Things to do in Des Moines in May 2023


Des Moines May EventsMay means it’s time to get outside and enjoy annual events like CelebrAsian, Tulip Time, or Wild Lights at Blank Park Zoo. Or, check out floral events for Mother’s Day at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens or Reiman Gardens. And of course, monthly events at your favorite library, Get Air, and more are always there to fill in the gaps!

Ongoing Events in Des Moines

Wednesdays | Arts & Snacks, Johnston Public Library
3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Plan an after-school art session at the library. Kids in grades K-5 can drop in for a variety of art activities on Wednesday afternoons. All supplies will be provided as well as light snacks and beverages.

Tuesday & Thursdays | 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!

Thursdays | 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.

Thursdays | Tot Town, Valley Community Center
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Bring the little ones out to play for a morning at the Valley Community Center. This event is free!

Thursdays | Thursday Night Fun, Clive Public Library

6:15 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Families with children of various ages will delight in making memories during the Thursday night programs. These programs are free, and pre-registration is necessary. Please register each child who will be attending the programs where registration is required. Go online, call, or stop in the library to register.

2nd Monday of the Month | Storytime with Ruby the Reading Red Panda, Blank Park Zoo
11 a.m.
Once a month, join in for Ruby’s Story Time at the Zoo! Each month they will read a story and you’ll meet a special live ambassador animal from the Zoo’s education department.

1st Friday of the Month | First Fridays in the East Village
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The shops, businesses, restaurants, and bars will showcase products and fun events. Parking is free! 

Things to do in Des Moines in May 2023

May 1 – May 29 | 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. Peak prices (April 1-May 29): $25, $21/member; Off-peak prices: $23, $19/member
Age policy: Everyone age 2 and older need a ticket.

May 2 | Bike-a-Palooza!, Central Library

4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Kick-off National Bike Month with DMPL! Local author Rebecca Janni will host a storytime followed by a bike rodeo. Then make art using bike parts, the Des Moines Street Collective will teach about bicycle parts and safety, and a DMPD officer will hand out bike helmets!

May 4-6 | 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 5-7 | How I Became a Pirate, The Des Moines Playhouse
Braid Beard and his mates enlist young Jeremy Jacob as they look for the perfect spot to bury their treasure. The whole family will love this delightful and swashbuckling musical adventure.

May 6 | Stomp Out Stigma Walk and Fundraiser, Valley Community Center
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This FREE family-friendly event supports WDMCS youth. Founded by Please Pass the Love, Stomp Out Stigma (SOS), originated as a mental health club led by students, empowering them to let everyone know it’s okay to not be okay. Bring the whole family to enjoy a fun walk, DJ, kids’ arts & crafts, yard games, fire, police truck tours, food for purchase, and more!

May 6 | Iowa State Fair Flea Market, Iowa State Fair
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Find antiques, collectibles, home décor, jewelry, purses, bags and more at the Iowa State Fair Flea Market in the newly renovated 4-H Exhibits Building. 

May 6 | Cinco De Mayo Festival, Valley Junction
12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Celebrate the Mexican heritage of many railroad workers during the establishment years of Valley Junction. Enjoy Mexican foods, artwork, live music, dancing, and family activities.

May 6 | Kites on the Green, Johnston Commons
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This family-fun event is 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.

May 6 | 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 13 | Stepmom Brunch, Motley School Tavern
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
A casual and fun morning to celebrate all women in stepfamilies. Blended families can be complicated and stressful. Connect with other women who understand the unique challenges of blending families.

May 13 | Spring Makers, Bakers & Brews, Peace Tree – Des Moines Branch
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

This local Makers, Bakers & Brews popup market returns just in time for Mother’s Day. Weather permitting, vendors will be set up both indoors and outdoors. Enjoy a beverage and check out some amazing local makers.
May 13 | Spring Garden Festival presented by Country Landscapes, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Shop more than 350 plant varieties hand-selected by Botanical Garden horticulturists including unique and tried-and-true varieties grown at the Botanical Garden. Don’t miss gently used garden and plant-themed items like planters, garden tools, and décor.

May 11, 18, 25 | 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 13 | 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 Toledo Mud Hens.

May 14 | Des Moines Makers Market & Bar Hop
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Find vendors, drinks, and food at Big Grove Brewery, Exile Brewing, and Lua Brewing. Products will be a wide variety of handmade goods such as jewelry, knit goods, home decor, metalworking, prints, soap, paintings, candles and more.

May 14 | Mother’s Day Bouquet Bar, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
In the spirit of Mother’s Day, create a personalized petite bouquet for or with your mom. This drop-in style activity allows you to work at your own pace. Walk-up registration only. Available while supplies last. Admission to the Garden is not included.

May 14 | Mother’s Day at Reiman Gardens, Ames
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Free admission to all mothers on Mother’s Day. Visitors can also discover live butterflies from around the globe in the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing, explore the tropical Hughes Conservatory, and browse the Gift Shop filled with unique and sustainable items.

May 15-27 | Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Scavenger Hunt: Awesome Activists!, South Side Library
Visit South Side Library and try their Scavenger Hunt! Drop in and search the library for all of the items on the sheet and win a prize. For youth ages 3 and up.
May 19 | Food Truck Friday, Campbell Park
5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Don’t miss Food Truck Friday at Campbell Park in Clive for food, fun, and free live music by Damon Dotson.

May 20-21 | Renaissance Faire, Sleepy Hollow
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The Renaissance Faire at Sleepy Hollow is a magical experience for both young and old. When you enter the gates for the first time you will go back in time to an era when kings and queens ruled, knights jousted, and the arts came alive!

May 21 | 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 27-28 | CelebrAsian, Western Gateway Park
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Celebrate Asian Heritage Month and 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. 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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