Planning a Christmas festival is a great way to boost your brand, but since Christmas falls during an event-heavy time of the year, it’s important to make sure that your event stands out. Events during the winter holidays are the perfect way to take advantage of the festive spirit and create a memorable experience that attendees will forever associate with your brand.

Christmas festivals and markets that focus on shopping, food, drinks, and holiday fun are popular worldwide. These markets tend to be popular in major cities such as New York or London, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be recreated locally. From drinking glühwein in Germany to watching the annual Lucia procession in Denmark, there are amazing international traditions associated with Christmas markets. Unfortunately, travel has been difficult for many people over the past couple of years, so turning your event into a ‘Christmas around the world’ party is one way to attract potential attendees itching for an international experience.

When planning a Christmas market, it’s important to think about the people in your community who are likely to attend. Many crave connection and togetherness during the winter holidays, which has been lacking as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Consider Christmas festival activities that embrace both the local and global community in a way that will leave everyone feeling included, and like they’ve experienced something new.

In this guide, we’ll discuss important aspects of a Christmas fair, like Christmas food, holiday drinks, and shopping. We’ve also spoken with an experienced Eventbrite creator who has hosted successful Christmas market events for six years in various cities and gathered their best tips for planning a Christmas fair.

What to include in a Christmas market

The things you include in your Christmas market will depend on a number of factors, including the audience you’re looking to target, your event’s theme, the size of your venue, and any safety precautions you need to follow. Still, Christmas markets tend to bring certain things to mind for potential attendees: food, shopping, activities, and entertainment.

Food

Christmas food around the world is about decadence and celebration, so you want the food at your Christmas market to bring joy to your attendees. Consider incorporating holiday favorites, like German Christmas market food. Think beer and sausages, as well as sweet treats from local vendors. You’ll want to have a variety of Christmas market food stalls to cater to lots of different dietary restrictions and preferences.

Look to your local community when reaching out to food vendors, since they will be both physically closer to your event, and they may already be known to your potential attendees. Vendors will have the opportunity to introduce their food to hungry people on foot enjoying your market, and you will demonstrate your support of local businesses.

Shopping

Including shopping stalls at your Christmas festival is an excellent idea since people are looking for unique gifts for their loved ones during the winter holidays. A Christmas market combines a festive activity with a productive holiday shopping trip.

Consider your audience when choosing the types of vendors you wish to participate in your event. If you’re leaning into the ‘Christmas around the world’ theme, you may want to consider working with vendors from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures. You can focus on local vendors only for a truly community-oriented event or an event that’s focused on sustainable shopping practices. If you’re looking to target a craftier crowd interested in artisanal goods, then you may want to advertise your Christmas market as a local craft fair.

Activities

When you imagine a Christmas market, it’s hard not to think of an ice-skating rink right in the middle of it. This might not be possible at every venue, but there are plenty of other activities to consider incorporating into your event that will give your attendees an excuse to stick around longer.

When targeting an audience that includes parents of young children, or the children themselves, think about having Santa Claus present to take pictures with and listen to Christmas wishes. Create a mailbox that children can drop their letters to Santa into for safe mailing, or have a crafts table where children and their parents can put together ornaments or other holiday decorations.

Entertainment

Keep your audience’s energy up with live music rather than the same set of songs piped through a speaker system over and over. Reach out to local artists interested in playing some holiday favorites along with a sprinkling of their own original music. These kinds of community events are also a good opportunity to include the musical groups from local schools. Invite choirs, bands, and orchestras to perform some Christmas classics for the family and neighbors.

If your event has a crafting theme or component, invite local artisans and businesses to run workshops where they teach attendees how to create thoughtful, handmade gifts or new skills that they can put to use during the holidays. A local florist can show people how to arrange perfect Christmas centerpieces, or a wine shop owner or sommelier can talk to groups about pairing holiday dinners with the perfect wine.

Tips for making your Christmas festival a success

Plan for the weather

Christmas markets are often held in outdoor spaces, and depending on where your market is located, you may need to prepare for different types of weather. If your area is prone to snow, have a process for shoveling and keeping pathways safe for attendees. Have a plan in place for informing vendors and attendees if the weather is bad enough that the market needs to be postponed or relocated.

