2018: Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events 4 Des Moines Families

2018: Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events 4 Des Moines Families

Let’s face it, the holiday season really lasts from early November through New Year’s Eve. That’s almost two months jam-packed with Santa sightings, holiday lights, Nutcrackers and more! Of course, not all holiday activities are created equal. That’s why we’ve rounded up the absolute best ways to get into the spirit of the season.  From splurge-worthy, once-in-a-lifetime experiences to annual favorites worth revisiting to a few fabulous FREE options, here are some events where you can give your kids the best gift of all: happy family memories.

Also be sure to check out our Holiday Fun Guide, our Calendar, and more articles to come!

Note: We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always verify dates, times, location and other information, especially with the possibility of weather impacts. Please submit corrections and additions to this guide to nicole@dsm4kids.com.

Christmas and Holiday Events in Des Moines:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Des Moines Playhouse • 831 42nd Street • Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 277-6261

Perfect for young audiences, you won’t believe the mayhem – and the fun – when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on! After the normal director of the local church’s Christmas pageant breaks her leg, a new director must take over. Stopping in for a visit after hearing about free snacks offered at the church, the Herdman kids, the most inventively awful kids in history, get cast in the show. Others involved in the show try to find a way to kick them out but when the show begins, will the Herdmans ruin the annual pageant or learn to share the true meaning of Christmas?

When: November 2-25, 2018; 7:00 PM Fridays; 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm Saturdays & Sundays

Cost: Tickets start at $19

Champagne & Mistletoe

Uptown Ankeny • Ankeny, IA 50021 • (515) 963-1897

Kick off the Holiday Season in Uptown Ankeny! Come and enjoy holiday open houses, roasted nuts, kettle corn, carolers, carriage rides, bonfire with s’mores, Christmas karaoke, ugly sweater contest, and a kissing both.

When: Friday, November 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Holiday Promenade

Historic East Village • E. 6th Street • Des Moines, IA • (515) 244-4211

One of the most popular events in the Historic East Village, the Holiday Promenade is the kickoff to the holiday season in Downtown Des Moines! Shop and peruse the festive windows, enjoy a trolley ride, grab a bite to eat, listen to carolers, go ice skating and visit Santa at the Brenton Skating Plaza.

When: November 16-17, 2018.  Friday 5:00 to 9:00 pm; Saturday starting at 10:00 am

Cost: FREE

It’s A Wonderful Life: The Radio Play

Kum & Go Theater • 901 Cherry Street • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 244-2771

This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. An ensemble of five actors, with the help live sound effects, brings a few dozen characters to the life on the stage, sharing the story of idealistic George Bailey as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.

When: November 16 – 25, 2018; Friday and Saturday at 7: 30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm

Cost: $40 for Adults, $35 for seniors, and $20 for Students

Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic

Wells Fargo Arena • 833 5th Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309 • 515-564-8000

Audiences will be a part of the magic of Disney as Mouse-ter of Ceremonies Mickey Mouse leads a parade of more than 50 beloved characters starring Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and featuring an ensemble of Disney Princesses will leave the whole family with memories to last a lifetime.

When: November 21-25, 2018; Multiple times offered.

Cost: Tickets start at $21

Festival of Trees and Lights

Veteran’s Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center • 833 5th Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309

Festival of Trees & Lights is a five-day public event that is the main fundraiser for Blank Children’s Hospital. The event features beautifully decorated trees, entertainment, children’s activities, food, shopping and more.

When: November 21-25, 2018; Starts at 11:00 am daily and at 1:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day.

Cost: $5

Santa Express

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad • 225 10th Street • Boone, IA 50036 • 1-800-626-0319

Bring the family and enjoy a ride from the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s depot to the “North Pole” (and return). En route, you will hear the story of Santa’s Scenic Valley Ride, sing holiday songs, and take part in other fun, family activities. Also on board, you will be served hot chocolate and a cookie, and you will get to meet (and receive a special gift from) Santa himself. Be sure to arrive in your pajamas, and experience what has become a tradition for families from across Iowa, and beyond.

When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday November 23 to December 16, 2018. Multiple times offered.

Cost: Tickets start at $18 (ages 2 and up)

Jolly Holiday Lights

Adventureland • 3300 Adventureland Drive • Altoona, IA 50009 • (515) 334-2636

Light Up a Child’s Life at Jolly Holiday Lights, a great holiday tradition! Drive-through this holiday light spectacular and see more than 100 magical light displays. 100% of admission fees go directly to Make-A-Wish Iowa!

