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Top 10 Christmas Markets in Iowa: Best Holiday Shopping and Festivities

Iowa transforms into a winter wonderland as the holiday season approaches, with Christmas markets popping up all over the state.

These festive markets offer a unique blend of holiday cheer and shopping opportunities, making them a must-visit for anyone looking to get into the spirit of the season.

A festive scene with colorful stalls, twinkling lights, and bustling crowds at the Top 10 Christmas Markets in Iowa

Whether you’re looking for handmade crafts, delicious seasonal foods, or just a cozy place to enjoy the holiday festivities, Iowa’s Christmas markets have something to offer everyone.

From Des Moines to Coralville, each market brings its own local flavor and charm, ensuring a memorable experience for all who attend.

1) Christkindlmarket Des Moines

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Christkindlmarket Des Moines brings a touch of Europe to Iowa with its German-inspired Christmas market. This festive event will be held from December 5 to 8, 2024.

You’ll find unique gifts, handcrafted items, and delightful holiday treats.

As you walk through the market, you’ll notice the charming wooden stalls, each filled with vendors offering a variety of goods. From traditional holiday ornaments to artisanal cheeses, there’s something for everyone.

Live music and performances add to the festive atmosphere, making it a perfect outing for families. Kids will love the interactive activities, while adults can sip on warm mulled wine.

A new addition this year is a family-friendly board game lounge hosted by The Dealt Hand. This gives you a cozy spot to relax and enjoy some friendly competition.

Dec 5-8, 2024Des Moines, IA 50309Thur: 5-9pm, Fri-Sat: 11am-9pm, Sun: 11am-5pmFree Admission

2) Amana Colonies Christmas Market

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The Amana Colonies Christmas Market is a gem in Iowa’s holiday scene. Nestled within the Amana General Store, this year-round market captures the spirit of Christmas no matter the season. You’ll be charmed by the beautiful holiday displays and the array of unique ornaments and decorations.

Walking through the market, you can expect to find hand-crafted gifts and world-imported items. Each stall offers something special, making it an ideal spot for stress-free shopping. The festive environment enhances your experience, bringing a sense of magic to your visit.

The Amana Colonies are known for their historical charm. Located in Amana, Iowa, the market draws tourists throughout the year. Seasonal festivals such as Winterfest and Maifest add to the allure, but the Christmas Market remains a constant favorite.

For those interested in visiting, there’s also convenient information available. You can call 319-622-3692 or use the toll-free number 800-418-8318 for more details.

Year-roundAmana General Store, 4423 220th Trail, Amana, IADaily: 10 AM – 5 PMFree Entry

3) Dubuque Winter Farmers Market

The bustling Dubuque Winter Farmers Market is adorned with festive decorations, showcasing the top 10 Christmas markets in Iowa

The Dubuque Winter Farmers Market is a place where you can feel the community spirit and enjoy local produce even when the weather gets cold. This market is located in the heart of downtown Dubuque and runs from November through April.

You can expect fresh vegetables, homemade jams, and artisan crafts.

You’ll find the market at the Colts Center, situated at 1101 Central Ave. Vendors gather to sell a variety of products, making it a great spot for holiday shopping or weekend outings. It’s not just about buying groceries; it’s about supporting local farmers and artisans.

This market has been around for years and is a staple in Dubuque. With a small entry fee, you get access to fresh foods and unique items. Not only will you find traditional market fare, but also surprises and seasonal offerings.

Schedule and Info

DatesNovember – April
Address1101 Central Ave, Dubuque, IA 52001
TimesSaturdays, 9 AM – Noon
PricesNo entry fee; vendor prices vary

4) Cedar Rapids Christmas Market

The Cedar Rapids Christmas Market bustles with festive activity, showcasing vendors' colorful displays of holiday wares and twinkling lights illuminating the cheerful atmosphere

You won’t want to miss the cheerful buzz at the Cedar Rapids Christmas Market. Held at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, this market is brimming with holiday spirit. It’s a delightful fusion of traditional European charm and Midwest hospitality, creating a unique experience for all visitors.

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Stroll through the market and you’ll find a variety of vendors selling handcrafted gifts, festive decorations, and delicious treats. The Old World Christmas Market is a highlight, featuring a range of cultural items that pay homage to Czech and Slovak traditions.

The market also offers a range of activities for all ages. Whether you’re interested in live entertainment, hands-on crafts, or simply enjoying the festive atmosphere, there’s something for everyone. Admission to the museum galleries is free during the event, making it a perfect outing for families.

