Discover Ames

Kick-off the holiday season and spend the weekend of Dec. 1-3 in Ames, with shopping, music, family fun, home tours, light show, a night at Gateway Hotel, and so much more.

Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show

With a wide variety of dazzling light installations throughout 17 acres of outdoor gardens, this walk-through light show includes old favorites as well as new surprises. Experience captivating tunnels, massive laser-lit disco balls, dynamic lights dancing across a frozen lake, a whimsical mushroom forest, and so much more.

Reiman Gardens / Dec. 1-2 (and all Thurs./Fri./Sat. evenings in December)

Snow Magic Kick-Off

Downtown Ames is always festive during the holidays! Join us as we kick off the holiday season with carriage rides, Santa, lights, carolers, and shopping specials throughout Downtown!

Ames Main Street / Dec. 1


Don’t miss this ISU tradition! Celebrate winter with the Jingle Jog 4K, carriage rides, Workspace crafts, bowling & billiards, photo booth, bingo, tree lighting ceremony, hot chocolate, cookie decorating, and a central campus Jingle & Mingle Holiday Market.

Memorial Union, ISU campus / Dec. 1

Holiday Art Mart

Featuring local artists, makers, and crafters, our holiday sale has something for everyone on your list! From budding creatives on campus to professional artists, you will find pottery, blown glass, jewelry, décor, accessories, and prints. Sales support individual artists, The Workspace, and the Gaffer’s Guild.

Memorial Union, ISU campus / Nov. 28-Dec. 1

Yuletide at the Farm House Museum

Celebrate the holiday season at the historic Farm House Museum on the ISU campus. On Friday night, take part in free Victorian yuletide themed activities and crafts while you enjoy holiday treats. Tours of the historic home in full period decoration are offered Saturday afternoon along with the opportunity to meet and take a picture with Santa from 1-4 PM.

ISU campus / Dec. 1-2

Santa Express

All aboard the Santa Express! Bring the family, and enjoy a ride from the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s depot to the North Pole (and return). En route, you will hear the story of Santa’s Scenic Valley Ride, and take part in other fun, family activities. Experience what has become a tradition for families from across Iowa, and beyond.

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad / Dec. 1-3 (and other dates in December)

Stay at Gateway Hotel

Stay at Gateway Hotel and Conference Center Saturday, Dec. 2. For $119, enjoy a complimentary appetizer at the Iowa Stater Restaurant and free breakfast for two on Sunday morning. This is a one time promotion for Merry & Bright Holiday weekend, so get it while you can! 

Gateway Hotel & Conference Center / Dec. 2 

Santa at Homewood 2023

Homewood for the Holidays

Santa is visiting the Homewood Clubhouse! Bring the kids for a fun holiday craft and photos with Santa from 9-11 a.m. Donuts and juice will be provided.

Homewood Golf Course / Dec. 2

Creative Artists’ Studios of Ames (CASA) Holiday Art Sale

Most of the CASA Artists will have their beautiful art for sale for your Holiday shopping. Find that unique, one of a kind, handmade gift. Please come and join us in the CASA Gallery and more. Live music, treats and lots of art!

CASA / Dec. 2 


Tuba, euphonium, baritone and sousaphone players perform in the 12th annual Ames TUBACHRISTMAS concert. This festive event will begin at 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Stephens Auditorium / Dec. 2

Beautiful Land Makers Market on Main

Join us for our inaugural makers market on main event! We’ll be popping up at 3 main spaces: Sweet Caroline’s, The Recipe Ames, and Ames American Legion. Each location will feature a curated selection of makers and goods
To create a fun & festive shopping experience. 

Downtown Ames / Dec. 2

Holiday Home Tour

Ames Holiday Home Tour is sponsored by Altrusa. Tour the homes of five community supporters!

Throughout Ames / Dec. 2

Dad’s Belgian Waffles

Back by popular demand! Enjoy all-you-can-eat malted waffles with all the fixings (sausage, whipped cream, butter, and syrup). Come hungry, leave happy!

Iowa Arboretum / Dec. 2

Christmas Palooza Craft & Vendor Show

Tenth annual Christmas Palooza, with 50+ crafters and vendors.

Boone County Fairgrounds / Dec. 2

Tour of Homes

Don’t miss the 2023 Boone Christmas Tour of Homes Saturday, 4-8 p.m. and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. This fun event supports Wings of Refuge.

Throughout Boone County / Dec. 2-3

ISU Music Holiday Concerts

Are you ready for an unforgettable musical journey? Mark your calendars and prepare to be enthralled by the captivating melodies and harmonies of the Iowa State University Concert Bands. Join us on December 3rd, 2023, for an extraordinary evening of symphonic band music. 

Stephens Auditorium / Dec. 3

Beautiful Land Holiday Market

You won’t want to miss this carefully curated holiday marketplace!


Prairie Moon Winery / Dec. 3

Annual Candlelight Meditation

Experience a deep calm through a guided meditation which will dissolve stress, and leave you feeling nourished in your body, mind, and heart. Join Ames Yoga Center in the warmth of the candle lit studio. Please register early as space is limited.

Ames Yoga Center / Dec. 3


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