Santa in Des Moines 2018

Santa in Des Moines 2018

Note: This post has been updated to reflect places to visit Santa in Des Moines this 2018 season.

Santa is all over central Iowa this holiday season. There are plenty of locations and times to let your kiddos tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Check out the list below. It is early, so it is very likely I may be missing your event. Please add your event to the event calendar here.

The extensive event calendar is a great resource and is updated regularly. Bookmark it.

Santa, Des Moines, Iowa


Santa N’ Paws

Animal Rescue League; Several locations & Times – Check here for the entire list!

November 1 – 18 

You don’t even have to own a pet, or even bring them to participate, holiday photos of any kind are welcome. All proceeds from this event will go directly to help the animals in our care at the ARL.

Santa will be there to take photos with you as well – or if Santa isn’t your favorite holiday celebrity, we can politely tell him to take a break for some milk and cookies during your photo time. (He can’t turn that down, right?)

Santa’s Arrival Parade

Valley West Mall 

November 9

6 to 8 p.m. 

Be one of the first people to visit with Santa along with free train rides, crafts, coloring pages, costumed characters, treats, balloon animals and more! The event will begin with Santa Parade at 6 pm near the Play Area. You can visit Santa and his Winter Wonderland several times during the holiday season. Take a look at the days and hours he is available.

Pictures with Santa 

Homemakers Furniture

November 10 & 11

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Free photos with Santa event! You’ll get a free picture with Santa—the perfect keepsake to enjoy for years to come.

Mingle and Jingle in the Junction 

Valley Junction

November 15 

5 to 9 p.m.

Presented by Veridian Credit Union, Mingle and Jingle with us in the Junction on Thursday, November 15, 2018, and kick off the holiday season. There will be horse-drawn trolley rides, live reindeer, Santa and Mrs. Claus, family activities, balloon art by Professor Von Air, and ice carvings by Bill Gordish. Santa and Mrs. Clause will arrive at 6 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will travel through Historic Valley Junction and end in Railroad Park where they will be located the rest of the evening. There will also be fun activities, shopping, giveaways and more.

Santa Arrival and Tree Lighting!

Jordan Creek Town Center

November 16

6 to 7 pm 

Jordan Creek’s tradition continues with live music by the Nadas, a special tree lighting ceremony, and lakeside fireworks! The Nadas will begin playing Holiday favorites in the amphitheater at 6:00 pm and during the finale Santa will throw a fireball across the lake magically lighting the 40-foot Blue Spruce followed by an amazing fireworks display, signaling the official start to the holiday season at Jordan Creek Town Center. Don’t miss this fun family event!

Visit Santa any time during the Holiday season. Take a look at his holiday schedule.

East Village Holiday Promenade

Brenton Skating Plaza

November 16; 5 to 9 p.m. 

November 17; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The 17th Annual Historic East Village Holiday Promenade is the holiday kick-off event with something for everyone! This year’s event will be extending until Saturday, Nov. 17 to offer more time for shopping and family fun!

Friday night’s activities will feature free horse-drawn trolley rides, carolers strolling around the neighborhood, ice skating, plus live ice sculpting and tree lighting at Brenton Skating Plaza starting at 6:00 p.m.

Santa will be at Brenton Skating Plaza from 6:00 until 7:00 and then head on over to LifeServe Blood Center where he’ll be available until 8:00 p.m.

Don’t forget to hang around for our FIREWORK SHOW at 9:30 p.m.

Most shops in the neighborhood will have extended hours and treat on Friday and Saturday making it the perfect time to start your holiday shopping!

Santa Arrives at Outlets of Des Moines

November 17 

3:30 to 6 p.m. 

Santa will arrive at the Outlets of Des Moines! They will host kid activities from 3:30- 30 pm. Santa will be present at Outlets of Des Moines throughout the November 17th event for photo ops. They will have Santa light the tree at 6:00 pm. Santa will be located in the Food Pavilion from Nov. 17 – Dec. 23rd. Two FREE 4×6 Santa Photo Prints + Digital Download of a single image for every family who visits Santa.

Santa will be available through the entire holiday season these following hours:

  • November 18 – December 23: Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. 
  • Christmas Eve – 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

Princess Party Days: Santabration

North Grand Mall in Ames

November 17

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Celebrate Santa arriving and meet your favorite princesses all at once! Royalty & Me Princesses will be present every Saturday on December, 1 to 3 p.m. during Santa Meet & Greet hours.

Santa Express

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

November 23 – December 16

Take a look at times and purchase tickets. 

This is a yearly tradition at the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad’s depot. The entire family can enjoy a trip to the “North Pole”. On your way to visit Santa at the North Pole you will sing songs, fun activities, and more! You will also be served hot chocolate and a cookie, and you will get to meet, and receive a special gift from, Santa himself.  Wear your pajamas.

