Dec 4, 2021 - Things to Do

This year's must-see holiday light shows in the Des Moines metro

A photo of Gingerbread lane in Ankeny.
"Gingerbread Lane" in Ankeny. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Only a grinch could frown after seeing these holiday lights across the Des Moines metro.

  • We've compiled a list of free finds and displays worth the extra penny.
Free neighborhood drives

Gingerbread Lane: Along Southeast Richland Court in Ankeny.

Details: 31 homes help tell an “original gingerbread story.” Visitors are encouraged to bring canned goods or money along to donate. Donations will go to the Food Bank of Iowa.

  • Santa and his helpers collect donations Friday-Sunday, but food donations can be left anytime in the gingerbread house.

Bonus: Frosty Circle, (aka SE Rio Circle), which connects with Gingerbread Lane.

  • ⏰ Daily through Dec. 31, 5:30-9:30pm.
A photo of a house on Gingerbread lane in Ankeny.
Another stop on "Gingerbread Lane" in Ankeny. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Beaverdale: Throughout the neighborhood but Ashby and Wallace avenues are best known for their holiday lighting extravagance.

Details: Dozens of homes compete in an annual lights contest. People's choice voting starts today.

  • ⏰ Lights up through Dec. 31, from 6-9pm.
A photo of a home along Ashby Avenue in Beaverdale.
Donations for the the Food Bank of Iowa are collected at this home at 4039 Ashby Ave. in Beaverdale from 6pm-9pm Dec. 4, 11, 15, 18 and 24th. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios
Pay admission to these

Jolly Holiday Lights: 3300 Adventureland Dr., Altoona.

Details: It's the 25th year for this Make-A-Wish fundraiser that's 2.5 miles long with more than 100 displays, the largest in Iowa.

  • Wishes of 80 kids with critical illnesses are, on average, granted via the event's revenue each year.·
  • ⏰ 5:30-10pm through Jan. 2. (Closed Xmas Eve, Xmas and New Year's Eve.)

Cost: $25 per car or $20 online.

A photo of Jolly Holiday Lights in Altoona.
A light tunnel that's part of Jolly Holiday Lights in Altoona. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show: Reiman Gardens, 1407 University Blvd, Ames.

Details: This is the second year for the 17-acre outdoor walk-through show featuring motion, music and massive disco balls twirling to laser lights.

  • ⏰ Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Jan. 1, 5-8pm.

Cost: $5-$10. Free for kids under 2.

A photo of Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show at Reiman Gardens in Ames.
Glowing cubes at Winter Wonderscape Holiday Light Show at Reiman Gardens. Photo courtesy of Reiman Gardens – Iowa State University

🎶 One note-able house display: 705 NE Canterbury Dr., in Ankeny.

Details: Teenager Josiah Davenport created a light show that's synchronized to music via tuning in to 89.5 FM.

  • Part of the donations will go toward upgrading the auditorium at Ankeny Christian Academy, where he is a senior.
  • ⏰ 5-9pm Sunday through Thursday, and 5-10pm Friday and Saturday.
A photo of a synchronized music and light show in Ankeny.
A synchronized music and light show at 705 NE Canterbury Drive in Ankeny. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios
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