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European Championships 2018

An international first

  • Where:  Six European Championships staged in 12 competition venues in Glasgow and other areas of Scotland including Balloch, Loch Lomond. Glasgow 2018 was co-host to Berlin, which staged the European Athletics Championships. Together, the venues hosted over 3,000 international elite athletes
  • When:  August 2018
  • Event Type:  Open Water Swimming European Championships 2018 for 127 elite international athletes
  • Audience:  Loch Lomond was selected by Glasgow 2018 for its world-class backdrop for broadcast media. The TV global audience reach was over 1.2 billion. Sports fans and visitors to Balloch were also welcome to attend the non-ticketed event but open water swimming is not a good spectator sport and does not typically attract the audience to the venue: Loch Lomond’s iconic setting contributed to securing 10 days of live coverage. The power of broadcast in reaching a significant international audience was the primary reason for the major investment

Here is a flavour of sport and culture coming together to create an international festival that appeals to a wider audience and maximises the economic benefits of both:


Masterminded and delivered by Glasgow 2018, the vision was to create a ‘must-watch’, ‘must-attend’ experience elevating the status of European champions. The event built on Glasgow’s success and experience of delivering the 2014 Commonwealth Games. For athletes, spectators and broadcast viewers the event created a new highlight on the sporting calendar which reached beyond dedicated fans to a much broader audience. Glasgow 2018 also set out to continue to deliver sporting, economic, cultural and social legacy for Glasgow and Scotland.


This was an international first: the European Championships were a new concept. The spring of 2018 had already experienced the World Cup and the marketing campaign for the European Championships did not kick-in until competing events had finished. Many venues required new and/or improved sporting infrastructure. This was the first time Glasgow City Council had collaborated with so many local authorities and other agencies across Scotland as delivery partners on an event of this scale and it was the first time Glasgow 2018 also set up and supported a programme of cultural festivals to complement the sporting events.

Funding Model

Mixture of public and private sponsorship.  Overarching sponsors and sport-specific funding.

Ongoing Sustainability

A new concept, the European Championships harnessed the collective power of existing European sporting events, including Athletics, Aquatics, Cycling, Gymnastics, Rowing and Triathlon, along with a new European level competition for Golf. In one sense, the existing games have proven their sustainability by virtue of their legacies, the new concept of bringing these competitions together for a 10-day festival of sport was the untested model. Drawing on experience of hosting the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games,  Glasgow 2018 targeted key events for ticket sales, whilst maximising TV coverage opportunities to present Scotland to a new sporting audience.

The project was a success. The findings from the evaluation research were outstanding: achieving targets for ticket sales; exceeding targets for TV audience figures; positive feedback from sporting federations;  ticket buyers satisfaction; attendee pride; inspiration by attendees to do more sport; and over £256 million of broadcast value in PR terms. Discussions are underway with the next potential host city.

The learnings and experience of Glasgow 2018 will be taken forward and shared with other partners towards attracting and delivering other major international events of scale in Scotland.

Benefits and opportunities

Across the Championships there was significant investment in infrastructure leaving a physical legacy in the places that hosted events.  A  BMX centre was created in Glasgow – a new excellent community facility, which will enable future competitions to take place.

At Balloch, Loch Lomond, the Open Water Swimming competition was broadcast across Europe, showcasing our landscape to over 1 billion viewers (and potential visitors to Scotland) worldwide.

As part of the overall sporting programme there was a commitment to delivering an authentic cultural festival that would welcome visitors to the championships and encourage them to engage with our communities and businesses. As a host venue, Loch Lomond had the opportunity to create a local cultural event during the swimming competitions.

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