The 10 Best Festivals in Iowa!

The party doesn’t ever stop in the state of Iowa, and no better evidence of that can be seen than with the amazing amount of festivals and outdoor events the Hawkeye State hosts throughout the year. Ranging from bike rides across the state to world-celebrated county fairs, there is quite the variety when it comes to festivals in Iowa, but the one thing they have in common is good food, plenty of music and enough friendly faces to celebrate all the good times with. To get your motor running on a great Iowa festival, it’s well worth your time to check out these 10 best festivals in Iowa.

1. Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, IA

Featuring live performances, farmland exhibits and enough food on a stick to last you a lifetime, the Iowa State Fair is one of the biggest cultural celebrations of Iowa found anywhere else in the state. Whether you stick towards the barns and stables to check out the livestock, or you make your way through the State Historical Building and see the famous butter cow, the Iowa State Fair is one Iowa festival that every citizen is just nearly required to attend once in their life.  

2. RAGBRAI, Multiple locations

The Register’s Annual Great Race Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), is a week-long festival on wheels, that moves the celebration from one small town to the next as this non-competitive race rolls on. Spanning the entire state of Iowa, RAGBRAI’s route changes every year, but what you’re guaranteed to experience is a healthy slice of rural Iowa, thousands of people pedaling along and a fulfilling week of both playing and working hard. 

3. The Quad-City Times Bix 7, Davenport, IA

Named after the Iowa-native, world-famous jazz musician, Bix Beiderbecke, the Quad-City Times Bix 7 is one of Iowa’s premiere running races and after party music festival. During the day, thousands of runners make their way through downtown Davenport and the surrounding residential area on the iconic seven-mile race route, and at night the streets of downtown come alive with jazz performances, vendors and one of the most energetic festivals in all of Iowa. 

4. Tulip Time Festival, Pella, IA

Come spring every year, the streets of downtown Pella blossom to life with the sights, sounds and smells of the annual Tulip Time Festival in May. Celebrating not only the blooming change of weather, the Tulip Time Festival has deep roots in the Dutch culture that defines Pella, including with it authentic garment selections, delicious Dutch food options and a backdrop reminiscent of the Netherlands. Alongside all those Dutch-inspired aesthetics, the good cheer of the community really makes the Tulip Time Festival one to check out.  

5. Burlington Steamboat Days, Burlington, IA

Serving as one of the most prominent festivals in Eastern Iowa, the Burlington Steamboat Days is a four-day American Music Festival that has quite the reputation for rocking the boat. Featuring nationally-recognized bands and local artists, the Burlington Steamboat Days is a family-friendly festival that draws thousands to its stages, and for many of those visitors it is a must-do summer event to do in Eastern Iowa. 

6. Des Moines Arts Festival, Des Moines, IA

The Des Moines Arts Festival proudly displays and encourages visitors to appreciate the many fine forms of art found in Iowa. With the backdrop of Western Gateway Park smack dab in the middle of downtown Des Moines, this summertime festival is always brimming with a lively crowd and many amazing things to look upon.

7. Madison County Covered Bridge Festival, Winterset, IA

Celebrating not only the cultural Covered Bridges that define Madison County, but also the community that comprises this scenic section of Iowa, the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival takes place every October and invites the whole family to come out and play. With craft demonstrations, quilt and car shows, as well as enough food and drink options to keep your hungers satisfied, the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival is the best place to be when autumn rolls around.  

8. University of Okoboji Winter Games, Okoboji, IA

The cold weather doesn’t hamper the fun in Okoboji, and in fact the dropping temperatures make for all the enjoyment of the University of Okoboji Winter Games. Featuring classic winter activities like broomball, polar plunges and chili cook-offs, plus new takes on old activities like flag football and 5Ks, the University of Okoboji Winter Games is the best way to stay warm during the Iowa winter. 

9. Knoxville Nationals, Knoxville, IA

Known as the Sprint Car Capital of the World, the Knoxville Raceway holds one of its biggest races every year in August, complete with four days of celebrating the racing world and its culture. Live music, great food and of course fast racing including the culminating Knoxville Nationals, if you are a fan of motorized races then the four days surrounding the Knoxville Nationals are your ticket to ride. 

10. Great Jones County Fair, Monticello, IA

While the Iowa State Fair is the biggest in the state, the Great Jones County Fair has an undeniable life force of its own. Featuring nationally recognized music acts and local musicians across various stages, plus a vast collection of exhibits and stalls that display rich Iowa culture, not to mention the delectable food options, the Great Jones County Fair is an Iowa festival you have to experience for yourself. 

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