Dubuque Area December Activities & Events

Model Train Show

Thursdays-Sundays, through Sunday, December 17

1-4 PM @ Galena Center for the Arts, 971 Gear St. (Galena, IL)

A family holiday celebration of model trains: Catch the Train in Galena. Train enthusiast Philip Jackman will display his N Scale operating trains. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Visit

Wonder of Winter Art Exhibit

Thursdays-Sundays, through Sunday, January 14, 2024

1-4 PM @ Galena Center for the Arts, 971 Gear St. (Galena, IL)

Both the Regional Artists Gallery and Special Exhibit space will be filled with wintery art and home decor, all of which is available for purchase. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Visit

12 Days of Christmas 2023

Through Sunday, December 31 @ Hotel Julien Dubuque

Peek at this year’s 12 Days of Christmas events happening throughout the holiday season. For more information on all the events, visit

Reflections in the Park
Friday, December 1 through Monday, January 1

5-10 PM @ Louis Murphy Park
Hillcrest Family Services’ annual lights festival celebrates their 28th anniversary. Visitors will see many new displays and have the option to participate in the featured Memory Lane, an opportunity to remember your loved ones in a special way. Santa Claus will visit on Mondays through Christmas. Discounted tickets are available at all DB&T banking centers. Admission: $12 per vehicle. Visit

Christmas Angel Tree at Caroline’s

Friday, December 1 through Friday, December 15

@ Caroline’s Restaurant, Hotel Julien Dubuque

During this holiday season help provide gifts to children who would otherwise go without. The Christmas tree will be set up in the restaurant with donation requests from local families in need. With a donated gift, you will receive 10% off your entree at Caroline’s Restaurant. Visit

A Doublewide, Texas Christmas

Friday, December 1 through Sunday, December 17

Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 PM; Sundays at 2 PM; Saturdays, December 2 & December 9 at 7:30 PM; Saturday, December 16 at 2 PM @ Bell Tower Theater, 2728 Asbury Road

Somewhere in the Texas heartland, lies the brand-new town of Doublewide: population, 10. It’s Christmas time, and it’s beginning to look a lot like trouble. Doublewide is being double crossed by the county and might lose their status as a town. Maybe if they win the countywide “Battle of The Mangers,” their Christmas will be saved. Admission: $23. Visit

Home for the Holidays Daytime & Candlelight Tours

Fridays, December 1, 8 & 15, 6-7 PM

Saturdays, December 2, 9 & 16, 11 AM-4 PM & 6 PM

@ Mathias Ham Historic Site

The Ham House will be decorated in period style and costumed interpreters will share winter holiday traditions from Dubuque’s history. Refreshments, winter-themed crafts, and cookie decorating will be available as well as guided tours of the Ham House. 

There will be daytime, and candlelight guided tours. Admission: members, free; adults, $10; children ages 3-17, $7. Visit

Dubuque Winter Farmers Market
Saturdays, December 2 through December 30

9 AM–12 PM @ Kennedy Mall West Concourse
Regional vendors offer homemade baked goods, meat, cheese, eggs, seasonal produce, and more. Bring your own reusable shopping bags and drop off clean egg cartons, glass jars, and plastic clam shells. The all-volunteer driven market focuses on supporting our regional food system, eating from our food shed year-round, and providing annual funding to farmers through a grant program. This event is held every Saturday through April 2024. Visit

Platteville Winter Farmer’s Market
Saturdays, December 2 & December 16

9 AM-12 PM @ Rountree Gallery, 120 W. Main St. (Platteville, WI)
Find homegrown and handmade products from fresh produce and prepared food to stained glass and bath bombs. This event will be held the first and third Saturdays of the month through April 2024. Visit

Early Explorers: “B” is for Butterfly

Tuesday, December 5

10-11 AM @ National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Early Explorers is open to children ages 2-5 along with a parent or caregiver. The program includes a variety of hands-on and active activities. Advanced registration is encouraged as space is limited. Cost for members: $8 per toddler; non-members: $10 per toddler. Non-member rate plus adult admission, $20. A parent and/ or caregiver can attend the program for free with the toddler. General admission is not required for this program, nor is it included in this program. Visit

Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas
Tuesday, December 5

7:30 PM @ University of Dubuque Heritage Center John and Alice Butler Hall
Take a welcome break from the hectic rush of the holidays and experience the Church Basement Ladies’ hilarious antics and subtle charm. Troupe America, Inc., the producer of the nationally acclaimed musical comedy Church Basement Ladies series, celebrates the holiday season with a musical comedy bringing good tidings, great humor, and joy. In Troupe America’s 25-year history, the Church Basement Ladies has grown to be their most successful show produced both locally and nationally. This festive and merry show is perfect for the whole family. Admission: $31 to $49. Ticketing fees apply. Visit

