Events in Iowa

Lori Erickson
| April 26, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
Illustration of landmarks in Iowa Adam Grason

From festivals to jamborees, check out these exciting summer happenings all around the Hawkeye State.

Join 10,000 revelers in Decorah July 25–27 as they celebrate their Scandinavian roots at Nordic Fest with Nordic foods, music, dancing, folk art, sporting events, a parade and more. Founded in 1967, this family-friendly event includes a magnificent fireworks display to close the festivities on Saturday, July 27. Your whole family will enjoy the two full days of fun activities—so make your plans now to be part of the celebration! 

Calendar of Events 

Check out our events calendar to find Iowa’s coolest festivals, concerts, exhibits and more.

May 4–5
Celebrate spring in the Amana Colonies with maypole dancers, live music and German fare from village restaurants.

May 11–12
Spring Beaux Arts Fair
Held on Mother’s Day weekend at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, this juried art fair has works by artists from around the nation.

May 16–18
Tulip Festival
Orange City celebrates both spring and its Dutch heritage with parades, nightly musical theater performances, carnival rides, horse-drawn trolley tours, and traditional foods and dancing, all set against a backdrop of thousands of blooming tulips.

May 17
Syttende Mai
Decorah’s Vesterheim museum hosts a celebration to commemorate the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814. Enjoy a traditional children’s parade, Decorah’s Nordic Dancers, hands-on crafts and more.

May 24–25
John Wayne Birthday
In Winterset, the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum honors the Duke’s birthday with classic films, educational programs, a banquet and a big band dance with Riders in the Sky.

June 7–8
American Gothic Days
Eldon—home to the house that artist Grant Wood made famous in his American Gothic painting—throws a weekend party that includes a mud volleyball tournament, a parade, games for kids, a car show, community meals at various venues, an art contest and a 5K run/walk.

June 12–15
Ice Cream Days
Come to Le Mars, the Ice Cream Capital of the World, for music, dancing, children’s activities, a parade, a car show and (of course) plenty of delicious ice cream.

June 14
Joe Pera
Stand-up comedian, writer and filmmaker Joe Pera brings his quirky, low-key comedy routine to Iowa City’s Englert Theatre.  

June 15
National Skillet Throw
This Macksburg event has a parade, food and a pedal tractor pull, but the biggest draw is the chance to see skillets thrown. Teams of skillet-chuckers from multiple states are judged on their accuracy.

June 23–29
National Junior High Finals Rodeo
More than 1,200 students from the U.S., Canada, Australia and Mexico compete for scholarships and glory at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

June 27–29
Riverside—“the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk”—hosts its annual Star Trek-themed festival. Come for an intergalactic pet show, a parade, celebrity signings, costume competitions, live entertainment and more.

June 28–30
Des Moines Arts Festival
Western Gateway Park is the site of one of the nation’s top juried art fairs, where more than 200,000 visitors enjoy a cornucopia of visual and performing arts offerings, including the Interrobang Film Festival.

July 3–7
4th of July Celebration
Clear Lake celebrates America’s founding with a five-day celebration featuring a parade, a midway, an open-air market, live music and fireworks over the lake.

Three musicians play the trombone, saxophone and French horn during the Iowa City Jazz Festival. Lauren DeYoung

July 5–7
Iowa City Jazz Festival
Bring a lawn chair to downtown Iowa City to enjoy jazz by nationally known (as well as up-and-coming) musicians, plus delicious food from street vendors.

July 11–13
Truckers Jamboree
The World’s Largest Truckstop, located in Walcott, throws a party in honor of America’s truckers with live music, a truck beauty contest, fireworks, the Trucker Olympics and an Iowa pork chop cookout.

July 13
Blues & BBQ
In North Liberty, the soulful sounds of the blues blend with the mouthwatering smells of barbecue. Enjoy a packed lineup of performers, children’s activities and delicious food.

July 20–27
Iowa’s iconic cross-state bike ride—a moving festival of food, music, fun and camaraderie—crosses the state from Glenwood to Burlington this year.

July 26–28
Backbone Bluegrass Festival
The lively sounds of bluegrass, country and gospel music fill the air at this festival held on a private campground near Strawberry Point.

July 26–Aug. 3
National Balloon Classic
Prepare to be dazzled at this photogenic Indianola festival, which includes competitions and events featuring more than a hundred colorful hot-air balloons.

Aug. 1–3
Bix Jazz Festival
Named for Davenport native and jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke, this Quad Cities festival includes music from traditional jazz to contemporary fusion, plus workshops for aspiring musicians.

Aug. 2–4
Iowa Irish Fest
Waterloo hosts Iowa’s largest Irish celebration, a three-day extravaganza of Celtic music, dancing, food, sporting events and cultural offerings.

Aug. 8–11
Meskwaki Powwow
Near Tama, the Meskwaki Nation’s annual powwow includes dancing, singing, cultural activities and crafts. Come to learn more about the rich traditions of the only federally recognized Native American tribe in Iowa.

Revelers enjoy the midway at the Iowa State Fair. Iowa State Fair

Aug. 8–18
Iowa State Fair
From agricultural exhibits and talent competitions to big-name grandstand shows and the famous Butter Cow, the fair in Des Moines is a bustling, dazzling showcase of the best of the state.

Aug. 10
Okoboji Blue Water Festival
Held at Preservation Plaza in the Arnolds Park Amusement Park, this free, family-friendly event promotes water-quality awareness and conservation in the Iowa Great Lakes and beyond.

Aug. 10–11
Come to Dubuque’s Washington Park for a celebration of the arts that includes a juried art fair, live music and performances, hands-on art activities, and food trucks.

Aug. 20–Sept. 1
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
At the Des Moines Civic Center, enjoy the high-energy, Tony Award-winning musical set in the bohemian world of a Parisian nightclub.

Aug. 29–Sept. 2
Midwest Old Threshers Reunion
In Mount Pleasant, this celebration of America’s agricultural heritage features vintage farm equipment, steam engines, live music, craft demonstrations, food vendors and a pioneer village.

Sept. 6
Dee’s Bee & Butterfly Festival
In Okoboji, the Dickinson County Conservation Board’s largest event of the year offers visitors the chance to tag butterflies, do crafts and learn more about the ecological importance of pollinators.

Sept. 14
At Living History Farms in Urbandale, watch cooks demonstrate how to make apple treats from the past and sample tasty apple goodies from food vendors.

Sept. 18–22
National Cattle Congress Fair
Livestock shows, home arts exhibits, live entertainment and carnival rides fill the schedule of this Waterloo event that’s been an Iowa tradition since 1910.

Sept. 20–21
Guttenberg GermanFest
Come to Guttenberg to practice your polka; cheer at the wiener dog races; and enjoy German food, drinks and traditions.

Passengers board a train during Railroad Days festivities in Council Bluffs. Council Bluffs CVB

Sept. 21
Railroad Days
Council Bluffs, which was designated Mile Zero when the Union Pacific Railroad was being built, honors its rich railroad history with events at multiple sites throughout the city.

Sept. 21–22
Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival
Western Gateway Park in Des Moines hosts a lively celebration of all things Latino that includes dancing, food, music, children’s activities, art exhibits and cultural activities.

Sept. 27–28
Fall Festival
At Kalona’s Historical Village, enjoy artisan and craft demonstrations, agricultural exhibits, homemade foods, wagon rides, and live entertainment.

Sept. 28–29
Greater Quad Cities Renaissance Faire
At Credit Island Park in Davenport, step into a fantasy world inspired by old-world European traditions, with music, entertainment, foods and inventive costumes.

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