Thanksgiving Fun in Des Moines

Thanksgiving Fun in Des Moines 2021

All of the fun Halloween festivities have ended, don’t worry though, there are some fun Thanksgiving traditions and events that are happening in Des Moines, Iowa this year. Check out these fun events and activities before or after Thanksgiving Day. Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Looking to do some fun activities at home? Here are some fun ideas!

Friendsgiving in The District

November 6

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Join The District for another great Friendsgiving at the District! This is a great way to spend time with your Ankeny community and embrace the fall spirit with your friends and family. They will have:

  • Big screens with football games playing all-day
  • Acoustic Musicians
  • Elevated and one of a kind Thanksgiving Fare cuisines from our talented chefs in The District
  • Bar will have drinks available for purchase

Kids Activities Include:

  • Leaf Rubbing
  • -Paper Pumpkins
  • -Paper Cup TurkeysAdmission Includes:
  • -All Food samples, (1) drink ticket, live music, and activities

Individual Adult Tickets – $25

Child Tickets for Ages 2 and Above – $10 or completely free with an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.

Turkey Boxcar Drive-In

November 9

6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Ankeny Library

Pick up your box and supplies from the library from Oct 28th through November 8th! Take your box and supplies home and decorate it however you like! Bring back your decorated box on November 9th and sit in it while you watch a short movie or two and enjoy a snack!

Family Turkey Time Bowling

November 14

Noon to 2 p.m. 

Warrior Lanes

It’s almost time for our annual Turkey Time Family Glow Bowling Party with MOM-approved music and totally alcohol-free! Glow-In-The-Dark Bowling, Concert Lights, and Black Lights. Lanes must be reserved and paid for by 6 p.m. on Friday, November 12.

Turkey Trek

November 20th

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Browns Woods in West Des Moines

Come enjoy a vigorous hike on the trails of beautiful Brown’s Woods. Polk County Conservation will talk about turkeys and how animals are preparing for winter all while burning some calories. Registration is required.

Disney on Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party

November 24 – 28

Check here for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party as bringing the magic to guests through dynamic moments that take place on the ice and in the air.  This adventure delivers compelling storytelling through multi-leveled production numbers so be prepared to join this magical search and help unlock an epic journey when Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party delivers an unforgettable experience at the Wells Fargo Arena from November 24 – 28, 2021.

Thanksgiving Imagination Stations

November 24; 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Valley Community Center

Join the Valley Community center for Thanksgiving Imagination Stations! We’ll be doing some fun arts and crafts. Free. Ages 2-6.

Thanksgiving Break Activities

November 24; 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Valley Community Center

The Valley Community Center is celebrating Thanksgiving Break with some fun activities! 9:30-11:30 am Movies on the big screen featuring A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Freebirds 9:30-11:30 am Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts 11 am-1 pm Video Game Play and Pizza Party. Ping Pong Play is available all day!

Des Moines Turkey Trot

November 25

9 a.m.

The 2021 Des Moines Turkey Trot is like a highlight reel of the city that leads the country in community pride.  Ready to experience downtown Des Moines, or show it off to your visiting family and friends?  Before you indulge in green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and sweet potatoes. Here is your chance!

 Athletes will start their Thanksgiving run with the Des Moines Courthouse as their backdrop in the heart of the Court District. From there, both 5K and 5-mile runners will make their way across the Des Moines River and through the center of the Historic East Village. A slight uphill will run athletes around the whole of the State Capitol Complex which offers the most famous view of downtown Des Moines. From there, it’s downhill for home! 

Festival of Trees and Lights

November 26 – November 28

Friday & Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Blank Children’s Hospital is proud to announce the 38th Annual Festival of Trees & Lights will be back in person for 2021 at the Iowa Events Center. 

This annual event is the largest fundraiser for Blank Children’s Hospital and is a central Iowa tradition to kick off the holiday season. The 38th Annual Festival of Trees & Lights will feature: A guided, one-way path to view the beautifully decorated trees and read impactful stories of children cared for at Blank Children’s. In addition, visitors can shop at the Holiday Gift Shop or purchase specialty bakery items participate in a gingerbread contest, Children’s activities will be available to-go for more Festival fun at home!

Get your tickets online in advance and choose your 2-hour time slot. Tickets are $5 per person, 2 and younger are free. Timeslots are limited due to COVID precautions. Masks are required for all attendees ages 2 and over.

Jolly Holiday Lights


November 26 – January 2; Closed December 24 – 25 & 31

5:30 to 10 p.m.

Make-A-Wish® Iowa started Jolly Holiday Lights over 25 years ago to raise money to grant Iowa children’s wishes. Since then, Jolly Holiday Lights has become the organization’s largest fundraising event, funding more than 1,000 wishes to date. Make-A-Wish Iowa is excited to continue the Jolly Holiday Lights event at Adventureland Park, where families can carry on this holiday tradition. $25 per car. Jump in the car on Black Friday and enjoy the magical lights.

Des Moines Hungry Turkey Half Marathon & 5K

November 27

8:30 a.m.

Burn off all the big meals during the Des Moines Hungry Turkey Half Marathon & 5K. This year, fly solo or with your family flock on your own course! This year, fly solo or with your family flock on your own course!


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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