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Ames: The Holidays Are Here, Let's Spread Some Cheer!
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Ames: The Holidays Are Here, Let's Spread Some Cheer!

Whether you’re still on a pumpkin spice kick, or you’ve moved onto peppermint mocha, it’s already time to start thinking about the holiday season. November kicks off an assortment of holiday-related activities, shopping opportunities, and ideas to get you feeling cheery. Check out all Ames has to offer coming up.

Snow Magic

Experience the kickoff of the Snow Magic holiday season in the Main Street Cultural District on Friday, November 11. There will be free carriage rides down Main Street throughout the evening and local businesses will be open late if you want to start some holiday shopping. At 6 p.m., Ames Mayor Ann Campbell will light the official Snow Magic Christmas Tree in Tom Evans Park along with the official “Light Up Downtown Kickoff” with the new lights atop the Main Street buildings.

Festival of Trees

The Festival of Trees is an annual holiday event hosted by the Octagon Center for the Arts. Each year thousands of people come to see the Octagon's Main Gallery transformed into a truly spectacular forest of festive trees and wreaths decorated by local businesses. Approximately 70 trees and wreaths will be on display, and many will be available for silent auction bidding. The Festival of Trees opens during the Snow Magic Kickoff with refreshments, holiday music, and holiday craft activities for the kids and will be available for viewing through November 27.

Cooking Demonstration: Thanksgiving Side Dishes

We all love the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes, but sometimes it is fun to mix it up! Get ready for the big meal with three quick, easy and delicious options including a carrot dish, a bright cranberry vinaigrette and a surprise dish.  Learn from the experts at Cooks’ Emporium on Saturday, November 12 then recreate at home!

Brian Setzer Orchestra’s 13th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour

On Sunday, November 13 you can get your dose of retro holiday cheer with Brian Setzer and his 19-piece orchestra. The acclaimed show also features music from their latest Christmas album, “Rockin’ Rudolph,” their three other best-selling holiday albums, as well as original Brian Setzer hits. This show is sure to get you into the holiday spirit!

Holiday Railroad at Reiman Gardens

The wildly popular Reiman Garden Express Holiday Train returns again this year! If you didn’t get to see this last season, make sure it’s on your calendar this time around. This year it chugs through a sweet landscape as part of the “Sugar & Spice” display. From gumdrops to candy canes to ribbon candy, the holidays are full of colorful candies. The train display will be as sweet as can be in the Hughes Conservatory with plantings inspired by candy. Also included in the show will be a replica of Iowa State University’s historical Dinkey train, scaled recreations of buildings on ISU’s campus, as well as several bridges. The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, November 18.

Creative Spirits

Check out the Creative Spirits calendar and pick your painting! Whether you are looking to create some homemade décor for yourself or a gift for someone else, there are plenty of holiday and other themed options to choose from. Creative Spirits is also a perfect location to hold a holiday party for your office or family and friends. Make sure to register in advance to guarantee your spot!

Santa Express Train

Bring the family, and enjoy a ride from the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad's depot to the "North Pole" (and return).  En route, you will hear the story of Santa's Scenic Valley Ride, sing holiday songs, and take part in other fun, family activities.  Also on board, you will be served hot chocolate and a cookie, and you will get to meet, and receive a special gift from, Santa himself.  Be sure to arrive in your pajamas, and experience what has become a tradition for families from across Iowa, and beyond. Experience the magic Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 25 through December 18.

Small Business Saturday

Shop Small and support local Ames businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There are so many unique options for your shopping and gift-giving needs in the Main Street Cultural District, along with a variety of restaurants, coffee shops and specialty food stores to power you through the day. Main Street will be bustling with shoppers in search of holiday gifts, and the first 200 downtown shoppers will receive a free “swag bag,” so get there early!

Yulefest Tree Lighting and Yulefest Day for Kids in Story City

Story City celebrates one of their most memorable events in downtown on Friday, November 25. The Yulefest Tree Lighting will include Christmas carols, hot chocolate and Mayor Jensen lighting the tree. After the main festivities, you can enjoy the annual chili supper from the Story City Fire Department. The following morning during Small Business Saturday, kids can enjoy breakfast, crafts and a movie while parents shop downtown!

Get ready to feel the magic of the season this month and continuing into the winter. These aren’t the only things happening in Ames and the surrounding communities. Check out to keep up on all things to DO, EAT, SHOP, and STAY.

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