When: November 23 – December 29, 2018; 5:30 – 10:00 pm. (Closed December 24 & 25)

Cost: $20 per car

Jingle in the Junction

Valley Junction 5th Street • West Des Moines, IA 5026

Join the Valley Junction community for their annual “Jingle in the Junction” holiday events. The businesses in Historic Valley Junction and the streets will be lined with over 150,000 twinkling lights. In addition, enjoy FREE horse and trolley rides, live reindeer, Santa, carolers and more.

When: Thursday, November 29, December 6 and 13 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Lorie Line & Her Pop Chamber Orchestra: Lord of Lords

Hoyt Sherman Place • 1501 Woodland Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50314 • (515) 244-0507

Pianist Lorie Line once again will bring the true meaning of Christmas to town with her 2018 Holiday Extravaganza. This year’s theme, Lord of Lords, is a sequel to last year’s “best ever” show. Not to miss, Ms. Line will bring her Pop Chamber Orchestra and a guest vocalist along with her concert grand piano that will take center stage. Make plans now to celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Savior with Lorie Line and her Pop Chamber Orchestra!

When: Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Cost: $59

Holly & Ivy Holiday Home Tour

Salisbury House & Gardens • 4025 Tonawanda Drive • Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 274-1777

Salisbury House welcomes you to join them for the holidays during their annual Holly & Ivy home tour. Experience this grand 1920s estate along with two privately-owned unique and historic homes within the surrounding neighborhood at their holiday best. Each room of Salisbury House will be decorated by the finest local interior designers, florists, and home furnishing stores. Enjoy live holiday music in the Common Room at Salisbury House throughout the event. This is a self-guided home tour that is sure to inspire holiday cheer!

When: Friday November 30 – Saturday, December 1, 2018.  Multiple tour times offered.

Cost: $20; Student $5

Holiday Extravaganza

The Indianola Town Square • Indianola, IA 50125 • (515) 961-6269

This event is Indianola’s kick-off to the holiday season and features lots of FREE entertainment for young and old alike. Event highlights include: Lighting of the Trees on the Square at approximately 6:00 p.m., photos with Santa in the Santa House, Holiday Children’s Store, horse drawn wagon rides, your favorite movie characters, children’s crafts, live musical groups, photo booth, holiday shopping, Lighted Parade, and much more! The Lighted Parade will begin at approximately 7:45 p.m. and will travel around The Square.

When: Friday, November 30, 2018 at 5:00 to 8:30 pm

Cost: FREE

Mayor’s Tree Lighting

Ankeny Market & Pavilion (AMP) • 715 W. First Street • Ankeny, IA 50021 • (515) 963-3570

Join Ankeny Mayor Gary Lorenz for the third annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting. Kick off the holidays at this event that is fun for the whole family. Kids can visit Santa,  make a holiday craft and meet holiday costumed characters. Hot chocolate will be provided.

When: Friday, November 30 at 6:00 to 7:00 pm

Cost: FREE

2018: Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events 4 Des Moines Families – dsm4kids.com
Photo Source http://waukee.org/.

Elf – The Musical

Des Moines Playhouse • 831 42nd Street • Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 277-6261

“Elf” has quickly become a modern Christmas classic! Based on the 2003 film, “Elf – The Musical” tells the story of Buddy, a human raised as an elf at the North Pole. Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making skills soon make him realize he’s not fit to live at the North Pole. Once realizing he’s a human, Buddy travels to New York City to find his true father and understand his past, only to learn that his father is on the naughty list! Buddy must reconnect with his dad and half-brother who doesn’t believe in Santa to embrace the true meaning of Christmas.

When: November 30 -December 23, 2018; 7:00 pm Fridays; 1:00 PM & 5:00 pm Saturdays & Sundays

Cost: Tickets start at $29

Holiday Open House

Terrace Hill • 2300 Grand Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 281-7205

Celebrate the spirit of the season, as the doors of Terrace Hill open to the public.  Join us in the glow of glamorous holiday decorations, learn about the history of Terrace Hill and enjoy complimentary refreshments in Victorian splendor! No need to check in at the Carriage House…you can go straight to the North Door of Terrace Hill!

