Iowa's holiday spirit shines through in the form of Christmas celebrations, lighting displays and tours, and other seasonal activities this month. The halls are decked with greenery and the lights are twinkling as Iowans welcome you to share in their holiday festivities.
In Waterloo, horse-drawn trolley rides carry bundled-up visitors through the Grout Museum District for entertainment and holiday activities December 6.
On the same day, in New Hampton, walk along a luminary-lighted path to the Candles, Carols and Cards festival with live window displays, decorated trees, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a visit with Santa.
Denison, in west central Iowa, is the hometown of Donna Reed, who starred in the Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart. The town's Christmas festival of the same name features a parade, gingerbread kingdom, tour of homes and more on December 6-9.
Two historic Des Moines mansions open their doors to visitors for the Holly & Ivy tour December 7-9. Terrace Hill, Iowa's governor's mansion, and Salisbury House, an 1920s English manor-style home, offer lavish seasonal decorations and entertainment in a special package tour.
At Christmas, Swedish tradition calls for the crowning of a Queen of Lights (Santa Lucia) and this festival is celebrated in Stanton December 8, with a Swedish smorgasbord and folk dancing. Visit the Swedish Heritage and Cultural Center to find out more about the area's history.
Ten years after Iowa became a state, Mathias Ham built his stately Dubuque mansion and furnished it in a manner befitting a wealthy entrepreneur. Now, the mansion and nearby 1833 log cabin have been restored and are open to the public for tours. During the Christmas Open House December 9, costumed guides will accompany visitors on a tour of early American Christmas traditions. Enjoy holiday lights and decorations, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.
Las Posadas is a traditional Hispanic procession recalling the long journey of Mary and Joseph as they sought lodging on the days before Christ was born. The town of Perry, in central Iowa, offers a Las Posadas festival December 9.
Learn about one of Iowa's most famous citizens at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. Special exhibits await visitors during the holiday season, including "The Treasures of Christmas."
Trees are decorated with a variety of ornaments, both old-fashioned and unconventional. An accompanying exhibit called "Red, White and Hope" pays tribute to entertainer Bob Hope and the 60 years of holiday tours he hosted throughout the world to entertain American troops. See photos, letters, awards, and memorabilia from shows during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf conflicts. Both run through January 6, 2002.