EXPLORE: Fun events

Circle-your-calendar-worthy can’t-miss attractions in central Iowa.... CAN’T WAIT.

  • Friday, Oct. 8: Old Dominion plays Principal Park, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines; www.milb.com/news/old-dominion-announcement or indigotix.com. 
  • Saturday, Oct. 9: Indigenous Iowans Day at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale; www.lhf.org
  • Oct. 9-10: Madison County Covered Bridge Festival, in Winterset; www.madisoncounty.com/covered-bridge-festival
  • Oct. 12-17: “The Band’s Visit” at the Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; DMPA.org. Spend an evening in the company of unforgettable strangers. “The Band’s Visit” is now one of the most celebrated musicals ever, winning 10 Tony Awards. 
  • Oct. 14-17; Oct. 21-24: Night Eyes at Blank Park Zoo, 7401 S.W. Ninth St., Des Moines; www.blankparkzoo.com. Trick-or-treaters hunt for treats while roaming around the Zoo’s enchanted lighting displays and a merry-not-scary treat safari. 
  • Oct. 15-23: “Escaping the Labyrinth” at Des Moines Playhouse, 831 42nd St., Des Moines; www.dmplayhouse.com. Billed as a romantic comedy worthy of the gods — the Greek gods, that is. American classics grad student Bud Schliemann is touring Greece in 1951 when he encounters a man who mistakenly reveals that he is the god Hermes, still alive centuries after people stopped believing. 
  • Oct. 16-18: IMT Des Moines Marathon, Des Moines; www.desmoinesmarathon.com. “The Finish Line is Just the Beginning” at the IMT Des Moines Marathon. You can do it!
  • Sunday, Oct. 17: Nitro Circus at Principal Park, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines; www.nitrocircus.com or www.milb.com/iowa/news/nitro-circus. Nitro Circus brings high-adrenaline live entertainment loaded with world-famous daredevils.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20: “Jeff Dunham Seriously!?” at Wells Fargo Arena; www.iowaeventscenter.com. Jeff Dunham takes the stage with his somewhat-inappropriate-proteges, Peanut, Walter, José Jalapeño, Bubba J. and Achmed the Dead Terrorist.
  • Thursday, Oct. 21: Ron White’s stand-up comedy at Stephens Auditorium, Ames; www.center.iastate.edu/events
  • Oct. 22-31: “And Then There Were None” at Carousel Theatre of Indianola, 117 E. Salem Ave., Indianola; www.carouseltheatre.org. Ten guilty strangers are lured to and trapped on a desolate island estate. Each is accused of a prior murder by the voice of a mysterious host, and then the “ten soldiers” begin to die at the hands of a diabolical avenger. 
  • Oct. 29: “kiss. Together, with, and for Des Moines” at Des Moines Civic Center; www.balletdesmoines.org. Ballet Des Moines partners with award-winning choreographer Stephanie Martinez and her company Para.Mar.

  • Friday, Nov. 5: Nelly at Horizon Events Center (formerly 7 Flags), 2100 N.W. 100th St., Clive; www.horizoneventscenter.com/events-calendar. Diamond Selling, Multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning rap superstar, entrepreneur, philanthropist and actor, Nelly, has continually raised the bar for the entertainment industry since stepping on the scene in 2000. 
  • Saturday, Nov. 6: 40th Annual Santa’s North Pole Village Craft Sale in Ankeny; www.ankenyartcenter.com/event, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. One of the most popular craft shows in Iowa, featuring hand-crafted items such as jewelry, clothing and holiday decor. This event is the Ankeny Art Center’s biggest fundraiser of the year and has been an Ankeny tradition for four decades. The event takes place at three locations: Northview Middle School, 1302 N. Ankeny Blvd., Ankeny; Parkview Middle School, 105 N.W. Pleasant St., Ankeny; Prairie Ridge Middle School, 1010 N.W. Prairie Ridge Drive, Ankeny
  • Sunday, Nov. 7: “Jim Gaffigan: The Fun Tour” at Wells Fargo Arena; www.iowaeventscenter.com. A top-ten comedian according to Forbes’ 2019 comedy list, Gaffigan recently released his eighth stand-up special, “The Pale Tourist.” He was also recently awarded for being the first comedian to reach one billion streams on Pandora. 
  • Friday, Nov. 12: Science Center of Iowa’s Fundraising Gala, 401 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines; www.sciowa.org/bigblast. SCI’s Big Blast is the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser to support the mission to engage and inspire Iowans along their journey of lifelong science learning.
  • Nov. 13 - Feb. 13: Louis Fratino: Tenderness revealed, in Anna K. Meredith Gallery at the Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines; www.desmoinesartcenter.org
  • Nov. 19-21: Iowa’s Largest Arts and Crafts Show at William C. Knapp Varied Industries Building, Iowa State Fairgrounds, www.iowastatefairgrounds.org. Billed as Iowa’s largest arts and crafts show with more than 300 exhibitors offering unique, handmade products.
  • Nov. 26 - Jan. 2: Jolly Holiday Lights, 3300 Adventureland Drive, Altoona; www.jollyholidaylights.org. Make-A-Wish Iowa’s largest fundraising event has funded more than 1,000 wishes to date.

