Stretching across two states along the Mississippi River, the dynamic Quad Cities region is famous for its military, farming, and economic history, its unique geography, and for being the home of John Deere.
An intersection of cities made up of Bettendorf and Davenport in Iowa and East Moline, Moline, and Rock Island in Illinois, the Quad Cities provides a variety of fun events and things to do year-round.
With its regular snowfall and an abundance of holiday festivities however, Christmas in the Quad Cities is the region’s most magical time to visit.
If you’re planning to spend the holidays in the Quad Cities, check out our list of 10 things to do in the Quad Cities at Christmas!
1. Festival of Trees
An annual tradition for over 35 years, the Quad Cities welcomes the holiday season with the Festival of Trees. Embracing the Christmas spirit, visitors enjoy a multitude of Christmas trees, wreaths, and designer displays decorated in various holiday themes.
With over 100,000 guests in attendance every year, the Festival of Trees provides a holiday extravaganza of festivities to enjoy over ten days:
- Holiday Helium Balloon Parade (largest in the Midwest!)
- SugarPlum Ball dinner and dance
- Christmas shopping vendors
- Visits with Santa
- Christmas brunch and teas
- Festival After Dark silent disco
2. Winter Nights Winter Lights at Quad City Botanical Center
The Quad City Botanical Center becomes a winter wonderland of twinkling Christmas lights each year with Winter Nights Winter Lights. Guests can enjoy a magical evening stroll through the beautiful gardens with over 160,000 lights aglow.
Open throughout the holiday season, the gardens provide some special nights to enjoy the lights, too. A few scheduled “date nights” include live music and cocktails, and kids will love coming to “Santa and the Mrs. Visit” to take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
3. Christmas in the Village
The quaint Village of East Davenport hosts its Christmas in the Village each year with lively holiday festivities providing a cozy small-town feel. A holiday tradition led by the local business community for over 40 years, you’ll want to make time to join in on this big Christmas party.
Grab a free cup of mulled cider and enjoy some excellent local Christmas shopping and restaurants while you take in the lively ambience. Additional festivities include:
- Kids’ holiday crafts and face painting
- Appearances with Santa, Scrooge, the Grinch, and reindeer
- Quad City Brass Quartet holiday performances
- Live nativity and petting zoo
- Trolley rides
- Christmas caroling and choir shows
4. 19th Century Christmas
To really experience the Quad Cities’ history this Christmas, you’ll want to visit 19th Century Christmas at the historic Deere-Wiman House. Guests can tour the lavish Victorian home built in the 1870s by John Deere’s son Charles.
A step back in time, you can see this majestic home adorned with festive Christmas decor and learn about the history of the Quad Cities’ most prominent family.
In addition, visitors to this free event can enjoy an ornament-making workshop to take home a commemorative souvenir from their visit.
5. Julmarknad Christmas Market
Looking to do some festive Christmas shopping? Head over to nearby Bishop Hill, IL to visit the lively Julmarknad, a Swedish-style Christmas market.
Celebrating a Swedish tradition that began in the 14th Century, you can enjoy traditional Swedish folk characters and holiday decorations, tasty foods, and unique artisan gifts at Julmarknad.
In addition, visitors can experience a cookie and chocolate walk and make a Dala Horse to take home. Be on the lookout for Tomten roaming through town, as well as the Yule-Goat, Julbock!
6. Holiday Treats at Lagomarcino’s and Whitey’s
When you’re hungry for holiday treats during your Quad Cities Christmas visit, stops at two local institutions, Lagomarcino’s and Whitey’s, are just about a requirement!
Famous for its chocolates, candy apples, and old-fashioned soda fountain, Lagomarcino’s has been serving sweets to generations of locals and tourists since 1908. A visit to grab some holiday-themed sweets as gifts (or for yourself!) feels like walking into the past.
With several locations in the area, Whitey’s Ice Cream is a Quad Cities staple, providing some of the best ice cream you can find. At Christmastime, you’ll want to try their snowballs, holiday ice cream molds, center bricks, and ice cream cakes and pies.
7. Snowy Fun at Snowstar Winter Park
Ski season begins in the Quad Cities every December, and nearby Snowstar Winter Park is the place to go if you’re looking to enjoy some fantastic winter recreation during your Christmas visit to the Quad Cities!
With scenic runs for the whole family, the park helps make skiing and snowboarding accessible for everyone, even if it’s your first time (you can easily get lessons!).
The park’s popular snow tubing also provides hours of holiday fun. There’s nothing like the simple joys of gliding down a big snowy hill at Christmastime!
8. Christmas at Augustana
Performing in front of a sold-out crowd for over 10 years, the annual Christmas at Augustana concert provides spectacular holiday music performances for the Quad Cities each Christmas season.
With over 300 Augustana College student musicians showcasing their talents, you’ll be wowed by this beloved holiday spectacle of Augustana’s symphony orchestra, choir, vocal, and brass ensemble performers.
Augustana College also hosts an intimate Lessons & Carols service and lively Christmas tree lighting celebration worth seeing over the holidays as well.
9. Christkindlmarkt Quad Cities
Celebrating the Quad Cities’ German heritage, the popular Christkindlmarkt Quad Cities provides a festive European-style Christmas market, full of food, shopping, and entertainment.
A feast for the senses, you can experience lively German music while shopping for unique artisan gifts and crafts with some Gluhwein or tasty European foods.
The market always kicks off with its St. Nicholas Dinner party and provides live performances and artist demonstrations you don’t want to miss!
10. Christmas Day Dinner at the World’s Largest Truckstop
Seeking a unique experience on Christmas Day in the Quad Cities? Consider making the drive to nearby Walcott, IA for a one-of-a-kind adventure at the World’s Largest Truckstop.
A curiosity worth visiting anytime of the year, people come from all over the country to see Iowa 80, the largest truck stop in the world. Serving over 5,000 customers daily, Iowa 80 feels like both the crossroads of America and an amusement park for family travelers to truckers.
Always open, Iowa 80 embraces the Christmas spirit with its special all-you-can-eat Christmas Day Dinner, served throughout the day. Connect with passersby from around the country and hear their stories as you share a fascinating Christmas meal you won’t soon forget.
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Did we miss any of your favorite things to do in the Quad Cities at Christmas?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more to the list!