With over 800,000 visitors expected to have come to the Belfast Christmas Market by close of business this Sunday, it looks like this year’s targets will have been exceeded, providing clear evidence just how popular the Christmas Market continues to be. The Lord Mayor of Belfast played host to market operators Market Place and an array of suppliers, traders and VIP’s who had come together to celebrate 10 wonderful years of the much loved, award-winning Belfast Christmas Market Addressing the 100 guests at the City Hall on Sunday evening, the Lord Mayor spoke passionately about her love of the Market and all that it brings to the city.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Cllr Nichola Mallon, applauded the record-breaking figures for the market.
“For many families, the opening of the market at the front of City Hall marks the beginning of the festive season.”
she said.
“I am delighted that after a decade of successful trading, this year’s figures are set to be the best yet – proof that Belfast is buzzing and continues to be a big attraction for shoppers”.
“This award-winning venture is consistently listed in the ‘top 3’ markets to visit in Europe and it is great news that it generates £26m for our surrounding businesses in the city centre”.

She added:
“Belfast really is the place to be this Christmas. We have such a positive message to share and I feel really proud of what we are offering locals and visitors this Christmas and NewYear”.

Market Place Europe's Allan Hartwell, The Lord Mayor Cllr Nichola Mallon and Nabma President
Market Place Europe’s Allan Hartwell, The Lord Mayor Cllr Nichola Mallon and Nabma President

Since the continental traders first appeared in the grounds of City Hall in 2004, the market has grown from 30 gazebo stalls to become a seasonal feature of the city which is home to over 90 hand built wooden chalets. The Christmas Market makes an impressive annual contribution of £26million to Belfast’s economy. Market Place employs over 60 local people to help, build, promote and provide security for the market. Nearly 35% of traders are local with many also trading in St George’s throughout the year.

The Pitch Perfect competition annually supports a young business offering entrants the opportunity to win a sponsored chalet for the duration of the market. Husband and wife team Bill and Caroline Skillen, with their company ‘Art on the Tin’ are this year’s lucky winners and they have been delighted with how well their products have been received by the public.

With over 800,000 visitors expected to have visited the market by close of business on Sunday 21st, it looks like this year’s targets will have been exceeded, providing clear evidence just how popular the Christmas Market continues to be.

Allan Hartwell, Managing Director of Market Place said:
“This year has been another great success for the traders. As we would expect weekends have been our busiest time during which we have welcomed on average 65,000 people to the market on a Saturday and Sunday. This year we have worked hard to improve upon the look and feel of the market and the feedback has been very positive.”

Market Place has also been committed to ensuring their time here has benefited the local community, in ten years over £50,000 has been raised by charities who have made use of the Santa’s Grotto, kindly donated each year to a charity of the Lord Mayor’s choice; this year the benefiting charity is Youth Link. Traders also donate 100’s of products, which are given to charities across the city to auction.

This year the market has played host to the first ever Giving Tree in the city in partnership with Giving Northern Ireland. Market Place are passionate about education and in the last ten years have provided free educational tours of Belfast Christmas Market (which are supported by a downloadable teaching aid called the Education Passport) for over 500 school groups. Led by Market Manager Norman Cotton they fill quickly each year.

President of NABMA Mick Barker said:
”We have always known how committed Market Place are to having a positive impact on the towns and cities they visit, but it was with such pleasure that we got to listen to the wonderful stories about the impact on the Belfast they have had and the relationships that have contributed to the event over the years. It was a privilege to be a guest at the celebratory event and we are delighted to see the high regard with which the market is held in by the citizens of Belfast and beyond”.

Consistently voted in the top 3 Christmas Markets in Europe Belfast Christmas Market last year became ‘The UK’s Favourite Christmas Market,’ an accolade they have held onto in 2014.