Breakfast with Santa at The Tea Room

November 24 & 25 

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Enjoy a Christmas program over brunch, cookie decorating with the elves, and get your photo taken with Santa. This was a sold-out event last year, so make sure to purchase your tickets early!

$40 Adults and children age two and up
FREE Children under age two

Milk & Cookies with Santa at The Tea Room

November 24 

6 p.m. 

Enjoy a lively Christmas program over milk and cookies. This Saturday evening event is new this year, and sure to be a wonderful time!

$20 Adults and children age two and up
FREE Children under age two

Brunch with Santa 

Center Grove Orchard

November 24 & 25

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Join Center Grove Orchard for brunch with Santa! It’s great fun for the whole family. Santa and Rudolph will be there so children can share their holiday wishes. $11.95 for ages 3 and older. Purchase tickets in advance and take a look at what is included on their website.

Jingle in the Junction

Valley Junction

November 29 

5 to 9 p.m. 

Join us for “Jingle in the Junction” on Thursday, November 29, December 6 and December 13th from 5-9 pm. The businesses in Historic Valley Junction and the streets will be lined with over 150,000 twinkling lights. Along with your old favorites, such as FREE horse and trolley rides, Santa, and caroling, watch Bill Gordish carve beautiful ice sculptures, & Professor Von Air will create balloon magic!!

Santa will be arriving in Valley Junction to drop Jingle Bells on Maple Street. Each Jingle Bell will include a free prize.

Mayor’s Tree Light and Holiday Lights

Ankeny Market & Pavillion 

November 30

6 to 7 p.m. 

Kick off the holidays in Ankeny. More details to come.

2018 Holiday Market 

Central Presbyterian Church

November 30; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

December 1; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Free and open to the public, the 2018 Holiday Market is sure to be a fun time for all! We’ve even heard there will be Santa sightings along with holiday music.


Brunch with Santa

December 1 & 2; December 8 & 9, December 15 & 16, December 22 & 23

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Join Center Grove Orchard for brunch with Santa! It’s great fun for the whole family. Santa and Rudolph will be there so children can share their holiday wishes. $11.95 for ages 3 and older. Purchase tickets in advance and take a look at what is included on their website.

Dinner on the Farm with Santa 

Center Grove Orchard 

December 1

4:30 to 8 p.m. 

Join Center Grove Orchard for a festive holiday dinner on the farm! Round up your family and friends to enjoy our quaint, holiday atmosphere.

You are welcome to join them anytime between 4:30-8:00 PM. Visit Santa, take photos, and enjoy your time spent with family. Choose a Christmas tree from their selection of pre-cut Christmas trees in a lighted, outdoor setting. Take a ride on a lighted hayride in the still of the night. Enjoy craft projects (for a small fee).

Order from our Hay Cafe menu of delicious homemade items. Cost on based on what you order for your meal.

Living History Farms Family Christmas

Living History Farms 

December 1

1 to 5 p.m. 

Another Central Iowa classic, Living History Farms Family Christmas! Bundle up for a horse-drawn wagon ride to visit the festive Flynn Mansion. Enjoy an old-fashioned holiday social with dance music in the Church of the Land. Kids will enjoy printing their own holiday greeting cards, decorating cookies, making crafts, and visiting Santa Claus. Take a look at prices and purchase tickets.

Christmas in Uptown

Uptown Ankeny 

December 2

12 to 3 p.m. 

See Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Historical Society Barn, take your own pictures and get your token for the treasure hunt. Then stop into the Uptown businesses with a Santa Stop Sign for your treasure bag. Treats, specials, shopping, gift wrapping, and horse-drawn wagon rides.

Jingle in the Junction 

Valley Junction

December 6 & 13

5 to 9 p.m. 

The businesses in Historic Valley Junction and the streets will be lined with over 150,000 twinkling lights.  Enjoy free horse and trolley rides, Santa, caroling and much more. Watch Bill Gordish carve beautiful ice sculptures, & Professor Von Air will create balloon magic. Check here for new activities.


Waukee Community Center 

December 7

6 to 8 p.m. 

Santa Clause arrives at 6 p.m. SHARP! After the tree lighting, kids can visit Santa at the Waukee Community Center. Guests can watch an ice sculptor create holiday pieces, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies, hear carolers and embark on a scavenger hunt. An old-fashioned trolley will circle residential streets as well with the annual Winterfest Light Tour. Stop by the Waukee United Methodist Church for soup and holiday arts and crafts with the Waukee Area Arts Council. The Waukee Hardware & Rent-It Center and the Legion Hall will also be serving soup from 6-8 p.m.

