Christkindlmarkt, a traditional, authentic German Market, has returned to Carmel for the seventh year, according to Carmel Christkindlmarkt CEO Maria Murphy. This German-inspired market mirrors ones that can be seen all over Europe, Murphy said. When it first began in Germany, it was a barter marketplace for people to exchange things for the holidays. Butchers would bring meat for people to get their holiday meals, farmers would bring their produce and the woodworkers would bring their handmade toys, Murphy said. The market is currently open and will run until Dec. 24 and market hours are available to view on Carmel Christkindlmarkt’s website.
“It’s much like our farmer’s markets during the summer,” Murphy said. “You’re going to see one in Noblesville and Fishers and in Indianapolis and that’s how it is in Germany with the Christkindlmarkt. There’s one in every little town and it kind of takes on the essence of the area that it’s in.”
The Carmel Christkindlmarkt strives to be the most authentic Christkindlmarkt in the United States, according to Murphy. The market does this by mirroring food that you would typically see in a German Christkindlmarkt, Murphy said.
“We have bratwurst, we have open fire, we have something called chimney cakes or Baumstützchen, and that’s a pastry dough that’s wrapped around a rolling pin, cooked on a rotisserie, and when you take the dough off the rolling pin, it keeps its form so it looks like a little cylinder. And the steam comes out of the center of the cylinder, making it look a little bit like a chimney,” Murphy said. “Belgian waffles, imported sugar crystals from Belgium, hot chocolate…a type of mulled spiced wine that is very popular in German Christmas markets…Cuckoo clocks, jewelry that is designed in Germany, and then glass clothes, hand painted ornaments, porcelain. The list just goes on and on.”
The Carmel Christkindlmarkt was named the Best Holiday Market in 2021 by USA Today’s 10Best. In addition, the Market received the distinction of being named the top Christmas Market in the state of Indiana by Taste of Home Magazine in 2017. This year, it has been ranked as No. 4 in Yelp’s top ten holiday markets, according to the Indy Star. Carmel resident Jodi Rana said visitors should be prepared for large crowds of people when they visit Carmel’s Christkindlmarkt.
“It’s a real honor to be nationally the number one Christkindlmarkt in the United States by USA Today for years. And we’re up for it again this year… we should know by mid-December if we won again. So, yeah, it’s a real honor,” Murphy said. “I do think that those rankings have had an impact and have brought more people to the market and given more awareness of the market to audiences, so, I’m very grateful. It is a contest where people vote. So, it really is our guests who have come and enjoyed the market who have made that recognition possible.”
The national ranking was well-earned by the market, Rana said. She said the market has excellent hot chocolate and a fun opportunity to watch other visitors ice skate.
“They had ice skating and they had a band there,” Rana said. “They had all the different vendors with, you know, different drinks and foods and stuff. So yeah, I think, I would agree with that [ranking].”
There is no cost to attend the market and parking is free, according to Carmel Christkindlmarkt’s website. Additionally, the market offers free music on the winter pavilion, a free kids area on the east patio and free meet and greets with Santa with musical entertainment for kids, Murphy said.
“If someone was on the budget, if they wanted to come, they could enjoy all of those amenities, watch the ice skating, bring their own hot chocolate in their thermos, bring their own snacks, and literally come and enjoy an amazing market experience without paying a dime,” Murphy said. “I grew up with seven brothers and sisters, so, when my family went to do something, it was ten people with my parents. And so these types of events, when you have to pay for the parking, and pay for admission, and pay for going, I’d beg for that, it was not possible. So it’s really actually important to me that I keep it affordable for guests.”
The market also offers an opportunity for visitors to watch artisans from Germany do their craft live, Murphy said. This is an area for visitors to see how the traditional Christmas decorations that you find at the market are made, according to Carmel Christkindlmarkt’s website. The 2023 Werkstatt, or workshop, artisan schedule is available to view on the Carmel Christkindlmarkt’s website.
“The one thing that people shouldn’t miss while at the market is going in and checking out the Werkstatt [workshop] because these are world renowned artisans from Germany who very rarely leave their area where they live, because they have people coming to them to see their craft,” Murphy said. “So we go way above and beyond to attract them to the market, and it’s just such a unique experience to be able to watch them doing their craft.”