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Iowa Theater: Vintage Venues and State-of-the-Art Shows

Be dazzled by a live show on stage in Iowa. From restored historic venues to state-of-the-art performing arts centers, you’ll encounter a dynamic variety of theatrical productions. For top-notch Broadway hits and musicals, Des Moines is the epicenter of the action. Temple Theater, Stoner Theater, and the Des Moines Civic Center host live performances throughout the year. You’ll also find experimental shows and avant-garde entertainment here in the big city. Iowa City is another cultural hub, thanks to its large college population. Enjoy high-quality productions at Riverside Theatre or catch a show at the fully restored Englert Theater.

Historic, vintage theaters like this are found throughout the state and treasured by local communities. Watch stage performances at a restored, old-fashioned venue at the Grand Theater in Knoxville, the Princess Theater in Mount Ayr, and the Cresco Theater in Cresco. In the summer, outdoor shows pop up at open-air, waterfront amphitheaters including Riverview Amphitheater in Cascade and Shades of Rhythm Amphitheater in Waverly. In Spirit Lake, the Okoboji Summer Theatre presents nine different performances in ten weeks every July and August.

Englert Theatre

Built in 1912, this classic theatre was built “to revive the finest stage and movie houses throughout the Midwest.” That they did, until a 1926 fire, restoration in the 1970s and 1980s, and then a 1999 closing all took their toll on the original materials. Reopened with community support in 2004, the Englert Theatre today hosts live performances, shows movies, and events.

The historic theatre is located in the heart of Iowa City in eastern Iowa, and is a proud part the state’s entertainment history. Drive in for a visit from nearby Coralville.

Octagon Center for the Arts

Established in 1966, the Octagon Center for the Arts is set in central Iowa within the downtown Ames Main Street Cultural District. The center is home to art-related programs, alternating exhibits, and a gallery shop – plus events like the annual Octagon Art Festival in September.

Ame's own Octagon Center for the Arts offers classes and workshops for adults and children, covering topics like Adobe Workshop, and events like Ladies' Art Night In. Drawing over 6,000 annual visitors, the center features three galleries.