Imagine a century old dairy barn filled with over 40 real decorated Christmas tree and the scent of pine in the air. Imagine the traditional German Christmas pyramid but 17′ tall. Imagine the sound of Christmas Carols filling this barn and imagine Santa Claus sitting on a vintage sleigh decked out in his complete red splendor welcoming children, of all ages, to whisper in his ear their Christmas wish.
Come to Amana for Tannenbaum Forest and you won’t need to imagine, it’s all right here and you can see it for yourself as Tannenbaum Forest becomes a reality on the day after Thanksgiving. This four week long celebration features a different theme each weekend, but is all centered around the Tannenbaum Forest that is located in the Festhalle in the village of Amana. Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this popular event helps families escape the commercialism of the mall and brings the Christmas season back to a much simpler time.
Local businesses, organizations, and nonprofit groups from the area all select trees and then decorate them uniquely to create this magical forest. As you wind through the lights and pines you’ll see the Kid’s Corner where children can write a note to Santa and slip it into his mailbox. Walk past the display of Gingerbread Houses made by area school children and come upon the beautiful nativity that reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas. Continue down the path and you’ll find the jolly old man himself, on his sleigh waiting for the next child. Make sure to bring your camera, this is a great photo op.
During this four weekend period you’ll find the many Amana businesses have designated some fun food and drink sampling themes each Saturday that will making strolling the village and shops even more enjoyable.
- The first Saturday is a Coffee Crawl with samples of unique coffees or coffee flavored foods to sample.
- The second Saturday is the Hot Cider/Mulled Wine Walk. Mulled wine, called Gluehwein in Germany is a Christmas tradition and in Amana you’ll find a variety of recipes.
- On the third Saturday, which is considered Children’s Weekend you’ll be sampling sweet treats of all kinds. It’s also on that afternoon that you’ll be able to see a real reindeer.
- Our final weekend is the Recipe Walk, each participating business will have a recipe to share and a sample of that recipe. Each Saturday is special and you may want to come several times.
Amana Pickle Hunt
While visiting the Colonies during the time of Tannenbaum Forest you can also take part in the Amana Pickle Hunt. Based on legend of the German Pickle Ornament, it’s said that an old German Christmas custom was to hang a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree late on the evening of December 24th and the first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning would receive an extra gift.
The Amana version will have you looking for Pickle Ornaments in each shop and when you find the pickle in 10 shops you are entered into a weekly drawing for a $100 Amana Colonies Gift Certificate.
For many families the Tannenbaum Forest has become a tradition. The visit to the Tannenbaum Forest is free, however, we encourage a free will donation with proceeds going to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital that’s just down the road in Iowa City.