Check Iowa’s calendar of major annual events and include a local festival in your group tour itinerary.

Burlington Steamboat Days

June 10-15

Spirit of Dubuque

Spirit of Dubuque

National rock, country, rhythm and blues, and pop stars appear on two outdoor stages. The lineup this year includes Toby Keith. A parade and carnival rides also are part of this celebration of life on the Mississippi. (

Glenn Miller Festival, Clarinda

 June 12-15

On the second weekend in June, visitors and entertainers from around the world converge in Clarinda, home of the Glenn Miller Museum and Birthplace Home, to celebrate the music of Alton Glenn Miller, the top bandleader during the Big Band era. Hear bands from around the world and the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. (

Nordic Fest, Decorah

July 24-26

Decorah celebrates its Scandinavian heritage with a parade, dancers in authentic costumes, Saturday night fireworks and sports events like the Nordic Rock Throw. The antique, artisan and craft show features over 100 exhibitors. Visitors chow down on Norwegian salmon burgers, Norwegian meatballs, Norwegian soft butter cookies and lingonberry ice cream. Demonstrations at Vesterheim—The National Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center include woodcarving, knife making and rosemaling. (

National Balloon Classic, Indianola

July 25-Aug. 2

balloon. Credit

National Balloon Classic. Credit

More than 100 hot-air balloons, including special shapes, paint the sky over Indianola, home of the National Balloon Museum. Visitors enjoy musical entertainment, open-air markets and the Fire in the Sky Nite-Glow Extravaganza at Iowa’s largest ballooning event. (

Iowa State Fair, Des Moines

Aug. 7-17

Iowa State Fair

Iowa State Fair

Considered America’s classic state fair, this ag-extravaganza annually attracts more than a million fun lovers from around the world. Featured are one of the world’s largest livestock shows, the country’s largest state fair foods department (about 900 classes), the state’s largest arts show, hundreds of competitive events and wacky contests, and a carnival midway. Nearly 200 food stands offer more than 60 items on-a-stick, from corndogs to deep-fried butter. Grandstand shows slated this year include Lady Antebellum, Florida Georgia Line, Foreigner and Styx, and the Robertsons from A&E’s Duck Dynasty, not to mention the tractor and truck pull and demolition derby. (

Tulip Time Festival, Pella

May 7-9

Tulip Time

Tulip Time

Proud of its Dutch heritage and tourist attractions, Pella throws a big party that includes six parades, three of them lighted. The afternoon Grandstand Show features Dutch dancing and singing, Parade of Provinces (Dutch costume style show), cheese market demonstration, presentation of the queen and her court, and the famous street scrubbing. Festival-goers also enjoy brilliant tulip gardens, craft markets, Dutch dancing and musical performances. Groups can arrange a Dutch chocolate demonstration, costume show, tulip tips talk and Dutch meal with costumed servers. Craft demonstrations at Pella Historical Village include yoke carving, wooden shoe-making and Dutch letter baking. (

John Wayne Birthday Celebration, Winterset

May 22-23

Construction on the John Wayne Birthplace Museum has begun, and a grand opening is planned during the annual festival honoring the actor who was born in Winterset in 1907. Located near the John Wayne Birthplace home itself, it will be the only museum in the world dedicated to the iconic American actor, with over $2 million of Wayne artifacts in the collection. (