'Tis the Season

Come enjoy downtown Iowa City this winter season and experience that nostalgic, warm feeling of what the holidays should be! Downtown Iowa City knows how to celebrate the festivities and no matter what level of merriment you seek, we’ve got you covered. Downtown will celebrate the holidays all month long, designed to showcase downtown Iowa City attractions, retailers, entertainment venues, and traditional holiday activities.

This month-long celebration provides something for everyone—from FREE horse drawn trolley rides from Country Gentleman’s Horse Drawn Carriage sponsored by Hills Bank & Trust, to holiday productions in Downtown theaters and FREE photos with Santa.

Santa Saturday

Nov. 25, Dec. 2, 9,16 11:30am – 2:30pm

Santa will leave his busy workshop for four special trips Downtown to meet the area’s good girls and boys. Families can enjoy FREE photos with the jolly ol’ fella at FilmScene (118 E. College St.).

Downtown Holiday Market sponsored by UICCU

December 9 10am – 5:30pm

Just in time for the holidays! On Saturday, Dec. 9, in Black Hawk Mini Park, part of the Ped Mall will transform into the Downtown Winter Market sponsored by University of Iowa Community Credit Union (UICCU). Come experience the magic and excitement of the best holiday gifts downtown has to offer under one warm, festively decorated tent. In addition to the dozens of special gift offerings, the market will serve up hot beverages at a cash bar throughout the day. Participating retailers include: Tailgate, Prairie Lights Books, Hands Jewlers, Moss, Revival, AKAR, Catherine’s, Active Endeavors, Herteen & Stockers, Velvet Coat, Beadology Iowa, Dulcinea, Iowa Artisan’s Gallery, Raygun, and Textiles.

Holiday Gingerbread House Competition

December 10 1pm – 8pm

For all gingerbread lovers and connoisseurs! Join us for a gingerbread house competition from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the beautiful hotelVetro, in the events and meeting halls. There will be two 2 hour shifts of the competition with 1 hour and 30 minutes for creating and 30 minutes for judging and awards. Winners will be announced and receive a prize at the end of each shift. The first shift will be from 1pm – 3pm and the second shift will be from 6pm – 8pm. **NEW- Each shift will have a 12 and under category for teams that only want to compete aganist their age group. Tickets are $40/gingerbread house and each house can have up to 4 decorators. Candy will be provided, and participants can also bring extra supplies. A cash bar will be available serving up holiday drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  Get Tickets NOW! 

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides Sponsored by Hills Bank and Trust

Nov. 25, Dec. 2, 9, 16 11:30am – 2:30pm

There is no better way to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season than a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride around downtown. Enjoy a FREE whimsical ride while singing carols to the tune of antique sleigh bells, nestled in the enclosed comfort provided by Country Gentleman’s Horse and Carriage.

Small Business Saturday

November 25

Small Business Saturday is an event that began in 2010 as a way to encourage people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday has become a national holiday campaign, and Downtown Iowa City as a regional center of locally owned businesses once again will celebrate in the importance behind shopping local.

Holiday Retail Open House

December 2 10am – 5pm

Join our downtown retailers for a holiday open house! Each participating retailer will be hosting a holiday party in their store that includes snacks, drinks, and a gift for you at each stop. Participating retailers include: Textiles, Discerning Eye, Sicily Boutique, Catherine’s, Moss Iowa City, Home Ec, Revival, Iowa Artisan’s Gallery, Glassando, R.S.V.P., Velvet Coat, Hand’s Jewelers, AKAR, Dulcinea, Active Endeavors, Domby, Prairie Lights Books, Tailgate, Ten Thousand Villages, and MC Ginsberg. Enjoy a free trolley ride to and from the Thieves Market at the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). The trolley will be running from 10am – 6pm and making stops outside the IMU, Washington St., and Market St.

Downtown Hunt for the Elves

November 25 – December 24

Join us for a FREE kid-friendly scavenger hunt in downtown Iowa City! Starting Saturday, November 26th, there will be elves hiding in different downtown businesses waiting to be found! Once you have found the elves in each participating store, fill out the “I have found _____” cards and turn them in to Englert Theatre, Iowa Book, or Children’s Room at the Iowa City Public Library to receive a prize and to be entered to win a grand prize gift basket. Participating stores: Iowa Book, AKAR, Tailgate, Hands Jewlers, Revival & Revival 119, Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt featuring Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Ragstock, Glassando, RSVP, Velvet Coat, Discerning Eye, Prairie Lights Books, Beadology Iowa, Pops Old n New BBQ, The Englert Theater, Ten Thousand Villages, The Java House, Daydreams Comics, Hills Bank, Molly’s Cupcake, Iowa Artisans Gallery, Om Gifts, Active Endeavors, White Rabbit, Four Seasons, High Ground Cafe, Oasis Falafel, Yotopia, FilmScene, Domby, Hands Home, Catherine’s