Some of the twinkly attractions at the Quad City Arts Festival of Trees
Some of the twinkly attractions at the Quad City Arts Festival of Trees

Trees of Davenport

If you’re one of those people who likes to start the holidays as early as possible, kick off the season in Davenport, Iowa this weekend. Since launching in 1986, the annual Quad City Arts Festival of Trees has grown into a massive holiday party, drawing more than an estimated 100,000 visitors to the Quad Cities area. This year, nearly 650 designers created holiday-themed trees, doors, room décor, ornaments, stockings, and gingerbread villages, among many other seasonal displays. The work is on display at downtown Davenport’s 70,000-square-foot RiverCenter complex. Staffed primarily by 3,500 volunteers, the festival is a fund-raiser for arts programs in the Quad Cities; since its inception, more than $4 million has been funneled to not-for-profit arts groups.

The festivities kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday night with music, dancing, food, and an early-bird chance to buy holiday displays; tickets are $60. At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Davenport hosts its yearly Helium Parade, an elaborate event with balloons and floats. At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the fest continues with a pops concert featuring the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. The RiverCenter remains open through the weekend. Admission to the festival is $8 for adults, $6 seniors, $3 children under 11.

GO Quad City Arts Festival of Trees. Davenport, Iowa, 563-324-3378,

Where to stay: The Radisson on John Deere Commons (1415 River Dr., Moline, 309-764-1000, is convenient to all the attractions of the Quad Cities; rates from $115 a night. The Isle Hotel and Casino (1777 Isle Pkwy., Bettendorf, 800-843-4753, is an eight-minute jaunt from Davenport and, as the name implies, has a casino; rates subject to availability.

Where to eat: Antonella's Trattoria Ristorante & Pizzeria (112 W. 3rd St., Davenport, 563-359-4411, hosted President Obama for lunch when he was on the campaign trail (he had a beef, sausage, and pepperoni pizza) and is also known for its paninis and pasta. The Duck City Bistro (115 E. 3rd St., Davenport, 563-322-3825, changes its menu weekly but always serves duck (duck confit, duck breast with raspberry sauce).


Photograph: Courtesy of Quad City Arts