When: Saturday, December 1 at 10:30 am to 1:30 pm

Cost: FREE

Christmas in Uptown

Uptown Ankeny • Ankeny, IA 50021 • (515) 963-1897

See Santa and Mrs Claus at the Historical Society Barn, take your own pictures and get your token for the treasure hunt. Then stop into the Uptown businesses with a Santa Stop Sign for your treasure bag. Treats, specials, shopping, gift wrapping and horse drawn wagon rides.

When: Saturday, December 1 at 12:00 to 3:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Candy Cane Hike

Annett Nature Center • 15565 118th Avenue • Indianola, IA 50125 • (515) 961-6169

Bring the whole family out to hike the trails of Annett Nature Center in search of hidden candy canes.  Submit your guess for how many candy canes are on the trail and get entered to win a wintery surprise. There will be refreshments, hot cocoa, and exhibits to explore inside.  This is a self-guided hike. Check in at the front desk for instructions and a trail map.  Please register by November 29.

When: Saturday, December 1 at 1:00 to 3:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Living History Farms Family Christmas 

Living History Farms • 11121 Hickman Road • Urbandale, IA 50322 • (515) 278-5286

Bundle up for a horse-drawn wagon ride to visit the festive Flynn Mansion. Enjoy an old-fashioned holiday social with dance music in the Church of the Land. Kids will enjoy printing their own holiday greeting cards, decorating cookies, making crafts, and visiting Santa Claus! Adults can shop for unique gifts in the MarketPlace Museum Store.

When: Saturday, December 1 at 1:00 to 5:00 pm

Cost: Advanced Tickets – $6.50/Adult; $5.25 LHF member; $6.00/Child; $4.75 member

Dazzling in The District Holiday Stroll

The District at Prairie Trail • SW State Street at SW Vintage Parkway • Ankeny, IA • (515) 965-5249

Your favorite shops and restaurants in The District are getting ready! Stroll through The District with Santa as he stops along the way for the most amazing photos ops, cookie decorating, letter writing, storytime, arts and crafts, brain games, and more. It’s all free admission, free parking and fun for the whole family.

When: Saturday, December 1 from 2:00-6:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Holidays in Johnston

Johnston Public Library • 6700 Merle Hay Road • Johnston, IA 50131 • (515) 278-5233

Join the City of Johnston for a town celebration at the Johnston Public Library.  Holidays in Johnston will feature crafts, cookie decorating, a gingerbread house contest, an appearance by Santa, entertainment, food and fun.

When: Saturday, December 1 from 2:30-4:30 pm

Cost: FREE

Holiday Happenings Beaverdale

Beaverdale Area Businesses

’Tis the season to shop and dine LOCALLY!!! Join in holiday fun at Beaverdale’s central business district for an evening of festive merriment with the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association.  Santa and his Elf will arrive at Grounds for Celebration at 5:00 pm. He and his elf will greet children and their families and will hand out gift bags until 6:15 pm. They’ll then make their way to Beaverdale Books to read Christmas stories to the children until 7:00 pm.

When: Saturday, December 1 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Christmas in Olde Town

Altoona Area Historical Museum • 104 2nd Street SE •  Altoona, IA 50009 • (515) 967-4815

Join the Altoona Historical Society for Christmas crafts, treats, caroling, historic tours and much more! They will also have a Christmas market with great gift ideas. Plus, FREE photos with Santa!

When: Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Cost: FREE

UCAN’s Light Up Urbandale

Lion’s Park • 72nd Street and Aurora Avenue • Urbandale, Iowa 50322 • (515) 278-3936

Kick off your holiday season at UCAN’s Light Up Urbandale. You will enjoy holiday festivities of all kinds, including an opportunity to visit Santa, see Santa’s real live reindeer, crafts and activities, holiday goodies and entertainment!

When: Sunday, December 2 at 3:00 to 5:30 pm

Cost: FREE

Grimes Holiday Celebration

Grimes Community Complex • 410 SE Main Street • Grimes, IA 50111 • (515) 986-5770

Bring the whole family to Grimes Chamber’s Holiday Celebration Event. Bring the kiddos to see Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy activities including face painting, balloon artistry, crafts, cookies and hot chocolate.  This annual event is fun for the whole family.

When: Sunday, December 2 at 4:00 to 6:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Jingle Bell Party

Fourmile Community Recreation Center 3711 Easton Blvd, Des Moines, IA (515) 248-6315

Join Des Moines Parks and Recreation for: Santa, treats, bounce house, toys from the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and many other fun activities. Registration is open and will end on December 3. Please call to sign up.

