Art Abounds in Iowa City

The Iowa Arts Festival in Iowa City next weekend celebrates the arts around the world, with cultural performances, ethnic dishes from food vendors and educational activities for children. Photo: Courtesy of Summer of the Arts.

By Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

In Iowa City, the Iowa Arts Festival has returned to its rightful place at the start of the city’s Summer of the Arts calendar. On June 3-5, more than 100 local and national artists will take over nine downtown blocks, with plenty of global food, activities for all ages and live music headlined by the rootsy Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel.

The arts festival is one of the three summer biggies, with the Iowa City Jazz Festival (July 1-3) and the Soul & Blues Festival (Sept. 23-24), but dozens of smaller events fill out the season. Try the Friday Night Concert Series, the Northside Concert Series (on select Saturdays) or the Free Movie Series (also on Saturdays). It’s no wonder Iowa City has been ranked among the top 10 most creative small cities in the country.

If you or your kids have energy to burn, try Music on the Move, when local musicians pump up the jams at a different neighborhood playground each week. The idea caught on during the pandemic when guitarist Kevin Burt started performing around town from the back of his pickup; his “Truckload of Soul” was so popular it evolved into a full-on, multi-musician series with the city’s Rec & Roll program. Got it? Now go play outside.

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