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Santa in Des Moines

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Holiday Guide, Holidays in Des Moines

Santa in Des Moines

Des Moines, Iowa, Santa, Christmas, holidays, holiday season, events, Santa Clause

Santa in Des Moines 2019

Note: This post has been updated to reflect places to visit Santa in Des Moines this 2019 season.

Santa is all over Des Moines, 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.

NOVEMBER

Santa N’ Paws

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

November 1 – 17

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?)

Pictures with Santa 

Homemakers Furniture

November 9 & 10

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

We’re always on Santa’s nice list—that’s why he visits Homemakers first every year! We’re excited to kick off the holiday season in style with our friend Santa! He’ll be making a weekend trip to Des Moines to see all the good boys and girls we know, so bring your Christmas lists and say “cheese” at Homemakers’ free photos with Santa event! You’ll get a free picture with Santa—the perfect keepsake to enjoy for years to come.

Santa’s Arrival Parade

Valley West Mall 

November 15

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.

Santa’s Wonderland

Bass Pro Shops

November 16 – December 24; 9 am. to 9 p.m.

Santa Arrives; November 16 | 4:30 to 8 p.m.

Santa’s Wonderland is the ultimate free family Christmas event. The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Des Moines-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village offering FREE 4×6 studio-quality photos with Santa and free family holiday activities including fun crafts and games. Features include rustic Christmas cabins, holiday characters and live elves set amongst a dazzling backdrop of snow-covered hills and illuminated Christmas trees.

The Santa’s Wonderland Christmas village offers remote control trucks, laser/ foam toy arcade, Lincoln Logs building area and much more. Kids can also enjoy free crafts, coloring stations and write a letter to Santa. Guests can reserve their free visit and photo with Santa using the free Bass Pass system. Visit the Bass Pass Ticket Depot located at the entrance of Santa’s Wonderland to pick up a time-stamped pass.

Guests can register online for a digital Bass Pass to see Santa, allowing them time to explore Santa’s Wonderland or shop while they wait. Updates and reminders will be sent via text messages.

In addition, Bass Pro Shops stores are designated toy drop-off stations for Toys for Tots. Families that bring a new toy to donate Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1 will receive a FREE premium photo package valued at $20.

Santa at Jordan Creek Town Center

Santa’s Arrival at Jordan Creek | Friday, November 22 from 6 to 7 p.m.

Santa’s Arrival, Holiday Tree Lighting & Fireworks! Jordan Creek’s tradition includes live music by The SNACKS, a special tree lighting ceremony, and lakeside fireworks. The SNACKS will begin playing Holiday favorites in Jordan Creek’s amphitheater at 6:00 p.m. During the concert finale, Santa will throw a fireball across the lake magically lighting the 40-foot Blue Spruce followed by fireworks signaling the official start of the holiday season at Jordan Creek Town Center. 

Santa Hours. Located in lower level court near Sephora.

MON-SAT: 12:00 PM-8:00 PM, BREAK: 3:00 PM-4:00 PM
SUN: 12:00 PM-6:00 PM, BREAK: 2:30 PM-3:00 PM
THUR (11/28): CLOSED FOR THANKSGIVING

Reserve your spot online!

**EXTENDED HOURS:
MON-SAT (12/14-12/21): 9:00 AM-9:00 PM, BREAK 1: 1:00 PM-1:45 PM, BREAK 2: 4:45 PM-5:30 PM
SUN (12/22): 11:00 AM-8:00 PM, BREAK 1: 1:00 PM-2:00 PM, BREAK 2: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
MON (12/23): 9:00 AM-9:00 PM, BREAK 1: 1:00 PM-1:45 PM, BREAK 2: 4:45 PM-5:30 PM
TUES (12/24): CHRISTMAS EVE 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, BREAK: 12:30 PM-1:30 PM

East Village Holiday Promenade

Brenton Skating Plaza

November 22; 5 to 9 p.m. 

November 23; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The 18th Annual Holiday Promenade in the Historic East Village is the holiday kick-off event with something for everyone! This year’s event will be on Friday, Nov. 22, 5 – 9 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Aside from the hundreds of twinkling lights, The Promenade will feature free horse-drawn trolley rides, visits with Santa Claus, carolers strolling around the neighborhood, holiday entertainers, ice skating, live ice sculpting, a traditional tree lighting ceremony at Brenton Skating Plaza and FIREWORKS!

