9 Best Festivals and Events to Experience in Iowa in 2024

Three men dressed in indians costumes dancing on a festival in Iowa

Iowa has always been defined by its tight-knit communities. No matter our differences, come spring there’s a sense of reunion as neighbors once again gather under the banners of pride, heritage, and joy. Wandering crowds delight in chance encounters, live tunes lifting spirits after winter’s hibernation. For outsiders, our Iowa Festivals 2024 extend the famed Midwestern hospitality.

But for those of us who call this place home, they represent the year’s highlights – a chance to support friends’ passion projects and introduce kids to traditions that strengthen our bond with the land. Here are the 9 events you shouldn’t miss this season.

Believe me, choose at least one event from my Iowa Festivals 2024 list and I guarantee you will not make a mistake.

9. Iowa Craft Beer Festival

  • When: Saturday, June 1st, 2024 | Noon – 1pm VIP (early entry) | 1 – 4pm General Admission
  • Where: Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park, 2201 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines, IA 50321
  • Tickets: VIP Ticket = SOLD OUT | GA = $50 until 6/1 then $60
  • Group Tickets: Looking for a unique team outing? Planning a company event? Want to bring your whole crew? | Groups of 10-19 = $40.50 each | Groups of 20-30 = only $36 each
  • Specificity: 70+ local craft breweries, food truck lineup

The Iowa Craft Beer Festival is a massive annual event held in Des Moines each June. As one of the largest beer-centric gatherings in the state, it draws huge crowds of locals as well as visitors from around the Midwest looking to sample offerings from the region’s thriving craft brewery scene. Held at Western Gateway Park, the festival layout provides ample space for attendees to wander among the numerous vendor booths set up by participating breweries.

With unlimited tastings available, patrons can taste a wide variety of beer styles all in one place, from IPAs and pale ales to stouts and sours. In addition to the beer, the festival also features live musical performances to keep the atmosphere lively. Food trucks are on hand for those looking to soak up some of the alcohol.

The park setting alongside snacks and music creates a relaxing environment to explore new types of beers. Tickets generally range from $30 for general admission to $50 for VIP access. Visit the Iowa Craft Beer Festival website for tickets and details. The festival encourages responsible drinking and provides a safe, fun atmosphere.

There is free parking at Water Works Park, food trucks open until 4:00 PM, general admission tickets available at the door for $60 if not sold out, only service dogs are allowed, and water stations are provided for refilling bottles.

8. Pella Tulip Time Festival

  • When: Always the first Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in May. In 2025, the festival will be May 1, 2, and 3. During Tulip Time, the parades are at 2:45 PM in the afternoon and 8:30 PM in the evening.
  • Address: Tulip Avenue in Central Park, 720 Franklin St., and Sunken Gardens Park, 1110 Main St., Pella
  • Tickets: Entry to the festival is free, but tickets are required for specific attractions like grandstand shows, museum tours, and wagon tours, available at the gate or online, and are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.
  • Events: Enjoy performances from local groups such as the Bridges 2 Harmony Gospel Choir and Pella Community High School Jazz Band, as well as a concert by country artist Jason Brown.

The Pella Tulip Time Festival, held from May 2nd to 4th, transforms the charming town of Pella into an amazing celebration of Dutch heritage. While you are now too late to visit it soon, a year will come around fast, and this may serve as a motivation to schedule a trip to Pella on time to not miss it.

Having attended this festival for the past few years, I can attest to the beauty and cultural richness it offers. Over 300,000 tulips bloom in a stunning array of colors, creating picturesque scenes that attract visitors from all over. The festival features traditional Dutch dancing, parades with elaborate floats, and authentic Dutch foods such as poffertjes and stroopwafels.

One of the highlights is the street scrubbing, a symbolic gesture of preparing the streets for the arrival of the Dutch queen. This tradition, performed in traditional Dutch costumes, adds a unique and engaging element to the festivities. Walking through the Historical Village, visitors can explore the windmill, watch artisans at work, and learn about Pella’s Dutch heritage.

The Scholte House and Gardens offer a glimpse into the town’s history and beautifully maintained gardens. Each visit reveals something new, whether it’s a hidden tulip garden or a local artisan’s intricate craft. The festival also includes a variety of vendors selling crafts, souvenirs, and delicious treats.

The lively atmosphere, filled with music, laughter, and the scent of blooming flowers, creates a memorable experience for all ages. Children can enjoy the tulip gardens and participate in interactive activities, making it a family-friendly event. Admission is free, but some special events may require a ticket purchase. For more details and to plan your visit, check out the Pella Tulip Time Festival website.

