Oh, how we’ve missed Iowa City summers. Thanks to vaccination efforts and public health measures, we are one step closer to the delight of outdoor concerts, movies, farmers’ markets, and festivals.
As you mark your calendars, remember to check with hosts for updates and observe all public health safety measures. Then, throw your lawn chairs in the trunk, grab your mask and sunblock, and enjoy a jam-packed (and safe!) summer season. Special thanks to The Bails Team at Urban Acres Real Estate for making this guide possible.
Iowa City Area Summer Events Calendar 2021
Ongoing Summer Events in the Iowa City Area
FilmScene in the Park
May 1-Aug. 28
Admission to FilmScene in the Park’s inaugural season is free and open to the public. Seating will be first-come-first-served for all screenings, with movies beginning at sunset. Health and safety protocols will be in place including social distancing aided by painted markers on the lawn.
Have some baseball fun and support the area’s minor league baseball team, the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
FilmScene Picture Show
Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m.
The Picture Show family and children’s series features the best in all ages programming. Tickets are free for children when accompanied by a $5 adult moviegoer.
Friday Night Concert Series
May 21 – August 27
Summer of the Arts invites the community to come out and get to know fabulous, local musicians! Running mid-May through August, this festival kicks off the summer season. Stop by and enjoy free, live entertainment!
Free Movie Series
Saturday nights, May 29-August
Movies start at sundown, and offer special entertainment prior to some of the feature films. Starting in 2021, movies will be shown in a variety of locations, including some drive-in movies.
Big Grove Summer Jam Concert Series
May 30-August 15
Free show on the patio of Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City. Social distancing will be required. While reservations are not available, you can use the Yelp app for “call-ahead seating.”
Party in the Park
June 3-August 26
Connect with neighbors this summer at the City of Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department’s Party in the Park events with live music, games, arts and crafts, and frozen treats.
Music on the Move
June 9 and 23; July 14 and 28; and August 4 and 25
Music on the Move will feature two performances in two different neighborhoods on six Wednesday evenings in June, July, and August.
History on Tap
June 9, July 14, August 11
Join the National Czeck and Slovak Museum for delicious brews and fascinating history during this popular annual series! Meet after work at an area brewery or in-house at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Guests can relax, enjoy local brews and signature cocktails, and hear about a variety of topics from area experts.
Northside Concert Series
July 10, August 21, September 11
Summer of the Arts invites the community to come out and listen to local music! This three-concert series on North Linn Street offers one more reason to visit the vibrant Northside. Stop by and enjoy free, live entertainment!
The Iowa Children’s Museum is bringing play to the community this summer with six weeks of FREE hands-on activities in local parks. This program begins June 21 and runs through the end of July.
June Summer Events in the Iowa City Area
Baby Animal Days
Select days May 20-June 6
Visit Bloomsbury Farm for Baby Animal Days on the farm & see the sweetest animals. Snap photos, visit our baby animals, enjoy our attractions & so much more!
Iowa Renaissance Festival
May 29-31/June 5-6
The Iowa Renaissance Festival celebrates 29 years of family fun! Come experience two weekends of live entertainment featuring comedy, swordplay, music, magic, and even horseback jousting. Explore a marketplace full of unique merchandise from around the land. Enjoy tasty treats and drinks in the royal food court (including adult libations like honey mead). The village awaits your visit!
Iowa Mennonite Relief Sale
May 30-June 6
The Iowa MCC Relief Sale will continue with a purely online auction including many of the items that you’ve come to expect from the relief sale: donated products from local businesses, in-home meals, and of course, quilts. There will also be a drive through meal at Kalona Mennonite on June 4th from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.. Both Meal choices (Chicken Fajitas or Smoked Pork Loin) will be served in to go containers and guests may choose whether they’d like to stay and fellowship outside at KMC or take them elsewhere.
West Branch Kickoff to Summer
Come kickoff summer with a weekend full of fun ways to eat, shop and explore in West Branch! Book a time to enjoy the timeless (and socially distanced) activity of ice skating on our outdoor synthetic ice rink and plan to come early or stay after to eat, shop sidewalk sales and explore our historic Main Street district.
Participate in one of the best downtown traditions; Iowa City Gallery Walk. For over 20 years, this event has taken over downtown and filled your favorite businesses with wonderful works of art. Make a day of it and grab a bite to eat, shop, and gallery walk in beautiful downtown Iowa City! This free event is open to everyone to enjoy a self-guided tour of shops, galleries, and other locations that have curated featured artists and pieces of art. A friendly reminder that face coverings are required and to please keep a safe distance while visiting downtown.
The 11th annual Mount Vernon Chocolate Stroll is delighted to be back after cancelling 2020’s Stroll! Find treats from a variety of chocolate merchants who are hosted by our local businesses for easy shopping. Bring your family! The children’s area at Memorial Park will have outdoor games and activities. You can help keep the community healthy by wearing your mask into shops, when approaching merchants, or participating in family activities.
Free Fishing with Take a Kid Outdoors
Come and spend your day enjoying the outdoors fishing! There will be live fish, experts from Scheels, food, and prize drawings. Bring a fishing pole if you have one; if not, some will be available. Get help from the experts on what to keep in your tackle box, how to tie knots, bait options, baiting a hook and much more!
Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival
June 14-July 4
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people attend the two week festival hosted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to celebrate our nation’s birthday. The community of Cedar Rapids is showcased throughout the Freedom Festival with over 70 events taking place leading up to the grand finale on the 4th of July — the largest fireworks show in Iowa!
June 19th is Juneteenth, known as the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S. From a local Black owned business tour, to a community meal and more, be sure to check out the various events happening in Iowa City to commemorate Juneteenth.
