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Hustle & Bustle to Downtown DSM for These 5 Free Upcoming Events

Free Things to Do

It’s the holiday season and Downtown DSM is hustlin’ and bustlin’ with so many festive things to do: Local shopping, food and drink, live entertainment, arts and culture and lots more! Here’s a look at five FREE things to do during the month of December in Downtown DSM.

Hide and Seek Ornaments You Keep

Friday, Dec. 8 – Sunday, Dec. 17
A free, pop-up activation that celebrates local artists by hiding handmade ornaments across Downtown Des Moines (DSM). The event encourages participants to hunt for ornaments hidden near downtown retailers, restaurants and attractions — and once they’ve finished hunting to visit these businesses to support local and help Downtown DSM thrive.

Hide and Seek Ornament

Historic East Village Holiday Promenade

Fridays, Now – Dec. 15 | Historic East Village
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and merriment is never in short supply during the Holiday Promenade! The free holiday event features festive activities, holiday entertainment and family-friendly fun including unique highlights each week, plus a holiday trolley! Be sure to stop into the shops and restaurants in the Village to support local businesses this holiday season. In December, enjoy the following events: Dec. 1 – Gingerbread House Displays and Activities, Dec. 8 – Elf on a Shelf Scavenger Hunt and Dec. 15 – Santa Everything!


Photo Credit: Alan Jacobs

The Fitch Building Open Studio

Saturday, Dec. 9 | 304 15th St., Des Moines
Home to painters, printmakers, sculptors, photographers, graphic designers and much more — come see what artists in-residence at the Fitch Building have been creating this year! View the artists’ work, see their workspaces and mingle with the artists themselves. Some artworks will be available for purchase on-site. Be sure to reserve your free ticket online in advance!

Fitch Building Open Studio

Hey! We think you might also be interested in the Peppermint Trail taking place on Saturday, Dec. 9 in a neighborhood adjacent to Downtown DSM: the Avenues of Ingersoll and Grand.

Holiday Open House

Saturday, Dec. 16 | World Food Prize Hall of Laureates
You’re invited to a free holly jolly celebration at the World Food Prize — complete with caroling, hot cocoa and other holiday treats, and a visit with Jolly Old Saint Nick. Explore the art, architecture and exhibits on display showcasing Iowa’s contributions in food and agriculture around the world. Non-perishable food donations can be donated on-site as well, to benefit individuals who are food insecure around the community.

World Food Prize Building 

Greater Des Moines Exhibited

Now – Wednesday, Jan. 3 | Polk County Heritage Gallery
The Polk County Heritage Gallery’s annual show features a juried selection of 44 artists from around Greater Des Moines (DSM) — providing a unique opportunity for local artists to have their pieces on display in the heart of Downtown DSM.

Polk County Heritage Gallery

For additional ideas this holiday season, take a peep at the Downtown DSM buying guides! The North + Central, South, West and East Buying Guides are a curated list of 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.