If you’re anything like me, this is your absolute favorite time of year. We watch all the Christmas movies, get a real tree and make it a whole family experience, the elf makes an appearance all month long and of course, we have matching holiday pajamas. With so many festive activities going on during the holiday season the one event that gets put on the top of our family’s Christmas list is the annual Christmas Past festival in West Branch!
This is why Christmas Past in West Branch is a must-see event:
This idyllic small town is located a short drive from Iowa City, just 6 miles down I-80. It’s a welcoming community that is full of history and charm! In fact, the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, was born in West Branch — and 2021 marks the 100th Year of community-wide holiday celebrations! How cool is that?
This event is like a real-life Hallmark Christmas movie that you won’t want to miss.
Christmas Past will take place on Friday and Saturday, December 3-4, 2021.
Christmas Past is especially enjoyable for families with children who want to attend a wholesome holiday activity. It’s full of fun photo opportunities, holiday characters, festive treats, and more! The festivities are free which allows you to also visit and support the small shops and restaurants while you’re there. The full event schedule is online.
Christmas Past is two days full of nostalgic holiday activities. Santa makes a grand appearance by helping to light the town’s Christmas tree to kick off the festival on Friday night and he sticks around both Friday and Saturday evening for children to give him their Christmas lists and to get their photos taken (for free). Festive stops are sprinkled throughout the quaint Main Street where you can walk around to eat, shop, and explore everything from the Festival of Trees display to the Gibson family train display.
This magnificent 144-square foot Lionel train collection will have your kids in awe! It feels like time stands still when you enjoy a horse-drawn carriage or wagon ride with your family. Continue the fun by bidding on incredible gift baskets and experiences in the silent auction, sip on hot cocoa from the local coffee shop, enjoy homemade goodies from a church bake sale or soup supper, and roast complimentary hot dogs or marshmallows over an open fire.
Pro tips: the local Boy Scouts serve up fresh-fried homemade donuts and they are 100 percent worth the wait! They are a mouth-watering, sugar and cinnamon confection of perfection. Also, be sure to make a stop in Heritage Square where you’ll find various selfie spots like Santa’s antique sleigh and some extra festive llamas along with a real-life elf. But watch out for the Grinch . . . he’s been known to cause trouble during Christmas Past!
All of the local shops will be open and eager for you to shop and explore. Within their cheery glow, you will find something for everyone. West Branch is home to gift shops, boutiques, antique and vintage shops, home decor stores, and a beautiful quilt shop. The Main Street area also features various locally-owned eateries including a winery with cozy fireplaces, a coffee shop and cafe, an ice cream shop, and two bars to watch the big game over pizza, wings, and cold brews.
It’s the perfect place to be this weekend so grab the family and make your way to West Branch to eat, shop, and explore Exit 254 during Christmas Past . . . or anytime, really.
Stacy Waters is a born and raised Iowa girl living in West Branch. She runs her own beauty business, is mom to four amazing kids, and the wife of a contractor. She’s a volunteer leader with West Branch Community Development Group and is passionate about history, family, service, and (obviously) Christmas.
This is a sponsored post. Iowa City Moms was compensated for sharing this piece. However, we love connecting our readers with people and organizations that are doing good in our community, and we think you will find this information helpful and informative!