The Carmel Christkindlmarkt will bring glitz and gluhwein back to the Carter Green this year after 2020’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christkindlmarkt CEO Maria Murphy said organizers aren’t sure whether it will draw 300,000-plus visitors, as it did when the event was last held in 2019, but they are happy it’s coming back.
“It’s any man’s guess whether COVID will make people want to come out more,” Murphy said. “It’s possible people will come out in droves, and of course there’s the possibility that there will be hesitation around events like this. But if vendor reaction is any indication of guest reaction, we will have more than we’ve ever had before.”
Carmel Christkindlmarkt was launched with 40 vendor huts in 2017, then grew to 47 vendors in 2018 and 52 in 2019. Though Murphy would like to grow the list of vendor, last year’s hiatus has put a pause on those plans.
“Due to budget constraints going into 2021 due to not having the market in 2020, we are choosing not to grow the number of huts available,” Murphy said. “We will be adjusting some of the vendors to create diversity and interest, but we will not be growing the number of huts.”
Opening day for both the German-themed Christmas festival and the adjoining public skating at the Ice at Carter Green is set for Nov. 20. The holiday market is scheduled to be open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and from noon to 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas Eve.
Murphy said the Christkindlmarkt is entering into its 2021 season in a strong financial position.
“Not having the market in 2020 of course meant that we did not have the [raise money from] the vendors, which is what allows us to do the entertainment and cultural elements at the market and pay staff and those things,” Murphy said. “We have the funding we need to do that. The unfortunate part is we had lots of dreams of expansion and development that won’t be able to happen this year.”
Dan McFeely, Carmel’s spokesperson and president of the board of the Christkindlmarkt, said in an email that the city provided $420,000 in grant funding in the festival’s first year and another $125,000 the second. The city hasn’t committed funds to the market since then, and he said there are no plans to request money this year.
Murphy said Christkindlmarkt will still be adding new features to previous years’ signature offerings. Vendor Monica Urick, of Urick Concessions, will be introducing a new cone-shaped pastry with various fillings called Baumstriezel.
“We hated to have to close last year, but the safety of our residents and visitors was our top priority,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said in a written statement. “We are thrilled that this incredible attraction, that visitors from all over the Midwest have enjoyed by the tens of thousands, is back and will be live this coming holiday season.”