'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.

Thanks to the City of Iowa City, there will be FREE PARKING in all downtown ramps on the following Saturdays: November 24th, December 15th, and December 22nd.

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides Sponsored by Hills Bank and Trust

Nov. 24, Dec. 1, 8, 15, & 22
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. (“TICKETS” WILL BE HANDED OUT AT HILLS BANK AND TRUST IN DOWNTOWN IOWA CITY, STARTING AT 11AM, EACH SATURDAY)

Santa saturdays at filmscene

Nov. 24, Dec. 1, 8, 15, & 22
11:30am – 2:30pm

Santa will leave his busy workshop for five 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.). In addition to the free photos provided, families are welcome to take pictures using their own cameras.

Small Business Saturday

November 24

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. Thanks to the City of Iowa City, there will be FREE parking in all downtown ramps on Small Business Saturday!

Holiday Retail Open House

December 1
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, or a gift for you at each stop. Participating retailers include: Akar, Catherine’s, Dulcinea, Glassando, Iowa Artisans Gallery, Moss, Prairie Lights, Revival, Tailgate, Velvet Coat, Ten Thousand Villages, Discerning Eye, Domby, Hands Jewelers, MC Ginsberg, RSVP, Textiles, Active Endeavors, Maker’s Loft Iowa City, Luxe Interiors, The Shop. Enjoy a free trolley ride to and from the Thieves Market at the Iowa Memorial Union (IMU). The trolley will be running from 10am – 5pm and making stops outside the IMU, Washington St., and Market St.

Downtown Hunt for the Elves

November 24 – January 1

Join us for a FREE kid-friendly scavenger hunt in downtown Iowa City! Starting Saturday, November 24th, 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. See the official list of participating businesses here!

Downtown teddy bear room

Nov. 24 – Dec. 23
10AM – 8PM

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 over 100 teddy bears, big and small! From November 24th to December 23rd; families, children, and anyone is invited to come by hug a bear, and take photos with the bears. Who doesn’t need to hug a bunch of Teddy Bears every once in a while?!