CarmelFest to return in July with expanded footprint, 2 nights of fireworks


After being reduced to fireworks shows in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CarmelFest plans to return in full force this year, with a few changes.

The annual Independence Day celebration presented by the Carmel Rotary Club and the City of Carmel is set for July 4 and 5 with an expanded footprint to reduce congestion and allow more space for physical distancing. As in past years, musicians will perform at the gazebo north of City Hall, but the adult and kid zone areas will expand and move from their traditional spot surrounding City Hall to Carter Green, approximately a quarter mile to the north.

“I am happy to see that we will return to the gazebo and a familiar sense of normalcy for this cherished summer celebration,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard stated. “I am also excited to see the new set up and activities at Carter Green. Both locations should be ideal for family-friendly fun and excellent locations to watch the fireworks.”

Organizers will monitor guidance from health officials as the event nears to determine pandemic-related policies for the event, such as face coverings and social distancing requirements.

For the first time in CarmelFest history, fireworks are scheduled on both nights of the event. Shows will take place on the east and west sides of the city July 4, with a show planned July 5 over central Carmel. Last year, CarmelFest presented three simultaneous fireworks shows around the city for the first time to allow viewers to watch them without gathering in a single location. Organizers received positive feedback on the multiple viewing options, leading to the decision to provide viewing choices again this year.

“Not only will this give fans of fireworks more opportunities to enjoy that tradition, we believe it will promote less congestion during the traditional downtown show,” stated City Councilor Jeff Worrell, a longtime CarmelFest volunteer who oversees the fireworks.

The CarmelFest parade, traditionally held on Independence Day, will be on July 5 this year because July 4 falls on a Sunday.

Besides physical distancing considerations, construction on the nearby gardens south of City Hall and the Melangé condo and brownstone project north of it led to the decision to relocate many of the festivities to Carter Green, which also will be the site of a second performance stage. Before the pandemic, growing attendance at the festival was leading to increasingly crowded conditions, and festival organizers had already been looking for ways to grow the festival’s footprint.

“We know we need to expand in the future because this event continues to be very popular,” stated Nancy Heck, City of Carmel’s director of community relations and economic development. “This is a good year for us to expand to Carter Green and we will pay close attention to what works well and what doesn’t.”

Food and vendor booths will be available at both locations.

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