‘Tis the season to see holiday lights in Des Moines. From large-scale installations to neighborhood displays, enjoy the beautiful lights on a chilly night. Hop in your warm car or bundle up to stroll through these magical displays.
The best places to see Holiday lights in Central Iowa
When: November 17 – January 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed November 23 and December 25.
Where: Outlets of Des Moines, 801 Bass Pro Lane NW Altoona
Join them at their new location at the Outlets of Des Moines. This year’s event will feature incredible lights-to-music displays that guests can immerse themselves in as they walk through a winter wonderland while shopping for friends and family. The lights are closed on November 23 and December 25.
When: November 21 to January 8
Where: Charles Gabus Memorial Tree Park
Bundle up and enjoy a walk through the park near the Urbandale library. The park is lit with more than 50,000 holiday lights and features a large custom-built train, larger-than-life ornamental displays, an ice-skating rink, and holiday-themed events all season long.
When: December 9, 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: 225 North Ave., Norwalk
Fellowship Community Church hosts a Synchronized Lights & Live Nativity featuring more than 60,000 LED lights synchronized to Christmas music. Other features include a live nativity featuring real animals and free cookies and hot chocolate brought right to your warm car. All donations received will go to needy families in the area.
When: November 24 – December 31
Where: Living History Farms, Urbandale
Over 700 feet of dancing light tunnels. Larger-than-life 3D light sculptures of dinosaurs, reindeer & polar bears. Experience GIANT emojis, a world of snowflakes, and guitar-playing Santas just to start. Drive-thru so much more in over a mile of lights dancing in synch to music.
When: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in December, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Where: 1407 University Blvd., Ames
With a wide variety of dazzling light installations throughout 17 acres of outdoor gardens, this walk-through light show includes popular favorites, as well as fun new surprises.
When: December 1 through January 1 Dusk to 10 p.m.
Where: 2200 Beaver Ave., Des Moines
Check out this impressive outdoor light display synchronized to music, which you can listen to by tuning in on your radio (check the yard signs outside the church for the station number). You can also sit in the south parking lot and listen along as you watch the light display. New this year, a living nativity on December 9 & 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
When: Friday & Saturday nights, Thanksgiving – Christmas
Where: Picard Park, Indianola
Check out this drive-thru event in Indianola. All free-will donations go to Kiya Koda Humane Society, Helping Hand Pantry, Heal House, and Welift.
When: Nov 24, 5 p.m.
Where: Madison County Courthouse, Winterset
Head to the courthouse district over Thanksgiving weekend to enjoy food, window displays, free horse-drawn carriage, and live entertainment as well as a lighted parade at 7:15 p.m.
Historic Valley Junction
When: Through January 1 from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Where: Fifth Street and Railroad Avenue, West Des Moines
The charm of historic Valley Junction really comes out during the holidays. Enjoy over 100,000 lights and displays and be sure to come early to eat dinner and visit the over 150 specialty shops, restaurants, and services before the lights come on. Valley Junction also hosts a few fun holiday events in December, check them out here.
When: November 25 – January 1, 2024
Where: 301 South 11th Ave W; Newton, Iowa
Don’t miss one of Central Iowa’s largest free light displays featuring thousands of twinkling lights and more than 50 lighted displays organized by the City of Newton and Friends of Newton Parks.
When: Fridays–Sundays, November 25 – December 23
Where: 32835 610th Ave, Cambridge
Enjoy holiday lights, brunch with Santa, and winter scenes in the Corn Pool area. Take photos at several staged locations, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride or train ride weather permitting. Check the calendar for times and ticketing information. Tickets can be pre-purchased, but walk-ins are also available.
Family and Neighborhood Lights Displays
When: Early December – December 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: S.E. Richland Court, Ankeny
During the holiday season, Richland Court in Ankeny transforms into Gingerbread Lane to delight children and adults alike. Every weekend, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be collecting canned goods for the Food Bank of Iowa. Visit their Facebook page for schedule updates and more information.
When: Early December – December 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Where: SE Rio Cir.
Take a trip down memory lane where this cul-de-sac tells the story of Frosty the Snowman.
When: Until December 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Ashby and Wallace Avenues, east and west of Beaver Avenue
About 50 homes compete for the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association’s bragging rights and you can take advantage of the stiff competition. New and exciting displays, as well as beautiful classics, are a must-see for many families in Des Moines.
When: Christmas Eve
Where: Waterbury Road in Des Moines
Luminaries line the sidewalks of Waterbury Road on Christmas Eve. It’s magical to drive down the streets!
When: Thru January 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Recommended streets include South of Hickman Road, Franklin Avenue, Marylynn Drive, and 72nd St
Approximately 120 homes participate in Windsor Heights Foundation’s annual holiday lighting contest. You’ll want to gather up the family and drive by to check out what all the homeowners have come up with this year.
Venzke Animated Christmas Display
When: Through January 1, dusk to 9 p.m.
Where: 1335 N.E. Milan Ave in Ankeny, just off of 36th Street
Everyone around Ankeny loves the private residence of the Venzke’s. New and different each year, some favorites you may see include Frosty the Snowman, a flying cardinal, a skiing snowman, a Times Square ball drop, and/or Iowa State basketball and football players.
Northwest Beaver Drive and Lower Beaver Road, Des Moines
Check out this impressive outdoor light display near the High Trestle Trail. There are tons of gigantic inflatable decorations like Santa and a polar bear to accompany the light displays. It’s a quick drive North on Beaver Avenue if you’re already looking at lights in that neighborhood.
1801 N.W. Morningside Dr. Grimes
This is a can’t-miss-display of flashing and dancing lights set to music played over your radio. Every year is a little bit different with new lights and new songs that play for over 20 minutes. It’s a neighborhood favorite!
Head to 1832 SE Hillside Dr in Ankeny from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to see a synchronized light show. Tune in to 95.5 to listen to family-friendly holiday songs.
Check out this family Christmas light show at 1023 NW 32nd St, Ankeny. Tune in to 94.7 and listen to a variety of songs all synced to the display.
Where are your favorite places to see Christmas lights in Des Moines?
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.