News & Events

Tivoli Fest 2021

“Tivoli Fest Lite” | May 28th and 29th, 2021

Tivoli Fest, Elk Horn, Iowa’s annual Danish festival celebrating their Danish heritage, is a fun and exciting time for Danes as well as visitors from around Iowa and the nation.

This 41th annual festival has an assortment of activities and is sure to please visitors of all ages. After having to cancel the 2020 Festival due to the pandemic, organizers decided to make this year’s festival a little more “lite” by keeping traditional elements but cutting out Sunday’s portion of the event. Most activities are enjoyed outdoors so it will be safe for attendees and volunteers through social distancing and wearing masks in indoor settings. 

To kick off the shortened festival, there will be pre-Tivoli Fest activities on Friday, May 28th. The “Third Wish Band” will perform at the Elk Horn Fire Station from 8–11 pm. Free-will donations will be accepted at the gate for this concert. Enjoy the music with a cold beer from the Iowa Craft Beer Tent and Danish Hot Dogs which will be available for purchase.

The opening ceremonies kick off Saturday morning at 8 am at the Danish Windmill with a flag raising of the Danish and American flags and a performance of both countries’ national anthems. The Mill to Mermaid 5k Fun Run is at 8:15 leaving from the Windmill grounds and ending at the Little Mermaid fountain in Kimballton.  Prizes will be awarded to winners in each age group. 

At 11:00 it’s time for the annual Tivoli Parade featuring floats, marching bands, clowns, antique cars and trucks and a few surprises!

The Windmill Entertainment Stage is a hub of free entertainment throughout the weekend. Scandinavian Folk Dancing groups from the Danish Villages and Omaha will perform traditional Danish and Scandinavian dances. And, back by popular demand, folk musicians Dwight Lamb, Bill Peterson and Tom Carlson will be in concert at the Fire station during the day as well.

There will be a Viking Enactment at the VikingHjem on the Windmill grounds. Check out the Viking Market and Camp and see how Vikings lived back in 900 AD.

Be sure to watch for this year’s Tivoli Royalty King and Queen as they reign over the weekend’s events. One place you may see them is at the famous 173-year-old Danish Windmill which originally built in Denmark in 1848, then dismantled piece by piece and shipped to Elk Horn where community volunteers reassembled it over 45 years ago.

A visit to Tivoli Fest would not be complete without sampling some of our mouth-watering traditional Danish foods. Saturday only at the Town Hall, try smørrebrød, the Danish open-faced sandwich that is “a work of art on a slice of bread”, and Danish desserts– what a feast! Also on Saturday only at the Fire Station, enjoy æbleskiver and medisterpølse, the Danish version of pancakes and sausage.  Throughout the festival enjoy a wonderful assortment of Danish and American foods, including some that are only available during Tivoli Fest, at local restaurants, food trucks and the open air street market.

Tivoli Fest is certainly a family event so there are fun activities for the kids. Stop by the Elk Horn Library to view the LEGO contest and giant outdoor games and crafts. Check out the Elk Horn History Exhibit which will also be on display.

New this year in Kimballton there will be a Gallery of Artisans Exhibit and demonstrations at the West Side New Century Gallery.

The Museum of Danish America celebrates Danish roots and American dreams, and will feature several new exhibits and offer free admission for the festival. After touring the Museum, take the walking path (watch for square signs) to Bedstemor’s House, Danish for Grandmother’s House. You will enjoy a step into the past in this house that has been lovingly restored to reflect life during the period of 1910-1920. The Genealogy Center will feature a “Local History Exhibit” and host musician Ginny Blood outside at 10:00 am.

Across the street from the Fire Station check out Elk Horn’s New Century Art Guild for activities and hear the most entertaining band, “The Polka Police”, from 1 to 3:00 on Saturday.

Don’t miss the Strøget or Open Air Street Market! Vendors from far and near will fill Broadway Street on the south side of the Egg Krate. Stroll and shop for a variety of art, antiques, tasty foods, handmade and commercial goods, flea market items, and more. In addition to open air shopping be sure to visit our local retail stores which include several new businesses.

Stop by the City Park to see the Show N Shine car show. Then take in a new and entertaining lecture at the Elk Horn Town Hall at 6 pm Saturday as Warren Watson recounts the history of Christian Madsen in the Indian Wars.

The fun in Elk Horn doesn’t end when the sun goes down – enjoy Tivoli Follies, a local talent show. Join Elk Horn Fire Department’s hosting of the Iowa Craft Beer Tent and a concert featuringHired Guns Band” at the Elk Horn Fire Station and our 19th annual fireworks display on Saturday night! 

Detailed schedules are available at any local business and you can find further information at Elk Horn is located in southwest Iowa between Des Moines and Omaha.  Just take Exit 54 off Interstate 80 and go 6 miles north. Plan your trip to Elk Horn now to take a Danish vacation without a passport.  We look forward to seeing you on Saturday May 29th of Memorial Day weekend! 

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