From small-town ethnic celebrations to the world-famous Iowa State Fair, Iowa’s calendar abounds with festive events that will add a special touch to group tour itineraries.


National Balloon Classic, Indianola

July 24-Aug. 1, 2015

Iowa’s largest ballooning event wows visitors with more than 100 hot-air balloons, including eye-popping special shapes. Enjoy musical entertainment, an open-air market and the Nite-Glow Extravaganza. (

Iowa State Fair, Des Moines

Aug. 13-23, 2015

Iowa’s largest event attracts over a million people who come for the carnival rides, stage entertainment and classic fair food. More than 70 on-a-stick items range from corn dogs to pork chops. Grandstand headliners this year include Reba, Carrie Underwood, Alabama, Meghan Trainor and Def Leppard. (

Covered Bridge Festival, Winterset

Oct. 10-11, 2015

Winterset, home of the brand new John Wayne Birthplace Museum, spotlights the Madison County bridges made famous in the novel and 1995 Clint Eastwood/Meryl Streep movie. Guided bus tours stop at some of the six bridges. In addition, there are foods, crafts and live music, plus cannon-firing and sheep-shearing demonstrations. (