When: Thursday, December 6 and 13 at 6:00 to 7:30 pm

Cost: FREE (Registration required to attend)

Waukee Winterfest

Waukee Triangle • Waukee, IA 50263 • (515) 978-0007

Bring on the holiday cheer with Waukee’s annual WinterFest! Kids can visit Santa, watch an artist create holiday ice sculptures, enjoy cookies, and warm up with hot cocoa and delicious soup. Experience Waukee’s historic Downtown Triangle and its unique businesses, and meet members of the Waukee Area Arts Council as they host crafting, stories and more.

When: Friday, December 7, 2018 at 6:00 pm

Cost: FREE

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Ankeny Community Theatre • 1932 SW 3rd Street • Ankeny, IA 50023 • (515) 964-5007

​Charles Schulz’s beloved comic comes to life in Clark Gesner’s classic musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The whole gang is here: bossy Lucy is hopelessly in love with piano prodigy Schroeder who doesn’t give her the time of day, perfectionist Sally is still mocking blanket-toting Linus, Snoopy is in the doghouse, and “blockhead,” himself, Charlie Brown, is in rare form.

When: December 7-16, 2018; 7:30 pm Fridays & Saturdays & 2:00 pm on Sundays

Cost: Adult $20, Senior (60+) $17, Student $15; Child (grades K-12) $10

Winter Song Concert

Sheslow Auditorium • 2507 University Avenue • Des Moines, Iowa 50311 • (515) 221-3922

Winter Songs is the annual holiday concert for Heartland Youth Choir. All five of their performance ensembles will sing, with all choir members on stage for the finale. The concert is open to the public; tickets will be available for purchase at the door. All seats are general admission.

When:  Sunday, December 9 at 4:30 to 6:00 pm

Cost: $15 adults; $7 for children, students and seniors 65+

2018: Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events 4 Des Moines Families – dsm4kids.com
Photo source https://www.worldfoodprize.org/.

Holiday Crafts and Cocoa

Lakeside Center • 400 NW Lakeshore Drive • Ankeny, IA 50023 • (515) 963-3570

Join Ankeny Parks and Recreation for a night jam packed with crafts, cocoa and fun! Kids will be able to complete a variety of holiday-themed crafts at their own pace to celebrate the holiday. Pre-registration is required. Space is limited.

When: Tuesday, December 11 at 5:30 to 6:30 for K-2nd graders and 7:00 to 8:00 pm for 3rd-5th graders.

Cost: Resident – $15 Non-Resident – $18

Special Friends Holiday Dance

Buxton Room • 2204 W. 2nd Avenue • Indianola, IA 50125 • (515) 961-9420

Tons of holiday fun to be had! Join Indianola Parks and Recreation for dancing, singing and holiday cheer at this annual event for the special needs population. Everyone invited! All individuals with special needs and their families, chaperones, respite providers or SCL workers are invited to attend!

When: Friday, December 14 at 6:30 pm.

Cost: $3.00/person at the door

A Christmas Carol

Kum & Go Theater • 901 Cherry Street • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 244-2771

Presented by Iowa Stage at the Kum & Go Theater in the Des Moines Social Club. Bring the entire family for this timeless adventure and follow Scrooge on a night he will never forget when four ghosts take him on a whirlwind journey to teach him about the true meaning of Christmas and change his life forever.

When:  December 14-23, 2018; Friday and Saturday at 7: 30 pm; Sunday at 2:00 pm

Cost:  $40 for Adults, $35 for seniors, and $20 for Students

Tonic Sol-fa Holiday Show

Hoyt Sherman Place • 1501 Woodland Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50314 • (515) 244-0507

Tonic Sol-fa is a ground-breaking a cappella ensemble from Minnesota, in constant development since their formation two decades ago. This Christmas, the Emmy-award winning a cappella quartet brings a brand-new stage show to you.  Enjoy the humor and soulful vocals that make this a holiday tradition for so many!

When: Friday, December 14 at 7:30 pm and Saturday December 15 at 7:30 pm

Cost: Adults: $35.50-$46.50; Children (12 and under): $22.00-$28.00

Hall of Laureates Holiday Open House

The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates • 100 Locust Street • Des Moines, IA 50309

Each December, the community is invited to visit the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates for their Holiday Open House. Hear holiday music and experience the spectacular acoustics in this historic building, and explore our world through photos.  This is a wonderful opportunity to experience this beautiful building during this special time of year.