7. Iowa State Fair

  • Ticket Prices: Start at $20 and go up to $125​
  • Top Artists: Lauren Daigle, performing on August 8, 2024 | Melissa Etheridge on August 9 | Mötley Crüe, August 14, 2024 | Jelly Roll (Country & Rock N’ Roll Country Pop Rap) August 10 (8:00 PM)
  • Address: 3000 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50317, United States
  • Attractions: the Giant Slide, Ye Old Mill; Thrill Ville, Thrill Town, and Thrill Zone (themed parks)

The Iowa State Fair is held annually in Des Moines over 11 days in August. As the largest event of its kind in the state, it celebrates Iowa’s agriculture industry through livestock shows, competitions, and educational exhibits on the fairgrounds.

Beyond farming, there are activities for all ages including concerts, carnival rides, and a variety of food on a midway. Each morning begins with shows judging cattle, pigs, and other animals raised by 4H and FFA members.

Throughout the day, families and friends explore the barns housing livestock and displays highlighting the latest innovations. For a break from walking, the Grandstand hosts major musical acts and motorsports like truck pulls.

General admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children.

With so much to see and do across the more than 300 acres, it’s no wonder the Fair has been an Iowa tradition for over 150 years.

Iowa State Fair Attractions and Costs

The Iowa State Fair offers various attractions with different costs associated with them. Here’s a detailed look at the pricing:

Value Pack and Tickets

  • State Fair Value Pack: $20, which includes tickets for the Ye Old Mill, Giant Slide, Sky Glider, and more, offering a total savings of $12.50 compared to purchasing individually​
  • Advance Thrill Pass: $30 for 40 ride credits, which can be used in Thrill Town and Thrill Ville, saving $10 from the usual price​
  • Advance One Day Ride Wristband: $40, allowing unlimited rides in Thrill Town and Thrill Ville on one day, from Monday to Thursday​

Individual Attraction Tickets

  • Giant Slide: $3 per ride, offering a fun and iconic experience at the fair
  • Ye Old Mill: $3 per ride, providing a nostalgic ride through the fair’s oldest attraction
  • Sky Glider: Included in various value packs and available individually for additional costs​

Ride Areas

  • Thrill Ville: Features high-speed, thrilling rides, ideal for those seeking an adrenaline rush
  • Thrill Town: Designed for younger children, this area offers gentle rides and convenient stroller parking​
  • Thrill Zone: Located north of Gate 11, this section offers heart-stopping rides for thrill-seekers​

Free Entertainment

The Iowa State Fair offers an impressive lineup of free entertainment from August 8-18, 2024. Highlights include:

  • The Steel Woods on August 8, known for “Straw in the Wind”​
  • Restless Road on August 9, famous for “Growing Old With You”​
  • Matt Stell on August 18, recognized for “Prayed for You”​

6. Des Moines Arts Festival

  • Address: 900 Keosauqua Way Studio 300, Des Moines, IA 50309, United States
  • Phone: +15154166066
  • Festival Hours: Friday, June 28, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. | Saturday, June 29, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. | Sunday, June 30, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Creative Zone closes at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday
  • LGBTQ+ friendly

The Des Moines Arts Festival, set for June 28th to 30th, brings creativity and culture to Western Gateway Park. The festival showcases over 180 visual artists from across the country.

Walking through the booths, you can find everything from intricate paintings and sculptures to unique jewelry and textiles. The artists are often present, ready to discuss their work and inspiration, making the experience personal and engaging. Live music adds to the festive atmosphere.

Multiple stages feature a mix of local talent and nationally recognized acts. The variety of genres ensures there’s something for every musical taste. I’ve enjoyed discovering new bands and listening to favorites while exploring the art.

Moreover, interactive activities make the festival family-friendly. Kids can participate in hands-on art projects, face painting, and other creative activities. Entry is free.

Weekend Events Overview (June 28-30)

  • Friday: Events include the Juried Art Fair, Interrobang Film Festival, and Student Art Exhibition. Entertainment features the Hy-Vee Main Stage and Roots Stage from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: Similar events as Friday, with the Juried Art Fair and film festival running all day. Music and activities at the Hy-Vee Main Stage start at 2 p.m., and Roots Stage performances from 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: The fair continues with art exhibits and entertainment from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including performances at the Hy-Vee Main Stage and Roots Stage.

