There’s no time like the present to start a new holiday tradition! Whether you are wanting to get away with the family or spend a weekend with friends, December is the perfect month to start something special. To help you out, we picked eight annual December Des Moines events that make for a fun, holiday outing year after year.


Jolly Holiday Lights. Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Iowa. #thisisiowa #jollyholidaylights #desmoines #christmaslights

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Jolly Holiday Lights
Adventureland Park
November 23, 2018 – December 29, 2018 (closed December 24 & 25)
5:30 - 10 p.m. every day

$20 per car
A fun and easy way to get in the holiday spirit, stay warm and support a good cause. Located at Adventureland, Jolly Holiday Lights is a 2.5 mile ride through more than 100 light displays. 100% of your proceeds go to supporting Make-A-Wish® Iowa! Since it began in 1995, the event has raised enough money to grant more than 700 wishes to Iowa kids!


Holly & Ivy event at the Salisbury House #hollyandivy2015 #salisburyhousedsm

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Holly & Ivy Home Tour
Salisbury House & Gardens & other locations
November 30, 2018 - December 1, 2018
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily
$20 standard admission

If you love holiday decorations, then the Holly & Ivy Holiday Home Tour is the perfect excuse to get out and enjoy them!  The Salisbury House and other unique locations across the metro will be decorated in holiday flowers, décor and furnishings. You can also enjoy live music at the Salisbury House and catch Santa walking around too. Other locations on the tour include Drake University Alumni House, The Wallace House, West End Architectural Salvage, and the Central Presbyterian Church Holiday Market.  All proceeds of Holly & Ivy benefit Salisbury House Foundation to preserve Salisbury House and its collections.


Christkindlmarket Des Moines

Christkindlmarket Des Moines
Cowles Commons
November 30, 2018 – December 2, 2018
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday & Saturday; 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday

Christkindlmarket is a German-inspired Christmas market held at Cowles Commons in downtown Des Moines. The market will showcase European foods, products and activities that will educate and entertain attendees! Shop vendors from across the region and enjoy live music, and a beer tent serving up European-style beverages. This is the second year for this family-friendly event in Des Moines, but Christkindlmarket’s happen all over the world!

Jingle in the Junction Historic Valley Junction

Jingle in the Junction
Historic Valley Junction
November 29, December 6 & 13, 2018
5 – 9 p.m.

Shop local at Jingle in the Junction in Historic Valley Junction! The district is decorated with more than 150,000 twinkling lights and ice sculptures. You can catch a free horse and trolley ride, listen to carolers, and visit Santa too! Browse local boutiques, eateries and shops while you enjoy the holiday sights and sounds.

Ballet Des Moines Presents the Nutcracker
Hoyt Sherman Place
December 7-9, 2018
5 performances – Times Vary
Tickets start at $22

Don't miss the magical tradition as Ballet Des Moines performs The Nutcracker at Hoyt Sherman Place. As one of the most famous ballets in the world, Ballet Des Moines does it perfectly. More than 300 local student dancers get to be a part of the show along with the resident professional company.

Winter Downtown Farmers’ Market
Capital Square
December 14-15, 2018
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Winter Downtown Farmers' Market is the perfect spot to grab sweet holiday treats, décor, and jewelry as well as your produce and other Farmers’ Market staples. Find unique gifts and inspiration for your holiday gatherings. Soak it up while it lasts – this will be your last chance to shop the market until the regular Downtown Farmers’ Market returns in May.

Tonic Sol-Fa

Tonic Sol-fa Holiday Show
Hoyt Sherman Place
December 14, 2018
7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Tickets start at $35.50; Children 12 under tickets star at $22 
This a cappella ensemble has been bringing their holiday show to Des Moines for a few years now and that’s because no matter how many times you’ve seen them you will want to see them again! Their Emmy Award winning arrangements will hit the stage of Hoyt Sherman Place for two nights in December. The entire family will enjoy listening to their favorite holiday tunes sung by Tonic Sol-Fa.

Breakfast with Santa
Science Center of Iowa
December 15 & 16, 2018
8 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. Sunday
Tickets: Member Child: $12; Member Adult: $20; Non-Member Child: $15; Non-Member Adult: $23

Make your way to the Science Center of Iowa for food, fun, science and Santa! Enjoy breakfast, crafts and storytime with Santa; then enjoy "The Science of Winter" demonstrations from the Science Learning Team. Make a day of it and explore the Science Center after the holiday activities.

Of course there are plenty of other holiday events to enjoy too! Catch Santa at the Zoo, and the annual Family Christmas at Living History Farms. Find your favorites and start making your plans! You can catch a long list of Des Moines holiday events here.