Iowa communities celebrate their multicultural heritage with festivals throughout the year. Note: We encourage you to research each event to find specific details, dates and times each year.
1. I'll Make Me a World in Iowa
Iowa’s premier African American festival includes multiple powerful, cultural events held over several days each January. Enjoy performances by Iowa’s most talented jazz, gospel, classic, blues and R&B artists, as well as a dinner, dancing and black history presentations from Iowa middle and high school students. Celebration Day is the festival’s crowning and concluding event.
2. St. Pat's Irish Celebration
Mostly populated by Irish immigrants and named after a famous Irish patriot (Robert Emmet), the city of Emmetsburg celebrates its heritage every St. Patrick’s Day. In 1962, Emmetsburg and Dublin, Ireland, were named “Sister Cities.” Since then a member of the Irish Parliament presides over the three-day St. Pat’s festival each year.
3. Faces of Siouxland Multicultural Fair
The richness of Sioux City’s diverse population is on display at this annual, free event hosted by the Sioux City Human Rights Commission. Live entertainment and activities for kids entertain guests who can also purchase a range of crafts and ethnic dishes, including Chinese, soul and Indian food, to name a few.
4. University of Iowa Powwow
What started as a small gathering hosted by a student organization has since grown into a university tradition and outreach opportunity. Held every April, the University of Iowa Powwow symbolizes rejuvenation and renewal, giving local Native American tribes the chance to perform traditional dances before the community. Visitors can also enjoy the variety of arts, crafts and food vendors.
A traditional German celebration of spring complete with Maipole dancers, German music, a parade and delicious food.
6. Pella Tulip Time
Settled in the mid-1800s by a Dutch colonist, Pella commemorates its European heritage during the annual Tulip Time Festival. Activities include street scrubbing, Dutch dancers, tulip gardens, historical village with working crafters, Scholte House tours, crafts, quilts and Dutch foods.
7. Houby Days
Pronounced "HOE-bee" and translated to "mushroom" in Czech, the Czech Village celebrates their history and culture with a spring festival. The festival includes a car show, kid's carnival, vendors, an egg and houby breakfast, live music and kid's games.
8. Syttende Mai Celebration
A celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day that includes free admission to the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, a children’s parade, Nordic dancers and a street dance.
9. Orange City Tulip Festival
Founded in 1936 as a way to keep the town’s prominent Dutch heritage alive, the three-day event is known for its tulips (naturally) and night show as well as its authentic Dutch costumes, dances and food.
10. Tivoli Fest
The town’s annual Danish celebration is held over Memorial Day weekend. Activities include Danish foods and specialties, tours of the Danish Windmill and the Museum of Danish America, a parade, Danish folk dancers, live entertainment, fireworks and more.
11. Scandinavian Days
Started as part of a local church's Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) celebration in 1965, the festival remains true to its Norwegian roots with traditional foods, folklore and community pride.
Celebrate the colorful and exotic traditions of several Asian countries at AsianFest, held annually at McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids. Event highlights include a variety of traditional Asian foods and beverages, a show of Asian fashions and a high-energy international dance party.
13. Nordic Fest
For more than 40 years, the city of Decorah has celebrated its Norwegian roots with Nordic Fest. The event boasts delicious foods, traditional crafts, a colorful parade, lively entertainment and a Saturday night torchlight parade and fireworks.
14. Iowa Irish Fest
This festival celebrates the Irish culture in Iowa with Celtic bands, Irish dancers, Irish food and beer, a kid's play area, 5k run/walk and a parade. It's billed as three days of kilt-wearing, shamrock-shaking, pint-pouring fun.
15. Meskwaki Powwow
For more than a century, the Meskwaki tribe has gathered in August for dancing, singing, handcrafts, food, games and fun. For the Meskwaki, the four-day event is a time of reaffirmation, hope, kinship and celebration.
16. Iowa City Latino Festival
Join Iowa City in celebrating Latino traditions, dances, food and music. Every August, this festival welcomes talented musicians and traditional dance groups to give vibrant performances. Visitors can also learn the dances from experienced instructors, enjoy sampling delicious cuisine from Mexican and Central American food vendors and bring the whole family to partake in kid's activities.
17. Latino Festival
Head to Washington for a day of family fun with the community's Latino Festival. This full-day celebration is held every August and features a variety of Latino food vendors and performances alongside kid's activities like face painting, bouncy houses and yard games.
18. Iowa's Latino Heritage Festival
Recognized as the only two-day Latino festival in Iowa, this celebration is a must-visit. Held every September in Des Moines' Western Gateway Park, the weekend is packed with a variety of dance performances, competitions, activities and delicious cuisine.
19. GermanFest Celebration
The community's German heritage is spotlighted with a biergarten, kraut cook-off, homemade beer tasting, live music, food vendors and wiener dog races.
20. Annual White Eagle Multicultural Pow Wow
What started as a local Native American man traveling to Granger schools and churches to share stories from his childhood has since transformed into a multicultural pow wow to include all Native American cultures. Every September, Jester Park comes alive with this tradition, giving visitors the opportunity to admire a variety of Native American dances, foods and crafts.
Founded by German immigrants in 1855, the Amana Colonies have provided decades of education, entertainment and dining to travelers. Iowa's original Oktoberfest features a parade, German singing and dancing, food and drinks.
The weekend includes all the important elements of a Danish Christmas - good food, warm hospitality, flickering candles and decorations. More than 15 locations offer one-of-a-kind gifts while restaurants serve pastries, breads, Danish open-faced sandwiches and Danish specialties.
23. Día de los Muertos Celebrations
Every November, the Spanish festival of Día de los Muertos celebrates departed family members. Various Iowa destinations offer community members a way to celebrate through offerings, music, food, drinks and cultural activities. Check these destinations’ event calendars to learn more about their Día de Los Muertos festivities:
- Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines
- Sioux City Public Museum, Sioux City
- University of Iowa, Iowa City