Toastmasters Speakeasy Club
Wednesday, December 6 @ 6:30–7:45 PM
Dubuque County Library Asbury Branch (Asbury, IA)
Develop your public speaking and leadership skills. This safe and fun environment will help you become a more skilled and confident speaker. Each meeting will have a few prepared speeches, time to practice your ability to think on your feet with short, improvised speeches, and feedback to guide growth. Admission is free. Visit

Dubuque Area Humanists Social Hour
Wednesday, December 6

6 PM @ Backpocket Dubuque
Enjoy a craft beer and join the Dubuque Area Humanists for lively, informed discussions centered around values, philosophy, and life experiences. Admission is free. Visit

Member Adult-Only Holiday Party

Thursday, December 7

6-9 PM @ National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Enjoy bingo, trivia, and treats to celebrate the season at this adult-only (age 21+) member holiday party. Registration is required for this event. This event is only open to River Museum members. Visit

A Doublewide, Texas Christmas
Thursday through Saturday, December 7-9, Thursday & Friday, December 14-15, 7:30 PM
Sunday, December 10, Saturday & Sunday, December 16-17, 2 PM
@ Bell Tower Theater
For the 2023 holiday season Bell Tower is off to the Texas heartland at the brand-new town of Doublewide—Population: 10. It’s Christmas time, and it’s beginning to look a lot like trouble. Doublewide is being double crossed by the county and might lose their status as a town. Thursday performances are Girl’s Night Out, and everyone will get a free glass of wine before the show. Admission: early bird, $11.50; regular, $23. Visit

Mistletones® present SNOWBIZ®

Thursday, December 7

1:30 PM & 6:30 PM @ Grande Ballroom, Hotel Julien Dubuque

Celebrate the season with a full-length Christmas show featuring your favorite holiday tunes, incredible vocals, and a live jazz band. Two shows will be performed: a matinee and an evening event. Check-in for the matinee is 12 PM, lunch is at 12:30 PM, and the show will begin at 1:30 PM. For the evening event, check-in will be at 6 PM, dinner at 6:30 PM, and the show will start at 7:30 PM. Admission: matinee, $65; evening, $75. For more information, call 563-599-7775 or visit

Million Dollar Quartet Christmas
Friday, December 8

7 PM @ Five Flags Arena
Rock ‘n’ roll legends, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley come together again to celebrate the holidays. Inspired by the true story of their December 1956 homecoming at Sun Records, this heartwarming rock n’ roll musical rings with sounds of the season and the chart toppers that made the Million Dollar Quartet famous. The gang is up to their usual antics as they journey through stories of Christmas past, present, and future in a joyful evening filled with nostalgic holiday hits. Admission: $35-$65. Visit  

Dubuque Fighting Saints Vs. Des Moines Buccaneers
Friday, December 8

7:05 PM @ ImOn Arena
The Dubuque Fighting Saints return for another season on the ice at the ImOn Arena on Chaplain Schmitt Island. The Tier-1 junior hockey team has won the Clark Cup five times and is the four-time defending Cowbell Cup Champions. Admission: $13-$25. Visit

Classical Blast’s “Dark Side of the Yule”

Friday, December 8

7:30 PM @ Turner Hall, 115 S. Bench St. (Galena, IL)

Christmas meets classic rock in Classical Blast’s “Dark Side of the Yule” holiday concert, with music by bands like Metallica, Evanescence, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, and others, all mashed with holiday classics, baroque carols, classical and originals. Is it Christmas, is it rock, is it traditional? It’s all of this and more rolled into a series of musical stories that explore the season’s darker themes. No worries, there’s plenty of light by the end. Admission: $25 advance; $30 door. Visit

Sister’s Christmas Catechism
Saturday, December 9

7:30 PM @ Five Flags Theater
From the author of Late Nite Catchism, Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages—whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? Retelling the story of nativity, as only Sister can, this hilarious holiday production is bound to become a yearly classic. Employing her own scientific tools, assisted by a local choir as well as a gaggle of audience members, Sister creates a living nativity unlike any you’ve ever seen. Admission: $40-$65. Visit

Breakfast With Santa

Saturday, December 9

8-11 AM @ Grande Ballroom, Hotel Julien Dubuque

Bring your little ones to meet the man in red and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast buffet. This event promises a magical experience filled with laughter, joy, and holiday spirit. Each child will write a letter to Santa, create a tree ornament, and decorate a Christmas cookie. Reserve your spot today. Admission: adults, $21; children 12 and under, $15 or bring a new unwrapped $10 toy donation for Toys for Tots. Visit

