'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 the Holiday Pop-Up Market in Black Hawk Mini Park to FREE horse-drawn trolley rides from Country Gentleman’s Horse Drawn Carriage sponsored by Hills Bank & Trust Company, holiday productions in Downtown theaters, a room filled with hundreds of teddy bears, and FREE photos with Santa!

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides Sponsored by Hills Bank and Trust

Saturdays November 30th and December 7th, 14th, & 21st.
11:30am – 2:30pm

There is no better way to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season than a Horse-Drawn Trolley 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

Saturday, November 30th

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.

Santa Saturdays at FilmScene

Saturdays November 30th and December 7th, 14th, & 21st.
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 in the Chauncey (404 E. College St. Suite 100). In addition to the free photos provided, families are welcome to take pictures using their own cameras.

Downtown Teddy Bear Room

November 30th – December 24th
10:00am – 8:00pm

Come see teddy bears galore! Yes, the Downtown Teddy Bear Room is exactly how it sounds, for 4 weeks, one of the Hilton Garden Inn’s rooms will be filled with hundreds of teddy bears, big and small! From November 30th to December 24th; families, children, everyone is invited to come hug a bear, take photos, and spread the holiday cheer!

Downtown Hunt for the Elves

November 30th – January 2nd

Join us for the Downtown Hunt for the Elves, a FREE kid-friendly scavenger hunt in downtown Iowa City! Starting Friday, November 29th, there will be elves hiding in different downtown businesses waiting to be found! Once you have found the elves in each participating store, get a stamp on your card and turn them in to The 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. See the official list of participating businesses here!

Holiday Retail Open House

Saturday, December 7th
10:00am – 5:00pm

Join our downtown shops for a Holiday Retail Open House! Each participating retailer will be hosting a holiday party in their store that includes snacks, drinks, or a gift for you at each stop.

Participating retailers include: Akar, Active Endeavors, Bender’s Yoga, Bread Garden Market, Catherine’s, Discerning Eye, Dulcinea, Domby, Ewers Men’s Store, Glassando, Hands Jewelers, Luxe Interiors, MC Ginsberg, Moss, Pitaya, Prairie Lights, Revival, r.s.v.p., Tailgate, Ten Thousand Villages, Textiles, The Maker’s Loft, The Shop Iowa City, and Velvet Coat.

Additionally, the Iowa City Public Library will host an Arts & Crafts Bazaar from 10:00am – 3:00pm and MERGE will host Not Your Mother’s Craft Fair from 9:00am – 3:00pm (136 S. Dubuque St.). Summer of the Arts is presenting the Holiday Art Market at the Iowa Memorial Union  on December 7th from 12:00 – 6:00pm and December 8th from 10:00am – 4:00pm.

Downtown Holiday Pop-Up Market

November 8th – December 24th

There is no other place like Downtown for the holidays–
Come experience the holiday season in Downtown Iowa City and explore the Downtown Holiday Pop-Up Market, back again in the heart of the city!

For 7 weeks, beginning November 8th, the beautiful pop-up market, sponsored by GreenState Credit Union will transform Black Hawk Mini Park into a festive holiday destination. Each week, for the seven weeks, new pop-up shops will fill the spaces.

Here is the full calendar of shops that will be joining us for the 2019 Holiday Market:

*Nov. 8-10- Fontenelle Supply Co. in all three shops!
*Nov. 11-17 – Local artists & Luxe Interiors
*Nov. 18-21 – Holiday Escape Room & Rare Bird Soap Shop
*Nov. 22-24 – Necessary Behavior, SLICE: A Bakery Emporium, The Pop Up Co.
*Nov. 25-28 – Riverside Theatre
*Nov. 29-Dec 1 – (Downtown Iowa City Small Business Saturday)- Catherine’s Boutique – Iowa City, IA, The Pop Up Co., West Music
*Dec 2-5 – Rare Bird Soap Shop, The Pop Up Co. , Butter Custom Bakery, LLC
*Dec 6-8 – Wolf Den Wares, The Pop Up Co., Glassando
*Dec 9-12 – Revival Clothing Store, Ruka, {made} community
*Dec 13-15 – Daydreams Comics, Revival Clothing Store, {made} community
*Dec 16-17 – Rare Bird Soap Shop, University in 3D Design
*Dec 18-19 – Fownd Vintage/ Ramitas, Rare Bird Soap Shop, University in 3D Design
*Dec 20-22- Susan Shinnick, Whoa Nelli Natural Cleaning Products, The Makers Loft Iowa City
*Dec 23-24 – Whoa Nelli Natural Cleaning Products


Through a collaboration with Think Iowa City, Iowa City Area Development Group, Iowa City Area Business Partnership and the Iowa City Downtown District, we're providing continued updates and resources for COVID-19 related information. Thanks to the support from MidWestOne Bank, West Bank, GreenState Credit Union, Great Western Bank, Hills Bank, Two Rivers Bank, U.S. Bank and CBI Bank Trust, Johnson County and other area partners, the Project Better Together team has created a community-wide Shop Local program to help encourage and motivate local spending at Johnson County local businesses. Starting June 22nd, for every $150 spent shopping local, receive a $20 gift card of YOUR choice to a local business.

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