11 Christmas light displays to visit around Des Moines this holiday season

As the final weeks of the year bring us closer and closer to December, more and more Christmas lights are being lit around central Iowa to welcome the coming winter.

For those looking for Christmas lights, there are plenty of places in the area to check out various events and displays of all sorts. Here's a look at a few of the most notable instances and how you can get out and see them.

Dogtown Lights

People gather in the Drake neighborhood for the first year of Dogtown Lights in 2021.
People gather in the Drake neighborhood for the first year of Dogtown Lights in 2021.

When: Through February 2023

Where: University Avenue between 23rd and 25th streets in Des Moines' Drake neighborhood

Price: Free

For the second year, the Drake neighborhood lights up for the holiday season with Dogtown Lights.

According to Invest DSM's neighborhood development manager Christopher Civitate, there will be "more than double the amount of lights as last year."

While a kickoff event took place on Nov. 12 to celebrate the inaugural lighting, the display itself will remain active through February. Since the display is programable, the lights change in appearance over the course of the next few months, often in recognition of holidays such as Lunar New Year or Black History Month, in hopes of continuing to encourage foot traffic to area businesses during the slower winter months.

Winterset Festival of Lights

When: Nov. 25, 5 p.m.

Where: Madison County Courthouse, 112 N. John Wayne Drive, Winterset

Price: Free

Southwest of Des Moines, Winterset is bringing holiday light to its courthouse district on Thanksgiving weekend with its Festival of Lights.

Starting at 5 p.m., people are invited to come out and enjoy food, window displays, free horse-drawn carriages and live entertainment in the seat of Madison County. At 7:15 p.m. a lighted parade is scheduled to begin and run until about 8 p.m., ending with an appearance from Santa and a screening of the movie "Elf" at the Iowa Theater.

The next day, on Nov. 26, as a distinct event, Winterset will also be celebrating Small Business Saturday with a $6 per person pancake breakfast at the local American Legion Hall, 221 N. First Ave. from 7 to 11 a.m. and shopping and carriage rides around the courthouse square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More information can be found at madisoncounty.com.

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Festival of Trees & Lights

When: Nov. 25-27. Hours runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Iowa Events Center, 730 Third St., Des Moines

Price: $5

The 39th Annual Festival of Trees & Lights is coming back to the Iowa Events Center for three days this year.

This recurring event offers attendees a chance to walk through a collection of decorated Christmas trees while also reading stories about the children being cared for at the Blank Children's Hospital. The event also occurs in tandem with a holiday gift shop that emphasizes specialty bakery items.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Blank Children's Hospital and, like last year, the event will once again be held in person. Tickets and more information can be found at unitypoint.org/blankchildrens/festival-of-trees.aspx.

Jolly Holiday Lights at Adventureland

People drive through Jolly Holiday Lights at Adventureland Park in Altoona in 2020.
People drive through Jolly Holiday Lights at Adventureland Park in Altoona in 2020.

When: Nov. 25 to Jan. 1, 2023, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. daily

Where: Adventureland Amusement Park, 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona

Price: $20 to $200

Palace Entertainment keeps the Jolly Holiday Lights tradition alive at Adventureland this year, giving those who attend the event a chance to drive their vehicle through a display featuring dozens of themed holiday lights.

After 27 years, Jolly Holiday Lights will once more partner with Make-a-Wish Iowa for this seasonal event scheduled to run until the first evening of the new year.

This event is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. More information as well as tickets can be found at jollyholidaylights.org.

Santa's Rock N Lights

A car drives through a tunnel of lights at Santa's Rock N Lights Show.
A car drives through a tunnel of lights at Santa's Rock N Lights Show.

When: Nov. 25 to Jan. 1

Where: Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale

Price: $25.99 to $32.99

Boasting more than 100,000 animated lights set to Christmas music across almost a mile, Santa's Rock N Lights returns to Urbandale on Nov. 25 starting at 5:10 p.m. that evening.

Every year this event, which allows thousands of guests to view Christmas lights from the comfort of their vehicle, adds additional lights including dinosaurs, snowflakes, emojis and more.

Tickets for the event must be purchased online through santasrocknlights.com and range in price from $25.99 to $32.99 per vehicle depending on the date.

