Free Summer Outdoor Events with Des Moines Performing Arts

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Free Summer Outdoor Events with Des Moines Performing Arts

Des Moines Performing Arts is back for the third year of FREE summer outdoor events and programming for families all over Des Moines, Iowa. This fun series introduces families to different parks and venues in different areas of Des Moines. In addition, it gives families of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to experience family-friendly, multi-generational arts and cultural events. The best thing is all performances are free! Take a look at all the upcoming free outdoor events and programming happening this summer.

All events have been added to our free, extensive event calendar. Plan your week of Des Moines fun!

Tips Before You Go!

Here are some family-friendly tips before you head to this summer’s free outdoor family programming with Des Moines Performing Arts.

  • Bring a blanket or folding chair. These shows pop up in the park. There may be some park benches nearby but typically shows fill quickly. Make sure you bring your own seating.
  • Pack a picnic! No food or drink will be sold during the performances. Pack your favorite snacks and enjoy a picnic while you watch the performance.
  • Make a day of it! Many of these performances are scheduled in Des Moines metro parks that offer tons of fun. Come for the show, then stay and play.

The Bubbler

June 15 – 17

Enjoy some whimsy! Steve Russell brings whimsy to the world. With a lot of water and just a little bit of soap, The Bubbler fills the air with wonder! Big bubbles, small bubbles, bubbles in bubbles.

Steve has been performing for most of his life and has seen a lot of the world doing it. He’s performed on cruise ships; at Disneyland and Disney World; onstage at Lincoln Center; in comedy clubs, fairs, festivals, and even at Lambeau Field – home of the Green Bay Packers.

This show will be at various times and locations around the Des Moines metro. Save the date!

Thursday, June 15
10 AM – Evelyn K Davis Park – Des Moines
12:30 PM – Prospect Park – Des Moines
6:00 PM – Linnan Park – Clive

Friday, June 16
10 AM – Drake Park – Des Moines
12:30 PM – Columbus Park – Des Moines
7:00 PM – Colby Park + Pavilion – Windsor Heights

Saturday, June 17
10:30 AM – Haines Park – Altoona
1:00 PM – Crossroads Park – West Des Moines
6:30 PM – Wagner Park – Ankeny

SWAY’s Bloom

July 21 – 23

SWAY’s Bloom! is the newest creation of SWAY (formerly known as Australia’s Strange Fruit) atop their signature 14-foot sway poles. A 20-minute performance, BLOOM! is a family-friendly, colorful, and spirited performance exploring themes of earth and nature, community, transformation, individuality, and diversity. Accompanied by an original soundtrack by Ania Reynolds, BLOOM! celebrates the ephemeral and simultaneously beautiful nature of life. Fun for the whole family!

This show will be held at Cowles Commons at various times.

Friday, July 21 
11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 6:30 PM

Saturday, July 22
9 AM, 11 AM, 5:30 PM

Sunday, July 23
9 AM, 11 AM, 1:00 PM

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

August 17-19

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is coming back to Des Moines! We really enjoyed this free performance last year.

Since 1995, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus co-founders Stephanie Monseu and Keith Nelson have traveled the world, bringing a unique hybrid of vaudeville, circus, and sideshow spectacle to theaters, clubs, colleges, and festivals. An evening of jugglers, acrobats, contortionists, plate spinning, sword swallowing, brain twisters, and other risk-taking feats set to live music, combine to create an interactive evening of fun for the entire family.

Bindlestiff Family Cirkus harkens back to the heyday of the traditional American Circus touring the country by caravan while offering its own artistic twist.  It’s earthy, and gritty and celebrates the sideshow’s odd novelty acts in an engaging and participatory way that you don’t find in other types of circus.

This show will be at various times and locations around the Des Moines metro. Save the date!

Thursday, August 17 
10 AM, 12 PM, 6:30 PM – TBD

Friday, August 18
5 PM, 7 PM – Centennial Park – Waukee

Saturday, August 19
10 AM, 12 PM, 6:30 PM – Walker Johnston Park – Urbandale

Dan and Claudia Zanes

September 15 & 16

Grammy award-winning children’s performer Dan Zanes and Haitian-American music therapist/jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes have been making music with each other since the day they met in the fall of 2016.

The two decided while sitting at Dan’s kitchen table that afternoon that they would continue singing together and, in the spirit of progress and inclusion, would work with presenters to try and make all of their concerts sensory-friendly.

Inspired by their artful modern-day all-ages folk music and their commitment to accessibility, the Kennedy Center commissioned Claudia and Dan to create a theater piece for young audiences. Night Train 57: A Sensory Friendly Comic Folk Opera premiered in October 2017 and has been performed several times since.

Friday, September 15
6:30 PM – Jamie Hurd Amphitheater – West Des Moines

Saturday, September 16
10:30 AM – Doanes Park – Pleasant Hill 

Yoga on Cowles Commons

June 4, July 2, and August 6

Back for another summer is Yoga on Cowles Commons! Meet on the first Sunday of the month from 9 to 10 a.m. In case of inclement weather, the class will be canceled. Visit the DMPA Facebook pages for the latest updates.

Dancing on Cowles Commons

June 25, July 30, August 27

Put on your dancing shoes and have a dance party at Cowles Commons! Meet on the last Sunday of the month from 9 to 10 a.m. MixxedFit® is a people-inspired fitness program that combines explosive dance moves with body weight toning. This class will get your heart rate up while you get down to yesterday’s & today’s hits! Grab some water, and a friend, and be prepared to sweat a little and smile a lot! In case of inclement weather, the class will be canceled. Visit the DMPA Facebook pages for the latest updates.


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