Holiday Happenings: Get Into the Spirit!


On Saturday, December 1st, Indian Creek Nature Center hosts it’s annual Nature’s Noel event featuring frozen holiday foods—perfect for hosting—and Christmas swag made from fresh greens.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style—not to mention the recent fields of white—have put us in the mood for Christmas! Grab a friend or pile your family into the minivan for a fun, wintery excursion this week in Eastern Iowa. Here’s a short list of our favorite festive options:


Thursday 29thJewel’s Handmade Holiday Tour. Jewel performs holiday classics and originals alongside her father and brothers. 8 p.m., Five Flags Civic Center, Dubuque. (563) 589-4258 or (800) 745-3000.

Thursday 29thLorie Line & Her Pop Chamber Orchestra: Lord of Lords. The 2018 Holiday Extravaganza features her concert grand piano. 7:30 p.m., Hoyt Sherman, Des Moines. (515) 244-0507.

Friday 30thCarol of the King: The Irish Dance Christmas Spectacular. 7:30 p.m., Sondheim, Fairfield. (641) 472-2787. SOLD OUT!

The Canadian Brass play at Hancher on Friday, November 30.

Friday 30thThe Canadian Brass: Christmas Time Is Here. Brass quintet led by co-founding member Chuck Daellenbach on tuba. 7:30 p.m., Hancher Auditorium, 141 E. Park Rd., Iowa City. (319) 335-1160 or (800) 426-2437.

Friday 30thAn Irish Christmas in America. A fascinating evening of Irish music, song, dance, and stories. 8 p.m., CSPS Hall, Cedar Rapids.

Fri-Sat 30th–1stMiracle in Bedford Falls. 7:30 p.m., Quad City Music Guild, Moline, IL. Also on Thurs. 29th.

Fri-Sat 30th–1stChildren’s Holiday Benefit Concert. With Jonas Magram and friends. Proceeds go to nonprofits benefiting children and families. 8 p.m., Café Paradiso, 101 N. Main St., Fairfield.

Fri-Sat-Sun 30th–2ndKeosauqua Festival of Trees. Decorated trees, wreaths, table-top trees, and more for silent auction, plus cash & carry items. Various times, Roberts Memorial Center, Keosauqua. (319) 498-4201.

Fri-Sat-Sun 30th–2ndPrelude to Christmas. Candlelit streets, Amana Church Bazaar and Cookie Walk, and Kristmasmarkt at the Amana Arts Guild in High Amana. Various times and locations, Amana Colonies.

Fri-Sat-Sun 30th–2ndThe Nutcracker. Englert Theatre & Nolte Academy present 150 dancers, a live orchestra, and a girls choir. Various times, Englert, Iowa City. (319) 688-2653.

Ballet Quad Cities and Orchestra Iowa present The Nutcracker Dec. 1.

Saturday 1stThe Nutcracker. Ballet Quad Cities with Orchestra Iowa. 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids. (319) 366-8203.

Saturday 1stAlbia Victorian Stroll. On the luminary-lit historic square. Carolers, live window displays, demonstrations, carriage rides, cookies, and cocoa. 6–8 p.m., Albia.

Find a cheerful center piece at Nature’s Noel Dec. 1.

Saturday 1stNature’s Noel. Shop Christmas swag made with fresh greens and frozen holiday foods, and enjoy live music, kids’ crafts, nature walk, and more. 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids. (319) 362-0664.

Sat-Sun 1st–2ndHoliday Thieves’ Market. Art exhibition and sale. With wine and craft beer tasting, kids’ art activities, trolley rides, a festival of wreaths. Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., IMU, Iowa City.

Sat-Sun 1st–2ndChristmas Haus Tour. Annual Christmas tour of five homes. Various times & locations, Amana Colonies. (319) 622-3678.

Sat-Sun 1st–2ndChristmas Craft Show. 70+ venddors. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Burlington Memorial Auditorium, 200 N. Front St., Burlington.

