what event organisers and local authorities can do to ensure they’re hosting a secure Christmas market: “Our new ranking highlights the widespread popularity and vibrancy of Christmas markets throughout the UK and Europe. While Christmas markets have evolved massively in these locations, it’s essential that discussions over safety issues and past events continue to shape how the public will experience current and future markets.
“When organising an event, it’s crucial to prioritise security from the very beginning. Start by conducting a risk assessment to safeguard the wellbeing of the crowds. During this assessment, consider factors like emergency vehicle access, identifying vulnerable areas, and determining the necessary security measures to ensure everyone’s safety. Additionally, ensure to include measures such as bag checks, security personnel, CCTV surveillance, first aid stations, and clear signage to provide visitors with a sense of security and reassurance.
“In bustling winter events, traffic congestion can be a significant challenge, making it important to implement effective traffic and access control measures. These measures help maintain smooth and organised operations and ensure a positive experience for visitors.”
Two more UK cities in Heald’s top five are Birmingham, which is in third place, and Glasgow, which ranks joint fifth with the German market, Frankfurt. These festive events draw in over 6 million visitors annually, offering 180 stalls in Birmingham and 50 in Glasgow.
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.”
It is also important to consider how the public perceives physical security, especially in an urban city centre environment. The look and feel of a public space doesn’t need to be compromised by safety. For example, many perimeter security solutions can be supplied with different cover types and lighting to help with enhanced visibility, and to fit within specific aesthetics.
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.
Debbie continues: “Ensuring public safety should always be a priority for event organisers. To enhance safety at Christmas markets and ensure a comfortable atmosphere for the millions of attendees, event organisers, if not already doing so, should prioritise adequate but also non-aggressive safety measures to prevent the impact of unanticipated vehicle-related incidents.
“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 the best Christmas markets across Europe and how event organisers can ensure safety at public events, please visit: https://www.heald.uk.com/news/top-ten-christmas-markets-in-europe/