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IOWA CITY — The annual Downtown Block Party by the Iowa City Downtown District is back for its fourth year on July 24.
Happening a month later than usual, the free party returns for the first time since 2019 with 14 blocks — its largest footprint to date. Activities will take place throughout the day and the open-container feature starts at 4 p.m.
When: 2 p.m. July 24, with various activities running through the night; open container starts at 4 p.m.
Where: Iowa City’s downtown district, covering 14 blocks.
Details: Free to the public and open to all ages. Those over age 21 can purchase a cup and wristband to participate in open container wine and beer. Cups can be purchased online before the event for $10 or at the event for $15.
“This year, we have expanded the overall event footprint to take over all of Iowa Avenue and an additional block of East Washington Street,” said Betsy Potter, director of creative services for the downtown district. “Thanks to this extra space, we will be able to accommodate more spacing for attendees and rearrange activities that have need for more room.”
This year’s block party will have more than 20 programming areas, with a diverse array of activities for all ages.
“We are bringing back many of our trademark activities, including expanded sand volleyball courts, silent disco sponsored by GreenState Credit Union and roller-skating with the Iowa City Parks & Recreation,” Potter said.
New features include a line dancing stage in front of Ecumenical Towers and a Chess Blitz tournament for more than 200 players.
The annual block party is the largest single-day event of the year for downtown Iowa City. Activities include:
- Loop international public art installation in the Pedestrian Mall.
- Roller-skating from 2 to 9 p.m. on Clinton Street between Washington Street and College Avenue.
- Olympic Village trial challenges presented by the University of Iowa’s Department of Health and Human Physiology from 2 to 9 p.m. on Linn Street by White Rabbit.
- The Senior Center Performers from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Iowa Avenue stage.
- Sand volleyball from 4 to 9 p.m. on Iowa Avenue by Joe’s Place.
- Tennis courts from 4 to 11 p.m. on Linn Street by the Iowa City Yacht Club.
- Beach area presented by the Iowa Children’s Museum from 4 to 11 p.m. at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street.
- Pingpong, cornhole, Jenga and yard games from 4 to 11 p.m. on Dubuque Street by Pullman.
- Blitz and Bullet chess tournament presented by the Iowa Chess Association from 5 to 8:30 p.m. on Washington Street by The Englert Theatre.
- Dueling pianos from 5 to 10 p.m. on Washington Street by Target.
- Silent disco from 5 to 11 p.m. on Clinton Street between Washington Street and Iowa Avenue.
- Drag show from 7 to 8 p.m. on the Iowa Avenue stage by Player Sports Bar & Grill.
- Fashion show from 8 to 9 p.m. on the Iowa Avenue Stage by Players Sports Bar & Grill.
- Tug-of-War tournament at 10 p.m. on Iowa Avenue by Joe’s Place.
“It’s been a shortened timeline for planning, but it’s starting to feel really exciting that we can have this event, in particular, come back,” Potter told The Gazette. “This event is a huge traffic-driver to restaurants and bars. It feels good to be able to have that, something that people can get excited about.”
The party began in 2017 as part of a larger initiative to celebrate downtown Iowa City and its existing nighttime economy, while broadening its horizons to include fun for all ages.
“It was always our intention that it not just (be about) one age group,” Potter said. “It should offer something for anyone at any age.”
To participate in the open container feature starting at 4 p.m., attendees over 21 can purchase a cup and wristband to bring drinks from restaurants and bars into the street. Cups can be purchased online for $10 before the event, or in-person on July 24 for $15 at designated areas throughout the event.
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