Dubuque City Youth Ballet: The Nutcracker
Friday & Saturday, December 9, 15 & 16, 7:30 PM 

Saturday & Sunday, December 10, 16 & 17, 2 PM

@ Grand Opera House
Whirling snowflakes and waltzing flowers frame this beloved holiday classic. Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker battle the dreadful Mouse King in a nightmare that becomes a beautiful dream. Performed annually for over 20 years, the Dubuque City Youth Ballet’s production will be a highlight of your family’s holiday celebration. This year’s production will feature new design elements that are inspired by Dubuque and the surrounding area. Visit

Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows

Saturday, December 9

4-9 PM @ Main Street (Galena, IL)

Don’t miss one of the most beautiful and romantic nights of the year when Galena presents their living windows and luminary. From Main Street to the hills overlooking Grant Park, all of Galena will be glowing. Enter a land of enchantment on this magical night with more than 5,000 candlelit luminaries on streets, steps, and sidewalks. Admission is free. Visit

“Tuba Christmas!”

Sunday, December 10

2 PM @ Historic Turner Hall, 115 S. Bench St. (Galena, IL)

Experience the sounds of the season, big brass-style. Join in on the worldwide phenomenon founded by Harvey Phillips, in which tuba and euphonium players (with instruments festively decorated) gather and play traditional Christmas favorites. Admission is free. Visit

Member Family Holiday Party

Sunday, December 10

10 AM-2 PM @ National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

There will be games, crafts, snacks, and selfies with Santa throughout the day.

Registration is required for this event. Please RSVP by November 27. This event is only open to River Museum members. Visit

Mystery Dinner Theater: Cutthroat Christmas
Sunday, December 10

5 PM @ Stone Cliff Winery
Cut Loose Tree Farm is the only tree farm in Iowa that carries all 16 varieties of Christmas trees. They’re known for their perfectly pruned pines and beautiful balsams. But it’s just before Christmas and a parasite has put inventory in peril. President Pine (who prefers Christmas cocktails rather than taking the family tree business too seriously) isn’t too concerned. Everyone else is, as jobs are on the chopping block. But wait! That chopping block just got more interesting… Who’s on it? Presented by the Brew Ha Ha Players. Includes a four “corpse” meal and show. RSVP. Admission: $69.99. Visit

The Velveteen Rabbit
Sunday, December 10

1 PM @ University of Dubuque Heritage Center John and Alice Butler Hall
This captivating story illuminates a faithful rendering of Margery Williams’ 1922 classic tale of The Velveteen Rabbit and displays the power of friendship and the inevitable passing of time. Through a lovely score, unique puppetry, detailed period costumes, and outstanding cast, the incredible acting and profound attention to detail will keep you engaged and transport you out of the theater and into a surreal and special performance. Visit  

13th Annual Midwest Medical Center Auxiliary Tree of Love

Wednesday, December 13

6:30 PM @ Midwest Medical Center, 1 Medical Center Drive (Galena, IL)

The Midwest Medical Center Auxiliary invites you to honor someone special by sponsoring a holiday ornament personalized with their name and hung on the 2023 Tree of Love. The Tree of Love will be on display through January 1 in the hospital lobby at One Medical Center Drive, Galena, IL. Ornament sponsorships are available at four different levels. Donations of all amounts are welcome. A special tree lighting celebration will be held on Wednesday, December 13 at 6:30 PM. Visit

Homeschool Days: Rivers to the Sea

Thursday, December 14

10 AM-4 PM @ National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Follow North American Rivers to their ends in the ocean and learn about their watersheds. Get a close look at the animals in the Rivers to the Sea exhibit, including the touch pools. No advance registration needed. Admission: $9.95. Visit


Thursday, December 14

7-8 PM @ Riverboat Lounge, Hotel Julien Dubuque

Are you hosting a holiday party this season? Hotel Julien’s Beverage Manager, Jody, wants to help you master the perfect martini recipe. Visit

Museum X: Holidays in Historic Dubuque

Thursday, December 14

9-10:30 AM @ Mathias Ham Historic Site, 2241 Lincoln Ave.

