Things to do in Des Moines in December 2021

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HO! HO! HO! December is full of jolly activities for the whole family to enjoy. From carriage rides to light displays, there are holiday events happening every week. We also found lots of activities at local libraries and community centers where kids can burn some energy and have some fun while they wait for the holidays to arrive.

Other Great Local Holiday Guides

Christmas Tree Farms
Holiday Light Guide
Shop Local Gift Guide
Shop Local Experience Gifts
Where to Buy Hot Cocoa Bombs
Where to see Santa in Des Moines

Things to do in December 2021

Dec. 1-Jan. 2 | Jolly Holiday Lights, Adventureland
5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Price: $25 per car ($20 when you buy online in advance)
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. Tickets will also be available at Des Moines area Hy-Vee, Casey’s, at the front gate, and the Make-A-Wish Iowa office.

Dec.1-Jan. 2 | Winter Wonderlights, Ankeny Uptown
Walk, bike, or drive through Uptown Ankeny after sundown to see 30 animated light displays. See more holiday light displays.

Dec. 2-3 | Christkindlmarket, Principal Park
Kick off the month with the ultimate holiday experience. You’ll enjoy the aroma of roasted chestnuts mixed with sizzling Austrian sausages. Sip warm mulled wine or a seasonal brew as you walk through an open-air market to complete your holiday shopping.

Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 | Caterpillar Club, Reiman Gardens in Ames
Get outside and have some fun with a weekly storytime at Reiman Gardens. This program is designed for kids ages 2-5 with an adult. Program is included with general admission to Reiman Gardens.

Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23, 24, 30, 31 | Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show, Reiman Gardens in Ames
5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
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. 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. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids 2-12.

Dec. 3 | Holiday Zoo Brew, Blank Park Zoo
5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Need a grownup night out? Head to the zoo for reindeer, beer, and holiday cheer. There will be seasonal drinks, a silent disco, and indoor animal viewing. Admission is $9 and free for members. Or opt for the VIP package ($20 and $10 for members) and get to sample drinks from five local breweries and wineries.

Dec. 3-19 | Sound of Music, Des Moines Playhouse
Let your heart sing as you watch one of the best-loved musicals of all time, The Sound of Music. You can watch the event in person or online. Tickets start at $29.

Dec. 3, 10, 17 | Holiday Promenade, Historic East Village
The annual Holiday Promenade will return to the Historic East Village for five Fridays bursting with holiday cheer. Holiday Promenade will be an exciting celebration full of holiday-themed activities, entertainment, shopping, and family-friendly fun. Historic East Village retailers, restaurants, and attractions are encouraged to remain open until 9 p.m. each Friday.

Dec. 3, 4, 11, 17, 18 | Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, Pella
Experience the Christmas magic of a horse-drawn carriage ride through the charming streets of Pella. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for kids 12 and under.

Dec. 3, 10, 17 | Drop-in Playdates & Perks, Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library
Interested in making new friends for you and the kids? Drop in to the library to enjoy some coffee, the company of other adults, and playtime for your kiddos! 

Dec. 4 | Wreath Making Class, Jasper Winery
Who’s ready for a crafternoon with friends? Yes, please!! Head to Jasper Winery to create your own holiday wreath. Tulipsis Floral will be providing instruction and materials for you to build a wreath on an 18-inch metal frame. You can sign up for one of three 1.5 hour classes available at 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm. Tickets are $75 and include all materials, instruction, and of course, a glass of wine! Charcuterie will be available for purchase through Smorgas-Boards.

Dec. 4 | Dazzling in the District, Ankeny
2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Bundle up the family for holiday fun in Ankeny. There will be shopping specials, crafts, mini photo sessions, and a scavenger hunt. Stay for the tree lighting and fireworks at 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 6 | Little Lotus Yoga, Johnston Public Library
6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Enjoy playful yoga poses combined with picture books, crafts, and other age-appropriate props to spark your child’s love of yoga. This program is designed for children ages 4-10 and their parent or guardian. The class is free, but registration is required.

Dec. 7, 14, 21 | Imagination Station, Valley Community Center
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Get crafty with your kids (without any mess in your house). Each week you’ll make a different winter craft. It’s a great activity to keep little ones and preschoolers busy this winter. 

Dec. 13 | Storytime with Ruby the Reading Red Panda, Blank Park Zoo
11 a.m.
Join Ruby’s storytime in person at the Zoo! They will read a story and you will meet a special live ambassador animal from the Zoo’s education department. The event is free for members or with paid Zoo admission. You can also join in virtually at 11:45 a.m. with EveryStep for a special bilingual storytime. They’ll read a story in a different language and then read it again in English. Check the link to view the log-in instructions.

Dec. 12 | Adventure Playmates, Quail Cove Park
3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Reenact this beloved story on a hike through obstacles around the park to find a bear! Please be sure to wear appropriate cold-weather gear. After the hike, stay for storytime and warm, non-caffeinated tea will be provided. Cost is $10.

Dec. 15 | Home Free Warmest Winter Tour, Des Moines Civic Center
7:30 p.m.
This show is guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit. Enjoy the all-vocal country group Home Free as they showcase festive songs and some of their own original music. With tickets starting at $19.50, this would make a great date.

Dec. 17-18 | Tonic Sol-fa, Hoyt Sherman Place
Music invigorates the season. Enjoy this vocal performance in one of Des Moines’ most beautiful theaters. Tickets start at $37.50.

Dec. 27-29 | Life-Size Candyland, Waukee Public Library
Make winter break extra fun with giant candy fun. The library’s front room will be transformed into a life-sized Candyland game board, and you may even meet some of your favorite game characters. Registration is required for a 30-minute time slot to attend.


 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.

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Content Coordinator Megan doesn’t really fall into any one mom category. With three kids from ages 5 to 12, she’s been a working mom and a stay-at-home mom. She’s breastfed and bottle-fed. She’s kept kids on strict sleeping schedules in their own beds and also embraced the benefits of co-sleeping. She’s a big believer in finding what works for you and your kiddo (and it’s often different for each kid). Megan is an Iowa native and lives in Ankeny with her husband Darren. They love to travel and are often planning their next road trip (even it’s a year away). They also enjoy entertaining and are famous among their friends for throwing big bashes to celebrate the Olympic Games. But her everyday life is mostly comprised of playdates, trips to the park, and trying to stay ahead of the never-ending laundry pile.    

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