For many of us, Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer. It’s the weekend we finally uncover our grills for backyard barbecues and make trips to the lake. However, Memorial Day, at its core, is a day to honor and remember women and men who lost their lives in military service to our country. To mark the holiday, many families attend their community’s memorial services. We’ve also rounded up some other family-friendly (and mostly FREE) events happening in and around Des Moines during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Memorial Day Weekend in Des Moines:
Military & Patriotic Events
Memorial Day Mini-Concert at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum (7105 NW 70th Avenue, Johnston, Iowa 50131) Monday, May 28, 2018, 7:00 to 10:00 am. The “Military Tribute Concert” singers and musicians will be performing at 7:30 and 9:00 am. Song sheets will be available for everyone to sing along with the choir.
Memorial Day Ceremony at Iowa Veterans Cemetery (34024 Veterans Memorial Drive, Adel, IA 50003). Monday, May 28, 2018, 8:00 am. The Iowa Veterans Cemetery annual program at the Fallen Heroes Monument, which honors and remembers the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces.
Memorial Day Ceremony at Fort Des Moines Living (6908 Chaffee Road, Des Moines, IA 50315). Monday, May 28, 2018, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Please join Blackbird Investments at the historic Fort Des Moines for a Memorial Day ceremony to commemorate the brave men and women who have died in our military service. The program will begin at 10:00 am, with tours of the newly renovated Fort Des Moines Living to follow at 11:30 am.
Memorial Day Ceremony at Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (833 5th Ave, Des Moines). Monday, May 28 at 11:00 am. An annual ceremony that includes the “Massing of the Colors” ceremony by local veteran’s organizations, speakers, musical interlude, and other program events that vary each year.
Arts & Culture
Food Truck Friday (Campbell Park, 12385 Woodlands Pkwy, Clive, IA 50325) FREE; Friday, May 25 at 5:30 pm. Make your way to Campbell Park to enjoy music, food, and fun. Bring the whole family — the park has three playgrounds and green space.
Summer Concert (Penoach Winery, 26759 N Avenue, Adel, IA 50003) FREE; Friday, May 25, 2018 at 7:00 pm. Start your Memorial Day Weekend off at Penoach Winery. The Freedom Project with Tim and Jana West will take over their patio from 7:00 to 10:00 pm for their first concert of the season.
Sunday Tunes (Summerset Winery, 15101 Fairfax Street, Indianola, IA 50125) Sunday, May 27, 2018 at 2:00 pm. Enjoy some wine and the music of The Sons of Gladys Kravitz Band on Summerset’s lawn. Kids are welcome.
SpringFest (Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines, Iowa 50321) FREE; Sunday, May 27, 2018 at 12:00 Noon. Celebrate the Memorial Day weekend with great music in a perfect setting at Jasper Winery. All ages are welcome. Please bring blankets or lawn chairs. Wine from Jasper Winery, Beer from Madhouse Brewing, and BBQ and more from food vendors will be available to purchase.
Adventureland & Adventure Bay (305 34th Ave NW, Altoona, IA) Friday, May 25 to Monday, May 28, 2018. Adventureland and Adventurebay will be open throughout the Memorial day weekend. All current members of all military branches including the National Guard/Reserve will be admitted FREE to Adventureland Park/Adventure Bay with their military photo ID. Retired members can also show their DD Form 214/Discharge form and matching gov’t photo ID.
Aquatic Centers, Pools and Splash Pools (Multiple Locations) Saturday, May 26, 2018. Several outdoor pools and aquatic centers open for the season over the Memorial Day holiday weekend including: Cascade Falls Aquatic Center and Prairie Ridge Aquatic Center in Ankeny; Clive Aquatic Center inClive; Nahas Aquatic Center in Des Moines and Veteran’s Memorial Aquatic Center in Indianola. Splash Pools (FREE) at several Des Moines area parks also open on Memorial Day (Monday, May 28).
Blank Park Zoo (7401 SW 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50315) Friday, May 25 through Monday, May 28, 2018. Welcome summer at the Blank Park Zoo. They will be open during their normal business hours throughout the Memoria Day Weekend.
Farmers’ Markets (Multiple Locations) FREE; Saturday, May 26, 2018. The Downtown Farmer’s Market and Uptown Ankeny Farmers’ Market will be open for business over the Memorial Day weekend.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden (909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309) Friday, May 25 through Sunday, May 27, 2018. The Botanical Center will be open their normal hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but will be CLOSED on Memorial Day. On Saturday, May 26th you can join them for one of their Saturday Drop In Programs. This is a Studio (hands on experience) “Botanical Drawing”.
Living History Farms (11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, IA). Friday, May 25 to Monday, May 28, 2018. LHF will be open during their normal hours over Memorial Day Weekend. Be a part of America’s early Memorial Day traditions on Saturday, May 26th. March in a procession to the town cemetery for a moving pageant of Victorian speech and song, honoring the Union’s fallen heroes. After the ceremony, watch the Walnut Hill Bluestockings compete in a 1870s-rules baseball game at 1:30.
Reiman Gardens (1407 S University Boulevard, Ames, IA 50011) Saturday, May 26 through Monday, May 28, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. In honor of their service all active duty military and veterans are admitted FREE of charge to Reiman Gardens over the Memorial Day Holiday Wekend.
Science Center of Iowa (401 W Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50309) Friday, May 25 through Monday, May 28, 2018. The Science Center of Iowa will be open during their normal hours over Memorial Day Weekend.
Boone River Valley Festival (Boone, IA) Some activities FREE; Friday, May 25 – Monday, May 28, 2018. The 2nd annual Boone River Valley Festival is a multi-day county wide celebration of Boone’s unique natural landscape. Fish, eat, celebrate, rock and discover Boone!
CelebrAsian! (Western Gateway Park – Downtown Des Moines). FREE; Friday, May 25 – Saturday, May 26, 2018. This two day event hosted by the Iowa Asian Alliance showcases the different Asian and Asian-American communities and cultures in the state of Iowa. The event features live entertainment, food and vendor booths.
John Wayne Birthday (John Wayne Birthplace and Museum, Winterset). Friday May 25 – Saturday, May 26, 2018. Join the John Wayne Birthplace Society for a weekend of festivities in honor of the “Duke’s” birthday.
Iowa Barnstormers (Wells Fargo Arena, 233 Center Street, Des Moines, IA) Friday, May 25, 2018 at 7:05 pm. Cheer on the Barnstormers as they take on the Greenbay Blizzard. It’s Military Night – all Veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserves receive FREE tickets for themselves and their families.
I-Cubs (Principal Park, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309) Friday, May 25 through Monday, May 18, 2018). Root, root, root for the home team at Principal Park. The I-Cubs are in town every day of the long weekend. With Friday Night Fireworks and giveaways each day and discounted tickets for Family 4-Pack Day on Sunday, it’s a great time to take in a ball game.
What are you up to for the three-day Memorial Day weekend? Let us know in the Comments below!