Santa in Des Moines

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Santa in Des Moines 2023

Is taking cute photos of your kids with Santa a holiday tradition in your home? Santa is coming to Des Moines this holiday season and now is the time to share with him your wish list! There are several opportunities to see Santa, sip on hot cocoa, capture a free photo, and more in Des Moines this time of year. Many of the options listed below require advance registration. Please make sure you read closely and plan ahead. Keep this page bookmarked as we add more opportunities for fun photo ops and visits with Santa.

** Please note: We are actively updating this guide. Make sure you have it bookmarked and check back regularly for updates!

Bookmark these other fun holiday guides to plan this season:

Holiday Hullabaloo | 2023 Sponsor

10320 Hickman Road in Clive

November 24 to December 31

Are you ready to jingle all the way to a holiday adventure of epic proportions? Well, enjoy a day of sheer yuletide fun at Holiday Hullabaloo 2023! Holiday Hullabaloo is an indoor, immersive, family-friendly holiday experience that will surprise and delight guests of all ages. Featuring a wide range of activities and entertainment including photos with Santa! Your entire family will be mesmerized. Purchase tickets and learn more.


  • Fridays & Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Sundays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 24: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

December 26 – December 30

  • Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Santa’s Wonderland

Bass Pro Shops

November 4 – December 24

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s is proud to invite families to the beloved tradition of visiting Santa Claus this holiday season during the annual Santa’s Wonderland experience. Visit your local store to be one of the millions of families to take a FREE photo with Santa. Photo sessions will start on Saturday, November 4 through December 24. Reservations are recommended. To learn more and make a reservation, visit

Homemaker’s – Free Picture with Santa

Homemaker’s Furniture Store

November 11 & November 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bring the whole family to Homemakers to get a FREE picture taken with Santa! A FREE digital photo is included and will be sent via email following the event. No photo retakes. One photo per family. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Digital photos will be sent via email no later than 4 p.m. on 11/17/23.

Photos with Santa

Jordan Creek Town Center

November 18 – December 24

101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Sit and chat with Santa at the Jordan Creek Mall. Participate in fun events such as Pet Night or Sensory Santa on December 3. Different time slots are available. Make your reservation ahead of time!

Photos with Santa at Valley West Mall

Valley West Mall

Black Friday – Christmas Eve

Santa will be arriving at Valley West Mall on Black Friday with a fun event from 5 to 7 p.m. In addition to Santa, we will be having a few of his friends, crafts, face painting, a balloon artist, live reindeer, and more! He will be at Valley West Mall through Christmas Eve, and they will also be having Pet Night, sensory Santa, and a cookies and story time with Santa event as well. Learn more here.

Jolly Holiday Lights – Kickoff Ceremony

801 Bass Pro Drive Altoona, IA 50009

November 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Kick off the holiday season with a tree and display-lighting event on November 17th at the Outlets of Des Moines! Be there when we light the 2023 lights for the first time with a lights-to-music show and join us for an exclusive opportunity to be a part of a wish child’s wish experience. You will also have a chance to meet Santa’s Reindeer and enjoy cookies and hot chocolate.

Brenton Skating Plaza Opening Night + Tree Lighting

Brenton Skating Plaza in Downtown Des Moines

November 17 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Opening night of Brenton Skating Plaza. The night will consist of a visit from Santa, a tree-lighting ceremony, an ice carver, and more.

A Night Under The Lights

Centennial Park in Waukee

November 22 from 4 to 8 p.m.

Light parade- food trucks, performers, carriages rides, SANTA! Come support this great cause to help families in need this holiday season.

Christmas in Olde Town

Altoona, Iowa

November 25 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Christmas in Olde Town is one of the most anticipated events of the year. It’s a time when the entire community comes together to celebrate the holiday season. This year, they have an extra special guest joining them – Santa Claus himself!

