AMES IS THE PLACE TO BE FOR THE HOLIDAYS! From Main Street to Reiman Gardens, North Grand Mall to Stephens Auditorium, Ames knows how to celebrate the season.
To start things off, jazz up your holidays with Jazz Night on Nov. 17. Iowa State’s Jazz ONE will perform Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite with a twist, as seen through the lens of two jazz greats: Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.
Things really kick off on Saturday, Nov. 20 with Santabration at North Grand Mall, from noon to 1 p.m. Santa will arrive on a firetruck!
Also on Saturday, Nov. 20, head downtown to the Ames Main Street Holiday Farmers Market for all your local Thanksgiving supplies. This farmers market will be held indoors at 500 Main Street from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
As you plan your holiday shopping, note the extended hours for downtown shops, North Grand Mall businesses, and other stores. Many Ames retailers are already kicking it into high gear. (Shop early! Shop local!) Don’t forget that Black Friday is Nov. 26 and Small Business Saturday is Nov. 27.
The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Santa Express will makes its festive run to the “North Pole” every weekend from Nov. 26 through Dec. 19. Bring the family and enjoy this central Iowa tradition!
Country music superstar Martina McBride brings her popular “Joy of Christmas Tour” to Stephens Auditorium on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.
Next up at Stephens is The Lindsey Stirling Christmas Program on Dec. 1. Stirling is a platinum-selling electronic artist, violinist, and multi-talented entertainer. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see her live on stage!
If you’re looking for unique, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, the ISU Memorial Union’s Art Mart Pop-Up Shop is for you! From Wednesday, Dec. 1 through Saturday, Dec. 4, you can shop for pottery, blown glass, jewelry, accessories, and décor.
Perhaps the highlight of the holiday season in Ames is the Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show at Reiman Gardens. Don’t miss this outdoor walk-through holiday light show featuring immersive light displays throughout the gardens’ 17-acre site. Enjoy the show with the whole family Thursday through Saturday evenings from Dec. 2 to Jan. 1.
The holidays get even brighter on Friday, Dec. 3 with the Snow Magic Kickoff in downtown Ames. Join local businesses from 5-8 p.m. as they formally launch the holiday season with a tree-lighting ceremony, horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa, children’s activities, and other celebratory events.
Also on Friday, Dec. 3, the traditional WinterFest at ISU offers an evening of winter-themed events, activities, displays, and traditions to help students connect with the Ames community. Activities include face painting, holiday crafts in the Workspace, a photo booth, bowling and billiards in CyBowl, bingo, a “Jingle Jog” run, chili feed, cookie decorating and hot cocoa, carriage rides, and a showing of the holiday classic “Home Alone.”
In conjunction with WinterFest on Dec. 3, Iowa State University Museums opens the Farm House Museum for a Victorian Yuletide Evening from 5-8 p.m. Take part in Victorian yuletide-themed activities and crafts while you enjoy holiday treats. (The carriage from the Memorial Union will stop at the Museum.) The Yuletide Celebration continues on Saturday (Dec. 4) with treats, tours, and pictures with Santa.
The popular local Beautiful Land Holiday Market opens Friday night (Dec. 3) from 6-10 p.m. at Prairie Moon Winery and Alluvial Brewery in north Ames. The market continues on Saturday (Dec. 4) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features local crafts, unique holiday gifts, and vintage finds.
For the most unusual holiday concert around, don’t miss TUBACHRISTMAS on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium. It’s holiday joy with tubas!
Need another Santa fix? He’ll be at JAX Outdoor Gear in West Ames, ready to pose for pictures with the kids at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.
The Nutcracker Ballet takes the Stephens Auditorium stage for three performances, Dec. 11-12. This classic holiday fairy tale has come alive at Stephens each December since 1981!
Finally, enjoy a Magical Cirque Christmas on Dec. 20 when the world’s greatest entertainers unite for a spell-binding and incredible holiday production.