5. Hinterland Music Festival

  • Address: 3357 St Charles Rd, St Charles, IA 50240, United States
  • Phone: +15153334626
  • LGBTQ+ friendly
  • Top artists: Hozier, known for “Take Me to Church,” | Vampire Weekend with hits like “A-Punk,” | Noah Kahan, famous for “Stick Season”
  • Ticket options: 3-day General Admission starts at $250, GA+ begins at $330, VIP starts at $550, and the premium SAINTS ticket costs $1,250; single-day tickets are available for $145, with options for camping and parking

The Hinterland Music Festival is held annually over a weekend in early August, drawing thousands to a rural site outside Saint Charles, Iowa. Taking place at the Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater, the scenic natural setting provides an intimate experience for music fans.

Since starting in 2015, Hinterland has built a reputation for its diverse lineups featuring both emerging and established indie, folk, rock and electronic artists. Past performers such as Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, and Hozier have been highlights.

The mix of genres appeals to a wide audience. Camping is a big part of the Hinterland experience. Many attendees choose to stay on-site which fosters a community atmosphere. well-organized campgrounds offer amenities to ensure attendees are comfortable.

Spending the weekend immersed in music with other fans adds to the appeal. In addition to musical performances across multiple stages, the festival grounds include local food and drink vendors plus art installations and crafts. Tickets range from $95 for a day pass to $259 for a full weekend pass with camping options.

4. Iowa City Jazz Festival

  • Address: Old Capitol Museum, 21 N Clinton St, Iowa City, IA 52242
  • When: July 5-7, 2024
  • Top artists: Lakecia Benjamin, known for her hit “Pursuance: The Coltranes,” | Fareed Haque, recognized for “Flat Planet,” | Ingrid Jensen, celebrated for “At Sea.”

The Iowa City Jazz Festival is an annual event that occurs over a weekend in July. It features various jazz performances throughout downtown parks and venues near the University of Iowa. There is a wide range of jazz artists represented from mainstream to more contemporary styles. Admission is free.

Internationally renowned musicians often do headline sets on the main stage. In previous years, the festival has included artists like Pat Metheny, Christian McBride, and Esperanza Spalding amongst others. Both established and up-and-coming jazz talents are highlighted.

Day 1: July 5, 2024

  • Performances: The MJ Group kicks off at 5:00 pm on the Side Stage, followed by Fareed Haque and His Funk Brothers at 6:00 pm on the Main Stage, and Ingrid Jensen at 8:00 pm on the Main Stage.
  • Activities: Enjoy artist booths and fun stops on Clinton St. and explore culinary delights and the beverage garden on Iowa Avenue starting at 5:00 pm.
  • Highlights: The day concludes with fireworks at 9:30 pm at the Old Capitol Museum and a jam session with Blake Shaw at 10:00 pm at Wilder.

Day 2: July 6, 2024

  • Performances: Starting at 11:30 am, performances include the United Jazz Ensemble on the Main Stage, The Blake Shaw BIG(ish) Band at 2:00 pm, and Lakecia Benjamin at 8:00 pm on the Main Stage.
  • Activities: Artist booths and food options are available from 11:30 am on Clinton St. and Iowa Avenue.
  • Highlights: Matt Wilson’s Good Trouble performs at 6:00 pm on the Main Stage, and the day wraps up with a jam session with Blake Shaw at 9:30 pm at Wilder.

Day 3: July 7, 2024

  • Performances: The day begins with a Jazz Brunch at Vue Rooftop at 10:00 am, followed by performances from Trio Grismore at 1:00 pm on the Main Stage and 10 of Soul at 3:00 pm.
  • Activities: From 12:00 pm, explore artist booths on Clinton St. and enjoy food and beverages on Iowa Avenue.
  • Highlights: The festival’s last day features the Reese Pike Trio at 12:00 pm on the Side Stage and the Sam Ross Quintet at 2:00 pm.

More schedule information can be found HERE.

3. CelebrAsian

  • Address: 6919 Vista Drive, Des Moines, IA 50266
  • Phone: (515) 770-1026
  • Key highlights: include a Taiko drum performance, a Bollywood dance showcase, and a K-Pop dance group.

All you culture fans in Des Moines – don’t miss out on the CelebrAsian festival this Saturday and Sunday at Western Gateway Park. This event is always a great time, featuring all kinds of cool performances showing off traditions from China, Japan, Korea, India, and more.

You’ll see colorful costumes, hear some rousing music and instruments, and watch neat dances and martial arts demos. It’s a REAL treat seeing the different talent from local Asian communities on display.

They’ll also have informative exhibits about the diverse histories and customs. Wander around to learn more about the backgrounds that make up our city’s population. Free to attend.