Let’s not overlook the other exciting activities we have in store, such as our hot chocolate bar, smores station, coloring contest, crafts, entertainment, and so much more!

Brunch with Santa

Center Grove Orchard

November 25 – December 23; Various Times

Saturday and Sunday mornings, November 25 – December 23, throughout the holiday season, families can gather for a delightful experience that warms hearts and creates lasting memories. Children have the opportunity to meet Santa in person, sharing their heartfelt wishes in a festive atmosphere that truly captures the magic of the season.

But the enchantment doesn’t stop at meeting Santa. This brunch event features a sumptuous buffet filled with dishes sure to satisfy. It’s a perfect way to kick off your visit to Center Grove Orchard and set the tone for a day filled with holiday magic. Learn more and register.

Breakfast with Santa

Holiday Hullabaloo; 10320 Hickman Road in Clive

November 25 at 8 a.m.

Join Holiday Hullabaloo for a meal with Santa! Children can tell Santa their Christmas wishes. Santa has a special gift for each child. They will capture the moment in a photo of your child with Santa. Mrs. Claus will decorate a sugar cookie with each child and read a holiday story. Learn more and purchase tickets. Reservations are required.

Santa Comes to Pella

Downtown Pella

Various days throughout November & December. Take a look here.

There are few things more festive than Santa, join us as he visits Pella! He will be in the Information Windmill at the corner of Franklin Street and Main Street, directly kitty-corner from Smokey Row. FREE! And…if you make the NICE List you’ll even get a candy cane!

Santa Express

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

Waiting for details to be released!

Festival of Trees and Lights

Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center

November 24 – 26

Blank Children’s Hospital is proud to announce the 40th Annual Festival of Trees & Lights will be at the Iowa Events Center – Veterans Memorial Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. The annual event is the largest fundraiser for Blank Children’s Hospital and is a central Iowa tradition to kick off the holiday season. The 40th Annual Festival of Trees & Lights will feature beautifully decorated trees, special performances from local music and dance groups, visits with Santa, a scavenger hunt, fun crafts and activities, and the chance to be inspired by impactful stories of children cared for at Blank Children’s. In addition, visitors can shop at the Holiday Gift Shop for gifts and more. Purchase tickets here.


Waukee WinterFest

Waukee Downtown Triangle

December 1; 6 to 8 p.m. 

Bring on the holiday cheer with your friends, family, and neighbors at Waukee’s free, annual WinterFest celebration held in the Downtown Triangle! Santa makes his big appearance at 6 p.m. at the tree lighting. After the tree lighting, visit with the jolly man in person at the Community Center over hot chocolate and cookies and participate in open houses and activities with the Waukee Downtown Businesses. 

Clive Annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting

Clive Public Library

December 1 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Mark your calendars, Clive Parks & Recreation has set a date for its annual Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting that will be held in front of Clive Public Library. Enjoy kid-friendly activities. Special guest appearance from the North Pole!

Holidays at the Town Center

Johnston Town Center

December 2 from 4 to 6 p.m.

The annual event will feature free ice skating, a visit with Santa and his reindeer, samples from local businesses, tree lighting, and a new holiday light show! Take a look at the full schedule and details here.

Teddy Bear Tea

Willow on Grand

December 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kick off the holiday season with the Teddy Bear Tea Holiday Charity Event, a heartwarming gathering for children and families. Purchase your ticket here.

Highlights Included with Ticket Price

  • Enjoy tea towers of sandwiches, delightful treats, and holiday beverages.
  • Meet Santa in person and capture the moment with a keepsake photograph.
  • Delight in holiday crafts in person or take-home
  • Cookie decorating kit.
  • Hot Chocolate Bar for Kids
  • Hosted Bar included for Mom and Dad

Support a Good Cause:

All ticket proceeds and donations benefit vital neighborhood causes: Assisting the Volunteer Physician Network in offering free specialty healthcare for Iowans at risk and in need. Please bring a toy to donate to Toys for Tots! Join us in spreading holiday joy and giving back to the community at the Teddy Bear Tea Holiday Charity Event.