With its cozy setting and rich cultural backdrop, the Cedar Rapids Christmas Market is a cherished holiday destination. Don’t forget to check out the local food stalls for some seasonal delicacies that will surely warm your heart and belly.

Dates: December 2, 2023
Address: 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids, IA
Times: 9:30 AM to 8:00 PM
Prices: Free admission

For more information, you can visit the Tourism Cedar Rapids page or the Travel Iowa page.

5) Iowa City Holiday Market

The Iowa City Holiday Market bustles with festive stalls and twinkling lights, as shoppers browse handmade crafts and local treats. The scent of hot cocoa and cinnamon fills the air, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere

The Iowa City Holiday Market is a must-visit for your festive needs. Held annually, this market returns with handcrafted gifts, crafts, and food from local artisans. You can explore an array of unique items, from handmade ceramics to locally sourced food.

Located in downtown Iowa City, the market is bustling with activity. Vendors set up stalls filled with one-of-a-kind crafts and goods. It’s an excellent place to find special gifts for everyone on your list.

Don’t miss the chance to taste the delicious treats available. From fresh produce to baked goods, your taste buds will thank you. The community vibe is strong here, making it an enjoyable outing for families and friends.

Iowa City Holiday Market

November 11, 2024
December 16, 2024

Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, 220 S Gilbert St, Iowa City, IA 52240

8:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Free Entry

6) Sioux City International Holiday Market

The Sioux City International Holiday Market bustles with festive energy, filled with vendor stalls adorned with twinkling lights and colorful decorations. The scent of hot cocoa and freshly baked goods fills the air as visitors browse through the top 10 Christmas markets in Iowa

You won’t want to miss the Sioux City International Holiday Market. This gathering transforms the city with vibrant colors and festive cheer. A perfect spot for finding handmade crafts and unique gifts, it also offers a variety of yummy food.

Held in downtown Sioux City, the market attracts both locals and visitors. With a range of vendors from different cultures, you can experience a global festive spirit. It’s an event where tradition meets modernity.

Aside from shopping, the market offers live performances and activities for all ages. You can enjoy music, dance, and even storytelling, adding to the overall festive atmosphere. The diversity of offerings ensures there’s something for everyone.

Dec 7 – 10Downtown Sioux City10 AM – 8 PMFree

7) Boone Valley Christmas Market

Nestled in Boone, Iowa, the Boone Valley Christmas Market brings a rustic charm that captures the holiday spirit perfectly.

This market transforms the entire town into a festive wonderland, making it an inviting spot for holiday enthusiasts of all ages.

Explore a variety of stalls offering handmade crafts, unique gifts, and delicious seasonal treats.

Local artisans showcase their handcrafted ornaments, perfect for adding a personal touch to your holiday decorations.

Don’t miss out on the warm, fresh-baked goodies or hot beverages that keep you cozy while you shop.

Live music and carolers create a delightful backdrop, filling the air with joy and merriment.

The Boone Valley Christmas Market also features fun activities for kids, including craft workshops and a visit from Santa.

It’s an ideal place for families looking to create lasting holiday memories.

The market is a one-day event, so plan your visit accordingly.

It’s a great way to support local vendors and immerse yourself in the holiday cheer unique to Boone.

Dec 7Boone, IA 5003610 a.m. – 6 p.m.Free Entry, Items Vary

8) Pella Christmas Village

Experience a touch of Dutch charm right in Pella, Iowa, with the Pella Christmas Village.

This quaint market takes over Molengracht Plaza, transforming it into a winter wonderland.

Stroll along the European-style canal, lit up with festive lights and holiday decorations.

Pella Christmas Village is inspired by traditional outdoor markets in the Netherlands.

You can find Dutch-themed items, handcrafted gifts, and tasty treats from local vendors. Grab a warm drink and soak in the festive atmosphere as you browse.

Don’t miss the Kerstmarkt, Pella’s Dutch Christmas Market, held during the event.

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It’s a perfect opportunity to find unique holiday gifts and experience the local culture.

Live music and performances add to the merriment, making it a joyful experience for all ages.

Here, you also get to enjoy the community’s Christmas Tour of Homes, which runs concurrently.

The event showcases beautifully decorated homes, adding another layer of holiday magic.

