Top Ten Summer Events in Des Moines


Summer is a busy time to see new and different events in Des Moines. The following events are favorites with both locals and visitors.

  1. The Iowa State FairAugust 8-18- This is the biggest event in Des Moines in the summer bringing in up to 100,000 each day of the 11 day fair in early August. The food on the stick is what draws many people in but there’s more to the fair than food, including countless agriculture displays and local artists performing on the free music stages. Ride the Ye Old Mill and get a break from the hot August sun or take the sky glider to rest your tired feet from a day of walking.

  2. The Des Moines Arts FestivalJune 28-30- This is an award winning festival that gives visitors the opportunity to buy art and the chance to learn more about current trends. The Interrobang film festival offers film screenings from emerging film-makers while there are 2 stages that offer music/live performances. This is event that everyone in the family can enjoy.

  3. 80/35June 12-13- 80/35 will feature 40 free and paid stages showcasing progressive and indie music. The festival draws upward of 30,000 people in the two days it’s held. Past featured artists include Wu Tang Clan, Modest Mouse and Girl Talk. There are lots of free stages and the main stage concert are usually moderately priced.

  4. World Food & Music FestivalSeptember 20-22- Taste foods from all over the world, this annual festival is always held mid September so it’s a nice way to end the festival season while the weather is still decent.  Free to attend, try food samples with $1 tastes and all entrees are $5 or under. Cooking demonstrations are held by local chefs during the day.

  5. CelebrasianMay 24-25- This festival celebrates Asian heritage in downtown Des Moines every May. Free cultural performances and food vendors make this a fun way to spend your weekend and an interactive way to learn more about the Asian culture.

  6. Good Guys 25th Heartland NationalsJuly 5-7- This annual event is held the first weekend of July and features 4,000 classic cars, rods and even muscle cars. Get the chance to see fully restored cars from the past and learn more about the process of making them look like new again. Tickets are $20 at the gate for adults and $17/adults if purchased online.

  7. The Downtown Farmers Market May to October in downtown Des Moines, it’s rated highly in national rankings for good reason. This is a very well organized market offering a ton of options in both the fresh fruits/vegetables for sale as well as other vendors selling everything from homemade jewelry and wine from Iowa vineyards.

  8. National Balloon ClassicJuly 26-August 3- Held in Indianola, this is the 41st year for the festival.  Up to 100 hot air balloons are featured during the 9 day event. Fireworks and live entertainment are offered in addition to the balloons so everyone in the family is sure to be happy with this unique festival.

  9. 515 AliveTBD- Another music festival,  this festival is a little lesser known than 80/35 but has plenty of chances to see live music. Tickets start at $30 for a one day genera admission pass and VIP packages are available.

  10. The Adel Sweet Corn FestivalAugust 9-10– your yearly opportunity to eat as much sweet corn as you can in Adel, Iowa. This is the 30th year for this festival that offers free hot buttered sweet corn – they serve a total of 7 tons of corn during the course of the event . At night there’s a beer garden and a community street dance.



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