There is something special about summer in Iowa City. Throw your lawn chairs in the trunk, grab the sunblock, and enjoy a jam-packed season of festivals, farmers’ markets, and food. There are just too many events to include them all, but this guide will get you started.
Rock the Block Concert Series (May 4-September 7) – Join NewBo Friday nights for this free concert series featuring local bands, locally-crafted food and drinks, and games in the Market Yard.
Friday night Concert Series (May 18-August 31) – Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy FREE live entertainment every Friday, all summer long. The 2018 concerts will be held just off the North end of the Pentacrest on Iowa Avenue in between Clinton Street and Dubuque Street.
Live at the Market- Saturday Nights Downtown (May 26-September 7) – Every Saturday this Summer, Bread Garden Market & Bakery will be hosting a Live Music Series on College St. by the Iowa City Public Library and the Downtown Playground. The music series will feature a line-up of diverse groups for 17 weeks and is free and open to everyone.
Free Movie Series (June 9-August 25) – Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy a full-length movie on the University of Iowa Pentacrest outside of Macbride Hall.
Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust Movies on the Riverbank – Experience moonlight, movies, food, and family fun under the stars in Downtown Cedar Rapids. 2018 movies are Wonder (June 9), Despicable Me 3 (July 14) and Coco (August 11).
Nature Play (June 10, July 22) – Explore your world with this free Iowa Children’s Museum outdoor program. Active learning activities get the whole family involved in scientific exploration and observation.
Party in the Park – Connect with neighbors this summer at the FREE Party in the Park events with live music, games, arts and crafts, frozen treats, and the Iowa City Public Library Bookmobile!
City Park Rides – Head to City Park for the train, carousel, and other fun rides. Cost is $1 per ride or $8 for a 10-punch card.
Kernels Baseball – Have some baseball fun and support our very own Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale (June 1-2) – Now in its 39th year, the Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale includes auctions, farmer’s market, entertainment, children’s activities, meals, and food specialties. New this year: Relief Sale 5K trail run and 1 milk walk.
Iowa Arts Festival (June 1-3) – The Iowa Arts Festival is a weekend-long, free, community celebration featuring over 115 local and national visual artists displaying and selling their artwork, a music festival, a “Culinary Row,” and a variety of activities and entertainment for children and families.
Free Fishing (June 2) – Come and spend your day enjoying the outdoors fishing with Take A Kid Outdoors! There will be live fish, experts from Scheels, food, and prize drawings. Bring a fishing pole if you have one. If not, some will be available.
Hills Fire Department Street Dance (June 3) – Drama Kings return for a third year for an outdoor show at Old 218 Tap.
Iowa Renaissance Festival (June 2-3) – Now in its 27th year, the Iowa Renaissance Festival is two weekends of live entertainment featuring comedy, swordplay, music, magic, and even horseback jousting. Explore a marketplace and enjoy tasty treats and drinks in the royal food court.
Family Fun Night (Thursdays in June) – In June, Thursday Nights at Hancher become Family Fun Nights at Hancher! Join us each Thursday night in June for free events celebrating the arts! Family Fun Nights coincide with Thursday Nights at Hancher from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
IOW 100: Celebrating the First Century of Firsts (June 8-10) – Join the Iowa City Municipal Airport (IOW) for a celebration of the many firsts in the airport’s storied past, as well as the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Explore exhibits, enjoy aerial performances, or take a plane ride while seeing the wonderful big-city services and amenities our local airport offers.
Great Iowa River Race (June 9) – Canoers, kayakers, and paddleboarders are welcome to compete in this fun 9.25-mile race on the Iowa River!
Kids’ Day at the Coralville Farmers’ Market (June 11) – Enjoy balloon artistry, fun games and activities with The Iowa Children’s Museum, music time, and a puppet performance.
Freedom Festival (June 14-July 4) – The community of Cedar Rapids is showcased throughout the Freedom Festival with over 70 events taking place leading up to the grand finale on the 4th of July: the largest fireworks show in Iowa!
Much Ado About Nothing (June 15-17 & June 21-24): The Iowa City tradition of Riverside Theatre producing Shakespeare in City Park at the circular outdoor Festival Stage in now free.
Pride Fest (June 15-17) – A parade, vendor fair, live music, and lots of rainbows will bring thousands to downtown Iowa City during the 48th Iowa City Pride Festival & Parade!
Wurst Fest (June 16) – The Amana Colonies is celebrating all things sausage as we eat, drink, and have the Wurst time you could possibly have.
Juneteenth Celebration (June 23) – Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1865. Come out for music, live entertainment, free food, historical displays, and outdoor activities for children including body painting, double dutch, hopscotch, and more!
Kalona Days (June 23) – Enjoy a day of fun-filled activities for the whole family with a parade, food, games, Fun Run, entertainment, red tag event, and more.
Downtown Block Party (June 23) – The first Downtown Block Party in 2017 brought an estimated 30,000 on a Saturday night to Downtown Iowa City for community fun! For 2018, the event will be back on June 23rd from 5-11 p.m.
Lucas Farms Neighborhood History Day (June 24) – Lucas Farms History Day and Tour de Farms Bike Ride highlights the rich history of our neighborhood. Enjoy neighborhood highlights, pony rides, and family activities including games and refreshments.
