Festivals & Celebrations in the Amana Colonies

Maypole dancers in period dress at Maifest

Festivals, festivals, festivals . . . celebrations in the Amana Colonies

One way for the Amana locals to share their German history and culture is through their many annual festivals. You will love the experience of visiting the Colonies for one of their special festivals.

The Biggies:

  1. Winterfest is a one day festival at the end of January, which is a great time for some wintertime fun. You’ll taste chili made over an open fire, watch ice sculptors create works of art, participate in some old-fashioned games and contests like frozen ham throwing and frozen pork chop hockey (!), play mini-golf in the barn, run a FREEZER 5k if you are up to it, and finish off the day at the Snowball Dance. There’s more information on the Amana Colonies website if you CLICK HERE.
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2 Maifest, celebrated the first weekend of May, is the celebration of spring which features the maypole dancers. This is a delightful experience, especially if we get a warm spring weekend and spring flowers in full bloom.

All day Saturday there is the “Arts in the Barn” event, which includes music, dance performances, along with local artists in the Festhalle Barn.

Hungry? No worries! During Maifest, in addition to our local German restaurants in town, food trucks provide a variety of authentic international foods for a bit more variety.

In the evening there is a dance called “Rock the Trails”. You’ll want to be sure to do this—it benefits the Amana Recreational Trails fund. If you like food and drink, there is also a “wine, beer, and chocolate walk”. CLICK HERE for more.

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3 Wurstfest (meaning and including all things related to sausage and brats!)If Oktoberfest is Amana’s best festival this is the wurst! It is a newer festival that has been gaining in popularity over the past several years. It was voted “Iowa’s Best New Event” in 2016 by the Iowa Tourism Commission. The Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse usually wins first prize in the sausage contest that brings sausage-makers from all over the Midwest to the competition.

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There is a Dachshund Derby –watch little wiener dogs racing across the grass to their owners. There is also a chance to enroll in the “wurst” university and learn about sausage making. Wurstfest is held in mid-June each summer. Read more about Wurstfest!

4 Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is held the first weekend in October – CLICK HERE to read about it. It’s a large and major festival that warrants its own page.

5 Prelude to Christmas is the last major festival of the year and is held the first weekend in December. Prelude to Christmas is magical, with everything decorated for the holidays and luminaries lining the streets. The Amana Church puts on a magnificent cookie walk where you purchase an empty box, filling it to the brim with homemade cookies along the walk. There is also a Christmas Haus walk sponsored by the

Arts Guild. This is a great opportunity to see many historical homes, renovated in some fascinating ways. The Tannenbaum Forest is a beautiful display of decorated Christmas trees located in the Festhalle Barn. It is open from Thanksgiving weekend to a week or so before

Christmas. Santa is there for the children, one Saturday live reindeer appear, and there are various live holiday music programs scheduled throughout the season at the Forest. Admission is simply a donation to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. CLICK HERE for more.

Note: This is the main Christmas celebration of the Colonies, which means Christmas, both the week before and the week after Dec. 25, is very quiet around here. Many stores and restaurants are closed so that they can celebrate with family too.

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The Smaller, but just as awesome, festivals and events. . .

1 Take-A-Bite Food Festival

Take-A-Bite was recently named “Outstanding New Event in Iowa” and is quite popular. If you love to eat and drink, it’s the perfect event for you. The Amana Colonies are well known for their great food, beer, and wine and they celebrate both traditional Amana items and more international foods at this festival. The event is designed for all types of “foodies” and includes educational seminars, hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations, food sampling, and special dinners to enjoy. For a complete list of offerings and events CLICK HERE. Some you need to register for in advance.

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2 Colonies in Bloom

Although the Colonies are always bathed in flowers of summer, Colonies in Bloom, features select private flower gardens that are open to the public. Since garden displays change through the summer, as various flowers reach their peak at different times, Colonies in Bloom is held the last weekend of June and the last weekend of July. Maps are provided by the Visitors’ Center that indicate the participating homes. A German flag in the front lawn indicates there is more beauty out back that you are invited to view. You’ll want to make sure to visit the couple just down the street from us here in Homestead, who have a peaceful water feature and extensive gardens with benches to sit and enjoy the babbling brook and green shade. CLICK HERE for more details.

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3 Model A Day/Throwback Weekend

This event is held in mid-August. The weekend brings 80-100 Ford Model A’s and their owners to Amana where they line up along the street and admire each other’s vintage cars and invite visitors to admire them as well. We often have a parking lot full of Model A’s here at Die Heimat that weekend, which we always find quite fun. There are special activities and food to take you back in time. CLICK HERE to read more.

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4. Apfelfest (Applefest)

You may want to join us in the Amana Colonies as we celebrate Apfelfest in mid-September. It’s held during the autumn of the year and that means apple time in the mid-west. On this Saturday we celebrate all things apple (and somethings that aren’t.). This is a chance to experience the Colonies at a wonderful time of the year when leaves are turning and there is a slight crispness in the air, kind of like a crisp caramel apple. Restaurants and shops offer apple strudel and other apple specialties and there are special events planned throughout our seven villages. CLICK HERE for more information.

5 The Arts Guild in High Amana sponsors two special events in August

Festival of the Arts – held the second weekend of August in the Market Barn area in Amana. This great event features sales of fine arts, crafts and traditional Colony folk arts by local and guest artists. A unique part of the festival are the demonstrations of woodturning, quilting, tinsmithing, basket-making, spinning and painting that guests will enjoy observing. Local foods such as Amana bratwurst, sauerkraut, homemade apple fritters, baked goods, homemade rhubarb drink are served. There is a special art corner for kids and various types of entertainment on the stage throughout the day as you browse the beautiful work of juried artists. CLICK HERE to read more about both Festival of the Arts and Woodfest.

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Woodfest happens one of the last weekends in August at the Amana RV Park where they have several large air-conditioned pavilions that accommodate all the wonderful displays of handcrafted wood items. Woodcrafters of all types from throughout the Midwest provide ongoing demonstrations. You can browse and admire as well as shop for furniture, home and garden décor, toys, bowls, carvings, tools and more. It’s everything related to wood! You can buy food at the festival and the buildings are handicapped accessible.

6 Girls’ Getaway Weekend – the first weekend in November

Who doesn’t enjoy getting away with girlfriends now and then? This weekend is dedicated to women. All types of events are planned including special menu selections at the restaurants, special packages at B&Bs and inns, plenty of shopping, (including our 15 antique stores!) decorating advice, a vendor fair, wine and food sampling, and a Vintner’s Dinner to name a few. There are live theater productions that weekend too. We welcome the guys to come along too; there’s always something for everyone here! For a complete list of events on this special weekend CLICK HERE to find details on the Amana Colonies website.

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