IOWA Magazine | 04-21-2022

Iowa City's Best-Kept Secret: Free Summer Festivals, Concerts, and Movies

2 minute read
Iowa City is the place to be in the summertime. These festivals and programs will make you want to return for a visit.

With a reputation for literary excellence and a vibrant downtown, Iowa City is consistently voted one of the top college towns in the U.S. Most people find themselves in this charming town during the school year—here to learn, enjoy a Hawkeye game, or another academic endeavor. Yet many do not realize that summer, when Iowa City is at its sleepiest, is one of the best times to enjoy it.

On brand, Iowa City is an art lover’s oasis during the season of sunshine. From shopping unique artwork outdoors in June, to the sound of sweet jazz hanging in the heavy, humid air in July, you don’t want to miss Iowa City in the summertime. Here are some of its one-of-a-kind offerings:


FilmScene in the Park

Every other Saturday, May 27-September 17
Chauncey Swan Park

Grab a blanket and stake out a spot in the grass to watch a film under the stars on a massive outdoor screen.

Friday night concert

Friday Night Concert Series

Fridays, May 13-August 19
Ped Mall Stage or Chauncey Swan Park

Enjoy live music from area musicians.

Movie night

Free Movie Series

Saturdays, May 21-August 20
Various Locations

Outdoor movies will be played at locations across the Iowa City area, including parks and the airport. Most are family friendly, and some showings have UI connections, like Field of Dreams, written by Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate W.P. Kinsella (78MFA), as well as Big Hero 6 and Raya and the Last Dragon, directed by Iowa alumnus Don Hall (91BFA).

Farmers Market

Iowa City Farmers Market

7:30 a.m. – noon, Saturdays, May through October
Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp

Enjoy the bounty of the season, including farm-fresh produce, eggs, and meat—along with coffee, baked goods, and newly cut flowers.

Iowa Arts Festival

Iowa Arts Festival

June 3-5
Downtown Iowa City

Shop more than 100 local and national art vendors. Also, enjoy regional and ethnic foods, live music, and family activities.


Iowa City Pride Festival

June 18
Downtown Iowa City

This annual event features a colorful parade, followed by a festival featuring vendors and live music.

Downtown Block Party

Downtown Block Party

June 25
Downtown Iowa City

This outdoor celebration features dueling pianos, a silent disco, roller skating, live music, and more. Admission is free, but cups are sold that allow attendees of legal age to enjoy alcoholic beverages within the block party area.

Jazz Festival

Iowa City Jazz Festival

July 1-3
Downtown Iowa City

Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy three days of live musical performances from two stages. This annual tradition, featuring well-known musicians and up-and-coming entertainers, typically concludes with fireworks that sparkle over the Old Capitol.

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