Things to do in Des Moines in December 2023


Where the Magic of the Holidays Comes to Life!

Are you ready to jingle all the way to a holiday adventure of epic proportions? Well, you’re invited to a day of yuletide fun at Holiday Hullabaloo 2023!

Holiday Hullabaloo is an indoor, immersive, family-friendly holiday experience that will surprise and delight guests of all ages. It features a wide range of activities and entertainment to mesmerize your entire family.


Join the fun at Holiday Hullabaloo and make memories sure to last a lifetime!

When: November 24 to December 31
Fridays: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sundays: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

December 24
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

December 26 – December 30
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Where: 10320 Hickman Road (where the Woodsmith Store used to be)
Clive, IA 50325

For more information or to purchase tickets:

Other Great Local Holiday Guides

Christmas Tree Farms
Special Holiday Events
Where to See Holiday Lights
Shop Local Gift Ideas
Shop Local Experience Gifts
Where to see Santa in Des Moines

Ongoing Events in Des Moines

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 | 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. 

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

Things to do in December 2023

Dec. 1 | Light Up Polk City, Polk City Square
The holiday lights on The Square will officially be switched on at 6 p.m. Enjoy holiday music, business open houses/tailgates, horse-drawn carriage rides, a fire pit, and special appearances by some very special guests, including Santa!

Dec. 1 – Jan. 7 | Jolly Holiday Lights, Outlets of Des Moines
5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Check out the new location at the Outlets of Des Moines. This year’s event is not a drive-thru and features incredible lights-to-music displays 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.

Dec.1 – Dec. 31 | Winter Wonderlights, Ankeny Uptown
Over 50 animated light displays in and around 6 blocks of SW 3rd Street, in partnership with the City of Ankeny. This magical holiday light experience can be enjoyed on foot, by bicycle, and by car. See more holiday light displays.

Dec. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays | Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show, Reiman Gardens in Ames
5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
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.

Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 | Christkindlmarket, Principal Park
Kick off the month with the ultimate holiday experience. 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.

Through Dec. 31 | Holiday Hullabaloo, 10320 Hickman Rd, Clive
Don’t miss this immersive, family-friendly holiday experience that will surprise and delight guests this holiday season. Enjoy a variety of activities, entertainment, and festivities that will allow you to create some fun holiday hullabaloo and memories.

Dec. 1-17 | All is Calm, Des Moines Playhouse
All Is Calm recalls the remarkable World War I truce between Allied Forces and German soldiers in No Man’s Land on Christmas, 1914 through new arrangements of European carols and war songs.

Dec. 1, 8, 15 | Holiday Promenade, Historic East Village
This festive celebration is 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. 1, 2, 9, 15, 16, 22 | Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, Pella
Experience the Christmas magic of a horse-drawn carriage ride through the charming streets of Pella. Tickets are $5 per person, kids 3 and under, free.

Dec. 2 | Jingle Bell Stroll, Gray’s Lake Park
2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Embrace the holiday spirit and create magical memories at the Jingle Bell Stroll. Event highlights include a walk along a festive holiday-themed loop, games and craft stations, pictures with Santa Claus, festive holiday music, and delicious hot chocolate.

Dec. 2 | Local Holiday Maker’s Market, Valley Community Center
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Give meaningful, locally crafted gifts to your loved ones this holiday season! Grab a cup of coffee, a latte, or tea at the café and shop the local maker’s market. From jewelry to honey, dog biscuits to home décor – with over 80 local vendors, there’s something for everyone.

Dec. 2 – 3 | Red Acre Barn Holiday Market, Red Acre Barn
Bub Olive is hosting a Holiday Market at Red Acre Barn in Prole, IA

Dec. 2 | Holly & Ivy, Salisbury House
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tour the grand mansion adorned in its holiday best as each room will be decorated by some of the most talented local interior designers, florists, home stagers, and creative individuals. Enjoy a holiday-filled day with live music on the Salisbury House custom Steinway D piano, a visit from Santa, a professional holiday photo pop-up, holiday craft and interactive workshops, and more.

Dec. 2 | Windsor Wonderland: Meet Santa’s Reindeer, 6900 School St, Windsor
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m
Come say “Hello” to Donner, Dasher, and all of Santa’s helpers!

