Things to do in Des Moines in May 2024


MAY EVENTS DES MOINESMay is the kick-off to our favorite festivals and farmers markets. Cinco de Mayo, BaconFest, CelebrAsian, Tulip Time, and Downtown Farmers Market are all returning. Enjoy Mother’s Day around town and get out and enjoy spring.

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 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 get to meet a special live ambassador animal from the Zoo’s education department.

1st Thursday of the Month | Toddler Tales, Jester Park Nature Center
Let your imagination run wild with this nature-themed story time. Hear a story followed by the naturalist’s choice of an activity such as an animal encounter, puppets, or a craft. This event is designed for ages 3 and up.

Once a Month on Wednesdays | Knee-High Naturalists, Jester Park Nature Center
Are you ready to get outside and explore? Come and hear a story followed by some outdoor fun! As naturalists, you will hike, investigate, and navigate the trails and grounds of Jester Park as you learn what makes the outdoors such an amazing place. Dress to be outside. Cost is free; registration is required.

First and Third Fridays | New Moms Postpartum Support Group, Waukee Wellness & Chiropractic
A safe and welcoming space where you can connect with other new moms who are going through similar experiences.

Things to do in Des Moines in May 2024

Through May 27 | 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: $25, $21/member; Off-peak prices: $23, $19/member
Age policy: Everyone age 2 and older need a ticket.

May 2-4 | 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 its 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 3-12 | Ivy + Bean The Musical, The Des Moines Playhouse
Seven-year-old Ivy is quiet and loves to read books. Bean is outgoing and would love to be known throughout the world. When the two get together, there’s mischief and laughter at every turn – along with lessons to be learned about the challenges and joys of family, friendship, and love

May 3 | Kids Drop Off Event, Five Monkeys Inc
6 p.m.
How about you drop off the kids(ages 7+) at Five Monkeys Inc to make a gift for a certain someone? Pizza and snacks will be provided. They’ll make a gift and something for themselves to take with them that night.

May 3 | Movies in the Park: The Super Mario Bros., Windsor Heights Colby Park
7:50 p.m.
The movie will start at sunset (est 8:20PM) and refreshments will be served 30 minutes before the movie starts. Bring chairs or a blanket and enjoy a fun evening for the entire family!

May 4 | Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, Iowa State Fairgrounds Agricultural Building
12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Immerse yourself in a bacon lover’s paradise, celebrating the crispy, savory delight that knows no bounds. Engage in the lively atmosphere with live music, bacony foods, and quirky activities.

May 4 | 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 4 | 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, an inflatable obstacle course, learn about stormwater best management practices, sidewalk chalk, and more.

May 4 | 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 4 -5 | May Flea Market, Iowa State Fairgrounds 4H building
Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
You will find antiques, collectibles, home décor, jewelry, purses, bags, and more at the Iowa State Fair Flea Market. This month’s Flea Market will be in the Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building! New merchandise and vendors are added monthly.

May 9 | Spring Sip & Shop, Twisted Vine Brewery
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Enjoy a night of local shopping, specialty cocktails, and craft beer all while enjoying the amazing atmosphere of Twisted Vine’s taproom! 

May 9 – 12 | Spring Garden Festival, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Shop more than 300 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 9, 16, 23, 30 | Summer Concert Series, Jasper Winery
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Bring the whole family or plan a grown-up 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 10 | Inspiring Women of Iowa Event, The Meadows Events & Conference Center
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The eighth annual Inspiring Women of Iowa Event, presented by Lincoln Savings Bank, celebrates women in our community while raising support for Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa.

May 11 | Ankeny Art Center Arts Festival, Uptown Ankeny
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The streets of Uptown will be filled with fine artist vendors, live artistic demonstrations, music, and more!!

May 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 | Baby Animal Days, Center Grove Orchard
9 a.m. – 5 p.m
Experience the joy of playing with a farm-tastic lineup of baby lambs, chicks, goats, bunnies, and many other adorable farm animals, all in a safe and welcoming environment!

May 11 | 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 Columbus Clippers.

May 11 – 12 | Plant Sale Extravaganza, Reiman Gardens
Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Plants for sale include perennials for sun and shade, herbs and vegetables, Iowa natives, woody plants including trees, “Quick Turn” shrubs and Buck roses, container and bedding annuals, houseplants and other topicals, hanging baskets, and All-American Selection (AAS) winners.

May 11 – 12, 18 – 19 | 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 12 | Mother’s Day Brunch, Proudfoot & Bird
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Treat Mom (or yourself!) like the queen she is with a delightful dining experience at Proudfoot and Bird. Their specially crafted Mother’s Day features will showcase mouthwatering dishes bursting with seasonal flavors. 
May 12 | Mother’s Day Bouquet Bar, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
11 a.m. – 3 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 18 | Spring Into Action, Fort Des Moines Park Shelter #1
10 a.m. – noon
Join Blank Park Zoo, Polk County Conservation, and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation as they work together to restore Iowa’s woodland flora. Invasive plant species put pressure on our native woodlands, and they need your help in restoring this habitat.

May 19 | Historic Valley Junction Arts Festival, Valley Junction
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walk through Historic Valley Junction and meet the artists who’ve created original works for this festival. There will be art activities for the kids, live music, and food vendors.

May 19 | Adventureland Opens for the season

May 24 | Last Day of School Party, Little White Schoolhouse
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Ice cream, inflatables, face painting, book fair, and more!

May 24 – 25 | 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 25 | 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 an 1870s-rules baseball game.

May 31 | Uncorked & Unhinged,The District Venue, 1350 SW Vintage Pkwy Ankeny
8 p.m.
Get ready for a wild night of wine, laughter, and uncensored comedy.


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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