Passionate About Iowa City
and the Moms Who Live Here.

Iowa City Area Family Holiday Events

The holidays provide a wealth of opportunities to enjoy seasonal activities with your family! Check out these activities between now and the end of the year, and take advantage of all the Iowa City area has to offer!

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*Note: Many events are ongoing or take place on multiple dates. For brevity, they are only listed here under their opening day. 

Saturday, November 12

Lucky’s Market Holiday Tasting Fair 

What:  Come sample holiday dishes, straight from the kitchen. The sampling menu includes: all-natural turkey, mashed potatoes, herb stuffing, cranberry relish, green beans almandine, and potato rolls from the bakery
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Nov 12, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Where: Lucky’s Market Iowa City, 1668 Sycamore St, Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Sunday, November 13

New Pioneer Co-Op Local Sample Fair Holiday Party

What: We’re hosting a holiday party sample fair of local foods with nearly 20 local producers, offering samples from local hard cider to pure local maple syrup and granola! We’ll also sample New Pi’s house-made Thanksgiving meals and enjoy great music – please join us for the party!
Who: All ages
When: Sun, Nov 13, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Where: New Pioneer Co-Op, 1102 2nd Street, Coralville
Cost: FREE

Sunday Fun Day: Thanksgiving Wreaths 

What: It’s November, and Thanksgiving is around the corner! This is the time to do some fun and easy Thanksgiving crafts with your family. Join us in the Storytime Room to make a Thanksgiving wreath!
Who: Entire Family
When: Sun, Nov 13, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE

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Monday, November 14

Family Night with Fired Up Iowa City 

What: Join us for November’s Family Night with special guests Fired Up Iowa City, Inc.  Enjoy time together at the library painting pottery!
Who: Entire Family
When: Mon, Nov 14, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Coralville Public Library, Schwab Auditorium, 1401 5th Street, Coralville
Cost: FREE* (Registration is required.  Signup starts November 7.  Call (319-248-1850) or stop by the Children’s desk.)


Wednesday, November 16

School’s Out Screening: “Finding Dory” 

What: Looking for something to do with your day off school? Come to the library and watch a free screening of “Finding Dory.”
Who: Geared toward school-aged children (Rated PG)
When: Wed, Nov 16, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Where: Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Thursday, November 17

Preschool Storytime: Happy Birthday Curious George! 

What: In honor of the special 75th anniversary of H.A. Rey’s classic tale Curious George, Casey and Mari are performing a musical storytime to fulfill your curiosity about a lovable monkey with an endless sense of discovery. We will share a Curious George storybook on the big screen, and you can listen and sing a long to several songs from “Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George.”
Who: Preschool age (recommended for children age 3, 4, or 5)
When: Thurs, Nov 17, 10:30 a.m.
Where: Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE

“Winter Wonderettes” musical opens 

What: This seasonal celebration finds the “Wonderettes,” a 1960’s girl group, entertaining at the annual Harper’s Hardware Holiday Party in 1968. When Santa goes missing, the girls use their talent and creative ingenuity to save the holiday party! This show features groovy four-part harmony 60’s versions of holiday classics such as “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” This energetic and glittering holiday show is guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages.
Who: All ages (Rated G)
When: Thurs, Nov 17 through Sun, Dec 18

  • Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays at 2:00 p.m.
  • Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
  • Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave, Amana, IA
Cost: $30 for adults, $18.50 for Students, or $12 Student Rush

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Makerspace Thursdays: Marshmallow Architecture 

What: Do you like to create new things?  Join us for Makerspace Thursdays and unlock your inner architect, engineer, or artist.  Find new connections between technology, engineering, art, science, craft and creative problem solving while having fun with high-tech and low-tech tools. Want to make a creation that is sky-high?  Come play with marshmallows and see how big you can build!
Who: All ages (No reservations are needed, but supplies for some programs will be limited.)
When: Thurs, Nov 17, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, Biosphere Discovery Hub,17 N. Clinton St., Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Saturday, November 19

