CARMEL, Ind. – Under twinkling lights, the sights, sounds and smells of a tiny German village create a picturesque holiday scene for the Carmel Christkindlmarkt.
The market opened Nov. 17, kicking off the holiday season.
"We don't have a lot of things in the United States that really bring groups of people to congregate out of doors during the winter, that's not something that we do a whole lot, and so it's just a really fun and unique experience for people," the non-profit's CEO and market master, Maria Murphy, said.
The experience is expanded for the event's second year. It includes dozens of structures, food, drinks, gifts and decorations all around The Ice at Center Green. This year there will also be a kids corner and a new 33-ft. structure, a gluhwein pyramid.
"We built this little pyramid here and we're very proud to be here in the market," the CEO of the German company, Steinbach, Rico Paul, said. "We have 12 different gluhweins imported from Germany."
Organizers said the structures is the only one like it in the U.S. and will feature authentic holiday beverages. It's one of many features visitors can find.
"I think that it's so unique. We have vendors coming in from Germany who want to be a part of our market in the United States because they came last year," Murphy said.
Last year, the City of Carmel gave the non-profit $400,000 for seed money for the market to do things like buy products. This year, the city is giving $125,000.
"The city's reason for doing this is just like the reason that you build the Palladium and Tarkington Building, to provide some sort of cultural event where people can come together and gather and get to know each other, and elevate the quality of life to the point where we can attract companies to come in here and invest, and that's what we've been doing," Dan McFeely, a city spokesperson and the president of the board of directors for the market, said.
Last year, an estimated 150,000 people visited the market and organizers are hoping for more this year.
"We think that through the management of Maria and trying to bring in some new and exciting things, like the gluhwein pyramid, that we can, within the next year or two, be totally free of any city support and be totally self-sustaining, that's been the goal," McFeely said.
The market is open Wednesday and Thursday 4-9 p.m., Friday-Sunday 12-9 p.m., Nov. 17-Dec. 23. It will be closed on Thanksgiving.