Trolley Rides, Carolers, Lights, & Shopping to Kick Off the Holidays this Thursday

(Iowa City, IA) – November 7, 2023 – The Iowa City Downtown District announced today, the new ‘Tis the Season Holiday Kickoff event happening this Thursday, November 9th from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Come celebrate the start of the holiday season with trolley rides, extended shopping hours, and carols from University of Iowa acapella groups. Visitors can see holiday lights turned on for the first time and shop at the Downtown Holiday Pop-Up Market opening that evening. Downtown shops will be keeping their doors open later than normal with special offers to get people excited about the gift-giving season. From books and handmade stationery to vintage wear and unique quality artisan finds, our downtown shops and boutiques have something for everyone. Shoppers can take free trolley rides from downtown to the Northside Marketplace to shop while also enjoying carols from the UI Old Gold and Iowa Hawkapella groups in the Ped Mall.

Holiday lights will brighten up the night with the dancing lights of the Singing Trees and local artist Ali Hval’s colorful Scribble Trees. 14 Scribble Trees have been installed in the Ped Mall this year in addition to traditionally wrapped trees that will light up the winter nights. The community is invited to experience the holiday magic of turning on the lights and get in the festive spirit.

The Downtown Holiday Pop-Up Market, sponsored by GreenState Credit Union, will open in Black Hawk Mini Park. 3 pop-up shops will rotate with 20+ vendors over the next two months for customers to shop at. This weekend, the market will host local farm Wilson’s Orchard and Fontenelle Supply Co. from Des Moines’s Historic East Village. Wilson’s will feature items from their Farm Market including homemade treats, merchandise, apple cider, and other items from local artisans and small-batch producers. Fontenelle’s is a full-service menswear and handmade leather goods shop that will be bringing their favorite items including fall and winter weather gear and the perfect items for stocking stuffers. Complimentary cider will be offered to visitors in the third shop.

Schedule of Events: 
5:00 p.m. – Tis the Season Kick off begins with the Holiday Pop-Up Market opening in Black Hawk Mini Park with Fontenelle Supply Co. and Wilson’s Orchard and downtown shops stay open for evening shopping with special offers
5:00 p.m. – Iowa Hawkapellas perform in Pedmall under the “Singing Trees”
5:15 p.m. – ‘Tis the Season Trolley service begins throughout downtown and the Northside Marketplace – see the route on the map
5:30 p.m. – Holiday lights turn on
6:00 p.m. – Complimentary Cider at Holiday Pop-Up Market
6:30 p.m. – UI Old Gold Sings in Pedmall under the “Singing Trees”
8:00 p.m. – Shop close and trolley service ends

The ‘Tis the Season Kickoff will be the official start of holiday programming and shopping downtown for a full seven weeks. In keeping with tradition, the bulk of other holiday activities will begin on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25th. More details about Santa Saturdays, the Downtown Teddy Bear Room, and Tractor Wagon Rides sponsored by Hills Bank can be seen on the Iowa City Downtown District’s ‘Tis the Season holiday page.

“There’s always something special about the holiday season downtown. With classic holiday events and great places to shop and eat, every weekend offers a new experience. Businesses are decorated with their holiday displays and feature new curated gifts you can’t find in other stores. Our downtown businesses are what makes Iowa City so unique. Supporting these businesses supports our entire community,” said Christopher Hunter, Iowa City Downtown District’s Director of Marketing.