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Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show

A holiday lights display called "Winter Wonderscape" at Reiman Garden in Ames.
A holiday lights display called "Winter Wonderscape" at Reiman Garden in Ames.

When: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in December from 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Reiman Gardens, 1407 University Blvd., Ames

Price: $7 to $13

Starting on Dec. 1, Ames' Reiman Gardens will once again be hosting its annual Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show.

This is the third year the event is being held on the grounds of the 17 acres of outdoor gardens and it promises to have a few new features for visitors to spot this year as they walk through a variety of lights each evening.

Reiman Gardens will close a 4 p.m. on days when the Winter Wonderscape is scheduled in order to accommodate the winter event. Tickets and more information about the event can be found at reimangardens.com.

Dazzling in the District and Mayor's Tree Lighting/Fireworks

Customers come and go at Cold Stone Creamery during the third annual Dazzling in The District 2019 Holiday Stroll at Prairie Trail in Ankeny.
Customers come and go at Cold Stone Creamery during the third annual Dazzling in The District 2019 Holiday Stroll at Prairie Trail in Ankeny.

When: Dec. 3, from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: Ankeny's Prairie Trail neighborhood, 1525 NE 36th St., Ankeny

Price: Free

Ankeny's Prairie Trail neighborhood may be seasonally appropriate, but residents have no intention of celebrating the season with a silent night.

Dazzling in the District combines strings of Christmas lights, holiday window displays and the lighting of the mayor's tree. Shopping and activities are scheduled from 2 to 6 p.m. with the tree lighting and fireworks for the evening occurring at 6:30 p.m.

More information about the event can be found at thedistrictpt.com.

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Gingerbread Lane

When: Dec. 3-31 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Where: SE Richland Court, Ankeny

Price: Free

Catch another Ankeny event, Gingerbread Lane, at some point during its December run time.

This central Iowa event involves a trail with 31 area houses lit with Christmas lights to help tell an original gingerbread story for attendees. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month are also attended by special guests, like the man in red himself, to help collect cash donations.

Though free, the event generally accepts donations of canned goods to benefit the Food Bank of Iowa. The 31-house route of lights will also feature special guests on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Attendees can either drive through Gingerbread Lane in vehicles or park on SE Eigth St. to walk through.

More information about the display can be found on the Gingerbread Lane Ankeny, IA Facebook page.

Argo Christmas Lights

When: Dec. 2 to Jan. 1

Where: 1023 NW 32 St., Ankeny

Price: Free

After hosting a Halloween display in October, the Argo Christmas Lights are coming back to Ankeny for December.

For the event, a house is decked out with Christmas lights that blink and change in time with songs such as "Little Drummer Boy" or "Dueling Jingle Bells." In order to enjoy the free spectacle to its fullest, visitors can tune their radios to 94.7 FM to enjoy the show.

The light show can be viewed from 5 to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays and 5 to 11:30 p.m. on weekends through New Year's Day, according to organizers. More information about the event can be found on its Facebook page at facebook.com/ArgoChristmas/.

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Light Up Carlisle

When: Dec. 4, 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: Carlisle North Park, 45 Park St., Carlisle

Price: Free

Carlisle's North Park turns into a holiday-themed scene filled with inflatables and other seasonal decorations all day on Dec. 4.

Previous events included Santa Claus, holiday-themed inflatable scenes and other seasonal decorations. More information about this year's event is available online at carlisleiowa.org.

Synchronized Lights & Live Nativity

When: Dec. 10 and 11 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Fellowship Community Church, 225 North Ave., Norwalk

Price: Free

Though perhaps not as brilliant as the biblical Star of Bethlehem, visitors can find this Norwalk-based nativity scene by looking for the light of 80,000 LED lights flashing in time with Christmas music.

The free event will provide those who drive through it with hot chocolate and baked goods as they witness this recreation of the nativity scene with real farm animals in attendance. Donations will also be accepted to help area families in need.

More information about the event can be found at fellowshipnorwalk.org.

Map of holiday lights near Des Moines

Isaac Hamlet covers arts, entertainment and culture at the Des Moines Register. Reach him at ihamlet@gannett.com or 319-600-2124, follow him on Twitter @IsaacHamlet.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: The best Christmas light displays near Des Moines in 2022