Local businesses in the neighborhood will have extended hours and treats on Friday and Saturday making it the perfect time to start your holiday shopping!

Stay tuned for the complete schedule of the 2019 Holiday Promenade events.

Santa Express

Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad

November 29 – December 22

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.

Brunch with Santa & Rudolph

Center Grove Orchard

November 30 + December 1

Brunch runs from 9:00 AM-1:00 PM.  Feel free to come as you please during that time. Purchase your tickets online in advance and have exclusive early access to Brunch with Santa from 8:00-9:00 AM!

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 21

5 to 9 p.m. 

Join us for Jingle in the Junction on Thursday, November 21, December 5, December 12 and December 19 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 Mrs. Claus, and caroling.

Thank you to our generous event sponsor and partner, Veridian Credit Union for making these great events happen!

DECEMBER

Breakfast with Santa at The Tea Room

December 1

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast for all ages, a special reading from Peppermint the Elf and her friend Snowflake the Reindeer, an interactive sing-along of favorite holiday songs, and arts and crafts. Take home a photo of the kids with Santa and create holiday memories to last a lifetime!

$30 Adults and children age two and up
FREE Children under age two

Milk & Cookies with Santa at The Tea Room

December 1

3 to 4:30 p.m.

Enjoy milk and cookies over a special reading from Peppermint the Elf and her friend Snowflake the Reindeer, an interactive sing-along of favorite holiday songs, and arts and crafts. Take home a photo of the kids with Santa!

$20 Adults and $10 children age two and up
FREE Children under age two

Brunch with Santa

December 1; December 7 & 8; December 14 & 15; December 21 & 22

Brunch runs from 9 AM to 1 PM.  Feel free to come as you please during that time. Purchase your tickets online in advance and have exclusive early access to Brunch with Santa from 8 to 9 AM! General admission is 9 AM to 1 PM and tickets can be purchased at the door the day of.

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

December 5, 12 & 19

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.

Mayor’s Tree Light and Holiday Lights

Ankeny Market & Pavillion 

December 6

6 to 7 p.m. 

Ankeny Mayor Gary Lorenz and the City Council invite the community to the fifth annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting and Fireworks. Save the date

WinterFest

Waukee Community Center 

December 6

6 to 8 p.m. 

Bring on the holiday cheer with Waukee’s free, annual WinterFest celebration held in the Downtown Triangle. Downtown Waukee Businesses will host open houses from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the rest of the festivities kick off at 6 p.m. SHARP when Santa Claus and Waukee Mayor Bill Peard light the WinterFest tree!

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 from mi-fiber, 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. This year there will also be a “Snowball Drop”. Crews will drop 600 snowballs (table tennis balls) from above that children ages 0-10 can retrieve and redeem for a free book from Charter Bank. This will be held on 6th Street between Walnut and Locust Streets at 6:30 p.m.

Living History Farms Family Christmas

Living History Farms 

December 7

Noon to 4 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.

Pajamas & Stories with Santa 

Center Grove Orchard

December 7; 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

December 21; 4 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.

Scuba Santa

Blank Park Zoo

December 7 & 8

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Chimneys aren’t the only thing Santa will be diving into this winter! Santa is scuba diving in Blank Park Zoo’s 15,000-gallon tank on Saturday, December 7th and Sunday, December 8th at 11 AM and again at 2 PM each day. Come snap a unique holiday selfie with the man himself!

Santa at the Zoo

Blank Park Zoo

December 14 & 15

10 a.m. to Noon

Ho, ho, ho! Santa is making a special stop at Blank Park Zoo December 14th and 15th this year from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM! Enjoy a day filled with holiday cheer, hot cocoa, crafts and holiday-themed enrichment for the animals.

Breakfast with Santa 

Reiman Gardens

December 14

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. Must preregister!

Breakfast with Santa 

Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge 

December 14 

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 all you can eat pancake breakfast. 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.

Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt 

Giovannetti Community Shelter 

December 13

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.

Brunch with Santa 

Giovannetti Community Shelter

December 14

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. Register through Urbandale Parks and Recreation.

Breakfast with Santa

Science Center of Iowa 

December 14; 8  to 10 a.m. 

December 15; 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, a holiday craft station and more! Must reserve your spot.

Pony Express to Santa 

Jester Park Equestrian Center

December 13 – 15

Various times

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!

About Author

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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