Thanksgiving Storytime 

What: In celebration of Thanksgiving we will feature two special stories, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey! and The Great Thanksgiving Escape. Coloring and activities to follow.
Who: Children
When: Sat, Nov 19, 11:00 a.m.
Where: Barnes & Noble, Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Suite 1108, Coralville
Cost: FREE

Timeless Toys at Christmas exhibit opens 

What: This exhibit features 20 Christmas trees, each one decorated with a different toy theme. All of us can remember our favorite toys – the memories made playing when we were young are never forgotten. Few objects are as emotionally charged as children’s toys – they are timeless – surpassing generations only to be discovered again by grandchildren. As you tour the exhibit, Timeless Toys at Christmas, we hope you take time to remember your favorite toys and enjoy the innocence of childhood.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Nov 19 through Mon, Jan 2

  • Open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.
  • Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day

Where: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, 210 Parkside Drive, West Branch, IA
Cost: $3 – $10

  • Adults (ages 16 – 61): $10.00
  • Seniors (ages 62 and over), Active/Retired Military with ID and College Students with ID: $5.00
  • Ages 6 – 15: $3.00
  • Ages 5 and under: FREE
  • Hoover Presidential Foundation members: Free

Sunday, November 20

Sunday Fun Day: Thankful Book 

What: Thanksgiving is this week, and we are thinking about all the things we are thankful for. Stories to fill books, music to listen to, patrons to fill the library, and so much more. Today we’ll create a book full of the things you are thankful for to share with your family on Thanksgiving.
Who: Entire Family
When: Sun, Nov 13, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Wednesday, November 23

Preschool Story Time: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

What: Join us for a special showing of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and snack on a feast of popcorn and pretzel sticks just like the Peanuts gang. If this doesn’t get you in the Thanksgiving mood, you might need to go kick a football with Lucy.
Who: Preschool age (recommended for children age 3, 4, or 5)
When: Wed, Nov 23, 10:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Where: Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREEfamily-holiday-activities-3

Thanksgiving Movie & Craft 

What: Join us for two great Thanksgiving movies: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and This is America, Charlie Brown! Popcorn provided!  Feel free to bring a beverage in a covered container.  Following the movie we will make a pilgrim’s hat.
Who: All ages
When: Wed, Nov 23, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Ely Public Library, 1595 Dows Street, Ely IA
Cost: FREE (but register here)


Thursday, November 24 (Thanksgiving)

Free Ice Skating

Who: All ages
When: Thurs, Nov 24, 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Where: Coral Ridge Mall Ice Arena, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave, Coralville
Cost: FREE


Friday, November 25

Tannenbaum Forest opens 

What: Walk through an array of over 40 decorated Christmas trees and visit with Santa. See the Nativity and a 17-foot German pyramid, too. Start your Christmas off in the Amanas!
Who: All ages
When: Weekends from Fri, Nov 25 through Sun, Dec 18
See the brochure for hours each weekend!
Where: Amana Festhalle Barn, 4707 220th Trail, Amana, IA
Cost: FREE

Sweets with Santa 

What: Decorate your own holiday cookie and have your photo taken with Santa Claus amidst fanciful trees and wreaths. Join us at Brown Deer Golf Club, where you will discover everything magically decorated for the Festival of Trees!
Who: All ages
When: Fri, Nov 25, 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
Where: Brown Deer Golf Course, 1900 Country Club Drive, Coralville
Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door (tickets are non-refundable)

Family Free Friday! 

What: Come to Coral Ridge Mall on the Last Friday of Every Month and Enjoy an Evening Called Family Free Friday! This is a year-round event, occurring every month! FREE Admission to the Ice Arena for all (skate rental is $2/person), FREE Carousel rides for all , FREE Admission to The Iowa Children’s Museum for all, and various Food Court meal deals for kids.
Who: All ages
When: Fri, Nov 25, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave, Coralville
Cost: FREE


Saturday, November 26

Santa Saturday in Iowa City starts 

What: 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
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Nov 26, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Also Dec 3, Dec 10, & Dec 17)
Where: FilmScene, 118 E. College Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides 

