'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 tractor wagon rides from Bass Farms sponsored by Hills Bank & Trust Company, and photo-ops with Santa!

Kid’s Market sponsored by GreenState Credit Union

November 15- November 23

New for 2021- The Downtown Pop-Up Market will feature a new Kid’s Market from November 15 until November 23rd, 10:00 am- 7:00 pm. The Kid’s Market is a chance for kids to shop for everyone on their holiday lists with the assistance of Santa’s helpers. Parents/Guardians will help submit a list of all gifts that need to be purchased, the budgets for each person, and then wait while the kids have the opportunity to shop in secret. Once their shopping is complete, children will have the opportunity to have the gifts wrapped and bundled before returning to their parents with their holiday shopping complete!

Each child will have around 30 minutes to shop for everyone on their list. Santa’s helper will help kids stick to their budget, make sure they get something for everyone on the list, and shop efficiently.

Drop-in shopping appointments will be available, but to ensure your shopping time, customers can reserve their shopping time here.

Santa Saturdays

Saturdays- November 27, December 4, 11, & 18th
Santa is making four special trips to Downtown Iowa City to meet the area’s good girls and boys. Kids and families are invited to visit Santa as he visits downtown Iowa City at FilmScene in the Chauncey and drop off their letters and wishlists. Santa will be visiting FilmScene at the Chauncey from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm (404 E College St, Iowa City, IA). Visitors and families are welcome to visit Santa and capture their own photos.

Holiday Pop-Up Market Sponsored by GreenState Credit Union

November 27-December 23rd

The Downtown Holiday Pop-Up Market sponsored by GreenState Credit Union returns this holiday shopping season to provide a festive and unique shopping experience for a number of pop-up shops. The three pop-up shops will officially open with stores on Small Business Saturday, November 27th featuring three businesses. The market will then see a rotating list of businesses popping in and out of them throughout December.

Come shop the Holiday Pop-Up Market to find a new small business to love or visit one of your favorites.

Stay tuned for the full list of participating businesses coming soon.

Teddy Bear Room at the Hilton Garden Inn

November 27th- January 1st

Teddy Bears Galore!  The Downtown Teddy Bear Room is exactly how it sounds, for 4 weeks, there will be an entire room at the Hilton Garden Inn, filled with hundreds of teddy bears, big and small.

Opening November 27th until January 1st; families, children, everyone is invited to come hug a bear, take photos, and spread the holiday cheer!

All small and medium-sized bears will be available for purchase starting Dec 21st. Additionally, visit the Teddy Bear Room, take a tag from the Giving Tree, and purchase a teddy bear for a local family!

Small Business Saturday

Saturday, November 27th

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, all parking ramps downtown will be FREE on Saturday, November 27th.

Tractor Wagon Rides sponsored by Hills Bank & Trust

Saturday- November 27, December 4, 11, & 18th

There is no better way to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday season than a Tractor Wagon Ride around downtown. Enjoy a FREE whimsical ride in a decorated wagon pulled by an antique tractor provided by Bass Farms. Rides start at 10:00 am and go until 4:00 pm. 

Available times will be on a first-come-first-serve basis and are 100% free.  Rides will be every 15 minutes until 4:00 pm. Come to Hills Bank & Trust at the corner of Washington St & Clinton St. to check-in, wait in line, enjoy activities and get on the rides. 

Downtown Hunt for the Elves

November 27th- January 1st

Over 50 Elves are hiding throughout Downtown Iowa City shops and restaurants! Join the Downtown Hunt for the Elves, a FREE kid-friendly scavenger hunt in downtown Iowa City, starting Saturday, November 27th. 

Once you have found the elves in each participating store, find their name, use the stamp provided at each business or write in the name of the elf on the card to show proof you found it. Turn in your completed cards after finding 10 or more elves to Iowa Book or the Iowa City Public Library in the Kid’s Department to receive a small prize and to be entered to win a grand prize gift basket.

See the full list of participating businesses here and print your elf card to bring with you to the stores to get stamped!

Holiday Retail Open House

December 4th, 10:00 am- 5:00 pm 

Join our downtown shops for the annual Holiday Retail Open House!

Each participating retailer will be hosting a holiday party at their store that includes snacks, drinks, or a small gift for you at each stop.

2021 Participating Shops include:
– Active Endeavors
– 223 Baby Co.
– Beno’s Flowers & Gifts
– Champion’s Iowa City
– Catherine’s- Glassando
– Dulcinea
– MC Ginsberg
– Revival
– Om Gifts for Body & Soul
– Velvet Coat
– r.s.v.p.
– Ewers men’s store
– The Shop Iowa City
– Textiles
– Prairie Kitchen Store
– Discerning Eye
– Ten Thousand Villages
– Herteen & Stocker Jewelers