Things to do in Des Moines in May 2022


It’s outdoor festival season! From Tulip Time to CelebrAsian, there are a multitude of opportunities for the whole family to experience the food, music, and traditions of many cultures without leaving Iowa. We’re also very excited for the return of local farmers markets

If indoor fun is more your style, we found a free indoor movie at the Des Moines Public Library and a live performance of Pippi Longstocking at the Des Moines Playhouse. And we’re thrilled to see that Hamilton is returning to the Civic Center. Sounds like a great excuse for parents night out!

Things to do in Des Moines in May 2022

May 1 – May 30 | Wild Lights Festival, Blank Park Zoo
7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Enjoy a visually stunning festival of larger-than-life illuminated animal-shaped Asian lanterns. Immerse your family in light and culture in a festival. Advanced tickets: $25 per person; $20 for zoo members. At the door: $30 per person; $25 for zoo members. $72 for a four-pack of tickets.

May 1, 6-8 | Pippi Longstocking, The Des Moines Playhouse
The kids will love this story of a young girl, Pippi Longstocking, who has a big imagination and even bigger adventures. Tickets start at $14.

May 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26, 31 | Toddler Time, Get Air
10 a.m.
Little jumpers get special access to the trampolines on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Admission is $8.99 (free for a parent). It’s a great way to burn some winter energy!

May 4 | Go Public Garden Days, Reiman Gardens in Ames
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Enjoy free admission all day on Wednesday, May 4, as part of the Go Public Garden Days. This is a great opportunity for the whole family to experience a beautiful garden.  

May 5-7 | Tulip Time, Pella
You won’t regret making the drive to Pella (located an hour southeast of Des Moines). This charming Dutch town goes all out for their annual Tulip Time Festival, the first weekend of May. If you want to miss the crowds, head there in the days leading up to the festival, when blooms are at their peak. While you’re there, be sure to get a famous Dutch Letter pastry from Jaarsma Bakery on the square!

May 5, 12, 19, 26 | Caterpillar ClubReiman 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.

May 6, 13, 20, 27 | Drop-in Playdates & Perks, Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Make new friends for you and the kids. Drop into the library to enjoy some coffee, the company of other adults, and playtime for your kiddos! 

May 7 | Cinco De Mayo Festival, Valley Junction
12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Enjoy Mexican foods, artwork, live music, and family activities at the 16th Annual Festival Cinco de Mayo in Historic Valley Junction.

May 7 | Kites on the Green, Johnston Commons
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This family-fun event will be held in the green space near the Johnston Public Library. Visitors can enjoy giant show kite displays, kite fighting, free kite building, bol racing, live music, inflatable obstacle course, learn about stormwater best management practices, sidewalk chalk and more. Learn more here.

May 7 | Downtown Farmers Market, Court Avenue
Head downtown for the return of the Downtown Farmers Market and support local growers, farmers, and artisans. Check out our complete guide to local farmers markets to see what other communities have markets opening this month.

May 7 | Stepmom Brunch, St. Kilda Collective, 333 5th St West Des Moines
9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
A casual and fun morning to celebrate all women in stepfamilies. Blended families can be complicated and stressful. Come be a part of a community of women who want to love, support and encourage you and your family. Connect with other women who understand the unique challenges of blending families.

Register in advance for FREE and let us treat you – your first coffee, tea or other beverage is on us! Questions? Email [email protected] or call/text at (515) 229-9928.

May 7 | Family Movie Party: MOANA, Central Library
1:30 p.m.
Skip the pricey movie theater and take the family to the library for a matinee. The event is free but registration is required.

May 10 | Storytime with Ruby the Reading Red Panda, Blank Park Zoo
11 a.m.
Join Ruby’s storytime in person at the Zoo. Listen to a story and 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.

May 11 | Free Webinar: An Overview of PANDAS, PANS and Childhood-onset OCD
2:30 p.m.
Learn about the history of the discovery of PANDAS and development of PANS, focusing on the clinical features that distinguish these cases from other presentations of pediatric OCD. Presented by: Susan Swedo, MD, Consultative physician, Heartwood PANS/PANDAS Program, Healthy Foundations Group
Registration is required. To register visit:

May 12, 19, 26 | Summer Concert Series, Jasper Winery
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Bring the whole family or plan a grown-ups night out at Jasper Winery. This event is free, and you can bring a picnic or purchase food from onsite food trucks. Plan to bring blankets or lawn chairs. Wine, beer, and sangria are available for purchase. 

May 14 | Iowa Cubs Game, Principal Park
6 p.m.
Head to the ballpark a little early for this game and don’t forget to bring your glove. The outfield will be open for fans to play catch for 15 minutes after the gates open. Stay to watch the Iowa Cubs take on the Omaha Storm Chasers.

May 15 | Historic Valley Junction Arts Festival, Valley Junction
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walk through Historic Valley Junction and meet the artist who’ve created original works for this festival. There will be art activities for the kids, live music, and food vendors.

May 17 – June 5 | Hamilton, Des Moines Civic Center
Don’t throw away your shot to see the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton. This performance follows the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton. It is scored with a blend of hip-hop, jazz, and R&B music. You’re going to want to be in the room where it happens.

May 19 | Outside Story Time, South Side Library
10 a.m.
Bring a blanket or a lawn chair to sit along the library’s sidewalk and listen to stories and music. The kids will also have a chance to play with outdoor activities. In case of rain, program will be held in the Meeting Room. 

May 27-28 | CelebrAsian, Western Gateway Park
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Celebrate Asian Heritage Month with a visit to CelebrAsian 2022. Experience more than a dozen Asian Villages where you can delight all five of your senses with authentic Asian food, educational activities, and live cultural entertainment!

May 28 | Decoration Day & Historic Baseball, Living History Farms
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  
Learn about America’s early Memorial Day traditions. Your family can march in a procession to the town cemetery for a moving pageant of Victorian ceremony and speeches, honoring the Union’s fallen heroes. At 3 p.m., watch the Walnut Hill Bluestockings compete in a 1870s-rules baseball game.


Send us an email if we missed any fun things to do in Des Moines, 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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