Why does the City spend so much on Christkindlmarkt?

Over the past few decades, the City of Carmel has offered support for many activities that serve as community celebrations – events where residents can gather in public spaces and make new friends or catch up with old neighbors while coming together for enjoyment. This is not new. Just about every city in America has events that are supported in some way with public tax dollars – from parades to fairs, festivals to fireworks.

Here in Carmel, major events such as CarmelFest and the International Arts Festival, Artomobilia and our Carmel Farmers Market, were all established or heavily supported in the beginning by the City by way of financial contributions or in-kind assistance (from our various city departments). We recognized the value of these events and have continued to support them, even as they have been adopted by non-profit groups.

More recently, as the City began to invest in its central core – the Arts & Design District, Midtown and City Center primarily – we began to take a more active role in planning events designed specifically to attract residents and visitors to these key areas in order to support the shops and restaurants that have made their own investments into this growing central core. Events such as the monthly Gallery Walks, the Art of Wine and the Late Nights on Main.

The events have been very successful, drawing thousands of people into our beautiful central corridor, providing a fun activity that raises the quality of life in Carmel while also supporting our local businesses. All of this combined helps us attract more businesses, more retail and more restaurants, each of which continues to add flavor to our city.

And then there was winter. Despite the fact that so many residents are active and outgoing in our community, when the winter months hit, the activity level drops.

It seemed like one more solid investment in events that would do all the things our summer events have done in the warmer months.

When Mayor Brainard proposed the idea of a holiday-season German Christmas market, combined with an outdoor ice-skating rink that would give people something fun to do in the darkest and coldest days of the calendar, it seemed like one more solid investment in events that would do all the things our summer events have done in the warmer months.

The first year of the Christkindlmarkt, the city basically “seeded” money to a new non-profit board that is charged with handling all details for this huge event. More than 150,000 people visited the Market and helped boost the level of business throughout the City. It was a draw for tourists and was seen as one of the best Christmas markets in the Midwest and further drew attention to our City as a great place to live.

In the second year, the amount of City financial support was less than half the first year and we have been told that through a variety of strategic planning initiatives by the nonprofit board and the Market Masters, there will come a time soon when the Christkindlmarkt will no longer need that additional financial support. The intent is to not rely on any city funding in future years.

However, it is important to note that the Ice at Center Green – while uniquely connected as an attraction alongside the Christkindlmarkt – is a City run operation that is treated separately from the Market. Think of this as a “winter park” attraction that will always be supported completely by the City, much like our Brookshire Golf Club.


Authored by Laura Campbell, Ron Carter, Sue Finkam, Anthony Green, Bruce Kimball, Kevin Rider and Jeff Worrell