Sunday 2ndNoël the Musical. With a gorgeous score, Noël is a heart-warming, poignant family musical. 3 p.m., Adler Theatre, Davenport. (563) 326-8500.

Wednesday 5thMannheim Steamroller Christmas. One of the longest-running tours in the music industry. 7:30 p.m., Five Flags Civic Center, Dubuque. (800) 745-3000.

Thursday 6thMannheim Steamroller Christmas. Mannheim Steamroller classics along with dazzling multimedia effects. 7:30 p.m., Bridge View Center, Ottumwa. (641) 684-7000.



ALTOONA. Jolly Holiday Lights. Bundle up the family and enjoy a 2.5-mile ride through over 100 magical displays. Proceeds go to Make-A-Wish Iowa. Through Dec. 29.

Bring your family to the Tannenbaum Forest in Amana. Dec. 1-2 is kids’ weekend!

AMANA COLONIES. Tannenbaum Forest. Featuring Santa, St. Nick’s Café, live reindeer, carols, 40 live Christmas trees, music, a 17-ft. German-style Christmas pyramid, and Children’s Weekend Dec. 7–9. Festhalle Barn, 622 46th Ave. Through Dec. 16.

BOONE. Santa Express. Enjoy hot cocoa and meet Santa on this holiday train ride. With songs and stories. Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad. (800) 626-0319 or Through Dec. 16.

CEDAR RAPIDS. Brucemore Holiday & Music in the Mansion Tours. Enjoy glowing trees, a dining room set for Christmas dinner, stunning mantel arrangements, and the grand staircase garland. On Thursdays and Sundays enjoy your tour with live music! Through Dec. 29. Snowshoe at Indian Creek Nature Center. Enjoy winter’s beauty on the trails. Snowshoe rentals in both adult and child sizes. Weather permitting. (319) 362-0664. Dates TBA.

DAVENPORT. Kall Christmas Lights. Tune your radio to 107.1 FM and watch a music-synchronized lights display. Shows every half an hour at 1852 Westminster Circle. @KallChristmasLights.

IOWA CITY. Horse-drawn Trolley Rides. Free rides between 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. at Hills Bank & Trust. (319) 354-0863. Saturdays through Dec. 22. Santa Saturdays. Get your pic with jolly St. Nick. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., FilmScene, 118 E. College St., Through Dec. 23.

KEOKUK. City of Christmas Lights Display. Enjoy a sparkling Christmas wonderland in Rand Park. N. 17th & Park Lane. (319) 524-1127. Through Dec. 26.

Old Threshers’ Festival of Lights display features an gigantic illuminated toy factory.

MOUNT PLEASANT. North Pole Express. Hop the train with Midwest Central Railroad, followed by a Santa visit in the caboose and hot cocoa and cookies. Through Dec. 9. Festival of Lights Christmas Display. Drive through over a mile of lighted displays at Midwest Old Threshers, including a huge animated toy factory. Through Dec. 31.

OTTUMWA. Holiday Nights ’n’ Lights. Greater Ottumwa Park’s spectacular light display. Proceeds go to local nonprofits. (641) 814-5900. Through Dec. 29.

VILLAGES OF VAN BUREN COUNTY. Christmas in the Villages. Ongoing holiday events include open houses, soup suppers, Santa visits, a home-lighting contest, an Enchanted Forest Walk and horse-drawn wagon rides in Cantril, a live nativity play in Farmington, glassblown ornament making and demonstrations in Keosauqua, a New Year’s Eve Sing, and more. Through Dec. 31.

WEST BRANCH. Decorated Trees: Holiday Traditions. View an exhibit of Christmas trees, each decorated with a different theme based on a holiday tradition. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. (319) 643-5301. Through Jan. 6.

WEST DES MOINES. Jingle in the Junction. Thursdays 5–9 p.m., the businesses and streets of Valley Junction are lined with over 150,000 twinkling lights. Enjoy free horse-drawn carriage rides, Santa, and caroling. Through Dec. 13.