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Free Things to Do in Downtown Des Moines: September Edition

Free Things to Do

September 1, 2023

Header Image Photo Credit: ©Isenberger Photography

Don’t blink! These FREE things to do and FREE events in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) are taking place in September, only. Keep your eyes on the prize, because you won’t want to miss this unique selection of events before they’re gone. Take a peek:

Summer Pops with the Des Moines Symphony

Saturday, Sept. 2 – Sunday, Sept. 3 | Water Works Park
Have you ever wanted to check out a Des Moines Symphony show as a first timer? Or perhaps you’re a raving fan excited for their upcoming season? Get ready to have the time of your life as the Symphony — along with a full rock band — performs ABBA’s best hits ranging from “Dancing Queen” to “Take a Chance on Me,” and everything in between on the first Saturday evening of the month. Then come back Sunday for another family-friendly, fun-filled lineup of tunes that will take you to your favorite places from the movie screen, with songs from “Rocky,” “Spiderman,” “Indiana Jones” and more. Be sure to pack a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on!

Concours d’Elegance

Sunday, Sept. 10 | Western Gateway Park
This is unlike any other car show you’ve heard of! This event celebrates the art and design of the automobile, featuring 150 cars exhibited across 12 classes — from classics and Rivieras, Corvettes to Nash Metropolitans and more. A midway will offer food and merchandise and services for purchase. And a radio-controlled car racetrack, photo booth and other activities will make this a fun family outing! More events take place the prior Friday and Saturday, and you can visit the Concours website for additional information or read about how to create lasting memories at the event in 2023.

Photo Credit: ©Isenberger Photography

Woodland Cemetery Celebrates 175 Years

Saturday, Sept. 16 | Woodland Cemetery
Embrace the past and be transported back in time to the 1800s with a day filled with captivating tales and fascinating insights into our Downtown DSM community’s rich history. Throughout this event, historians, passionate re-enactors and descendants of individuals that have been laid to rest in the cemetery will share remarkable stories of the early days of the community. Eventgoers are encouraged to bring water to drink and to wear comfortable clothing and shoes suited for walking around the cemetery grounds.

Woodland Cemetery in Downtown Des Moines

Photo Description: Woodland Cemetery

Des Moines Streetstyle Open

Thursday, Sept. 21 – Saturday, Sept. 23 | Lauridsen Skatepark + More Locations
Is this a great event for Instagrammable photos? You better believe it! Watch skaters compete in three-minute-long skater jams with the goal of entering — and winning! — finals. And don’t miss the chance to view other offshoot competitions at nearby locations, plus the Welcome Block Party at Subsect Skateshop will include a popup skatepark, appearances from local food trucks and special skate contests. Plus, each night of the Open ends with a fun-filled after party at a Downtown DSM establishment. You’re gonna want to be there! Spectating is free, and registration to participate as a skater is available on the Skate DSM website.

Streetstyle Open

Photo Credit: Alex Sveda, Red Bull Content Poll, @slamdunkapher

Head of the Des Moines Regatta

Saturday, Sept. 23 | Along the Des Moines River
Bet you didn’t know Downtown DSM is home to one of the oldest and longest regattas in the Midwest! Des Moines Rowing brings together crews from all over the region to compete in a three-mile upstream race with vibrant views of downtown and points of interest along the riverfront. Spectators can view the action for free, with several vantage points noted on the Regatta map such as the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center, Captain’s Roy’s and Prospect Park, plus several bridges along the Des Moines River.

And don’t miss even more free events taking place this month, including live music at the free Patio Fest at Confluence Brewing Co. (Sept. 1-4), the Touchdown Tailgate free viewing of the Iowa vs. Iowa State game (Sept. 9) and the The Ray Way: Asian Culture and Heritage Festival (Sept. 12 – 16). Meet us there?

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.