We Iowans love to celebrate our heritage with ethnic festivals all over the state. It’s a trip around the world; no passport required! Get out your 2018 calendar because you’re going to want to plan to visit these fun Iowa ethnic festivals.
1. Maifest in the Amana Colonies during the first weekend of May.
You can spend the day in the Amana Colonies enjoying Blue Grass Music, local artistry, German food, and traditional Maifest dancing.
2. Tulip Time in Pella early in May.
During Tulip Time, beautiful Pella comes alive with an explosion of color in the form of thousands of blooming tulips. This Dutch-themed festival with a Dutch Market, dancing, a huge lighted evening parade, and interactive exhibits will transport you to Holland.
3. Syttende Mai Celebration in Decorah in mid-May.
This popular Norwegian celebration includes a Children’s Parade and performances by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers. The Vesterheim museum is open during the celebration with free admission. Enjoy heart-shaped waffles and coffee in the Bruening Visitor Center.
4. Tivoli Fest in Elk Horn Memorial Day weekend.
This Danish festival includes tours of the Danish Windmill and Danish museums in town, a carnival, craft fair, parade, lots of kids activities, a Tour de Tivoli Bike Ride, beer garden, fireworks, and Danish folk dancing.
5. Oktoberfest in the Amana Colonies in early October
The Amana colonies come alive during this traditional German celebration. Enjoy games, contests, live entertainment, traditional German food, demonstrations, a theatre production by the Old Creamery Theatre Company, and an official keg-tapping ceremony.
6. Meskwaki Powwow in Tama in mid-August.
It’s a four-day celebration of the end of summer with singing, dancing, food, handcrafts, and games. This tradition began in 1913, and the Meskwaki consider it a time of friendship and celebration.
7. Oktoberfest in Manning in early October.
Get a tour of the German Hausbarn Heritage Park, enjoy a beer tasting, music from German, and polka dancing.
8. Julefest in late November in Elk Horn and Kimballton.
Both of these quaint Danish villages will be decorated for the holiday season. The streets are lined with Danish and American flags, there’s a free Christmas concert followed by traditional dancing. Enjoy special holiday displays at the museums, and stop by the 168-year-old Danish Windmill for glogg and Danish cheese at their old-fashioned Julemarket.
9. Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines, in late September.
This is the largest ethnic festival in the state. There are 20 Latin countries represented in Iowa, and this festival is a celebration of Iowa’s largest ethnic minority. Enjoy live music, artist displays, food vendors, and cultural booths at this amazing party in Western Gateway Park.
10. Celebrasian Festival Des Moines in late May.
With more than 40,000 attendees, this giant festival is a celebration of all things Asian. Enjoy martial arts demonstrations, performance artists, food, cultural exhibits and family-friendly activities.
11. World Food and Music Festival at Western Gateway Park, Downtown Des Moines in mid-September.
Sample food and enjoy music from all over the world at this epic fall festival. Cooking demonstrations, live music, craft beers, wine, and a world marketplace are all right here.
12. Weihnachtsfest in Manning on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
This traditional German event features a lighted parade, festival trees, holiday music, lighting of Main Street, the arrival of Santa Claus and activities for kids.
Do you have a favorite Iowa ethnic festival? Tell us about it.