CARMEL, Indiana – Wintertime in Hamilton, County, Indiana, means that the time for fun is just beginning. With a host of festivals, attractions, and traditions, locals and visitors alike can be entertained all winter long. Here are five diversions that you can only find here.
This 1600 seat concert hall for theater, dance, and the Carmel Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is an impressive venue with its European-influenced palatial ambiance. The décor reflects Old World Italian architecture with marble flooring, high ceilings, red velvet seat coverings, frosted glass lighting sconces, and opera-style balconies.
The CSO performs 40 concerts annually. Since its opening in 2011, musicians such as Michael Feinstein, Chris Isaak, bluesman Buddy Guy, Brian Wilson, Graham Nash, and jazz artist Boney James have taken the stage.
Musician favor the high-tech acoustics and the Palladium has definitely raised the bar for the city of Carmel.
Carmel Christkindlmarkt (Christ Child Market)
This second annual event is held on the grounds adjacent to the Palladium. Forty-seven wooden huts are laden with festive Christmas lights, offering European goods and hand-crafted gift items. Among the German street-style foods are bratwurst, beer-cheese soup, melted raclette cheese on toasted bread, potato pancakes, apple streusel, and German sweets.
Visitors can choose from a variety of gifts to purchase such as wooden toys and games, hand-painted glass ornaments, pottery, nutcracker figurines, and Vogel German lace.
The centerpiece of the festival is the Glühwein Pyramid standing at 33 feet tall. The traditional glühwein (spiced hot wine) is offered along with non-alcoholic kinderpunsch for children.
The ice skating rink is a favorite activity for children and adults of all ages with rental skates and pre-purchased admission available. Surrounded by the colorful booths of the Christmas Market makes this one of the most popular attractions in the city.
Tina’s Traditional Tea Room, Carmel
Tina Jesson, a transplant from Derbyshire who calls herself the Queen of Experiences, opened this Carmel tea room in 2014. Patrons can indulge in perfect English tea with all the accouterments of lace tablecloths, cloth napkins, china teacups, and British royalty memorabilia. A small hidden cove for children contains child-size chairs and a Peter Rabbit tea-set.
The menu is quite extensive with themed afternoon teas and authentic British foods like shepherd’s pie, sausage rolls, and Derbyshire pasties. All original recipes come from Tina’s grandmother’s recipe books. For afternoon tea, a traditional three-tier food stand contains finger sandwiches, two varieties of fresh scones with jam and clotted cream, and an assortment of bite-size sweets. Choose from one of their specialty-blended teas to accompany the fare.
Tina’s gift shop offers homemade jams, greeting cards, silver teaspoons, sugar cube tongs, recipe books, and tea cozies. Teas that feature the flair of Downtown Abbey, the works of Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde, or Harry Potter are a big attraction. Etiquette teas for children are also popular, particularly with parents and teachers.
Tina also hosts tours to England. The 1-week tour includes visits to British homes, pubs, and tea rooms. A comfortable coach bus ferries small groups of ten to each destination. This is a fun and educational experience for those who desire to further their British cultural experience.
Located on Main Street in downtown Carmel, The Museum of Miniature Houses is celebrating their 25th anniversary. To authenticate a miniature house, must be in precise scale and with historical accuracy. House decorations include items such as chairs, tables, textiles, wall coverings and paintings
Seven exhibit galleries contain displays with Victorian houses, farmhouses, and contemporary homes. This gives adults and children a glimpse into the history of decorative arts and architectural styles. The detailing of the collection is remarkable. Look for the Seven Dwarfs. Each crocheted figure is the size of a thumbnail!
The well-stocked gift shop offers a large selection of miniature items for hobbyists. On-site curators are helpful with loads of information.
Nickel Plate Express Train, Atlanta
An array of seasonal excursions for children and adults on the Nickel Plate Express Train throughout the year. After Halloween, the train becomes the Reindeer Ride celebrating the Christmas holidays. This vintage 1956 train rumbles along the tracks for about one hour with scenic views of the rural landscape of Atlanta, Indiana.
With blue Christmas lights outlining the exterior of the train, the train is a cheerful site. Complimentary hot chocolate, drinks, and reindeer sugar cookies are offered by Santa’s elves. Additionally, Christmas carolers add to the holiday spirit.
Certainly, this is a must for train enthusiasts.
These are just a few of the many fun and unusual attractions you will find here in Hamilton County. Come and discover why this area of Indiana consistently receives high ratings as one of the best places to live, play and visit in the United States.
Lead Image: Indiana Pacemates at the Christkindlmarkt @Ron Stern all rights reserved
This was a sponsored trip, however, all opinions herein are the authors.