Come join the annual Wurst Festival in Amana! The German tradition of making sausages is alive and well in the Colonies and we want to share some of the best with you. Wurst Festival was Voted Best New Festival in Iowa, you don’t want to miss it out on this celebration of everything sausage, as we have wurst makers come from near and far!
Iowa City Moms Glamping
Iowa City Moms is proud to present the third annual Glamping Moms’ Night Out! Join us for all the fun of camping (bonfire, s’mores, lawn games and more!) but without the sleeping in tents/feeding your kids/using a port-a-potty parts! Keep an eye out for the FB event page for more updates and sneak peeks! Get your ticket now!
Linn County Fair
For 5 days in June, the Linn County Fairgrounds is home to carnival rides, grandstand events and livestock shows.
Held annually in Riverside, the “future birthplace” of Captain James T. Kirk, this themed event hosts contests, family friendly games, live music, a demolition derby, 5k race, ball tournament, parade, and more.
July Summer Events in the Iowa City Area
Iowa City Jazz Festival
Come down for a three-day weekend of live jazz performances and delicious dishes. You’re sure to enjoy the music from all four stages, which showcase a variety of well-known jazz musicians and up-and-coming talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages. Bring a blanket, chair, and get ready for a weekend jazz extravaganza!
Related: Check out Iowa City area Fourth of July fireworks displays!
Bourbon & Blues Fest
The event features the Cedar Ridge’s locally produced spirits and local, regional, and national blues musicians highlighting a range of talented artists.
Coralville 4th Fest
The multi-day festival includes a 5K run/walk entertainment, food, a free concert on July 3, the area’s largest Independence Day parade, free family-friendly activities in the park, and fireworks on July 4. Coralville is working to ensure that 4thFest 2021 is a safe outdoor celebration that aligns with health guidelines.
Lincoln Highway Nitty Gritty
The annual Lincoln Highway Nitty Gritty (formerly known as the 4th of July Antiques Extravaganza) is an open-air show is located in “Uptown” Mount Vernon each July 4th. This year there is a preview night on July 3rd. First Street is surrounded by antique shops, specialty shops, and cafes.
Heritage Days Festival
The 33rd Annual Heritage Days Festival, Mount Vernon’s biggest summer festival, will take place Friday, July 9, and Saturday, July 10, in and around Uptown Mount Vernon.
Kinderfest is dedicated to children and families. It’s all about the kids and the whole family having fun. There will be games and special events for children of all ages. This is a great family event in the Amana Colonies.
Cedar County Fair
Head to Tipton for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Solon hosts this two-day celebration with delicious foods, live music, run event, parade, and more.
Bike & Hike Weekend
Bring your bike or walking shoes and enjoy a great summer weekend outdoors in the Amana Colonies. The centerpiece of the weekend takes place with Millstream Brewery’s Tour de Brew but there will be three biking events for this weekend and seven walking routes for every age and ability level.
Muscatine County Fair
Head over to West Liberty for carnival rides, grandstand events, and livestock shows.
Colonies in Bloom Garden Party
Attend the first annual Colonies in Bloom Garden Party! In partnership with the Amana Heritage Society, we would like to invite you for drinks, dinner, live music, and yard games at the Amana Heritage Museum.
Johnson County Fair
Iowa City hosts carnival rides, a tractor pull, great food, talent shows, livestock, and more.
Soul & Blues Festival
The Soul & Blues Festival is a reworking of the former Iowa Soul Festival. This festival celebrates the local and global reach of Soul & Blues music through the Black Experience.
Swisher Fun Days
Swisher will host a human foosball, bags & horseshoe tournaments, parade, fireworks, and more.
August Summer Events in the Iowa City Area
Mississippi Valley Fair
Davenport will host agriculture, antiques, great food, live music, rides, and more!
Hoover Hometown Days
West Branch celebrates with its most well-known resident, Herbert Hoover, with music, food, rides, and the world championships of Hoover-Ball.
Rock the Chalk
Community members and local artists will fill Clinton Street in Iowa City with unique chalk art pieces and we will “rock” various Iowa musical talent throughout the day while the artists work. From 5-8 p.m., MidWestOne Bank will host free family activities including tie-dye, face painting and the opportunity to vote on your favorite chalk art pieces!
Festival of the Arts
Organized by the Amana Arts Guild, artisans display, sell and demonstrate their art to help bring it to life for the visitors. his 40-year-old event includes apple fritters made fresh while you watch and a free Children’s Corner.
Iowa State Fair
The internationally acclaimed Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state of Iowa and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the country. Annually attracting more than a million people from all over the world, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines is Iowa’s great celebration, a salute to the state’s best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement.
Iowa Arts Festival
The Iowa Arts Festival is an award-winning, weekend-long community celebration featuring over 110 local and national visual artists. On Saturday and Sunday, it will feature high school and college artists in the Emerging Artist Pavilion. But that’s not all: there are music performances, food vendors serving regional and ethnic dishes, and creative, educational activities and entertainment for children. The Iowa Arts Festival is the most anticipated art event of the summer!
No Foot Too Small 3rd Annual Golf Classic
This 4 Person Best Shot Tournament will take place at the newly renovated Finkbine Golf Course followed by a lively Post-Party at Big Grove Iowa City!
Farm to Street Dinner
The event includes a multi-course meal prepared by Iowa City Downtown District chefs with food sourced from local producers. The goal of the Farm to Street Dinner is to bring together members of Iowa City’s diverse, vibrant community to share a table, a story, and a meal, while supporting local food systems.
What did we miss? We will update this post throughout the summer, so leave a comment below to share events that should be added.