Pizza & Pj’s with Santa 

Blank Park Zoo

December 7 

Noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. 

Come to the zoo in your jammies and slippers! Throughout the evening we’ll have pizza, cookies, crafts, and storytime with Santa. Children will also get the chance to sit on Santa’s lap. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Space is limited! For members.

Santa at the Zoo

Blank Park Zoo 

December 8 & 15 

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

A holiday tradition you do not want to miss! Guests are encouraged to bring their entire family to Blank Park Zoo for a day of holiday cheer. After snapping a photo with Santa and writing a letter to the North Pole, guests are welcome to enjoy the wonder of the Zoo, both indoor and outdoor.

Breakfast with Santa 

Reiman Gardens

December 8 

Two seating choices at 8:00 a.m. -OR- 10:00 a.m.

Kids, bring your parents to Reiman Gardens to enjoy holiday music. Start with a hearty breakfast buffet. Meet Santa and create your own holiday-themed craft.

Pajamas & Stories with Santa 

Center Grove Orchard

December 8 

4:30 to 7 p.m. 

A fun, festive, family event that will create memories that last a lifetime! Come dressed in your holiday pajamas and enjoy dinner and stories with Santa! $13.95 for ages 3 and older. Purchase tickets and check out the details on their website.

Breakfast with Santa 

Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge 

December 8 

8 to 10 a.m. 

Join the West Des Moines Parks & Recreation for this fun, festive, holiday breakfast featuring Santa Claus himself. The event features an all you can eat pancake breakfast catered by “Chris Cakes”. Photos on Santa’s lap will be available so be sure to bring your camera. Limited tickets will be available for purchase at the door. Register early through WDM Parks and Recreation. Open house format.

Cookies with Santa

Cultivate Chiropractic; 204 8th Street SE, Suite A in Altoona

December 12 

5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

Join us for a Christmas celebration at Cultivate Chiropractic. Drop in open house style for a fun Christmas filled evening. The Darling Studio photographers will be here capturing your child’s precious moments with Santa, and decorating Christmas Cookies. It is sure to be a fun event that leaves your family filled with Christmas Spirit!

Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt 

Giovannetti Community Shelter 

December 14

6 to 7 p.m. 

(Ages 1-10) It has been rumored someone has left candy canes and candy on the grounds around Giovannetti Community Shelter! Bring your bag and flashlight and come to help us find them all! After collecting all the candy, enjoy hot cocoa inside the shelter house. Don’t forget to bring your camera for a picture with Santa! Parents must accompany children, please register child only. Registration Deadline: December 7

Santa Day 

Clive, Iowa 

December 15

9 and 11 a.m. 

Clive Firefighters will be escorting Santa aboard Clive fire trucks to special Santa
Stops throughout the City. This is the 56th consecutive year! Santa will be handing
out candy canes to the children and listening to their Christmas
requests. Don’t be late to the Santa Stop nearest you!

9:00 a.m. Santa Stops
 Linnan Park (8500 Alice Avenue)
 Clive Aquatics Center (1801 NW 114th Street)
 Living Faith Lutheran Church (2180 NW 142nd Street)

11:00 a.m. Santa Stops
 Indian Hills Junior High (North Green Space at 9400 Sunset Terrace)
 Campbell Park (12385 Woodlands Parkway)
 County Club Glen Park (16335 Sheridan Avenue)

If you have a child with a disability or who is physically limited and unable to travel,
please contact the Clive Fire Department at 223-1595 and we will arrange for a
special visit

Brunch with Santa 

Giovannetti Community Shelter

December 15 

9 to 10 a.m. 

Santa will be taking a break from making toys and wants you to join him! Come have a fun morning with Santa enjoying donuts and juice, making holiday crafts, cookie decorating, singing songs and more. Don’t forget your list and camera for a great photo opportunity! Parents/adults should attend with the child. Registration deadline December 9. Register through Urbandale Parks and Recreation.

Breakfast with Santa

Science Center of Iowa 

December 15; 8  to 10 a.m. 

December 16; 10 a.m. to Noon 

Food, fun, science, and Santa! Gather the family and reserve a table to eat breakfast with Santa. You will enjoy a delicious buffet-style meal, picture with Santa, a lively holiday story and a sing-along, “Science of Winter” demonstrations, holiday craft station and more! Must reserve your spot.

Pony Express to Santa 

Jester Park Equestrian Center

December 15 & 16 and December 21 & 22 

11 a.m. 

Come join Santa and the ponies of JPEC for a magical holiday tradition! Children between the ages of 2-12 will ride their pony through a winter wonderland before meeting Santa Clause in his sleigh. Kids will have the chance to sit with Saint Nick and ask for what they’d like for the holidays.

More information about this family favorite tradition coming soon!

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