  • Dec. 2-5: Christkindlmarket Des Moines at Principal Park, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines; www.christkindlmarketdsm.com. A European/German-inspired Christmas outdoor market that offers attendees a chance to indulge in European-style foods, products and activities. Admission is free. 
  • Wednesday, Dec. 8: Singer/songwriter James Taylor & His All-Star Band with special guest Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne, at Wells Fargo Arena, downtown, Des Moines; www.iowaeventscenter.com
  • Thursday, Dec. 9: King & Country at Wells Fargo Arena, 730 Third St., Des Moines; iowaeventscenter.com. King & Country’s “A Drummer Boy Christmas Tour” arrives to celebrate the season. 
  • Friday, Dec. 10: Most Likeable People at Decades Event Center, 1208 Grand Ave., West Des Moines, 6-10 p.m. http://mostlikeable.dmcityview.com
  • Dec. 10-13: “The Nutcracker” by Ballet Des Moines at Hoyt Sherman Place, 1501 Woodland Ave., Des Moines; www.balletdesmoines.org
  • Dec. 17-18: “The Nutcracker” by Ballet Des Moines at Staplin Performing Arts Center, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines; www.balletdesmoines.org
  • TBD: Jingle in the Junction in Valley Junction, along Fifth Street, West Des Moines; www.valleyjunction.com. Valley Junction twinkles with 150,000 lights. Free horse-drawn carriage rides are available as well as Santa and caroling. 
  • TBD: East Village Promenade, east of the river in downtown Des Moines; www.eastvillagedesmoines.com. This annual holiday event offers the chance to see Santa, observe the tree lighting, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, listen to holiday carolers and enjoy food, drinks and shopping.
  • TBD: UnityPoint’s Festival of Trees & Lights; www.unitypoint.org/blankchildrens/festival-of-trees.aspx. More than a fun, family-friendly holiday event, featuring decorated trees, entertainment, activities, food and shopping, the popular Festival of Trees & Lights helps support critical programs for patients and families at Blank Children’s Hospital. Details for this year’s Festival of Trees & Lights were not yet released as Explore Des Moines went to press. You can find updated information online.

  • Saturday, Jan. 22: Fire & Ice at West Glen Town Center, 5465 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, 1-4 p.m. www.dmcityview.com

  • Tuesday, Feb. 1: CITYVIEW’S Best of Des Moines at Palace Theater, 5-9 p.m. www.dmcityview.com
  • Feb. 1-3: Iowa Ag Expo at Hy-Vee Hall, downtown Des Moines; www.iowaeventscenter.com/events. The popular Iowa Ag Expo — formerly known as Power Farming Show — has a new name, but it is the same great show.
  • Feb. 4-20: “Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express” at Des Moines Community Playhouse, 831 42nd St., Des Moines; www.dmplayhouse.com.
  • Saturday, Feb. 5: 45th Annual BRR, Perry’s 24-mile bike ride to Rippey and back; www.perryia.org/brr.html. A frozen-filled day of biking, prizes and entertainment begins and ends in downtown Perry. Day-of registration, plus other morning activities take place inside the historic Hotel Pattee. BRR has been held the first Saturday in February, regardless of weather, since 1977.
  • Feb. 12-13: Cat Show at Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center, Iowa State Fairgrounds, www.iowastatefairgrounds.org. Purebred and household pets show off for local feline lovers.
  • Feb. 8-13: “Tootsie” at the Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; DMPA.org. 

  • March 4-6: Iowa Deer Classic at Hy-Vee Hall; iowadeerclassic.com/set-up-information. The premier hunting event in the country comes to downtown Des Moines.
  • March 11-12: “Rent” at the Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; DMPA.org. 
  • Wednesday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Des Moines; www.friendlysonsiowa.com. As of Explore Des Moines’ press deadline, parade details were yet to be determined. Check online for details. 
  • March 22-27: “Hadestown” at the Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; DMPA.org. 
  • March 25 - April 10: “Singin’ in the Rain” at Des Moines Community Playhouse, 831 42nd St., Des Moines; www.dmplayhouse.com.
  • March TBD: ciLive! at DMACC; www.dmacc.edu/ciweek/Pages/welcome.aspx. ciLive! (Celebrate Innovation Live) annually gives students and the community the chance to interact with accomplished and inspired creators. This thought-provoking and interactive event allows listeners to absorb and engage. Generous sponsors make the event free and open to the public.

  • Tuesday, April 5: Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “The Cosmic Perspective” at the Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; DMPA.org, 7:30 p.m. Famed scientist, author and speaker to appear on the Civic Center Stage for a one-night lecture presentation. The award-winning astrophysicist, NY Times best-selling author, and host of FOX’s Cosmos explores the concept that there is no view of the world as emotionally potent as the one granted by a cosmic perspective. This perspective sees Earth as a planet in a vast empty universe and profoundly influences what we think and feel about science, culture, politics and life itself.
  • April TBD: Drake Relays at Drake Stadium, Des Moines; godrakebulldogs.com/sports. Many of track-and-field’s biggest names have competed at Drake and attendees have witnessed 17 world records. The Drake Relays is one of only a few U.S. track meets where athletes can experience the atmosphere that makes the sport so popular in Europe — the track is close to the stands so that fans can exchange high-fives, get autographs and take selfies with world-class athletes as they take victory laps. 
  • April 30: Bernadette Peters in Concert at the Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines; DMPA.org.