Join Heather Green, Interpretation Program Manager, as she looks at how the winter holidays have been celebrated in Dubuque over the years. Explore how the young people entertained themselves during the coldest winters, what made a great New Year’s Eve party, and what people’s favorite Christmas gifts were from the 1840s through today. Admission: members, free; non-members, $10. Visit 

Dubuque Audubon Society Program: Tony Moline
Thursday, December 14

6-7 PM @ EB Lyons Interpretive Center, 8991 Bellevue Heights Rd.
Tony Moline will share pictures and discuss the Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota. This is an ideal location to do winter birding and see species such as the Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and other winter birds. Admission is free. Visit

Dubuque Fighting Saints Vs. Sioux City Musketeers
Thursday, December 14

7:05 PM @ ImOn Arena
The Dubuque Fighting Saints return for another season on the ice at the ImOn Arena on Chaplain Schmitt Island. The Tier-1 junior hockey team has won the Clark Cup five times and is the four-time defending Cowbell Cup Champions. Admission: $13-$25. Visit

Homeschool Days: Let’s Rock

Thursday, December 14

10 AM-4 PM @ National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Learn about rocks and minerals that are common near Dubuque. Through hands-on activities, explore the various properties of rocks and minerals. Admission: $9.95. Visit

Lorrie Morgan: “Enchanted Christmas”
Friday, December 15

7:30 PM @ Five Flags Theater
Join platinum selling recording artist and Grand Ole Opry member, Lorrie Morgan, for a night of unparalleled entertainment with hits and holiday favorites. Admission: $49.99+. Visit

Loras College Women’s Basketball Annual Kids Night Out
Friday, December 15

5:30-8:30 PM @ Loras College Graber Sports Center
Hang out with the Loras College Women’s Basketball Team and enjoy games, a bounce house, food, and more. Grades Pre-K–6. RSVP. Admission: $25, one child; $40, two children; $50, three children. Visit

Snowflakes & Sweets Stroll

Saturday, December 16

12-4 PM @ North Main Street (Galena, IL)

Find sweet treats sprinkled along Main Street in our unique collection of shops. You must purchase your ticket ahead of time which will get you a punch card good for 10 sweet treats. The sweet treats will be a mix (chosen by you) of cookies, candies, drinks, including some boozy options. Admission: advance tickets, $30; day of the event, $35. Visit

Horse Play
Sunday, December 17

10 AM @ Shenandoah Riding Center, N. Brodrecht Road (Galena, IL)
Get a glimpse into what Shenandoah Riding Center is all about. This is a great choice for those who want to interact with horses without having to get into the saddle or ride in an outdoor environment. Engage in several different horse-related activities and meet with many horses both big and small. Groom, tack, and lead the horses around the property. Admission: $25. Visit

Celebrity Cocktails for a Cause

Wednesday, December 20

5-8 PM @ Riverboat Lounge, Hotel Julien Dubuque

Enjoy a local celebrity-prepared Christmas cocktail by Tony Pfohl and Chad Chandlee at Riverboat Lounge. A portion of each cocktail sale will be given to a local non-profit. Visit

Hotel Julien Dubuque Blood Drive

Thursday, December 21

11 AM-3 PM @ Harbor Gallery, Hotel Julien Dubuque

‘Tis the season for giving. So why not give back at a time when donations are most needed? The Red Cross will have a special incentive for donors, a long-sleeved T-shirt (while supplies last). Visit

Christmas Eve Dinner in Caroline’s Restaurant

Sunday, December 24

5-8 PM @ Caroline’s Restaurant, Hotel Julien Dubuque

A nod to a simpler time, an old-fashioned Christmas dinner in Caroline’s Restaurant is the perfect opportunity to get in touch with the true spirit of the holiday and enjoy a delicious dinner with family. For reservations, call 563-588-5595.

Christmas Day Brunch

Monday, December 25

9 AM-1:30 PM @ Caroline’s Restaurant, Hotel Julien Dubuque

Come to Caroline’s Restaurant on Christmas Day for a special brunch menu. Enjoy a wide array of shareable starters, breakfast favorites, and seasonal entrées. For reservations, call 563-588-5595.

Winter Break Day Camps

Tuesday, December 26 through Friday, December 29

9 AM-4 PM @ National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is offering special day camps for kids in K-5th grade during winter break. Each day offers different themed sessions with fun, educational programs. Students should bring a sack lunch. Admission: members, $50 for a full day; non-members, $60 for a full day. Visit

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Dirty Fishnet Stockings

Sunday, December 31

7 PM-2 AM @ Hotel Julien Dubuque

Experience a rockin’ New Year’s Eve with the Rockabilly band, Dirty Fishnet Stockings.

Book your stay at Hotel Julien Dubuque to experience food, drinks, accommodations, party favors, and entertainment in the area. Three different room packages are available. Visit

The Beatelles World Famous Female Driven Beatles Tribute Show

Sunday, December 31

7 PM @ The Ohnward Fine Arts Center (Maquoketa, IA)

The Beatelles feature four powerhouse female vocalists performing the songs of John, Paul, George, and Ringo with harmonious perfection. Admission: $30-$35. Visit

To read this and other premium articles in their entirety, pick up the December 2023 issue of Julien’s Journal magazine. Click to subscribe for convenient delivery by mail, or call (563) 557-7571. Single issues are available in print at area newsstands and digitally on

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