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Sights + Sounds of Christmas in DSM USA

Christmas Sights and Sounds

November 29, 2023

Christmas is about more than just shopping and wrapping up gifts. There is a magic in the air that is undeniable, especially when you attend holiday events. Whether driving through lighted displays while listening to your favorite Christmas Carols, attending a Christmas church service or taking in a holiday music concert, these events are sure to fill you with Christmas spirit.

Here are 14 ways to experience the sights and sounds of Christmas in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Holiday Hullabaloo

Dates: Now – Sunday, Dec. 31
Location: 10320 Hickman Road in Clive
Description: This is a family-friendly event that will have you all immersed in a winter wonderland. Enjoy sock skating, cookie decorating, snowball fighting, and walking through a life-sized gingerbread house.

Jolly Holiday Lights

Dates: Now – Sunday, Jan. 7
Location: Outlets of Des Moines in Altoona
Description: This year you can get up close and personal with the lighted displays at Jolly Holiday Lights. Walk through a winter wonderland and discover festive light displays set up throughout the Outlets of Des Moines. It is free to see the lights, but mark your calendar for special ticketed events such as the Sip & Shop event on December 15.

Merry-N-County Christmas

Dates: Now – Sunday, Dec. 24
Location: Marion County Park in Knoxville
Description: Head to Marion County Park for this free-will donation drive-through light display. Tune into local radio station KNIA/KRLS 93.5 for holiday tunes to accompany the 75+ light and decoration displays, including an illuminated Historic Village. This exciting sight is presented by Thrive Knoxville and the Marion County Historical Society. The display is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. through Christmas Eve

Santa’s Rock N Lights

Dates: Now – Sunday, Dec. 31
Location: Living History Farms in Urbandale
Description: Drive through a spectacular light display with coordinating music. Be sure to buy your tickets online ahead of time. No tickets will be sold at the door.

Maytag Park Holiday Lights

Dates: Now – Monday, Jan. 1 Drive-Through
Location: Maytag Park in Newton
Description: More than 50 free light displays featuring thousands of twinkling lights await the entire family at Maytag Park.

Christkindlemarket DSM

Dates: Thursday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Dec. 3
Location: Principal Park in Downtown DSM
Description: This event is a German-inspired Christmas market whose goal is to educate and entertain the community by exposing them to European-style foods, products, and activities.

Kerstmarkt: Pella's Dutch Christmas Market

Dates: Thursday, Nov. 30 – Saturday, Dec. 2
Location: Pella
Description: Stroll along the Molengracht in Pella enjoying a warm beverage. Along this European style canal you will find many holiday and Dutch themed items available from local artisans. This festive event will be held in conjunction with Pella's Christmas Tour of Homes. visitpella.com/events/kerstmarkt_pellas_dutch_christmas_market/2023-11-30

Jingle in the Junction

Dates: Thursdays – Nov. 30, Dec. 7, Dec. 14
Location: Historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines
Description: See the glow of more than 100,000 holiday lights on display throughout this West Des Moines shopping district. Free horse-drawn trolley rides and a living snow globe at Atomic Garage are not to be missed either!

1st Annual Noce Christmas with Max Wellman Featuring Special Guests

Dates: Saturday, Dec. 2 – Saturday, Dec. 23
Location: Noce
Description: Join vocalist Max Wellman and an elite six-piece band led by composer/pianist Nate Sparks, along with Gina Gedler, Napoleon Douglas, and more special guests as Noce rolls out an all-new holiday show to celebrate the season at this local jazz club.

German Christmas Service

Date: Sunday, Dec. 3
Location: Capitol Hill Lutheran Church in Downtown DSM
Description: Fröhliche Weihnachten! Come and celebrate the birth of Christ during Des Moines' annual German Christmas Service, beginning at 5 p.m. Throughout worship there will be songs and scripture in the German language. The service ends with a candlelight singing of "Stille Nacht." Following the service, all are invited to feast on traditional German Christmas treats.

Irish Christmas in America

Dates: Thursday, Dec. 7 – Friday, Dec. 8
Location: Temple Theater in Downtown DSM
Description: Enjoy traditional Irish music, singing, dancing and stories of seasonal Irish traditions at this festive event.

Miracle on 3rd Street + Winter Wonderlights

Date: Friday, Dec. 8 + Ongoing
Location: Uptown Ankeny
Description: Visit Santa’s reindeer, make a holiday craft, shop Uptown shops and ride through the lights on the Uptown Express during Miracle on 3rd Street. Or see Winter Wonderlights now through Sunday, Dec. 31 along SW 3rd Street and through the AMP where 50+ lighted displays await.

Christmas with the Des Moines Choral Society

Date: Saturday, Dec. 9
Location: St. Ambrose Cathedral
Description: Experience an inspiring performance of holiday favorites performed by the Des Moines Choral Society with a chamber orchestra, piano and more.


Date: Saturday, Dec. 16
Location: Large Auditorium at 48th & Franklin Ave. in Des Moines
Description: Tuba and euphoium players of all ages play Christmas carols during a free concert to celebrate the season.

The holiday season is the perfect time to shop local in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Support local businesses, creators and makers across the region. You can find ideas on where to shop using the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s #DSMlocal Guides and other regional business directories listed here.

Meg Schneider

Meg Schneider is a member of the Forbes Nonprofit Council, an invitation-only organization for senior-level executives in successful nonprofit organizations.