Kids and kids at heart all love checking out the beautiful light displays that come with the holidays. Bundle up and walk around some of the sites or catch them from the warmth of your vehicle. Pack some snacks and hot cocoa and make a night of it!
The best places to see Christmas lights in Des Moines
When: November 27 – January 2, hours vary by day
Where: Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Rd, Urbandale
You’re invited to experience the themed worlds of light including dinosaur world, over 700 feet of tunnels, and over a mile-long route in this animated drive-thru light show. Online registration is required.
When: November 26 – January 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed December 24, 25, and 31st.
Where: Adventureland, 3300 Adventureland Drive, Altoona
This 2.5 mile stretch of lights displayed at Adventureland boasts over 100 magical lights displays and is a yearly staple for many families in the metro. The cost is $20 per car; 100% of the money raised goes to Make-a-Wish Iowa, so it’s a win-win for everyone. The lights are closed December 24, 25, and 31st.
When: December 11 – 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: 225 North Ave., Norwalk
Fellowship Community Church hosts a Synchronized Lights & Live Nativity featuring more than 60,000 LED lights synchronized to Christmas music. Other features include a live nativity featuring real animals and free cookies and hot chocolate brought right to your warm car! Any donations received will go to needy families in the area.
When: December 13 – December 17; 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Where: 925 Jordan Creek Pkwy West Des Moines
This Christmas candlelight drive-through is an experience the whole family will remember. Experience the Christmas story in brand-new ways — dazzling light shows, beautiful Christmas music, and a cast of hundreds of volunteers living out the story of the Messiah’s birth. The entire event is free.
When: December 1 through January 1 Dusk to 10 p.m.
Where: 2200 Beaver Ave., Des Moines
Located at the corner of Beaver Avenue and Hickman Road, the First Church of the Open Bible has an impressive outdoor light display synchronized to music, which you can listen to by tuning in on your radio (check the yard signs outside the church for the station number). You can also sit in the south parking lot and listen along as you watch the light display.
When: Early December – December 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: S.E. Richland Court, Ankeny
During the holiday season, Richland Court in Ankeny transforms into Gingerbread Lane to delight children and adults alike. Every weekend, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be collecting canned goods for the Food Bank of Iowa. Visit their Facebook page for schedule updates and more information.
Historic Valley Junction
When: Through January 1 from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Where: Fifth Street and Railroad Avenue, West Des Moines, IA
The charm of historic Valley Junction really comes out during the holidays. Enjoy over 100,000 lights and displays and be sure to come early to eat dinner and visit the over 150 specialty shops, restaurants, and services before the lights come on. Valley Junction also hosts a few fun holiday events in December, check them out here.
When: Fridays–Sundays, November 27 – December 19
Where: 32835 610th Ave, Cambridge
Enjoy holiday lights and winter scenes in the Corn Pool area. Take photos at several staged locations, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride or train ride weather permitting. Check the calendar for times and ticketing information. Tickets can be pre-purchased, but walk-ins are also available.
When: Weekends, December 1 – January 1
Where: 1407 University Blvd., Ames
Back for its second year, this outdoor walk-through holiday light show features a variety of immersive light displays throughout the entire 17-acre site. Don’t miss the new and improved features and elements including motion and music. Walk through brightly lit tunnels, meander through fantasy lights falling like stars, view massive disco balls twirling to laser lights, enjoy a twenty-foot-wide fountain of lights and a wide array of other sparkling wonders.
Family and Neighborhood Lights Displays
When: Until December 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Ashby and Wallace Avenues, east and west of Beaver Avenue
About 50 homes compete for the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association’s bragging rights and you can take advantage of the stiff competition. New and exciting displays, as well as beautiful classics, are a must-see for many families in Des Moines.
When: Christmas Eve
Where: Waterbury Road in Des Moines
Luminaries line the sidewalks of Waterbury Road on Christmas Eve. It’s magical to drive down the streets!
When: December 6 – January 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Recommended streets include South of Hickman Road, Franklin Avenue, Marylynn Drive, and 72nd Street
Approximately 120 homes participate in Windsor Heights Foundation’s annual holiday lighting contest. You’ll want to gather up the family and drive by to check out what all the homeowners have come up with this year.
When: December 5
Where: Lions Park, Urbandale Senior Rec. Center and neighborhoods throughout Urbandale
Enjoy holiday festivities, including an opportunity to visit Santa, see Santa’s real live reindeer, crafts and activities, holiday goodies, and entertainment! This event helps raise awareness and support for UCAN’s Holiday Helping Hands Programs for families, kids, teens, and seniors in need.
Venzke Animated Christmas Display
When: Through January 1, dusk to 9 p.m.
Where: 1335 N.E. Milan Ave in Ankeny, just off of 36th Street
Everyone around Ankeny loves the private residence of the Venzke’s. New and different each year, some favorites you may see include Frosty the Snowman, a flying cardinal, a skiing snowman, a Times Square ball drop, and/or Iowa State basketball and football players.
Northwest Beaver Drive and Lower Beaver Road, Des Moines
Check out this impressive outdoor light display near the High Trestle Trail. There are tons of gigantic inflatable decorations like Santa and a polar bear to accompany the light displays. It’s a quick drive North on Beaver Avenue if you’re already looking at lights in that neighborhood.
705 N.E. Canterbury Dr. Ankeny
An impressive light show consisting of almost 7,000 lights synchronized to music played on 89.5 FM. The display is created by a local teen who was previously recognized by KCCI, The Des Moines Register, and the Ankeny Living Magazine. The teen built all the electronic parts and sequenced four songs to music. The show runs from 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday nights and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.
1801 N.W. Morningside Dr. Grimes
This is a can’t-miss-display of flashing and dancing lights set to music played over your radio. Every year is a little bit different with new lights and new songs that play for over 20 minutes! It’s a neighborhood favorite!
Where are your favorite places to see Christmas lights in Des Moines?
We work hard to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, and other information before heading to an event or activity, since it may change.