When:  Saturday December 15, 2018 at 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Cost: FREE

Hy-Vee Classic

Wells Fargo Arena • 833 5th Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309 • 515-564-8000

The Hy-Vee Classic returns to Wells Fargo Arena for the seventh and final year. Previously known as the Big Four Classic, this college basketball event brings together the four Division I Men’s Basketball programs in the State of Iowa.

When: Saturday, December 15 3:30 pm – Iowa State Cyclones vs. Drake Bulldogs; 6:00 PM – Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Northern Iowa Panthers

Cost: Tickets start at $30

Jim McDonough and His Orchestra & Singers: “Holiday Grande 2018”

Hoyt Sherman Place • 1501 Woodland Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50314 • (515) 244-0507

Celebrate the holiday season in style by attending “Holiday Grande 2018.” This dazzling, all-new stage production features International Steinway Artist, Jim McDonough, joined by his 14-piece professional orchestra and a cast of sensational singers and dancers performing your favorite Christmas music and other all-time favorites. Proceeds benefit Camp Courageous of Iowa, a year-round recreational and respite care facility for individuals with disabilities.

When: Sunday, December 16 at 2:30 pm

Cost: Tickets start at $29.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical

Civic Center • 221 Walnut Street • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 246-2300

The beloved TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Come see all of your favorite characters from the special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph, as they come to life in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical.

When: Monday, December 17, 2018

Cost: Tickets are $25.00 – $57.00

Terrace Hill Holiday Tea

Terrace Hill • 2300 Grand Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 281-7205

Step back in time and experience Holiday Tea at Terrace Hill, Iowa Governor’s Residence and National Historic Landmark. Guests will enjoy tea, scones, tea sandwiches, and cakes in the historic rooms of Terrace Hill adorned for the holidays. Proceeds benefit Terrace Hill with the mission to provide for, protect, and preserve the property and programs of Terrace Hill. Reservations required.

When: Monday, December 17, 2018 – 10:30am to 12:15pm and 2:00 to 3:45 pm

Cost: $40

Final Act Ensemble Holiday 2018 Show

Des Moines Playhouse • 831 42nd Street • Des Moines, IA 50312 • (515) 277-6261

Celebrate the holidays with old-time radio programs when the Final Act Ensemble presents its annual edition of yuletide jollies from the days when radio was king. The evening includes holiday songs from the period, a nutty commercial or two, and a singalong at the end. Loosen your belt and get set for belly laughs with the Final Act Ensemble this holiday season!

When: December 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Cost: $10

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis

Civic Center • 221 Walnut Street • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 246-2300

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis has been America’s favorite holiday tradition for over 30 years! The program celebrates the group’s recent anniversary of 30 years since the first Christmas album and 40 years since the first Fresh Aire album and includes dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. Experience the magic as the spirit of the season comes alive with the signature sound of Mannheim Steamroller.

When: December 18-19, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Cost: Tickets are $51.00 – $91.00.

For King & Country Little Drummer Boy/The Christmas Tour

Wells Fargo Arena • 833 5th Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309 • 515-564-8000

For King & Country will hit the road in December with their Christmas tour extravaganza Little Drummer Boy | The Christmas Tour. The band states: “It’s family, it’s hope, it’s God – and in turn, it’s the greatest celebration the world has ever known. Now is the time to pound on those drums, sing carols and anthems, ring in the glorious season together…. and who knows, maybe even see us play a few songs from our brand-new album Burn the Ships. We truly hope you can make it.”

When: December 20, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Cost: Tickets are $30.50 – $80.50.

DM Symphony – NYE Pops: From West Side Story to Wicked

Civic Center • 221 Walnut Street • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 246-2300

The hottest ticket in town is the Des Moines Symphony’s annual New Year’s Eve Pops! This year, ring in the New Year with the soaring sounds of Broadway. The Tony®-nominated Callaway Sisters sing showstoppers from West Side Story, Chicago, Funny Girl, Wicked and more in an evening of wit, humor and the greatest songs of Broadway backed by the full orchestral power of your Des Moines Symphony!

When: Monday, December 31, 2018 at 8:00 pm

Cost: $35-$90

What is your family’s absolute favorite thing to do over the holidays in Des Moines? Shout about it in the Comments!

Featured image photo source: Historic East Village Facebook Page.  

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