When you think of events that evoke and conjure up a magical atmosphere it’s hard to go past German Christmas markets.
The enduring power and draw of these events has always intrigued me - so last Christmas I packed my beanie and gloves and travelled to Munich to see first hand what it is that makes these markets world famous and attract visitors from across the globe.
As a Christmas junkie and ready to tick off a lifelong bucket list item, I was not only excited to finally experience these markets but was also incredibly curious to see what makes them such an enduring success.
A tough gig but someone had to do it!
What I found was that these markets deliver exactly what they promise - they are magical and enchanting.
They have a unique ability to transport visitors into a fairytale-like atmosphere, evoking a sense of wonder and joy as well as childhood nostalgia, returning adults to a time when Christmas was all about the magic.
Of course none of this is actually surprise.
Where my curiosity really lied was ‘how do the markets do this?’
And the answer lies in something I am very passionate about - sensory event design.
As humans, our senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste are always in operation, and our whole bodies are sensory organisms, processing information from our environment and sending it up to our brains to help determine how we function and feel in any given setting.
Our senses are the ultimate hack for creating social connections, absorbing and retaining information, stimulating ideas, providing feelings of comfort and wellbeing, and reaching our potential.
More and more studies are revealing just how much things like natural light, sound, taste, touch and visual sensory experiences impact us. These things affect our mood, concentration, learning, can reduce stress via reductions in blood pressure and heart rate, can impact our alertness during the day and our sleep at night, and increase productivity and self-reported rates of wellbeing.
There is countless research on how activating our various senses actually impacts how we experience or perceive a situation.
The German Christmas Markets know this all too well. This is where their success lies.
They engage all the senses, creating a multi-dimensional experience that leaves a lasting impression.
Here is a little snapshot of my observations….
Essentially, the markets stay on brand, never diverting from it. It’s not about being grand, it’s about being authentic, charming and having character.
Every stakeholder is engaged and makes the effort to be part of this magic.
Every detail is carefully curated to maintain the magical illusion. Visitors can fully immerse themselves in the experience, feeling like they have stepped into a storybook world.
The markets tap into the magic of Christmas, evoke nostalgia, and provide a sense of wonder that transcends age and cultural boundaries. It's no wonder that they attract visitors from across the globe, eager to experience the enchantment firsthand.
Georgie Stayches is Founder and Chief Engagement Officer of Fetching Events & Communications, a boutique agency specialising in event management, communications and volunteer management. Fetching Events & Communications specialises in working with NGOs, NFPs, peak bodies, associations and community groups.