More than one holiday festival will ring in the season in the coming days with several planned events this weekend. It starts with a Magical Night on Thursday in Mount Vernon. Then step back to Christmas Past in West Branch Friday through Sunday or at the Amanas for the colonies annual Prelude to Christmas during the same days. Here’s the lineup:
Thursday marks Mount Vernon’s annual Magical Night a celebration of holiday magic that begins at First Street Community Center, 221 First St. NE. At 5 p.m. Santa himself will throw the switch unveiling Mount Vernon’s holiday lights. This will be followed by events along Mount Vernon’s Main Street, including visits and photos with Santa in the Mount Vernon Bank & Trust building, a Holiday Craft Bazaar in the basement of City Hall, and a live Nativity at Memorial Park.
The festivities officially begin with the lighting of the tree in the Village Green at 6 p.m. on Friday. The University of Iowa’s Collegium Tubum will play Christmas carols on their tubas during this ceremony. Horse-drawn wagon rides on Friday and Saturday evenings start at 5:30 p.m. from the Visitor Center of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Free admission begins Friday at 5 p.m. and continues throughout the weekend. This year’s holiday exhibit is A Cowboy Christmas.
Fill the season with a visit to the Tannenbaum Forest. Tannenbaum Forest is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Find a full schedule at festivalsinamana.com
The market opens at 4 p.m. Friday with a tree lighting at 6 p.m. It reopens at 9 a.m. Saturday with vendors in addition to horse drawn carriage rides, storytelling, crafts, a live camel and reindeer, museum tours and other traditional Czech activities. On Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. the Cherry Building will be open.
The North Pole is coming to a Red-and-Greene Square Park during Saturday’s Fire & Ice Festival in downtown Cedar Rapids. Festivities get under way at 1 p.m. with ice sculptures in the park. The annual Chili Challenge will be from 3 to 7 p.m. inside the Armstrong Food Court. The tree lighting ceremony is at 5:30 and the Holiday DeLight Parade from 6 to 7 p.m. Grown-ups: Grab your ugliest sweater and warm up with the Hoopla and Z102.9 party at Dublin City Pub from 7 to 11 p.m.
On Friday downtown Iowa City merchants will decorate and stay open from 4 to 7 p.m. for the Snowflake Stroll. On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celebrate the Season will include family friendly events, including horse and carriage rides.