Things to do in Des Moines in November 2023

This article is sponsored by Polk County Conservation.

November Events Guide Des MoinesWe are thrilled to partner with Polk County Conservation to bring you this monthly event guide. 

November 19 | Fall Makers Market, Jester Park Nature Center 12130 NW 128th St, Granger
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Talk about a unique shopping experience! Snag locally crafted goods to check off your holiday gift list at one of central Iowa’s most beautiful parks. This year the Makers Market at Jester Park is expanding to include two dozen more vendors. Shop for candles, jewelry, pottery, soft goods, art, cards, and so much more from 59 different local business owners at three different buildings across the park.

While you’re navigating the park, be sure to take in the Nature Center’s exhibits, enjoy a hike on the lovely nature trails, or take in the lake view from the Lodge’s large deck.

The Fall Makers Market is a FREE admission, family-friendly event.

For more local gift-buying ideas visit our Holiday Market guide for a list of more chances to shop local for the holidays.

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!

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.

Things to Do in Des Moines November 2023

Oct. 27 – Nov. 5 | Seussical – Theatre for Young Audiences Version, Des Moines Community Playhouse
The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing Whos, including Jojo, a Who child sent off to military school for thinking too many “thinks.” Horton faces a double challenge – not only must he protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping, and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family, and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.

Nov. 2 | Sushi Class, Waterfront Seafood Market
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Hands-on sushi-making class. Introducing Chuck Norris roll, Sweetheart Roll, nigiri, temaki, and a “chopped challenge“.

Nov. 3 | Shania Twain – Queen of Me Tour, Wells Fargo Arena
7:30 p.m.
Five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning legend and the best-selling female artist in country music history Shania Twain brings her national tour to Des Moines.

Nov. 4 | ISU Insect Zoo, East Side Library
10 a.m.
The Iowa State University’s Insect Zoo is bringing some of its creepiest bugs to the East Side Library. Get up close and personal with 100 species of our multi-legged friends, beetles, millipedes, walking sticks, roaches, scorpions, tarantulas, and more!

Nov. 7 | A Homespun Christmas Open House, West Des Moines
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Join Homespun Elegance for their fourth annual holiday shopping event. The store will be closed during the day as they transform it into a winter wonderland for your shopping pleasure. Be the first to shop the new Christmas items from over 30 handmade Iowans.
Nov. 9 | Fall Cookie Workshop, Hiland Park Bakery
6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Each guest will receive 8 almond sugar cookies to decorate, icings, sprinkles, instruction, and a box to take your goodies home.

Nov. 10 | Champagne & Mistletoe, Ankeny Uptown
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Explore Uptown businesses as they kick off the holiday season. You’ll find a toast, a treat, and special deals at participating businesses. Shops will be open late, carriage rides through the Winter Wonderlights displays from 5pm to 7pm, and holiday sips and treats.

Nov. 10 | Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour, Civic Center
6 p.m.
Dance, sing, and learn with Blippi and special guest Meekah as they discover what makes different cities unique and special. Will there be monster trucks, excavators, and garbage trucks galore? You bet! 

// RELATED CONTENT: Check out more Holiday activities and events happening in Des Moines  //

Nov. 12 | Mom to Mom Flea Market, Iowa State Fairgrounds
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Looking for a Mom’s day out? Find great deals on resale children’s clothes, toys, books, and so much more sold directly from other moms.

Nov. 13 -16 | Photos with Santa, Paws and Pints
Get your pup ready for their holiday card and take photos with Santa in partnership with the very talented Arf & Wag team at Paws & Pints.

Nov. 13 | Adam Sandler – The I Missed You Tour, Wells Fargo Arena
7:30 p.m.
Adam Sandler is back on the road. The show is for mature audiences, ages 16 and up.

Nov. 15 | Charcuterie 101, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Enjoy a fun and tasty workshop, led by Boards by Heidi, to learn the tips and tricks to make your own beautiful charcuterie boards. All ingredients and materials will be provided for everyone’s board.

Nov. 16, 30 | Jingle in the Junction, Historic Valley Junction
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
The holiday season starts in Valley Junction as many businesses extend their hours on Thursday nights to give you more time to find the perfect holiday gift, enjoy dinner, and enjoy three blocks of free entertainment on 5th Street under the glow of over 100,000 holiday lights.

Nov. 17-19 | Downtown Winter Farmers Market, Court District Downtown Des Moines
Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The Winter Market will feature late-season produce, holiday gifts, baked goods, and more. The Spark DSM Minority Business Incubator will also have vendors at The Winter Market.

Nov. 17 | Mixology: Breeds and Brews, Science Center of Iowa
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Why do cats purr? Why are dogs’ noses always wet? Learn more about our fuzzy friends from our new traveling exhibit.

Nov. 17, 24 | Holiday Promenade, Historic East Village 
Holiday Promenade is an exciting celebration 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.

Nov. 19 | Locally Grown, Raised, & Created Fall Makers Market, Jester Park Nature Center
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Support local small businesses in the community this season while shopping at the Fall Makers Market at the scenic Jester Park Nature Center.

Nov. 19 | Drop-In Holiday Porch Pot Workshop, Ted Lare Design & Build Garden Center
12 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Come make a beautiful holiday pot to decorate your doorstep through the holiday season. You will select a container and then customize it with your choice of fresh evergreen boughs, pine cones, berries, and other holiday accents.

Nov. 19, 23 Clive/Nov 26 Ankeny | Ceramic Tree Event, Glazed Expressions in Ankeny or Clive
Remember those ceramic trees at Grandma’s house? Recreate your own with a variety of ceramic trees and specialty glazes. Grab your friends, throw on an ugly sweater, and make it a fun day out.

Nov. 23-26 | Disney on Ice, Wells Fargo Arena
We love this Thanksgiving weekend tradition in Des Moines. This year, the show is Magic in the Stars. 

Nov. 24-26 | Festival of Trees and Lights, Iowa Events Center
This annual event is the largest fundraiser for Blank Children’s Hospital and is a central Iowa tradition to kick off the holiday season.

Nov. 25 | Dome After Dark, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Experience the Botanical Garden in a new light! Enjoy the conservatory and Gardeners Show House illuminated with unique and colorful lighting at this family-friendly event.

Nov. 17 – Jan. 7 | Jolly Holiday Lights, Outlets of Des Moines
5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
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.

Nov. 25 | Entirely Kids Day: Playing House, Des Moines Art Center
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Designed for art lovers of any age, Entirely Kids Day: Playing House is inspired by the warmth of home, the joy of play, and the must-see exhibition “Transform Any Room” currently on view at the Art Center.

Nov. 25 | Breakfast with Santa at Holiday Hullabaloo, 10320 Hickman Rd, Clive
8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Children are invited to tell Santa their Christmas wishes and Santa has a special gift for each child. Capture the moment in a photo of your child with Santa. Mrs. Claus will decorate a sugar cookie with each child and read a holiday story.

Nov. 26 | Christmas in Olde Town, Altoona
2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Olde Town Altoona transforms into a bustling winter wonderland for Christmas in Olde Town—a celebration of our community and the holiday season. Load up your sleigh with family and friends and join in for live music, walking tours, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a light show, and a special appearance from the Big Guy himself. All of the family-friendly activities start at 2 p.m. when Santa arrives on a fire truck.

Nov. 30–Dec. 2 | Kerstmarkt: Pella’s Dutch Christmas Market, Molengracht Plaza 700 Main St. Pella, IA
Inspired by outdoor markets in the Netherlands, this cozy market will fill you with holiday cheer.


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


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