Linn County Fair (June 27-July 2) – Head to Cedar Rapids for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Trek Fest (June 29-30) – Held annually in Riverside, this themed event hosts contests, family friendly games, live music, a demolition derby, 5k race, ball tournament, parade, and more. 2018 marks the 34th TrekFest celebration.
Iowa City Jazz Fest Festival (June 29-July 1) – Come down for a three-day weekend of live jazz performances, delicious dishes, and cap off the weekend with a full blown fireworks display over the University of Iowa’s Pentacrest lawn.
4th Fest (July 1-4) – Coralville’s annual multi-day festival includes a 5K run / walk, entertainment, food, carnival, a free concert on July 3, and the area’s largest Independence Day parade, activities in the park, and fireworks on July 4.
Heritage Days (July 12-14) –The 31th Annual Heritage Days Festival, Mount Vernon’s biggest summer festival, includes fireworks, old-fashioned carnival games, live performances, bingo, a beer tent, and a “mini-Olympics for kids.”
Blues & BBQ (July 14) – North Liberty is celebrating its 12th year of live music, mouthwatering barbecue, Iowa craft beer and family fun,
Taste of Farmers’ Market (July 12) – Enjoy free samples of in-season fruits, vegetables, and baked goods provided by the Farmers’ Market vendors. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. at the Chauncey Swan Market. This event is sponsored in part by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union.
Cedar County Fair (July 11-15) – Head to Tipton for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Kids’ Day at the Coralville Farmers’ Market (July 17) – Enjoy balloon artistry, fun games and activities, and great music.
Muscatine County Fair (July 18-22) – Head over to West Liberty for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Sidewalk Sales (July 20-23) – The Downtown Iowa City’s Annual Sidewalk Sales will have a three-day savings extravaganza; come down and see what the downtown merchants have to offer.
Beef Days (July 20-21) – Solon hosts this two-day celebration with delicious foods, live music, run event, parade, and more.
Johnson County Fair (July 22-25) – Iowa City hosts carnival rides, a tractor pull, great food, talent shows, livestock, and more.
Kinderfest (July 21) – Kinderfest in the Amana Colonies is dedicated to children and families. It’s all about the kids and the whole family having fun. There will be games and special events for children of all ages.
Tiffun Creek Fest (July 28) – Tiffin hosts this event filled with kid friendly fun, live music, fireworks, and more.
Morning Dew Art & Flea Festival at Bloomsbury Farm (July 28-29) – Bloomsbury Farm will be hosting their 2nd annual market festival featuring local and creative businesses, wine room, hayrack rides, giant slides, and live music.
RAGBRAI (July 27) – Iowa City is excited to be a host community for RAGBRAI XLVI! Join us for a day filled with food, fun, and entertainment.
Swisher Fun Days (July 27-28) – Swisher will host a kiddie tractor pull, human foosball tournament, petting zoo, inflatables, fireworks, and more.
Asian Fest (July 28) – The 5th annual Asian Fest is a FREE, fun festival for families to come and experience the flair, fusion, and flavor of Asian cultures. Rich performances, delicious cuisine, and live music are offered in Cedar Rapids.
Sweet Corn Feed at the Coralville Farmers’ Market (July 30) – Coralville’s annual event returns with fresh sweet corn and live music.
Mississippi Valley Fair (July 31-August 5) – Davenport will host agriculture, antiques, great food, live music, rides, and more!
Hoover Hometown Days (August 3-4) – West Branch celebrates its most well known resident with music, food, rides, and the world championships of Hooverball.
St. Jude Sweet Corn Festival (August 10-12) – Cedar Rapids brings in over 25,000 ears of corn for this great event. Enjoy this and other delicious foods, bingo, shopping, races, silent auction events, and more.
Iowa State Fair (August 9-19) – The single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines has been ranked as one of the top events in the country.
Festival of the Arts (August 11) – Amana will host and feature sales of fine arts, crafts, and traditional Colony folk arts. Enjoy demonstrations and observing of woodturning, quilting, tin-smithing, basket making, spinning, and painting.
Kids’ Day at the Coralville Farmers’ Market (August 13) – Enjoy balloon artistry, fun games and activities, and music.
Farm to Street Dinner (August 17) – The 3rd Annual Farm to Street Dinner includes an incredible six-course meal prepared by some of Iowa City’s best chefs utilizing local ingredients. Tickets go on sale June 1.
Iowa Soul Festival (August 17-18) – The Iowa Soul Festival is a celebration that features the dance, music, food, and art of the African and African-American communities. Enjoy live entertainment, soul food, African-American inspired art, a FUN Zone for the kids, and much more!
Salute to Summer (August 18) – North Liberty Firefighter’s Foundation will be hosting their annual fundraiser with food, junior firefighting activities, inflatables, facility tours, and a silent auction.
Taste of Iowa City (August 23) – This annual event celebrates the culinary diversity of Downtown and Northside restaurants with sample portions from more than 40 menus.
Woodfest (August 24-26) – Handcrafted wood items, tools and equipment, demonstrations and sales. Shop, browse, learn from, and visit with regional and national woodcrafters and wood product vendors in Amana.
What did we miss? What are your favorite summer events in the area?