What: 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.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Nov 26, 11:30 a.m.  (Also Dec 3, Dec 10, & Dec 17)
Where: Downtown Iowa City
Cost: FREE

Downtown Hunt for Elves 

What: Join us for a FREE kid-friendly scavenger hunt in downtown Iowa City! Starting Saturday, November 26th, 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.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Nov 26 – Sat, Dec 24
Where: Downtown Iowa City
Cost: FREE

Festival of Trees 

What: Kick off the holiday season with an evening of food, fun, festive performances, and holiday decor. Your ticket includes sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres, featured performances by City Circle and Young Footliters, dancing to the sounds of the Rod Pierson Big Band, and more! There will be live and silent auctions of artistically decorated trees and wreaths and the ever-popular grab bags. This party is fun for all ages and the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Nov 26, 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Where: Brown Deer Golf Club, 1900 Country Club Drive, Coralville
Cost: Tickets are $25 each in advance, or $35 at the door. Tables of 10 are available in advance for only $200. Seating is limited. Tickets are non-refundable. 

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The Elves & The Shoemaker opens 

What: Come celebrate the holiday season as a classic tale gets a comic spin. When the kindly old shoemaker can’t pay his rent, it’s elves to the rescue!
Who: Young audiences (rated G)
When: Sat, Nov 26 through Sat, Dec 17

  • Nov 26 – 10am & 1pm
  • Dec 2 – 9am (12:30pm already sold out!)
  • Dec 3 – 10am
  • Dec 7 – 9:30am
  • Dec 9 – 12:30pm
  • Dec 10 – 10am & 1pm
  • Dec 13 – 12:30pm
  • Dec 15 – 7pm
  • Dec 17 – 10am & 1pm

Where: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave, Amana, IA
Cost: $10 per person


Thursday, December 1

Prelude to Christmas 

What: This celebration of the Christmas season features, “A glimpse of Amana’s Christmas Past,” presented by the Amana Heritage Society. The village streets come alive with traditional decor and good cheer. Shopping and dining special abound. Many kids’ activities on Sat, Dec 3, including: scavenger hunt, Christmas crafts, make your own hot chocolate, make Christmas ornaments, decorate a Christmas cookie, and face painting. Download the brochure!
Who: All ages
When: Thurs, Dec 1 – Sun, Dec 4

  • Thurs, Dec 1: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Santa at the North Pole)
  • Fri, Dec 2: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Santa from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Sat, Dec 3: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Santa from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Sun, Dec 4: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Santa from Noon – 3 p.m.

Where: Amana Colonies, 622 46th Avenue, Amana, IA
Cost: Varies

Kids Create 

What: Join us for a different activity each month.  We might make a craft, build with Legos, or play a game.
Who: Kids grades K through 3rd
When: Thurs, Dec 1, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Coralville Public Library, 1401 5th Street, Coralville
Cost: FREE (Sign up online or at the Children’s Desk beginning Nov 24)

Joseph Hall: Elvis Rock ‘n Remember Christmas Show 2016 

What: Joseph goes through three decades of Elvis hits, including some of Elvis’ greatest Christmas songs! Recreating the moves, the looks, and the sound of Elvis Presley, you’ll think you are watching the King himself.
Who: All ages
When: Thurs, Dec 1, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 5th Street, Coralville
Cost: $12 to $37. Tickets for this performance are non-refundable.

The Joffrey Ballet “The Nutcracker” opens 

What: Hancher is proud to present special preview performances of the Joffrey Ballet’s new rendition of The Nutcracker. Featuring choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and an updated story and art by Brian Selznick, this Nutcracker is set in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair. Local children will once again take the stage with the Joffrey dancers as we usher in a new holiday tradition.
Who: All ages
When: Thurs Dec 1, Fri Dec 2, & Sat Dec 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Hancher Auditorium, 141 Park Road, Iowa City
Cost: $20 to $75

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Friday, December 2

North Liberty Library Tot Time Snow Craft 

What: Celebrate winter with a fun snow craft.
Who: Geared toward ages 2-4
When: Fri, Dec 2, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Where: North Liberty Library, 520 W. Cherry Street, North Liberty
Cost: FREE