November 30 –Molengracht PlazaThursday: 10 am – 8 pmFree entry
December 2, 2023Pella, IA 50219Friday: 10 am – 8 pm 
  Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm 

9) Spirit Lake Holiday Market

The Spirit Lake Holiday Market offers a charming festive experience.

Held at the 2048 Hwy. 9 location, this market is a must-visit for anyone in the area.

You’ll find a mix of handmade, vintage, and repurposed items.

Stroll through the stalls and pick up unique gifts for your loved ones.

The market is also known for its vibrant, welcoming atmosphere.

It’s a great place to soak up the holiday spirit and enjoy some festive treats.

Consider this market if you’re looking for a special holiday outing.

The cheerful environment and diverse vendors make it a standout in Iowa.

July 3 – 42048 Hwy. 9, Spirit Lake, IA8:00am – 3:00pmFree

10) Ottumwa Holiday Craft Fair

If you’re in Iowa, the Ottumwa Holiday Craft Fair is a must-visit.

This festive fair brings together local vendors, artists, and crafters in one delightful spot. You can find unique gifts, handmade crafts, and holiday decorations.

The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, perfect for a day out with family and friends.

Held at the Bridge View Center, the event showcases a wide array of items.

You’ll see everything from hand-knit scarves to intricate woodwork.

Local food vendors also offer seasonal treats, so you can munch on something delicious while you shop.

The fair takes place in late November, aligning perfectly with the start of the holiday shopping season.

It’s a great way to support small businesses and discover one-of-a-kind items that you won’t find in big box stores.

You might even get some inspiration for your own holiday decorations.

Don’t forget to stop by the various artisan booths.

Whether you’re looking for a special piece of jewelry or a cozy winter hat, you’re likely to find it here.

The fair provides an excellent opportunity to pick up gifts that are both personal and meaningful.

November 18, 2023102 Church St., Ottumwa, IA 5250110:00 AM – 6:00 PMFree

History and Tradition

Christmas markets in Iowa offer a rich blend of local culture and European traditions. Understanding the origins and evolution of these markets provides insight into their enduring appeal.

Origins of Christmas Markets

The tradition of Christmas markets dates back to the late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe.

These markets, often called “Christkindlmarkts,” were established as seasonal fairs for communities to prepare for Christmas.

Vendors would sell handcrafted gifts, decorations, and festive foods.

This custom spread across Europe, creating a charming and nostalgic atmosphere that drew people together.

Christmas markets became popular for their unique blend of commerce and festivity, providing a space for artisans to showcase their work and families to celebrate the holiday spirit.

The smell of mulled wine, the sound of carolers, and the sight of twinkling lights became synonymous with the holiday season.

Evolution of Iowa’s Christmas Markets

In Iowa, Christmas markets have evolved from small community gatherings to prominent festive events.

The Christkindlmarket Des Moines is one example of a market that has embraced traditional European elements while adding local flavors.

This market features dozens of vendors offering artisanal goods, traditional German wares, and a joyful celebration of European culture.

Other markets, like the Holiday Thieves Market in Coralville, showcase local arts and crafts, emphasizing Iowa’s artisan community.

These markets have grown in size and popularity, drawing visitors from across the state and beyond.

The blend of global traditions with local culture ensures that Iowa’s Christmas markets continue to be vibrant and cherished events.

Cultural Highlights

Experience the unique culture at Iowa’s Christmas markets through local crafts, traditional foods, and vibrant entertainment. Explore what sets these holiday venues apart with their distinctive offerings.

Local Crafts and Handmade Goods

At Iowa’s Christmas markets, you’ll find a treasure trove of handmade goods.

Vendors offer items like artisanal candles, hand-knit scarves, and wooden ornaments.

These products are crafted with care, often using traditional techniques.

This gives them a unique touch that’s hard to find in mass-produced items.

Many of these goods reflect the cultural heritage of the artisans.

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Expect to see items representing German, Czech, and Slovak influences.

These pieces make perfect gifts or holiday decorations for your home.

Supporting these craftspeople not only gets you a unique product but also helps sustain local traditions.

Don’t miss the booth selling intricate pottery made by Iowa artists, a true highlight of the market.

Traditional Foods and Beverages

The food and drink at Iowa’s holiday markets are a cultural feast.

Bite into a bratwurst at the Christkindlmarket Des Moines, or savor authentic Czech pastries in Rozek Grand Hall.

These markets feature a variety of treats that reflect the European roots of these communities.

