A Carmel Christmas Tradition
Third Annual Christkindlmarkt Returns With New Features
Photography Provided by Beth Maier
Interested in a bit of cultural enlightenment to go with your holiday celebrations this season? Make your way over to Carmel’s Christkindlmarkt at 10 Center Green.
More than 50 vendor booths are scheduled for the five-week event, which features food, drinks, decorations, shopping and activities, all in the spirit of an old-world German Christmas market.
“From the start, we’ve tried to create an authentic German experience that our guests can engage with,” says Market Master and CEO Maria Murphy. “We have some new additions and new vendors this year like the Frankenmuth Clock Company out of Michigan, founded by a German immigrant, that does handcrafted cuckoo clocks. There’s a lot here for guests to be part of.”
For the first time since the event began in 2017, Christkindlmarkt (literally translated as “Christ child market”) officials have partnered with the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana German Heritage Society for a sponsored exhibit that highlights the influence German immigrants have had on the Hoosier state and the country.
“German immigrants were a large percentage of the founding members of our state, and they’ve had an enormous impact on architecture, education – you name it,” says Murphy, who speaks German and lived in Germany for a year during high school back in 2005 and 2006 upon being awarded a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange scholarship.
“The exhibit will talk about those influences, as well as the aspects of Christmas that were spread to the U.S. because of German immigrants,” Murphy says. “The Christmas tree, ornaments, candy canes, gingerbread houses – these all originated in Germany.”
Now in its third year, the event was an instant success back in 2017 with more than 150,000 attendees. Last year, that number grew to more than 320,000, and Murphy hopes the turnout will continue to increase this season.
Make sure to bring the whole family as there’s something at the market for all ages, with demonstrations, live music, skating sessions available at The Ice at Center Green, and special events. Stop by the Glühwein Pyramid, a 10-ton, 33-foot structure with more than 3,000 lights and rotating fan blades, for mulled wines, German beers and additional assorted holiday drinks.
Murphy says several of this year’s Christkindlmarkt additions and upgrades are of the culinary variety. Ever tried flammkuchen? Follow your nose to the wood-burning oven onsite where the savory Swiss-German dish will be available.
“It’s basically a personal-sized flatbread pizza in the German style, so instead of marinara it’s made with creme fraiche sauce, green onions and chives, and then bacon pieces and a mix of spices,” Murphy explains. “You can see them being put into the oven and see your pizza being made onsite. It is just delicious.”
Those sampling the hot chocolate at the market will likely notice a distinct difference in taste from previous years. Murphy worked with Chicago-based Bob’s Belgian Hot Chocolate to bring an authentic flavor to Carmel.
“We wanted to make a statement this year with our hot chocolate and upgrade it,” Murphy says. “Bob’s actually pulverizes their imported Belgian chocolate into a fine powder and uses whole milk and a heavy whipping cream. It’s some of the best hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted.”
Returning food selections this year include German soft pretzels known as laugenbrezel, and raclette, a Swiss-German dish made with cheese that’s melted and scraped onto a plate with bread and charcuterie.
There are a few new activities available for youngsters this year as well – they’ll have the opportunity to stop by the Kinderecke, located between the Pyramid and The Tarkington Theatre, to make ornaments, enjoy coloring sheets and word searches, build and create with seasonal art supplies in a Maker Space, and more.
While living it up at the Kinderecke hut, kids can fill out a Kinder Club Passport, which they can get stamped at any vendor that features a passport symbol. Kids that collect five stamps can present their passport at the Guest Services hut for a prize.
“This year we think there will be more opportunities for all generations than ever before to experience old-world German traditions and culture,” Murphy says.
Third Annual Carmel Christkindlmarkt
When: Now through December 24.
Where: 10 Center Green in Carmel (between The Palladium and The Tarkington Theatre)
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
Admission info: Free to the public. Fees are incurred for those interested in purchasing items from vendors. Info on ticket prices for The Ice at Center Green can be found at theiceatcentergreen.com.
Parking: Limited on-street parking is available, and additional parking can be found at Veterans Way Garage at Carmel City Center.
For additional information including a full listing of events and frequently asked questions, explore carmelchristkindlmarkt.com or call 317-559-6608.