A Christmas Past 

What: Annually the first weekend in December, Main Street West Branch, the City of West Branch, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Foundation, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Musuem, and the National Park Service, celebrate the spirit of the season. Enjoy carolers, music, horse drawn carriages/wagons, Christmas tree exhibit, the Gibson Trains, ice carving, Santa and Mrs. Claus, plus much, much more.
Who: All ages
When: Fri, Dec 2 & Sat, Dec 3
Where: West Branch & the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, 210 Parkside Drive, West Branch, IA
Cost: Varies

A Fairy Tale Christmas

What: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is remade with your favorite fairy tale characters, bringing to life the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s magical Christmas Eve. Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, Old King Cole, and many beloved characters help create a new comedic twist on the traditional classic fable. 
Who: All ages
When: Fri, Dec 2 at 7:00 p.m. & Sat, Dec 3 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Where: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, 210 Parkside Drive, West Branch, IA
Cost: FREE  Please note: Due to large crowds in the past, we are offering free tickets for reservation. You can reserve your tickets online, or by calling the Box Office at 319-248-9370. Any remaining tickets will be made available at the door one hour before each performance.

The Polar Express Pajama Storytime 

What: All aboard! Come in your PJs and join us for a magical evening as we host our annual Polar Express Storytime. Coloring and activities to follow, including writing a “Dear Santa” letter!
Who: All ages
When: Fri, Dec 2, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Barnes & Noble, Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Suite 1108, Coralville
Cost: FREE


Saturday, December 3

Breakfast with Santa 

What: Santa will be waiting for kids to enjoy a hot meal provided by the North Liberty Lions Club. Event also includes live music, crafts, special holiday movies on the big screen, and a model Christmas Train for everyone to enjoy. Don’t forget to visit with Santa and tell him what you want for Christmas. Don’t worry about a camera, photos will be taken free of charge by Sandi Spurrell Photography and posted to her website just days later. 
Pre-registration required. Deadline: Dec. 1 (or until optimal numbers are met; No walk-ins.) 
Who: Infants to 10 years old
When: Sat, Dec 3, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Where: North Liberty Rec Center, Jones Gymnasium, 520 W. Cherry Street, North Liberty
Cost: $3 per person (ages 3 & up; Everyone pays regardless of intent to eat.)

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Christmas in Kalona 

What: Children can fill their “Walking Stockings” with gifts from local merchants, have their picture taken with Santa, decorate cookies and ornaments and watch a holiday movie. Other events include a cookie walk, vendor fair, toy drive, and carriage rides.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 3, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Downtown Kalona, IA
Cost: FREE

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Storytime 

What: “Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes!” and celebrate all things Grinch with a reading of the classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! We will have good deed badges and tracking booklets for kids to log all the good things they do this holiday season. Activities to follow.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 3, 11:00 a.m.
Where: Barnes & Noble, Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Suite 1108, Coralville
Cost: FREE

Holiday Shopping Trolley 

What: The University of Iowa Fine Arts Council Holiday Thieves’ Market and the Iowa City Downtown District are teaming up to make your Dec 3rd Shopping easier and fun! Enjoy some festive shopping with FREE rides on the Holiday Trolley that will run from the Iowa Memorial Union to Downtown to the Northside and back. Park at any of the ramps, and hop on at one of the bus stops for the easiest way to get around!
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 3, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Where: Downtown Iowa City: Bus stops will be directly outside of the IMU, on Washington St. and on Market St.
Cost: FREE

Pinterest Presents 

What: Join us as we make several Pinterest-inspired projects! The classes are free with supplies provided, and the finished projects make great gifts. Registration is required, so call us at 848-7616 or register online at www.ely.lib.ia.us.
Who: Adults and older kids
When: Sat, Dec 3, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Ely Public Library, 1595 Dows Street, Ely IA
Cost: FREE (Registration required)