When planning an outdoor Christmas fair in a cold climate, think about ways to keep your attendees and your vendors warm. Rent heat lamps for outdoor seating areas where attendees might sit down to take a break or eat. Provide warm drinks for purchase like hot apple cider, glühwein (which can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic), hot chocolate, and coffee.

Keep your attendees safe

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, so it’s important to keep all local regulations and restrictions in mind when planning an event. Make sure your market is organized in a way that takes into account applicable social distancing guidelines, mask mandates, and vaccination requirements.

If alcohol is being sold or served, ensure you have a process in place for checking IDs and use a system to identify attendees who are over 21, such as hand stamps or wristbands.

Keep pathways dry and ice-free so no one slips as they browse the market.

Create stand out marketing for your audience

During the winter holidays, you’ll be competing with lots of different events for attendees, so it’s important to create a promotional plan that focuses on the unique aspects of your event. Highlight popular vendors or artists who will be present at your event. Consider offering discounts for early-bird ticket buyers or special discounts on vendor wares for attendees who buy their tickets prior to the event. Even if your event is free to attend, you need to capture the attention of your audience.

Create a catchy hashtag and encourage attendees to post pictures on social media with it to further promote your event while it’s happening. Make sure you record pictures and video of the event that you can use as collateral for marketing your event next year.

Find the best partners and sponsors for your event

When seeking out vendors, partners, and sponsors for your event, think about the values that are important to your brand or organization. If your event has a focus on sustainability, you want to make sure that your vendors are conscious of ethical and low-waste manufacturing processes.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to finding partners and sponsors, put together a wish list of the kinds of organizations you’d most love to work with. Then narrow your list down to the organizations that will most appeal to your audience and will work best with your vision.

Give your Christmas fair a charitable component

Entertain your community and give back when planning a Christmas market. If attendees are paying for tickets, consider donating a portion of your proceeds to an organization with a mission that connects with your brand. Think about reaching out to your vendors and partners and discuss the possibility of them donating a portion of their proceeds from the event to the charity as well.

If you’re partnering with particular nonprofit organizations, give those organizations a free booth or table at the Christmas market where they can provide attendees with more information about their mission and accept extra donations.

Fight For Something’s advice for an amazing Christmas event

The cofounders of Fight For Something, Mitch Reaume and Becky Sturm, are two entrepreneurs who started the Minnesota Christmas Market six years ago with charitable goals in mind.

“First, we wanted to create wins for the small business community here in Minnesota and make it easy for customers to shop local for the holidays,” says Reaume. “Second, we wanted to create an event that would fight for kids and see business used for good here in the Twin Cities.”

Their annual event is a pop-up holiday market that showcases local brands and makers, and all of the vendors donate 7% of their sales to a local charity that fights for kids in the Twin Cities. That means the Christmas Market both supports local businesses while offering “an opportunity for people to make a positive impact, not only in their local economy but also in some of [the] state’s most important nonprofits that are fighting for kids.”

Though the event began in a single location with only a few hundred guests, it has now grown to a multi-date, multi-location undertaking that is expected to draw over 20,000 attendees. The market incorporates food, shopping, drinks, and local music. “Over the years we’ve gotten to know some of the hardest-working and most loved small businesses in the state,” Reaume says. “We bring them all together under one roof during the holiday season for the best possible local pop-up market you can find.”

When it comes to advice about planning a similar event, Reaume encouraged other creators to think about what means the most to them. “You’ve got to care about why you’re doing it. Becky and I work well together because she is more committed to supporting local businesses than anyone I know, and I carry a similar conviction around wanting to see business used to do good. We work great together because ultimately, we actually believe in what we’re building and think that’s important.”

Ready to host a Christmas festival?

If you’ve already planned your Christmas market event and you’ve got your vendors ready to go, post your event for free online and promote it in Eventbrite’s marketplace. Need help promoting your event with email and on social media? Eventbrite Boost makes it easy to meet new people and build your brand so you can sell more tickets to your next event.

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