Carmel holiday market attendance more than doubles in second year

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Attendance during the 2018 Carmel Christkindlmarkt more than doubled compared with the inaugural year, according to numbers released Thursday by the city.

The second season of the German-themed holiday market drew 328,000 people to Carmel’s Center Green during the 26-day run from mid-November to Dec. 23. Carmel city officials told IBJ the numbers were calculated through a geofencing system since the event is free to attend and does not require a ticket for entry.  

In its inaugural year, the market drew in about 150,000 guests over the same number of days.

Sales revenue in 2018 also increased 60 percent compared with 2017, rising from $1.39 million to $2.23 million.

Maria Murphy, CEO and market master, attributed the growth to changes made ahead of  the new season. The not-for-profit that runs the event expanded the market’s footprint to ease congestion, increased the number of huts, and added more food, beverage and entertainment options.

"The Christkindlmarkt team is thrilled with the results of the 2018 market,” Murphy said in written comments. “Our No. 1 goal was to hear and respond to the feedback of our guests in 2017. I believe that we did so, and feedback from our 2018 guests confirms this. We look forward to improving the market every year.”

The not-for-profit added several new features this season, including the Gluhwein Pyramide made by German nutcracker maker Steinbach, a children’s activity center and fire-pit tables for added warmth.

A complete market report will be presented to the Carmel City Council, which contributed $125,000 to the market in 2018, after the close of the fiscal year in April.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, whose vision led to the creation of the Christkindlmarkt, applauded this year’s season. Center Green is a popular destination during warm months for a variety of events, including a farmer’s market. Brainard championed the market and sister ice rink as a way to extend the whir of activity through the winter, bringing visitors to the area who also might shop at nearby businesses.

Organizers said the latest market attracted visitors from 45 U.S. states and from 84 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

“Our market is becoming an annual tradition and a destination holiday event for families from all of the country,” Brainard said in written comments. “Amenities such as this are a key reason why Carmel is on the map when it comes to identifying the best places to live, work and raise a family in the U.S.”

Carmel Christkindlmarkt by the numbers

Ice skaters: 19,809 in 2018 (16,709 in 2017).

Corporate sponsorships: $24,000 in 2018 ($5,000).

Local business involvement: 29 central Indiana businesses (12 last year). Fifteen of the businesses were from Carmel and seven were new businesses launched to participate in the market.

Gluhwein (hot spiced wine): 30,000 cups sold.

Hot chocolate: 26,000 cups sold.

Pretzels: 11,500 sold.

Beer and Gluhbier (mulled beer): 5,400 sold.

Raclette cheese sandwiches: 10,000 sold.

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