Jingle Bell Trot 5K Fundraiser 

What: Come support Take A Kid Outdoors in our first 5K Walk/Run Fundraiser! We will have family activities, including photos with Santa, reindeer food making, cookie decorating, and more! Watch for updates on our online registration! There will be a 5K Walk/Run. All participants that pre-register are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind Jingle Bell Trot T-Shirt!
Who: All Ages
When: Sat, Dec 3, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: Lower City Park, 200 E. Park Road, Iowa City
Cost: $15 to $60

Sing-Along Messiah

What: Sing along with Handel’s beloved oratorio! Conductor Ed Kottick brings together an orchestra, professional soloists, and local choirs to fill the Center for a joyful holiday celebration. Buy your tickets in advance for general admission or to sit by vocal part (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, or Bass). Tickets purchased the day of the show will be seated in the general admission area. General admission seating is for any voice part, for families wishing to sit together, or for those who would simply like to listen and enjoy the music. Limited sheet music will be available for purchase at the event, so please bring your own sheet music with you.
Who: Adults and older children
When: Sat, Dec 3, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 5th Street, Coralville
Cost: $8 to $12


Tuesday, December 6

Gingerbread House Contest (submissions open)

What: Submissions accepted December 6-19. Gingerbread, frosting, licorice, and red hots–oh my! Can your family create the winning gingerbread house? No rules except to have some good old-fashioned family fun! Give your house a fun or festive name and bring it to display in the library by December 19. You can also email a photo of your house to [email protected] Images must be clear and close up. Photos of each house will be posted in an album on our Facebook page on Tuesday, December 20. The house with the most likes on Thursday, December 22 at 8 a.m. will win a festive family prize.
Who: All ages
When: Submission from Dec 6–Dec 19. Voting on Facebook Dec 20-22
Where: North Liberty Library, 520 W. Cherry Street, North Liberty
Cost: FREE

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Christmas Crafts Classes

What: Youngsters will make some holiday take-home crafts to enjoy this season.
Who: 3-5 year olds
When: Three Tuesdays from Dec 6-20 at 10:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m.
Where: North Liberty Rec Center, 520 W. Cherry Street, North Liberty
Cost: North Liberty Residents $20; Non-residents $25 (Registration deadline is Nov 28)

Cantatas for Christmas

What: Faculty Showcase: Telemann
Who: All ages
When: Tues, Dec 6, 7:30 p.m.
Where: U of I Voxman Music Building, Organ Hall, 93 East Burlington Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Friday, December 9

Holiday Tubas

What: The UI Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble will bring the sounds of the season to the University of Iowa Pentacrest with their annual Holiday Tuba Concert on the steps of the Old Capitol Museum. Join us for new takes on traditional favorites such as “Frosty the Snowman” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”
Who: All ages
When: Fri, Dec 9, 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: U of I Old Capitol Building Steps, 21 N. Clinton St. Iowa City
Cost: FREE

 Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball with Barnes & Noble

What: Dress like your favorite Harry Potter character, wear your holiday best, or come as you are and join us for dancing, music, activities and giveaways.
Who: Teens
When: Fri, Dec 9, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Barnes & Noble, Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Suite 1108, Coralville
Cost: FREE

The Nutcracker opens

What: Nolte Academy & The Englert Theatre are proud to present a unique and highly entertaining version of the beloved Christmas classic, The Nutcracker. Take a journey with Clara and her hero as they defeat the evil Mouse King. Travel with them through the magical Land of Snow and delight in their arrival in the Kingdom of Sweets. This holiday classic comes to life with performances by dancers from Nolte Academy. The production features a live orchestra, consisting of local musicians. Don’t miss the wonder and enchantment of this Christmas tale!
Who: All ages
When: Performances Fri, Dec 9 at 7:30 p.m., Sat Dec 10 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sun Dec 11 at 2:00 p.m.
Where: The Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington Street, Iowa City
Cost: $18 to $30


Saturday, December 10

ICMB Pancakes & Pajamas

What: Join us (in your PJs, of course!) for a morning of holiday fun for the whole family! We will be serving up pancakes and other breakfast goodies, and our sponsors will be on hand with TONS of holiday-themed games, activities, and crafts. We will also have a super fun holiday backdrop for you to take some fun photos!
Who: All Ages
When: Sat, Dec 10, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Where: South Slope Cooperative, 980 North Front St., North Liberty
Cost: $6 – Get tickets here!

