A- A+

Free Things to Do in Downtown Des Moines: November Edition

Free Things to Do

Christkindlmarket Des MoinesHeader Image Photo Credit: Steven Fisher

‘Tis the season starts now! November marks the beginning of the holidays in Downtown Des Moines (DSM), and that brings several free and fun things to do as the season changes from fall to the first few glimpses of winter. No matter the season, one thing remains: There’s plenty to do in Downtown DSM!

Dia de Los Muertos Celebration

Thursday, Nov. 2 | Central Library
You’re invited to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Downtown DSM. Attendees are encouraged to dress in the style of La Catrina. Enjoy face painting, La Catrina costume contest and prizes, too! Tasty food will be available including tamales, pan de muerto and a cup of champurrado. All ages welcome. This no-cost event is in partnership with Latinx Immigrants of Iowa and Knock and Drop Iowa, with participation from Al Éxito and Mi Salud Iowa. (Psst! Don’t miss the Dia de los Muertos exhibit at the library, available now through Nov. 3.)

Dia de los Muertos Celebration

Star-Spangled Salute to Veterans

Sunday, Nov. 12 | Des Moines Civic Center
In observance of Veteran’s Day, the Iowa Military Veterans Band will perform a traditional concert in honor of all veterans. The event kicks off at 2 p.m. and is a free, non-ticketed event open to the public.

Salute to Veterans 

Winter Market

Friday, Nov. 17 – Sunday, Nov. 19 | Historic Court District
Your favorite Downtown Farmers’ Market will continue with a pop-up Winter Market for three days only, taking place over one weekend in November. Shop late-season produce, farm fresh meat, cheese and eggs, Iowa wine, jams and jellies, holiday décor, local handcrafted gifts and many more goodies. Snag a warm drink, stroll the streets of Historic Court District and get your fill of your favorite vendor items like dry bouquets, handmade candles and wreaths from Floral Sunset Farm while you enjoy local musicians and other live entertainment.

Winter Market Pies

Holiday Promenade

Fridays, Nov. 17 – Dec. 15 | Historic East Village
The beloved and free holiday event in the Historic East Village is back for its 22nd year. Find holiday cheer in Downtown DSM with free seasonal activities, holiday entertainment and family-friendly fun — including the annual tree lighting! Be sure to pop into the shops and restaurants in the Village to support local businesses, too. Featured events include: Nov. 17 – Tree Lighting Ceremony at Brenton Skating Plaza, Nov. 24 – Window Display Judging, Dec. 1 – Gingerbread House Displays and Activities, Dec. 8 – Elf on a Shelf Scavenger Hunt and Dec. 15 – Santa Everything!

 Santa at the Holiday Promenade

Friendly reminder: Small Business Saturday takes place on Saturday, Nov. 25 this year. Mark your calendar to visit the local and unique shops around Downtown DSM for your holiday purchases.


Thursday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Dec. 3 | Principal Park
This German-inspired Christmas marketplace is where European-style foods, goods and activities coalesce. Grab a hot cup of Glühwein and peruse the vendors featuring handcrafted wares from traditional wooden stalls. Visit the Yuletide Hall entertainment area to enjoy live polka music, singing choirs, bell ringers and traditional dance. Additionally, a kids’ area offers cultural activities for all ages! Admission is free.

Christkindlmarket Des Moines

Photo Credit: Marie J Bowen

Coming soon: The annual Hide & Seek Ornaments You Keep campaign will take place in December. Exact dates and details will be available in the coming weeks.

Hide and Seek Ornament

Looking for ideas on where to shop this holiday season? Take a look at the North + Central, South, West and East Buying Guides for shops, restaurants and services around the region and downtown, too! And as the weather changes, you’ll want to be prepared for what’s to come. Here are some helpful tips on how to remain safe during the coldest months of the year.

For these upcoming events and more, find tips on Downtown Des Moines (DSM) parking and navigation. For additional upcoming events, visit the Downtown DSM events calendar. Plus, follow @downtownDSMUSA on Instagram for more epic, things-you-just-can’t-miss happening around Downtown.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

DSM USA is the regional identifier for Greater Des Moines (DSM). DSM USA is a bold statement to the world: This is a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community with affordable and accessible amenities for residents and businesses. This regional identifier is the result of significant quantitative and qualitative research. The Partnership will champion the DSM USA message, and encourages its Investors, its more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and DSM USA Ambassadors to help share the region's story with One Voice.