If there is a magic mix to creating a successful Christmas Market then it seems Market Place are the guardians of the secret recipe.
At the NABMA conference in January, Europe’s largest specialist market operators took the title of Best Large Specialist Market 2015 for Belfast Christmas Market. This type of success is not unfamiliar to the team headed by Allan Hartwell, Nick Rhodes and Ian Hill, this is their third win in four years (previously taking the title for Exeter in 2014 and Belfast in 2012).
Allan Hartwell, Managing Director of Market Place said:
“We are thrilled to be recognised once again by the industry for our hard work and dedication to the delivery of quality specialist market events. Belfast holds a special place in our hearts, not just because it is home to our first large market, but because of the positive impact we have witnessed the growth of the market have in social and economic terms for the city. We have grown with New Belfast and we feel immensely proud to have been part of the transition of the city”
Having recently celebrated 10 years, Belfast Christmas Market was the first of the large-scale festive markets operated by Market Place and the landscape of the city they now call their second home was very different. In the dark distant past of 2004, Market Place took a chance on a city battered by the past and struggling to shake their negative reputation. Together they have witnessed the evolution of the city, now recognised as one of the most popular places to visit in Europe.
The reputation of the Belfast Christmas Market could be attributed to a number of factors, not least the bespoke hand crafted chalets, the effort the traders make to dress their stalls, the sweet smell of Gluwhein and Market Place’s dedication to the delivery of high quality events. But a closer look reveals the quiet way in which Market Place have worked steadily to engage the people of the city and why they now welcome visitors in their millions (this year footfall reached a staggering 1008,000) through the gates of City Hall.
Their commitment to education has seen Market Place host over 10,000 young people on free educational tours (supported by ‘The Education Passport’ a downloadable teaching aid), learning about the Christmas traditions of each country represented and sampling the products. Charitable work undertaken by Market Place has resulted in tens of thousands of pounds being raised for a number of local charities among them Barnardo’s NI, The Fostering Network and the Children’s Hospice for Northern Ireland. This along with their ongoing support of young business through the Pitch Perfect competition (which offers young businesses a sponsored chalet at the Christmas Market) is what sets the company apart, Market Place don’t just want to deliver a market, they want to become part of the fabric of the towns and cities they visit, maybe that’s the secret to their success.