In 2019, we once again observed the power of Christmas markets to draw visitors, not only locals but out-of-towners, too. This reinforced the finding of a study conducted a few years ago by MK Illumination’s Business Development Director, Karl-Heinz König, and Dr. Eddy Donat from GMA, we surveyed around 1500 people and discovered that over the festive season, 64.2% of respondents had visited their local city center over the festive season, and that 59.6% of respondents had visited their local Christmas market.
We then questioned the Christmas market visitors further in order to understand what they valued about a Christmas market experience. The results?
As may be expected, the majority respondents initially visited a Christmas market to meet with friends, enjoy the food and drink stands, and do a bit of Christmas shopping. What was interesting was that a high percentage of visitors said that “atmosphere” and “Christmas feeling” were the main reasons for visiting.
When we started to ask more questions about what people valued at the market beyond the food, drink and stalls, the majority said that the festive lighting enhanced their experience, followed by the overall atmosphere, then the festive experience in the city as a whole, then related events, and finally a mix of the above along with the market offerings.
Festive lighting and atmosphere: inextricably linked
In our study, festive lighting and atmosphere were both considered important aspects of the festive experience, and for us, the two are inextricably linked.
Vision is our dominant sense, and we respond instantly to an atmosphere anchored with light. Light has been proven to be effective in controlling, enhancing and even altering mood, and it can (and is) used by professionals in a range of sectors to create a particular atmosphere that puts people in the right mood. At a rock concert, the lights might be harsh and energetic; in a prison interrogation room, brilliant white light reflects of stark, minimalistic surfaces to make it clear that nothing can be hidden; and at a Christmas market, warm white lights combined with careful design, greenery and splashes of festive color create a welcoming space that celebrates the season.
Creating the right atmosphere with light, design and creative thinking takes some time, because we need to understand the space, the audience, and the city’s objectives, but it’s time well-spent because right festive lighting can be used year after year, especially when the products are high quality and use LEDs, as do MK Illuminations.
But why is atmosphere important?
Atmosphere has the power to not only attract visitors to a Christmas market, but once visitors are in place, the right atmosphere has been proven to increase stays and make people happier. In a situation like a Christmas market, happier visitors are more likely to consume something: a mug of mulled wine, a tasty holiday treat, or a gift for friends or family. And when it comes to eating and drinking, once people have had one warm drink, they’re likely to have another if they are enjoying the atmosphere, and it’s chilly outside but psychologically “warm” at the market.
How can your city use this information to turn your Christmas market into a visitor magnet?
Here are our top tips to get you thinking:
- Choose the right space: location is everything, as is making sure that you have ample space for visitors to take their time.
- Know your visitors: are you catering primarily for locals or visitors from abroad? Use this knowledge to tailor your food, drink and buying options, as well as your festive lighting.
- Think about the atmosphere you want to create: dreamy and romantic? Warm and traditional? Colorful and avant garde?
- Start your planning early in the year: Christmas may seem like a long way away, but it takes time to plan the perfect festive experience.
Work with a profession festive lighting company who knows about Christmas markets. MK Illumination is a great place to start!
Need more help?
Get in touch – we’re full of good ideas and we’d love to share them with you.