Breakfast with Santa 

What: Join the Coralville-North Corridor Rotary Club for a morning with Santa. Take your own picture with Santa.  Enjoy pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice, and coffee.  Fresh wreaths available for purchase.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 10, 7:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Where: Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 300 E. Ninth Street, Coralville
Cost: $6 (under 3 free)

Gingerbread House Decorating Party 

What: Join us for this family fun tradition! Basic house structures, icing, and candy will all be provided. However, feel free to drop off any donations for decorating! One house per family will be provided, with additional houses available for $5 each. Registration is required to participate, so stop by or call us at 848-7616 by Wednesday, December 7th.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 10, Any time between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Where: Ely Public Library, 1595 Dows Street, Ely IA
Cost: FREE (registration required)

Holiday Open House at Coralville Old Town Hall

What: As part of the Coralville Aisle of Lights weekend, the Old Town Hall will be open to the public to learn about Coralville’s History while enjoying the Sled and Children’s Riding Toy exhibit on display.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 10, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Sun, Dec 11, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Where: Coralville Old Town Hall, 407 5th Street, Coralville
Cost: FREE

Percussion Holiday Pops

Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 10, 3:00 p.m.
Where: U of I Voxman Music Building, Organ Hall, 93 East Burlington Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Sunday, December 11

Holiday Gingerbread House Competition 

What: For all gingerbread lovers and connoisseurs! Join us for a gingerbread house competition from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the beautiful hotelVetro, in the events and meeting halls. There will be two 2-hour shifts of the competition with 1 hour and 30 minutes for creating and 30 minutes for judging and awards. Winners will be announced and receive a prize at the end of each shift. The first shift will be from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. and the second shift will be from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. **NEW- Each shift will have a “12 and under” category for teams that only want to compete against their age group. Tickets are $40/gingerbread house and each house can have up to 4 decorators. Candy will be provided, and participants can also bring extra supplies. A cash bar will be available serving up holiday drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
Who: All ages (Categories: Adult and 12 and Under)
When: Sun, Dec 11, 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Where: hotelVetro, 201 S. Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: $40 per gingerbread house (up to 4 decorators)

Aisle of Lights at the Johnson County Historical Society 

What: Part of Coralville’s 36th annual Aisle of Lights. JCHS will be having cookie decorating, free admission to the JCHS Exhibit Hall, and hot apple cider. Also check out the Hawkeye Model Railroad Display and 1/2 price admission to the Antique Car Museum of Iowa!
Who: All ages
When: Sun, Dec 11, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Johnson County Historical Society Museum, Iowa River Landing, 860 Quarry Road, Coralville
Cost: FREE

Telemann: Cantatas for Christmastide

Who: All ages
When: Sun, Dec 11, 3:00 p.m.
Where: U of I Voxman Music Building, Organ Hall, 93 East Burlington Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE

Iowa City Chamber Singers: A Candlelight Christmas 

What: Celebrate the promise of the upcoming holiday season through traditional carols and new favorites. This concert will feature Benjamin Britten’s beloved A Ceremony of Carols for choir and harp, new Christmas anthems by local composer Peter Blotch, and a rousing finish with Craig Courtney’s A Musicological Journey through the Twelve Days of Christmas. Share the warmth and the glow of the holiday season with CSIC.
Who: All ages
When: Sun, Dec 11, 3:00 p.m.
Where: First United Methodist Church, 220 E. Jefferson Street, Iowa City
Cost: $14 to $17

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Coralville Aisle of Lights

What: Coralville’s 36th annual Aisle of Lights includes free events throughout Coralville and miles of luminaria! See how 30,000 white paper sacks, each filled with sand and a votive candle, create a magical scene on a winter evening! Miles of luminaria are available for viewing by foot or car. You may also opt for the free bus tour, which is open to the public and wheelchair-accessible. Each round is limited to 40 people on a first come, first served basis. The bus departs the Coralville City Hall approximately every 45 minutes, with the last tour departing at 8:15 pm. Click here for information if your family wants to participate by having luminaria around your house!
Who: All ages
When: Sun, Dec 11, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Where: Throughout Coralville