On May 25, 2024, CelebrAsian Festival features:

  • Roland Abante: 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM, main stage.
  • Asian Queens: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, main stage.
  • Fareed Haque and His Funk Brothers: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM, main stage.
  • Ingrid Jensen and the Iowa Women’s Jazz Orchestra: 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM, main stage.
  • The MJ Group: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, side stage.
  • Wayne Page Quartet: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, side stage.
  • SCARS Dance Group: 5:20 PM – 5:25 PM, side stage.


2. Iowa Irish Fest

  • Address: 315 E 5th St, Waterloo, IA 50703, United States
  • When: August 2nd-4th
  • Phone: +1 319-234-9029

Iowa Irish Fest

Iowa Irish Fest, from August 2nd to 4th in Waterloo, is a lively celebration of Irish culture. Each year, the festival draws crowds eager to experience traditional Irish music, dance, and heritage. The festival’s main stage hosts a variety of Irish bands, from energetic folk groups to classic Celtic rock bands.

Performances include traditional Irish dancers, adding an authentic touch to the celebration. The music and dance performances create an engaging and festive atmosphere. Attendees can participate in workshops and classes, such as learning to play traditional Irish instruments or mastering the steps of Irish dance. Tickets are $15 for a day pass and $30 for a weekend pass.

Generally, people think The Iowa Irish Fest is enjoyable, but the use of food bucks and drink tokens instead of cash or cards was inconvenient and frustrating. Many attendees, volunteers, and vendors expressed dissatisfaction with this system, feeling it added unnecessary hassle. This issue was significant enough to deter some people from returning to the festival.

1. Nordic Fest

  • When: Thursday, July 25, 2024 – Saturday, July 27, 2024
  • Address: 209 W Water St, Decorah, IA 52101, United States
  • Phone: +15633829681

The festival features traditional Norwegian music, with performances by folk musicians and bands. Local groups like Decorah’s own Nordic Dancers perform traditional dances in colorful costumes, adding authenticity to the celebration. The main stage hosts a variety of acts, including visiting performers from Norway, ensuring a diverse musical lineup.

Craft demonstrations showcase skills such as rosemaling, woodcarving, and weaving. Visitors can learn about the techniques and history behind these traditional Norwegian crafts, offering an in-depth look at the craftsmanship passed down through generations.

The Grand Parade, a highlight of the festival, takes place on Saturday morning. Floats, marching bands, and community groups participate, with many wearing traditional Norwegian attire. The parade route through downtown Decorah is lined with enthusiastic spectators, making it a festive and colorful event.


For a full schedule, check the festival’s official listings.

Opening Ceremonies

  • Location: Courthouse Square
  • Time: Thursday, 6:45pm–8pm
  • Details: Features flag presentations, national anthems, and performances by Nordic Dancers and Luren Singers.

Arts & Crafts Center

  • Features: Over 30 artisans displaying Scandinavian-themed crafts like wood figurines, ceramics, and embroidery.

Grand Parade

  • Location: Water Street (downtown)
  • Time: Saturday, 10:30am–12:30pm
  • Details: A traditional small-town parade with music, floats, and more.

Bunad Show

  • Location: Hotel Winneshiek
  • Time: Saturday, 2pm
  • Details: Showcasing traditional Norwegian folk costumes.


  • Location: Athletic Fields near City Hall
  • Time: Saturday, 10pm
  • Details: Concludes the festival with a fireworks display along the Upper Iowa River.

Free entry, but some activities may charge a fee.


As a born-and-raised Iowan who’s in love with its towns, I’m stoked for the packed schedule of cultural festivals and art events we have to look forward to in 2024. Communities all across our state host these awesome celebrations that showcase our rich local traditions and incredible talents.

The art fairs coming up this spring and summer are a prime opportunity for emerging and established artists to share their diverse works with eager audiences. Music fans are in for a treat too, with festivals offering robust lineups featuring everything from soulful jazz to energetic indie rock. But the fun doesn’t stop there!

Festival season continues into fall with events highlighting Iowans’ many ethnic backgrounds and global influences. Attendees can immerse themselves in music, dance, mouthwatering food and more from a variety of international cultures. It’s a chance to experience the world right here at home.

Whether you’re a longtime local or just visiting, these festivals are a must for getting a taste of what makes Iowa so special. I’ll definitely be out there soaking it all in and celebrating the vibrant communities that make our state thrive. There’s always something new to discover!

Latest Post
Related Posts

Your main source of Iowa’s insights!