Each winter, traditional Christkindlmarkts (“Christ child markets”) pop up in cities across Germany, offering one-stop outlets for festive seasonal shopping, eating, and drinking. This year, Carmel gets into the holiday spirit with an event of its very own.
Taking over the outdoor expanse between the Palladium and the Tarkington Theater, the inaugural Carmel Christkindlmarkt charms at first sight with rows of Christmas light–strewn wooden booths lining an ice-skating rink decked out for the occasion with greenery and more lights. Vendors propose an inventory of classic German holiday items to browse, from handsome nutcrackers, Moravian stars, and beer steins to hand-carved wooden weihnachtspyramide (Christmas pyramids), ornaments, and music boxes. Live music provides a soundtrack for skating, wafting over loudspeakers from the Drees Home Stage.
Even if you’re not brave (or limber) enough to take a spin around the Ice at Center Green, the food and beverage options are reason enough to make the trip. Go hungry so you can load up on wursts, Reubens, Bavarian-style soft pretzels, walking waffles, fruitcake-ish stollen, gingerbready lebkuchen, and apple streusel. It’s worth waiting in line at the Baked Cheese Haus Raclette Chalet to watch the vendor scrape oozing melted cheese from a heated wheel onto a hunk of fresh bread or jambon sandwich.
There’s German beer, hot chocolate, and cider to wash it all down with, and the cute red ceramic souvenir “boots” filled with hot gluhwein—fragrant mulled red wine spiced with cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and citrus—deliciously ward off any chill in the air.
Be forewarned: Some of the food and drink booths could use more staffing to keep up with demand, and lines can be long, especially on the weekend. Weeknights might offer the best chances of skating and eating without extended wait times.
The Carmel Christkindlmarkt runs Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. now through Christmas Eve. Wristbands for skating sessions are $6 for adults and children on Wednesdays and Thursdays; and $9 for adults and $6 for children on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Skate rental is $3 per person. Garage parking is free. For more information, visit carmelchristkindlmarkt.com.