Breakfast with Santa

Holiday Hullabaloo; 10320 Hickman Road in Clive

December 2, 9, 16 and 23rd at 8 a.m.

Join Holiday Hullabaloo for a meal with Santa! Children can tell Santa their Christmas wishes. Santa has a special gift for each child. They will capture the moment in a photo of your child with Santa. Mrs. Claus will decorate a sugar cookie with each child and read a holiday story. Learn more and purchase tickets. Reservations are required.

Breakfast with Santa

December 2 from 8 to 10 a.m.

Outlets of Des Moines

Bring your family for an exclusive Breakfast with Santa event. This ticketed event is the perfect opportunity for children to share their wish lists with Santa while enjoying a delicious breakfast provided by Early Bird Brunch. Breakfast will be a build-your-own breakfast burrito/taco bar. Mini cinnamon rolls will be provided by Cinnaholic.

Skate with Santa

The RecPlex in West Des Moines

December 2 from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m.

Enjoy a special opportunity to take to the ice at the RecPlex during public skate to skate with Santa. Bring along the kids and a camera to capture pictures and skate around with Santa. Preregistration is required. $ 11 per person.

Jingle Bell Stroll

Gray’s Lake Park – Southeast Picnic Area

December 2 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Walk along the holiday-themed loop with games and craft stations. Visit Santa Claus, listen to some holiday tunes, and pick up a hot chocolate to keep you warm as you wander around the loop. Santa Claus will be available for photos. The event is designed for children 13 and under. Pre-registration is required from November 1 – to December 1. 

Breakfast with Santa

Tea Room

December 3 from 9 to 11 a.m.

The Tea Room is ready for Christmas and they can’t wait for you to join them! Doors open at 8:45 and a hot breakfast from Judge’s Catering will be served from 9 – 10:30! Santa will make his Grand Entrance at 9:15 and will be available on our stage with milk and cookies for photos. Guests can enjoy a delicious meal, breakfast cocktails (for our older guests), and a fun time with Santa. There are a limited amount of tickets available.

Santa in the Garden

Ted Lare Design Build & Garden Center

December 9 from 9 a.m. to Noon

Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with us at Christmas in the Garden.

Santa is coming to town and he’s stopping by the greenhouse in the morning to spread some holiday cheer. Plus free holiday crafts for the kids and you’ll get to make your own DIY ornament to take home and treasure.

Santa and the Reindeer

Saturday, December 9, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Join the City of Urbandale at Charles Gabus Memorial Tree Park and meet Santa Claus and the reindeer! This event is free and fun for the whole family! No registration is required.

Breakfast with Santa

Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge

December 9; 8 to 10 a.m.

Join 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’slap will be available…so be sure to bring your camera! A take-home craft is included. Must register.

The Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan

December 16 from 4 to 8 p.m.

Outlets of Des Moines

Stop by the Outlets to see The Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan! Photos with Santa at the Holiday Caravan are free with a printed photo for you to take home. A free-will donation opportunity will be available. Enjoy free drink samples provided by Atlantic Bottling Company. The Coca-Cola Polar Bear will be in the Wish Shop that evening ready to take photos!

Brunch with Santa

December 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Willow on Grand

Come enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast from Chris Cakes, other small bites, & a hot cocoa bar! There will be a full bar with signature holiday cocktails, bloody marys, mimosas & more for purchase!

Santa will drop by for a visit, a perfect time to make those toy requests and take photos! Your ticket also includes a cookie decorating kit and the Kid’s Craft Zone to keep all entertained. There will be a face painter for an additional charge as well.

Still have a few people to buy for? Visit our pop-up shop in the cottage and get some holiday gifts from The Boho Vase, The Vinyl Studio & Link x Lou! Purchase tickets here.


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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