  • 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the Coralville City Hall – Free hot chocolate and cookies. Bring a camera for photos with Santa in an antique sleigh. Live music.
  • 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Big White House (1246 12th Ave) – Hot drinks, cookies, games, and an open house in a renovated 1910 farmhouse.
  • 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. at The Santa House (1489 Valley View Drive) – Over 100 yard Santas, a life-size nativity, model trains, and animations. Appearances by Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Mr. Elf.

Cost: FREE


Monday, December 12

Family Night at the Library

What: These are programs for the whole family. A Family Night might involve crafts, games, stories, music—or any combination!
Who: Families!
When: Mon, Dec 12, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Coralville Public Library, Schwab Auditorium, 1401 5th Street, Coralville
Cost: FREE


Thursday, December 15

What: Makerspace Thursdays: Wonderful Weaving – Do you like to create new things?  Join us for Makerspace Thursdays and unlock your inner architect, engineer, or artist.  Find new connections between technology, engineering, art, science, craft, and creative problem solving while having fun with high-tech and low-tech tools. December’s Makerspace program brings art, craft, and technology together!
Who: All ages (No reservations are needed, but supplies for some programs will be limited.)
When: Thurs, Nov 17, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, Biosphere Discovery Hub,17 N. Clinton St., Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Friday, December 16

Family Movie Night: “Finding Dory”

What: Bring pillows and blankets for your viewing comfort. You are also welcome to bring snacks and covered beverages. Popcorn provided!
Who: Families!
When: Fri, Dec 16, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: North Liberty Library, Meeting room ABCD, 520 W. Cherry Street, North Liberty
Cost: FREE


Saturday, December 17

EPL (Ely Public Library) Eats Cookie Exchange

What: Bring 3 dozen cookies to exchange, copies of your recipe, and a container! What a fun way to bake with your kids and then get a variety of Christmas cookies to take home!
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 17, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Where: Ely Public Library, 1595 Dows Street, Ely IA
Cost: FREE

“Santa’s Sleigh is on Its Way” Storytime 

What: It’s a magical Christmas Eve, and all of the children in your town are sleeping. Well, all of the children but you! How could you possibly fall asleep when you know Santa and his sleigh are on their way? Join us for Storytime and activities featuring Santa’s Sleigh Is on Its Way!
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 17, 11:00 a.m.
Where: Barnes & Noble, Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Suite 1108, Coralville
Cost: FREE

Movie at the Museum: Up on the Wooftop 

What: Join Johnson County Historical Society for the first ever “Movie at the Museum” event. This movie was shot right here in Iowa City by local production company, Backrow Studios!  Toby is a smaller than average dog who dreams of leading Santa’s sleigh. After sneaking onto his sleigh one night, he’s accidentally left behind and finds himself joining forces with two kids to find his way back to the North Pole.Chairs will be provided. Attendees are welcome to bring a blanket to sit on for the duration of the movie. Popcorn and beverages will be provided.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 17, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Coralville Old Town Hall, 407 5th Street, Coralville
Cost: FREE

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Winter Solstice Celebration 

What: Prepare for the December 21st Winter Solstice by participating in the Recreation Division Winter Solstice Festival of Lights. This family-friendly event will have crafts and activities for all ages. Everyone is invited to participate in a Lighting Ceremony in the Discovery Garden and the Outdoor Classroom and to make lanterns to take home for lighting on the actual Solstice. Watch the Iowa City Rec Center page for further details.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 17 (in 2015 it was from 3:00- 5:00 p.m.)
Where: Iowa City Rec Center, 220 S Gilbert Street,Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Sunday, December 18

