Christmas in Olde Town Transforms Altoona into a Winter Wonderland

The holiday season kicks off in Altoona this weekend, with a little help from MasterChef winner Grant Gillon. Altoona’s Christmas in Olde Town is one of central Iowa’s most beloved holiday events, and returns this weekend bigger and better than ever this Saturday, November 25, from 2-5 p.m. This enchanting celebration, nestled in the heart of Altoona’s historic downtown, promises an afternoon filled with joy, wonder, and festive cheer.

The festivities kick off in grand style as Santa Claus arrives in an Altoona fire truck at 2 p.m., heralding the start of a magical afternoon. Guests will delight in the warmth of the season with free s'mores and comforting hot chocolate.

But the wonders don't end there - real live reindeer, straight from the North Pole, will grace the event, captivating audiences with their grace and charm. Holiday vendors will offer an array of delightful gifts and treats, perfect for finding that special something for loved ones. Also, prepare to be amazed by the mesmerizing strolling magic by the talented Mikayla Oz, along with the incredible talents of Laura Ernst from America's Got Talent!

Families can bond over creative crafts and activities specially designed for the occasion. And for those seeking a timeless holiday experience, take a serene ride through the town on horse-drawn wagon rides, a cherished tradition that adds a touch of nostalgia to the festivities.

"Christmas in Olde Town is a cherished holiday tradition where the community comes together to celebrate the joy of the season," said Alex Payne, President of the Altoona Area Historical Society. "We've curated a day filled with magic and wonder for all ages to enjoy, and we can't wait to share it with everyone."

As the afternoon progresses, the official kick-off of the holiday season in Altoona begins with the annual lighting of the City Christmas Tree. At 5 p.m., Altoona Mayor Dean O'Connor, joined by winner of MasterChef Grant Gillon, will illuminate the City of Altoona Christmas Tree in front of the museum. This spectacular moment marks the beginning of Olde Town Lights: Powered by Meta, featuring thousands of color-changing holiday lights that will illuminate Altoona's historic downtown district through the entire holiday season.

The holiday festivities are put on by the Altoona Area Historical Society. The Altoona nonprofit started the event in 2017 to bring attention to the City’s historic downtown. It has grown from a small event in the museum to a full-scale event incorporating the entire neighborhood. For more information and updates, visit, or check out the Altoona Area Historical Society’s Facebook page.

About the Altoona Area Historical Society: On May 5, 2003, the Altoona City Council recognized the Altoona Area Historical Society as the City's official organization to collect, secure, and preserve the artifacts and records of the City of Altoona and surrounding areas.