It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas music is playing on the radio, holiday lights glow around town, and everyone is wondering if we’ll have a white Christmas. The month of December is packed with holiday events including Santa sightings, caroling, holiday lights, and more in and around Des Moines. It really is a magical season!
Send us an email if we missed anything and we will add it to the list!
December 2016 events and activities
December 1 | Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, Des Moines Civic Center
Tickets: starting at $24
December 1 | Light the Plaza, Aasheim Plaza, 8575 University Blvd., Clive
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Details: Caroling, hot cocoa, cookies, and Santa
December 1, 8, 15 | Jingle in the Junction, Valley Junction
5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Details: More than 150,000 twinkling lights, free horse and trolley rides, Santa, caroling, and more.
December 1 – January 1, 2017 | Jolly Holiday Lights, Adventureland, Altoona, IA 50009
5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: $10 per car; $20 per limo/minibus; $45 per chartered bus
December 1 – 24 | Santa’s Wonderland, 1000 Bass Pro Drive Northwest, Altoona
Details: Free photo with Santa, crafts, and activities
December 1 – 11 | The Polar Express, Science Center of Iowa and Blank Dome Theater
See website for times and ticket prices
December 2 | Waukee Winterfest, Downtown Waukee Triangle District
Details: Tree lighting, Santa, cocoa and cookies, carolers, and more
December 2 – 4 | The Holly & The Ivy Home Tour, Salisbury House & Gardens 4025 Tonawanda Drive, Des Moines
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $20 general; $18 members; $5 ages 6-12
December 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18 | Santa Express, Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
Admission: $18. Advanced tickets required.
December 3 | Cupcake Addict’s Winter Show, 8705 Chambery Blvd, Johnston
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: shop handmade items and enjoy coffee, cider, and snacks
December 3 | Living History Farms Family Christmas, Living History Farms, Urbandale
2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Details: horse-drawn wagon rides, crafts, cookie decorating, Santa, and more
Admission: starting at $4.50
December 3 | Santa and His Elf Visit the Y, Walnut Creek Family YMCA, 948 73rd Street, Windsor Heights
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Details: Take pictures with Santa, buy a Christmas tree, and enjoy cookies and hot cocoa
December 3 | St Theresa Church Ladies Annual STARS Bazaar!, St. Theresa Catholic Church, Des Moines
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: Breakfast with Santa (reservation required) as well as vendors, cookie walk, raffle, and lunch
December 3 | Christmas in Uptown, Ankeny
7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: Santa and Mrs. Claus, Belgian waffle breakfast, treasure hunt, treats, and free horse-drawn wagon rides
December 4 | Light Up Urbandale, Olsted House 4010 70th St., Urbandale
2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Details: Tour the Olsted House, take a family photo, enjoy cookies and cocoa, kids activities, and more
December 4 | Grimes Holiday Celebration, Grimes Community Complex, 410 SE Main St, Grimes
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Details: Santa, face painting, crafts, cookies, and cocoa
December 4 | Celebration of Lights, Ashworth Road Baptist Church
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
December 5 | Glow Skate Night, Brenton Skating Plaza
5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Details: Skate under the stars while Absolute Music Service plays your favorite Christmas songs.
Admission: Skate rental is free! Admission: $6; adults, $3.75; children 5-12; free for children 5 and under
December 8, 9, 10, 11 | Ballet Des Moines, The Nutcracker, Hoyt Sherman Place
7 p.m. with additional 1 p.m. performance on December 10, 11
Tickets starting at $24.
December 9 | Hansel and Gretel, Des Moines Community Playhouse
9:30 a.m.; 10:45 a.m.; 1:30 a.m.
An interactive theater shows for children ages 4-6
December 9 | Family Night at Science Center of Iowa
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
December 10 | Pajama Party & Book Reading, Ephemera Design
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Details: A cozy story time for ages 2 to 7. Kids will enjoy a craft and breakfast treats.
Tickets: $25; RSVP required
December 10, 11, 17, 18 | Pony Express to Santa, Jester Park Equestrian Center
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: Ages 2 to 12 ride a pony to meet Santa and his sleigh. Enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, a family craft, and games.
Admission: $20 per child and $5 per adult who joins on the wagon ride
December 10 & 17 | Santa at the Zoo, Blank Park Zoo
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Details: Take a photo with Santa, write a letter to the North Pole, and more
Admission: starting at $8
December 13 | Jolly Jump, Pump It Up, Urbandale
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Admission: $10 preregistered; $12 day of event. Reservation required
December 16 & 17 | Downtown Winter Farmers Market, Capital Square and Kaleidoscope at the Hub
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
December 16 | Merry Market, Hotel Kirkwood, Des Moines
4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Details: A holiday market for procrastinators
December 17, 18 | Breakfast with Santa, The Science Center
Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Details: Meet Santa, share your wish list, do a craft, “Science of Winter” program, and more
Admission: starting at $12
December 31 | Noon years Eve Party, Kirkendall Library, Ankeny
December 31 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Stories, craft, dancing, and more
December 31 | Noon Year’s Eve, Pump It Up, Urbandale
10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Details: Balloon drop, noisemakers, blowers, and more.
Admission: $15 at the door, $12 if preregistered. Parents are free