Bolshoi Ballet: The Nutcracker 

What: A special production captured from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Russia. On Christmas Eve, Marie’s wooden nutcracker doll transforms into a beautiful prince who takes her on a magical journey. Before they leave, they must confront the Mouse King whose army is threatening Marie. Christmas would not be complete without the enchanting tale of young Marie and her Nutcracker prince! Danced by the Bolshoi’s principals, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s fairytale staged by Russian ballet master Yuri Grigorovich will transport children and adults alike to a world of magic and wonder for the holiday season.
Who: All ages
When: Sun, Dec 18, 12:55 p.m.
Where: Marcus Sycamore 12 Cinema, 1602 Sycamore Street, Iowa City
Cost: $15/ticket (Purchase tickets here)

Iowa City Community Band & New Horizons Band Joint Holiday Concert 2016

Who: All ages
When: Sun, Dec 18, 2:00 p.m.
Where: Iowa City West High School Auditorium, 2901 Melrose Ave, Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Thursday, December 22

Gingerbread Fun Storytime 

What: Join us from 10:30 – 11 for a special gingerbread-themed storytime, and then stay for gingerbread making, holiday crafts, and winter stories on the big screen. All ages are welcome! We will provide gingerbread men to decorate and craft supplies for a fun first morning of winter break!
Who: Preschool (recommended for children age 3, 4, or 5)
When: Thurs, Dec 22, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Where: Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE

Flair to Share: Wearable Gifts 

What: Need a last minute gift idea for your friends or family? Or maybe you want to make something new for yourself? Either way, come to the storytime room between 2 and 4 p.m. to make buttons, friendship bracelets, headbands, keychains, earrings, ornaments and more! We will provide all the jewelry/flair supplies you’ll need; you just bring your creativity!
Who: Elementary age and up
When: Thurs, Dec 22, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Iowa City Pubic Library, 123 South Linn Street, Iowa City
Cost: FREE


Tuesday, December 27

Crafternoons 

What: Crafternoons are back! This week, we’re making snowflakes with coffee filters.
Who: Kindergarten through 3rd grade
When: Tues, Dec 27, 4:15 – 5:15 p.m.
Where: North Liberty Library, 520 W. Cherry Street, North Liberty
Cost: FREE


Friday, December 30

Noon-Year’s Eve Party 

What: Join us as we kick off the New Year family style, complete with a balloon drop at noon. There will also be crafts, snacks, dancing and a special princess guest.
Who: All ages
When: Fri, Dec 30, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Where: North Liberty Library, 520 W. Cherry Street, North Liberty
Cost: FREE

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Saturday, December 31

Noon Year’s Eve 

What: The Iowa Children’s Museum is celebrating 2017 a few hours early and you’re invited!  Bring all your family and friends to create the perfect party accessory including hats and noisemakers, then join us for the big countdown and balloon drop at 12 noon.  Here’s to a fun-filled 2017!
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 31, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Where: Iowa Children’s Museum, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave, Coralville
Cost: Museum admission:

  • Ages 1-59: $8
  • Seniors (60+) $7
  • Infants (Under 1): Free
  • Members: Free
  • Military Families: Buy one admission, get one free with a military ID)

Hap-Pea All Year Storytime 

What: Just in time for New Year’s, the peas from the bestselling LMNO Peas are back for more fun–this time exploring the months of the year! Join us for Storytime and activities featuring Hap-Pea All Year.
Who: Children
When: Sat, Dec 31, 11:00 a.m.
Where: Barnes & Noble, Coral Ridge Mall, 1451 Coral Ridge Ave. Suite 1108, Coralville
Cost: FREE

Years Eve Party 

What: Friends of Ely Public Library will be hosting a special family fun party to celebrate the New Year! Join us for games, prizes, fun, and lunch! Register online or by calling 848-7616.
Who: All ages
When: Sat, Dec 31, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Where: Ely Public Library, 1595 Dows Street, Ely IA
Cost: FREE


So get out your calendar, make a plan, and enjoy all that the holidays in the corridor have to offer!


 

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2 Responses to Iowa City Area Family Holiday Events

  1. Teresa November 11, 2016 at 6:32 am #

    You’r awesome, I’m filling up my calendar!

  2. Daecy September 16, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    Thanks for compiling all of this info!! So helpful!!

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