We gave you some holiday light ideas to set the mood. Now let’s keep that holiday spirit soaring by tipping you off to some of the best holiday traditions Greater Des Moines has to offer. With events like these, you almost won’t mind that it’s cold outside. And as always, make sure to use #CATCHdsm when chronicling your Des Moines holiday adventures!

Brenton Skating Plaza

Not only is Brenton Skating Plaza a jolly good time for all ages, but thanks to its iconic Christmas tree and glimmering skyline backdrop, it also wins our vote for the most Instagrammable spot in the city during the holidays! There are also solid odds you may stumble across a marriage proposal, as love (and windchill) is definitely in the air this time of year.

Where: 520 Robert Ray Drive, Des Moines  

When: Monday – Thursday, 5:00pm – 9:00pm; Friday/Saturday, noon – 11:00pm; Sunday, noon – 6:00pm

Tickets: $5.50 - $9.00 ($5.00 skate rental)

Brenton Skating Plaza

A Christmas Story, The Musical   

This holiday classic has served as the background to many Christmas mornings spent opening presents in pajamas. But we hear the leg lamp is even more luminescent in person and the flagpole scene is surely a white knuckler. And it’s only appropriate that you eat at a Chinese restaurant beforehand, we recommend the nearby Heavenly Asian Cuisine & Lounge!

Where: Des Moines Playhouse, 831 42nd Street, Des Moines   

When: December 6 - 23

Tickets: $29 - $50


Nothing quite says “holiday whimsy” like this German-inspired Christmas market, which moves from Capitol Square to the larger accommodations of Principal Park this year. Nosh on brats, strudel and soft pretzels, washing it all down with Gluhwein, a traditional German drink prepared from red wine, heated and prepared with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, and sugar. Regional vendors in wooden stalls will be at Christkindlmarket selling everything from pottery and nesting dolls to German sausages and beer steins. A polka band and kid’s area assure a good time will be had for all ages.

Where: Principal Park, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines

When: December 6 – 8 from 11:00am – 9:00pm (5:00pm on Sunday)

Des Moines Christkindlmarket

Santa at the Zoo 

Santa is a busy guy who can be found in many places (we don’t know how he does it!), but what better backdrop to see the big guy than the Blank Park Zoo, surrounded by lions and tigers and (red panda) bears, oh my! Santa comes free with admission to the zoo and comes bearing gifts like cocoa and crafts. Don’t feed the animals…but we all know it’s ok to feed Santa.

Where: Blank Park Zoo, 7401 SW 9th Street, Des Moines

When: December 14 – 15, 10:00am – 2:00pm

Tickets: $7 -$14 (Zoo admission)

Ballet Des Moines Presents: The Nutcracker  

This beloved holiday classic graces the beautiful Hoyt Sherman stage for yet another year of magic with Ballet Des Moines, central Iowa’s only resident professional ballet company. With showtimes both day and night, this is the perfect time to make this holiday tradition your new family tradition. Grab some tea at Gong Fu Tea beforehand to really set the mood.

Where: Hoyt Sherman Place

When: December 13 – 15

Tickets: $28 - 73