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 fourth 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 allows families of all ages and backgrounds 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 fill quickly. Make sure you bring your 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 Secret Agency

May 16-17

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a Grammy-winning, internationally touring, purple velvet tuxedo-wearing family funk phenomenon. Combining the positive, primal power of hip hop with the surreal storytelling of science fiction, 23 Skidoo has concocted a potent potion that wows family crowds across the planet. 

The ingredients of his magic spells include reverence for the boundless mindstates of young children, respect for the culture and DNA of hip hop, funk, and soul music, and a deep belief in the power of the imagination to change the world in positive ways, both personal and universal. 

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

Thursday, May 16
6:30 PM – Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park – Des Moines

Friday, May 17
6:30 PM – Riverview Park Amphitheater – Des Moines


June 12-15

Ants is an interactive performance that brings children together to explore the landscape around them.  

Ants as big as humans work together intently with hundreds of giant bread crumbs, using sound and movement to communicate, and children are irresistibly drawn closer to find out how they can join in. Gradually a world of meaning unfolds, with children’s movement making lines and patterns, transforming public space and disrupting the everyday. Children choose how they interact with the big insects, becoming Ant-like creatures themselves and taking part in their world. This is an enchanting and unusual experience that everyone can enjoy at their own pace. 

Wednesday, June 12 
10:00 AM, 11:15 AM – Drake Park – Des Moines
6:30 PM – Town Square – Polk City

Thursday, June 13
6:30 PM – Dewey Park – Johnston

Friday, June 14
10:00 AM – MLK Park – Des Moines
4:30 PM, 6:30 PM – Heritage Park – Grimes

Saturday, June 15
10:00 AM, 11:15 AM – Walker Johnston Park – Urbandale

El Circo

July 10-13

When the big top raises its roof and the doors open, you will experience the music, cheer, and color of the circus.  Meet Budineto the lion, Ariadna the tight-rope walker, Ursus the weight lifter, a clown, a trapeze artist, and of course the circus band.  Enjoy all the surprises of the circus as this marionette puppet theatre company takes you on an unforgettable journey!

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

Wednesday, July 10 
6:30 PM – Sunrise Park – Ankeny

Thursday, July 11
10 AM – Union Park – Des Moines
6:30 PM – Fairmeadows Park – West Des Moines

Friday, July 12
10 AM – Nature Lodge at Racoon River Park – West Des Moines
4:30 PM, 6:30 PM – Easter Lake Park – Des Moines

Saturday, July 13
10 AM, 12 PM – Pete Crivaro Park – Des Moines

Squonk Brouhaha

August 9-11

Brouhaha is an immersive outdoor spectacle bursting with rollicking music, dazzling imagery, and the thrill of audience participation. At the center of this riotous romp is the Squonkcordion, an enormous musical instrument powered by behemoth bellows topped with towering tuba bells. At the peak of the performance, Squonk invites the audience to play this foghorn organ, welcoming them to experience the joy of a brass band and the fireworks of the community. They don’t have to be musicians, but by the end of the show, we will all embrace the joy of making sounds—and the risk and camaraderie that entails.

Friday, August 9 – 6:30 PM
Saturday, August 10 – 10:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 6:30 PM
Sunday, August 11 – 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM

Storytime Under the Green Umbrella

Join DMPA educators for storytime Under the Green Umbrella. These events will be a playful sharing of songs and stories for toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary-aged youth accompanied by their fun-loving grownups! All performances take place at 10 AM on Cowles Commons.

  • Wednesday, June 12, 2024
  • Saturday, June 15, 2024
  • Wednesday, June 26, 2024
  • Wednesday, July 10, 2024
  • Saturday, July 20, 2024
  • Wednesday, July 24, 2024
  • Wednesday, August 14, 2024
  • Saturday, August 17, 2024
  • Wednesday, August 28, 2024

Yoga on Cowles Commons

June 6, July 3, and August 7

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 30, August 25

Meet on the last Sunday of the month from 9 to 10 a.m. Des Moines Performing Arts invites you to join a dance party! 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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