Thinking about holiday shopping? Check out our Holiday Market guide for a go-to guide for shopping local for the holidays.
November 2018 Events and Activities in Des Moines
November 1, 15, 29 | Caterpillar Club, Reiman Gardens, Ames
10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Price: Free with general admission ticket, no preregistration required
Designed for children ages 2-7, this popular event features stories and creative activities around a nature-based theme. After class, you’re free to explore the garden and other exhibits.
November 3 | The Ugly Duckling, Des Moines Civic Center
10 a.m. sensory-friendly performance
1 p.m. public performance
Lightwire Theater brings a classic tale to the modern stage in an unforgettable theatrical experience. Lined with electroluminescent wire, the beloved story of The Ugly Duckling plays out on stage through a cutting-edge blend of puppetry, technology, and dance.
November 3 | The Ankeny Gingerbread 5K Run/Walk for Adoption, DMACC Campus, Ankeny
Price: $30 to run; $20 to walk
Celebrate adoption and raise awareness with a fun-filled morning of face painting, balloons, snacks, and more. Support adoption grants by walking, running, or cheering on the metro’s annual Gingerbread Walk/Run for Adoption.
November 7 | Goldie’s Kids Club: History Makers – WWI, State Historical Museum of Iowa
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Make the most out of your early-out Wednesday with a guided tour of the Iowa and the Great War exhibit. Activities and topics are recommended for children 8-12 years old.
November 8 | Jammin’ in Johnston, Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Kick off the holiday shopping season by shopping small and buying local from more than 40 local vendors and businesses.
November 8, 29 | Wine and Design, Summerset Winery, Indianola
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Grab your girlfriends and plan a mom’s night out at the Summerset Winery. Choose either a fall wreath or holiday wreath making workshop. Enjoy crafting, wine, and an evening away!
November 9 | Family Night, Science Center of Iowa
5 to 8 p.m.
Price: $5 or free with membership
If you haven’t seen the new Brick by Brick exhibit with LEGO structures, this is the perfect excuse to go as a whole family. With extended evening hours, you can play, eat dinner, and catch a larger-than-life IMAX film.
November 9-10 | Iowa Beer, Wine, and Food Expo, Iowa Events Center, Des Moines
4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Price: General admission is $35.
Need a night out? Come hungry and thirsty to sample food and drinks from restaurants, breweries, and wineries from across the Des Moines metro. Enjoy live music, watch cooking demonstrations, and check out vendor shopping, too.
November 16 | Jack and the Beanstalk, Des Moines Play House
9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m.; 1:30 p.m.
This interactive show is designed for children ages 4 to 6 years old (and an accompanying adult). While you may know the tale of a boy who traded a cow for magic beans, this show tells you what really happened… according to the giant!
November 16 | Opening Day, Brenton Skating Plaza, 520 Robert Ray Dr., Des Moines
Get your skates and be the first to hit the ice at the only outdoor skating rink in Des Moines. Cost is $8.50 for adults, $5.25 for children and seniors. Skate rental is available for $4.75. (And stay downtown while you’re at it for the East Village Holiday Promenade!)
November 21-25 | Festival of Trees & Lights, Veteran’s Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center
Price: $5; Children 2 and under: Free
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday: 1 to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a magical land with fantastically decorated trees. Get ideas for your own home, and be inspired by the beautiful stories from Blank Children’s Hospital.
November 21-25 | Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic, Wells Fargo Arena at Iowa Events Center
Times and prices vary
Add a little magic to the holiday weekend as you watch 50 of the most beloved Disney characters perform on ice.
November 22 | Des Moines Turkey Trot, Downtown Des Moines
Price: $30-$40 (discounts for families of 4 or 5 running together); $10 Tot Trot
Get out of the house and pre-burn some Thanksgiving calories with a family-friendly 5K or 5-mile road race. The whole family can get in on the action with a Tot Trot that is full of high-fives, a racing bib, and finisher medal—just like mom and dad!
November 23 – December 29 | Jolly Holiday Lights, Adventureland Park, Altoona
5:30 to 10 p.m.
Price: $20 per car ($40 for limo or mini-bus)
Buy tickets ahead of time here.
A central Iowa favorite for more than 20 years, Jolly Holiday Lights kicks off on Black Friday. Support the Make-a-Wish foundation and treat your family to a night of lights and holiday fun.
November 23 – December 16 | Santa Express Train, Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, Boone
Times vary on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
Bring the family, and enjoy a ride from the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s depot to the North Pole (and return). 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 children will get to meet (and receive a special memento from) Santa himself.
November 24-25 | Breakfast with Santa @ The Tea Room, Younkers Tea Room, Des Moines
Enjoy a Christmas program over brunch, cookie decorating with the elves, and get your photo taken with Santa. This was a sold-out event last year, so make sure to purchase your tickets early!
November 28 – December 4 | Disney’s Aladdin, Des Moines Civic Center
Times and prices vary.
Discover a whole new world at Disney’s ALADDIN, the hit Broadway musical. This thrilling new production is filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy, and breathtaking spectacle.
November 29 | Jingle in the Junction, Valley Junction, West Des Moines
5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
150,000 twinkling lights line the streets creating a magical experience. Kids will love free horse and trolley rides, caroling, ice carving, and balloon animals.
November 30 – December 1 | Holly & Ivy Home Tour, Salisbury House, Des Moines
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: $20; $5 for students
Get into the holiday spirit as you tour the dazzling Salisbury house. This year’s Holly & Ivy will also showcase four beautiful private homes, two different homes each day of the event.
November 30 – December 23 | ELF – The Musical, Des Moines Playhouse
Times and prices vary.
“Elf” has 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 travels to New York City where he learns his dad doesn’t believe in Santa Claus! The Playhouse presents the regional debut of this holiday show for the whole family.
Send us an email if we missed anything, and we’ll add your event to the list.
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.