You’ll find mulled wine, known as Glühwein, which warms you up on chilly evenings.

Pair it with roasted nuts or gingerbread for a traditional German snack.

For something heartier, try the Slovak dishes from the pop-up restaurant in Coralville.

These traditional foods bring a comforting taste of the old world to your holiday experience.

They are not just delicious but also tell the story of the people and cultures that brought them here.

Entertainment and Performances

Entertainment at Iowa’s Christmas markets is vibrant and diverse.

At Principal Park in Des Moines, catch musical performances from local folk bands playing festive tunes.

Storytelling sessions and live demonstrations offer a glimpse into the traditions behind the crafts and foods.

In Winterset Courthouse Square, kids can enjoy puppet shows, while adults might find joy in choir performances.

These acts create a warm and cheerful atmosphere and make the markets family-friendly and engaging.

These performances are more than just background noise; they are an integral part of the cultural experience.

They help you connect with the traditions and spirit of the season in a deeply personal way.

Tips for Visiting

When planning your trip to Iowa’s Christmas markets, it’s helpful to know the best times to visit, what to wear, and which family-friendly activities you shouldn’t miss.

Best Times to Visit

To make the most of your visit, it’s important to time your trip wisely.

Many markets open in late November and run until just before Christmas.

You’ll find fewer crowds on weekdays, especially during the early afternoon.

Weekend evenings can be quite busy, so plan ahead if you’re aiming for a more relaxed experience.

For example, the Winterset Livery market is open Dec. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

These events often feature special performances or activities on certain days, so check the schedules.

What to Wear

The weather in Iowa can be quite cold in December. Layering is key.

Consider wearing a thick coat, warm scarf, gloves, and a hat.

Comfortable, waterproof boots are a good idea since you’ll be walking a lot and potentially dealing with snow or slush.

Indoor markets, like the one at the Winterset Courthouse Square, may be warmer, but it’s still best to dress in layers.

Heat retention is crucial, so thermal wear under your regular clothes can help keep you comfortable.

Family-Friendly Activities

Many markets in Iowa offer activities that are great for families.

Kids can enjoy crafting stations, live music, and even visits with Santa Claus.

At the Holiday Thieves Market in Coralville, you’ll find over fifty years of tradition with plenty for the whole family to see and do.

Older children might enjoy trying authentic Czech and Slovak foods at pop-up restaurants.

Photo opportunities in front of beautifully decorated Christmas trees and with friendly characters can also create lasting memories.

Be sure to check the individual market’s website for a schedule of family-specific events.

Frequently Asked Questions

Discover the top Christmas markets in Iowa, their unique features, and essential details like opening dates and traditional offerings. Read on to find where you can experience handcrafted goods, Old World traditions, and more.

What are the top Christmas markets to visit in Iowa?

Some of the best Christmas markets in Iowa include Christkindlmarket Des Moines, the Amana Colonies Christmas Market, and the Dubuque Winter Farmers Market.

These markets are celebrated for their festive atmosphere, diverse vendors, and unique holiday offerings.

Where can I find traditional Christmas markets in Des Moines?

Des Moines hosts the Christkindlmarket, known for its European charm and traditional goods.

This market features dozens of vendors selling German and European wares, creating a festive experience that transports you to a quaint European village.

When do the Christmas markets in Iowa typically open?

The opening dates for Iowa’s Christmas markets vary. Christkindlmarket Des Moines typically runs from November 30 to December 3. The Dubuque Winter Farmers Market and other markets usually have specific dates in late November and December. Check the current year’s schedule for exact dates.

What are some unique features of Pella’s Christmas market?

Pella’s Christmas Market is known for showcasing traditional Dutch goods and decorations. Visitors can enjoy live performances, festive displays, and authentic eats. This market stands out for its emphasis on Dutch culture and community spirit.

Are there any Christmas markets in Iowa that offer handcrafted goods?

Yes, many Iowa Christmas markets feature vendors who offer an array of handcrafted goods. The Amana Colonies Christmas Market and the Iowa City Holiday Market are perfect spots to find unique, artisan-made crafts, gifts, and holiday decorations created by local artists.

How do the Christmas markets in Cedar Rapids celebrate Old World traditions?

Cedar Rapids Christmas Market brings Old World traditions to life. The market has a festive atmosphere and traditional activities.

The market often features caroling, historical reenactments, and traditional food and drink. These offerings connect visitors with the past, giving them a nostalgic holiday experience.

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