Dec. 2 | Holidays at the Town Center, Johnston Town Center
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This annual celebration of holiday spirit features the community tree lighting, an exciting visit with Santa and his reindeer, free ice skating, samples from local businesses, and more!

Dec. 2 | Once Upon a Christmas Mouse, Ankeny Kirkendall Public Library
2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Drop in to enjoy a fun mouse activity in Meeting Room ABC and a short movie in the Children’s Program Room. 

Dec. 2 | Dazzling in the District, Ankeny
2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Spend the day checking off your gift list, enjoying a special ice carving from Chef Austin Bailey, and of course games and chances to win some awesome prizes! Tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. in Town Square Park followed by fireworks.

Dec. 3 | Jingle & Mingle: Toy Drive and Cookie Swap Spectacular, Big Grove Brewery
12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
The Supply Hive and Big Grove Brewery will come together to host a Toy Drive and Cookie Swap in support of the Give Joy Toy Shop. This event aims to spread holiday cheer and support families in need by offering them a magical shopping experience at 90% off retail prices.

Dec. 8 | Train Ride at Outlets of Des Moines, Outlets of Des Moines
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
View Jolly Holiday Lights like never before in a trackless train ride around the Outlets of Des Moines! Tickets are $5 per rider and can be purchased at the event. Nothing Bundt Cakes will also be selling bundt cakes with 10% of sales donated to Make-A-Wish Iowa.

Dec. 8 – 9 | Luminary Hike, Grandview Park
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Embrace the enchantment of winter as we illuminate the trails at Grandview Park for a captivating Luminary Hike. No registration is required for this free event. Just bundle up, gather your friends and family, and celebrate the beauty of the season together.

Dec. 8 | Cocoa and Crafts, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Nothing warms your body and soul like the lush conservatory, hot chocolate, and crafting! While enjoying Dome After Dark, indulge in a full hot chocolate bar to create a delicious treat to sip on while you create two botanical-themed crafts perfect for this winter.

Dec. 9 | Peppermint Trail, The Avenues, Roosevelt districts
Along the Peppermint Trail, you will find discounts on holiday goods, drinks, and sweet treats for shoppers, service projects, giveaways, photo opportunities, pop-up shops, and more surprises. Carolers from Roosevelt High School and Plymouth United Church of Christ will be traveling through the district during the daytime hours.

Dec. 10 | Waukee Winter Wonderland, People’s Bank 1185 SE University Ave Waukee
9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
This free event features Santa, LIVE reindeer, hot chocolate and cookies, and more!

Dec. 13 | Hike and Hot Cocoa, Jester Park
4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
A cold December day is the perfect time to make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy National Cocoa Day. Take a brisk walk around Discovery Pond and end with a mug of hot cocoa around a fire.

Dec. 16 | Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience: Holly Jolly Holiday Tour, Hoyt Sherman Place
Celebrating the holiday season with a passionate and melodic, big band-driven traditional pop concert. As the lead singer of Tonic Sol-fa — and an Emmy winner — Shaun reworks classic Christmas fare with a charismatic charm. 

Dec. 21 | Winter Solstice Pajama Party, Reiman Gardens Ames
11 a.m. 
Wear your fuzziest PJs and bring a snuggly blanket with your winter gear for this fun family event. Registration required.

Dec. 21 | Winter Solstice Hike, Jester Park
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Celebrate winter’s official arrival on the shortest day of the year on a hike with a naturalist. 
Dec. 21 | Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Des Moines Civic Center
7 p.m.
See all your favorite characters from the beloved TV classic on stage this holiday season. 
Dec. 22, 23 | Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Des Moines Civic Center 
Immerse yourself in the dreams you had as a kid while your children enjoy the spectacular show in this Broadway-style production infused with contemporary circus arts.
Dec. 23 | Lights at the Museum, Des Moines Children’s Museum
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Play under the holiday lights and enjoy special activities. Admission at the door. $10 for ages 1 – 10, free for infants, kids over age 10, adults, and members.

Dec. 27-30 | 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 on December 27. All other dates will be first-come, first-served, with a limit of 3 groups at a time.

 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, locations, and other information before heading to an event or activity, since it may change.


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