Enjoying a film on the big screen in the great outdoors is as much of a summertime tradition in Des Moines as going to an outdoor concert. Bring a picnic dinner and sit back, relax, and enjoy the show at one of these outdoor summer movie series in and around Des Moines. Movies begin at dusk, but you’ll want to arrive early for the best viewing spots and to take advantage of pre-movie entertainment when offered.
Here’s your guide to FREE outdoor movies for kids and families in Des Moines:
Movies Under the Stars is held on Friday nights in June and July in the Band Shell in Wagner Park (410 W 1st Street, Ankeny). The movies begin at dusk. The movies are FREE and open to the public; bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating.
June 8: Despicable Me 3
June 15: The Secret Life of Pets
June 22: Wonder
June 29: The Emoji Movie
July 6: The Jungle Book (2016)
July 20: Leap
July 27: Coco
Watch a free movie under the stars! Bring your blankets and chairs for grass seating. Movies will be shown on an inflatable big screen at two different parks. In the event of bad weather, the movie will be shown indoors at the Special Events Building at the Clive Aquatic Center. FREE popcorn while supplies last.
May 18: Coco – Wildwood Park – 15166 Wildwood Drive
June 1: Wonder – Country Club Glen – 16335 Sheridan Ave
Free Flicks is a summer-long series of outdoor movies shown on Thursday nights throughout the Des Moines area. The films are shown on a 25-foot portable screen, and will begin after sunset around 9:00 pm. Admission is FREE, blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged. Feel free to bring your own snacks as concessions are not provided. Movies will not take place in the event of rain. Follow Des Moines Parks and Recreation’s website, facebook, and twitter pages for updates or sign up for their text messaging notification service.
May 31: The Lion King – Bates Park – 330 Clark Street
June 2: Paddington 2 (Saturday – Park Dedication) – Fairmont Park – 2520 Hull Avenue
June 7: Wonder – Woodlawn Park – 3126 Twana Drive
June 14: Guardians of the Galaxy – Ashby Park – 3200 38th Street
June 21: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – McHenry Park – 1012 Oak Park Avenue
June 28: Despicable Me 3 – Martin Luther King Park – 1650 Garfield Avenue
July 5: Ghostbusters – Gray’s Lake Park – 2101 Fleur Drive
July 12: Wonder Woman – Sargeant Park – 3530 E. Douglas Avenue
July 19: SING – Waveland Golf Course – 4908 University Avenue
July 26: Coco – Witmer Park – 1610 34th Street
August 2: Back to the Future – Bright Grandview Golf Course – 2401 E. 29th Street
August 11: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Saturday – Star Party) – Ewing Park Arboretum – 5200 Indianola Avenue
Main Street in Grimes serves as the backdrop for the Friends of the Grimes Public Library’s family friendly flicks on Fridays. Pack a picnic and your own chair and sit back and take in a movie under the summer stars. Each month different businesses and organizations also provide fun activities. If the skies are unforgiving, movies may be cancelled.
June 1: Lion KIng
July 6: Sing
August 3: Cars
Provide your family with unforgettable memories on Friday evenings this summer watching FREE family-friendly movies under the stars at the Memorial Park Amphitheater. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. FREE popcorn is provided and drinks and candy are also available. Be sure to check the start time of each movie, as they change each month.
May 18: Cars 3
July 6: Wonder
August 31: Paddington 2
September 21: CoCo
Head on over to Johnston Public Library for a free outdoor showing on the big screen of “The Greatest Showman”. Bring your yard blankets and lawn chairs. No reservation necessary. Adult Summer Reading participants can earn a prize ticket for attending.
June 29: The Greatest Showman
Join the Johnston Parks & Recreation Department for a summer movie classic. The movie will be shown beginning at dusk at Dewey Park, located at 5225 NW 64th Place in Johnston. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy the movie. Free popcorn will be provided. The movie is sponsored by the Johnston American Legion and the Johnston Lions.
July 13: The Sandlot
This FREE event is a great way to make memories with your family and neighbors at Centennial Park in Waukee, while enjoying Hollywood’s biggest hits under the stars. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs and blankets. Fresh popcorn and drinks are sold by the Park Board. Movies start at approximately 8:45 pm.
June 1: Turbo
August 10: The Greatest Showman
Tips and Tricks for Attending an Outdoor Movie with Kids in Des Moines
- Bring a flashlight for walking out at the end of the night, especially if you’ll be carrying tired little ones through the park. Headlamps are handy.
- Bring plenty of blankets and low-back chairs. Camping pads make it comfy.
- Check with the venue’s policy about dogs (some parks do not allow them).
- Put the kiddos in PJ’s before you get there – makes it easier to roll them into bed when you get home.
- Bring in most of your food/dinner to make it easy to settle in with the kids. If your venue offers food vendors, bring cash as some don’t take plastic.
- Make a donation. These are free events, but they do cost money to run. Even $1 helps make sure families can enjoy these evenings summer after summer.
Have you attended a FREE outdoor summer movie in Des Moines? We’d love to hear about your experience!
Looking for even more summer-time family fun? Check out our Summer Fun Guide to help you plan your perfect summer!