Just a few years ago, the nearby town of Carmel, Indiana created a new winter event – the Carmel Christkindlmarkt. For those of you who travel in Europe (especially Germany), this isn’t a new idea, in fact, Christkindlmarkts have been around for hundreds of years.
Since we live just a town over, the Carmel Christkindlmarkt has become a highlight of our holiday season. We visit at least two or three times each year, and for several years now I’ve participated in the media night – which is a great way to discover what is new for the season.
Since it began , the Carmel Christkindlmarkt has grown each year in both size an popularity. It has consistently been ranked one of the top Christkndlmarkts and holiday markets in the US each year by USA Today and other media sources.
What is a Christkindlmarkt?
A Christkindlmarkt is an open-air street market that pops up during the Christmas holiday season. A Christkindlmarkt typically has crafts, ornaments, and decorations associated with the holiday season for sale, delicious foods (often German or Swiss), and comforting drinks such as Glüwein (warm spiced wine).
Where is the Carmel Christkindlmarkt?
The Carmel Indiana Christkindlmarkt is set up south of downtown Carmel Indiana at Carter Green between the Palladium and Tarkington Theater. In the middle of the market is a large ice-skating rink so not only can you enjoy the market, you can get a little fun winter exercise at the same time.
Our Carmel Christkindlmarkt traditions
My son and I had the opportunity to attend the media day for the Carmel Christkindlmarkt for the first time in 2018 and for the last several years, my husband and I have gone. Even though temperatures have always been incredibly cold, and the skies are often grey, we’ve always had a marvelous time.
It’s become a kind of “kick-off” for our family for the holiday season. The market opens in mid-November. so after our first preview visit, we plan a family visit (or two) and start in on all the other holiday events in the area.
Thanks to plenty of parking on the street and several nearby (and free) parking garages, we had no trouble finding a close spot – I love that Carmel was very thoughtful in thinking about parking for their frequent events when planning the city center area.
If you arrive when the market is just opening, it will be less crowded to walk around the booths and chat with the various vendors. Every year we find some adorable decorations and ornaments that would make delightful and unique stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts.
Carmel Christkindlmarkt ice skating
Our teens love the ice skating rink, and we end up visiting it several times during the season. The rink is large, and you can bring your own skates or rent a pair. Sessions fill up quickly on the weekends. I highly recommend pre-purchasing a session so you won’t be disappointed.
Also although the market closes on December 24th, skating lasts through February (times do change from daily to weekends only) so it gives us another fun activity for the after-the-holidays slump. Ice skating at the Ice at Carter Green is always a highlight of our winter season in Indiana.
Taste of Europe in Indiana
The market has dozens of heated lamps and firepits scattered everywhere, which makes it easy to stop for a moment to warm up before continuing your journey. You can also warm yourself up with hot chocolate, yummy coffee drinks, or Glüwein.
Drinks to enjoy
At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the Glüwein – the first sip was pretty different, but after a few more I decided it was delicious! Each Christkindlmarkt has a unique mug that can be purchased for your Glüwein. If you were visiting a number of Christkindlmarkts or went back each year, it would be fun to purchase one from each and have a little collection.
I know quite a few local residents who purchase a new mug each year so they have a record of their annual Carmel Christkindlmarkt visits!
In addition to the Glüwein, there are a variety of other options. For the kids, there are several hot chocolate spots – and these are DECADENT hot chocolates. You can get coffee or hot cider, or if you prefer beer, there are selections from local breweries. In other words, truly something for everyone!
Foodies delight in the Carmel Christkindlmarkt
And oh the food! Through the years of visits, I’ve had the opportunity to sample almost all of the scrumptious food that is offered at the market. My favorite by far is the raclette. A big wheel of cheese is heated and then scraped onto a fresh baguette along with prosciutto, spiced mustard, onions, and pickles. So yummy.
Some other delicious options include warm waffles with sugar inside, yummy spiral potatoes on a stick, and of course, schnitzel. You’ll find a big grill with sausages – my son’s favorite booth, a brick oven flatbread station, and plenty of treats like popcorn and chocolates.
On at least one visit each year we make the food our focus, grab a variety of items to try, and then share them all. It’s a fun and tasty night!
Entertainment for everyone
As you stroll the booths, a variety of carolers and interesting characters are out and about to entertain you! Each year, a Christkind is selected to join the crowds, entertain the children, and portray the holiday spirit. When you visit, you might also see elves, magicians, or even Santa himself.
You’ll definitely want to check out the Kulturecke! It’s an exhibit that highlights the rich German-American history of Indiana, and it’s inside, so a nice respite if it’s a particularly cold evening. The Kulturecke was created in conjunction with the Indiana German Heritage Society and the Indiana Historical Society.
The kids’ corner, also known as the Kinderecke is another fun spot for families with younger kids. You’ll learn about some of the traditional decorations and Christmas traditions in Germany and have the opportunity to make your own creations.
What’s new at the Carmel Christkindlmarkt in 2023?
This year there will be a Sankt Martinstag celebration on November 25th. This is a traditional festival with paper lanterns, singing, and a processional around the market.
Also new in 2023 is a Kulturecke Docent scholarship. High school and college students can apply. They will spend time in the Kulturecke hut, greet visitors, and help educate them on the history presented.
The Carmel Christkindlmarkt officially opens in mid-November and will remain open until December 24th. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so plan accordingly. Admission is free, but bring money as you’ll want to sample the Glüwein and other goodies.
Each year there is a calendar with the schedule so you can pick the perfect night to visit – I’m already scouring it for a night my whole family can visit.
Where to stay when visiting the Carmel Christkindlmarkt?
👉 Ready to book your stay in Carmel to fully enjoy the Carmel Christkindlmarkt? Check rates at Booking.com for the gorgeous Hotel Carmichael – you’ll be minutes from downtown Carmel as well as the Christkindlmarkt.
FAQs: Carmel Christkindlmarkt
How much are Carmel Christkindlmarkt tickets?
It is free to enter and walk around the Carmel Christkindlmarkt.
How can I become a Carmel Christkindlmarkt volunteer?
Simply signup online – there are tons of volunteer opportunities, so if you want to be involved, odds are good there is a spot for you!
How much are Carmel Christkindlmarkt ice skating tickets?
Prices range from $9 – $15 for a one and a half hour session.
When did Carmel Christkindlmarkt start?
The first year for the Carml Christkindlmarkt was 2017.
Conclusion: Christkindlmarkt Carmel Indiana
After numerous trips and years of falling head over heels for the Carmel Christkindlmarkt, I can confidently say that this experience is a holiday event highlight in Indiana. It’s no wonder it has soared through the ranks to become one of the must-see holiday markets in the United States. I mean, USA Today can’t be wrong, right?
Visiting the Carmel Christkindlmarkt isn’t just a day out—it’s a tradition! From the mouthwatering raclette to our annual Glüwein mug collection, there’s something for everyone. And let’s not forget the ice skating! If you haven’t pre-booked your skating session, what are you waiting for? Trust me, you don’t want to miss gliding on that ice surrounded by twinkling lights and holiday cheer!