Find the 2020 Memorial Day Guide here.
First and foremost, Memorial Day is about the members of the armed forces who gave their lives in our nation’s service. Their sacrifice is unimaginable, our debt to them beyond measure. To those lost, and to those who serve our nation and all it stands for, we salute you!
Of course, the weekend is not all somber reflection: Memorial Day also means a long weekend, and the unofficial start of summer and all the seasonal activities that come with warm weather. Street fairs and festivals. Farmers’ markets. Outdoor concerts.
However, you spend the three-day holiday weekend, we hope you have a blast!
Memorial Day Weekend in Des Moines:
Military & Patriotic Events
Iowa Gold Star Military Museum Memorial Day Event (7105 NW 70th, Johnston). FREE; Monday, May 27, 2019, 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. Join the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum in honoring the service of our veterans at their annual Memorial Day event and Open House.
Memorial Day Ceremony at Iowa Veterans Cemetery (34024 Veterans Memorial Drive, Adel, IA 50003). FREE; Monday, May 27, 2019, 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 Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center (833 5th Ave, Des Moines). FREE; Monday, May 27, 2019 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.
Memorial Day Ceremony at Resthaven Cemetery (801 19th Street, West Des Moines, IA) FREE; Monday, May 27, 2019 at 11:00 am. Join Resthaven for their special Memorial Day event 88th Annual Remembrance Service – “A Day to Remember” in honor and celebration of those who have proudly served our country.
Arts & Culture
Food Truck Friday (Campbell Park, 12385 Woodlands Pkwy, Clive, IA 50325) FREE; Friday, May 24 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.
Nitefall on the River (Brenton Plaza 520 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309) Friday, May 24, 2019 at 8:00 pm. Kick off your Memorial Day weekend at Brenton Plaza with some 80s rock by Arch Allies.
Memorial Day Tunes (Summerset Winery, 15101 Fairfax Street, Indianola, IA 50125) Veterans get in FREE; Sunday, May 26, 2019 at 2:00 pm. Enjoy some wine and the music of The Sons of Gladys Kravitz Band on Summerset’s lawn during their Memorial Day celebration. Kids are welcome.
SpringFest (Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines, Iowa 50321) FREE; Sunday, May 26, 2018 at 2:00 pm. Celebrate the Memorial Day weekend with great music in a perfect setting at Jasper Winery. All ages are welcome to this event hosted by the Central Iowa Blues Society. 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) Saturday, May 25 to Monday, May 27, 2019. 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 25, 2019 through Monday, May 27, 2019. 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 in Clive; and Northwest Aquatic Center in Des Moines. Splash Pools (FREE) at several Des Moines area parks open on Sunday, May 26.
Blank Park Zoo (7401 SW 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50315) Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, 2019. Welcome summer at the Blank Park Zoo. They will be open during their normal business hours throughout the Memorial Day Weekend.
Farmers’ Markets (Multiple Locations) FREE; Saturday, May 25, 2019. 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.
Lakes and Beaches. (Multiple Locations) Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, 2019. Spend Memorial Day weekend at the lake. Area lakes are opening for the season and offer up summer fun swimming, boating, fishing, and more.
Living History Farms (11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, IA). Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27, 2019. 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 25th. Participate in their Decoration Day events and then watch the Walnut Hill Bluestockings compete in a 1870s-rules baseball game at 1:30.
Science Center of Iowa (401 W Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50309) Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, 2019. The Science Center of Iowa will be open during their normal hours over Memorial Day Weekend.
Smash Park (6625 Coachlight Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266) Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, 2019. Smash Park will be open normal hours throughout the Memorial Day Weekend and will host “The Yard Grand Opening Party” on Saturday, May 25th at 7:00 to 11:00 pm. The B2wins! will be performing with their full 4-piece band to kick off summer and the opening of Iowa’s Largest Patio. Play all kinds of yard games, including: pickleball (of course!) bocce ball, shuffleboard, cornhole, foosball, giant Connect 4, Jenga and enjoy a shake from their new Creamery.
Boone River Valley Festival (Boone, IA) Some activities FREE; Friday, May 24 – Sunday, May 26, 2019. The 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 24 – Saturday, May 25, 2019. 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 24 – Saturday, May 25, 2019. Join the John Wayne Birthplace Society for a weekend of festivities. This year they’re focusing on the 50th anniversary of the Duke’s movie “True Grit”.
Iowa Barnstormers (Wells Fargo Arena, 233 Center Street, Des Moines, IA) Friday, May 24, 2019 at 7:05 pm. Cheer on the Barnstormers as they take on the Bismarck Bucks.
Des Moines Menace Soccer (Drake Stadium, 2719 Forest Avenue Des Moines, IA 50311) Friday, May 24, 2019 at 7:30 pm. Make plans to cheer on the Menace this Memorial Day weekend as they take on WSA Winnipeg.
Is your family sticking around town this Memorial Day Weekend? What do you have planned? Tell us in the comments below!