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6 Vibrant Festivals/Events To Attend In Des Moines, Iowa


by Katie Beale


Des Moines, Iowa, is a city bursting with an array of vibrant festivals and events that showcase its rich cultural heritage and dynamic community spirit. Throughout the year, this lively Midwestern metropolis plays host to an eclectic mix of celebrations that cater to diverse interests, ensuring there’s always something exciting happening in the city. From music and arts festivals that ignite the streets with creativity to lively cultural celebrations that honor the city’s heritage, Des Moines offers a myriad of opportunities for locals and visitors alike to come together and revel in the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re a music enthusiast, a foodie, or a culture aficionado, Des Moines has an event that will captivate your senses and leave you with unforgettable memories. Let’s dive into six of the most captivating festivals and events that showcase the dynamic spirit of Des Moines, Iowa.

Iowa State Fair

One of the most anticipated events in Des Moines is the Iowa State Fair. This vibrant festival, which spans 11 days in August, attracts over a million people from all over the state. The fair showcases a wide array of activities, including live music, thrilling rides, delicious food, and entertaining contests. From butter sculptures to the famous “food-on-a-stick,” the Iowa State Fair offers a unique blend of tradition and innovation, making it a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

80/35 Music Festival

The 80/35 Music Festival is a highlight of Des Moines’ summer calendar. This two-day event features an eclectic lineup of musical performances across multiple stages, catering to diverse tastes. From indie rock to hip-hop, the festival offers a platform for both established and emerging artists. With its vibrant atmosphere and emphasis on community, the 80/35 Music Festival has become a beloved tradition, drawing music enthusiasts from all corners of Iowa and beyond.

World Food & Music Festival

Every September, the World Food & Music Festival transforms downtown Des Moines into a global culinary and cultural extravaganza. This vibrant event celebrates diversity through a tantalizing array of international cuisines, live music, and dance performances. Visitors can embark on a gastronomic journey, savoring flavors from around the world while enjoying the lively ambiance. With its vibrant fusion of food and music, this festival offers a delightful experience for all attendees.

Des Moines Arts Festival

The Des Moines Arts Festival is a celebration of creativity that takes center stage in Western Gateway Park each June. This vibrant event showcases the works of talented artists across various mediums, from painting and sculpture to jewelry and photography. In addition to the captivating art displays, the festival features live music, interactive activities, and delectable cuisine, creating a dynamic and immersive cultural experience for attendees of all ages.

Nationwide Annual Italian American Heritage Festival of Iowa

The Italian American Heritage Festival of Iowa is a vibrant tribute to the rich cultural heritage of the Italian-American community in Des Moines. This annual event, held in July, offers a captivating blend of authentic Italian cuisine, traditional music, and engaging activities that honor the contributions of Italian immigrants to the local tapestry. From pasta-eating contests to lively folk dances, the festival provides a lively and heartwarming celebration of Italian culture, inviting everyone to join in the festivities.

Wells Fargo Downtown Farmers’ Market

Every Saturday morning from May to October, the Wells Fargo Downtown Farmers’ Market enlivens the streets of downtown Des Moines with an abundance of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and vibrant community spirit. This bustling market offers a diverse selection of locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers, and handcrafted products, accompanied by live music and engaging activities. With its vibrant atmosphere and emphasis on supporting local producers, the market has become a beloved weekly tradition for residents and visitors alike.


Des Moines, Iowa, is an exciting city with a wide array of vibrant festivals and events that cater to diverse interests. Whether you’re a music enthusiast, a foodie, an art lover, or someone who enjoys celebrating cultural heritage, Des Moines has something for everyone. The city’s calendar is filled with lively and engaging events that showcase the spirit and diversity of the community. Attending these festivals and events is not only a great way to have fun and make lasting memories but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich culture and heritage of Des Moines. So, mark your calendars, embrace the festive spirit, and get ready to experience the unique charm of Des Moines through its lively festivals and events!


Q: What is the best time to visit Des Moines, Iowa, to attend these festivals and events?
A: The best time to visit Des Moines for festivals and events is during the summer months, particularly from June to August, when the city comes alive with an array of cultural, music, and food festivals.

Q: Are these festivals and events family-friendly?
A: Yes, the majority of festivals and events in Des Moines are family-friendly, offering activities and entertainment suitable for all ages, making them perfect for a fun day out with the entire family.

Q: Do I need to purchase tickets in advance for these festivals and events?
A: While some events may require advance tickets or reservations, many festivals in Des Moines offer free admission, allowing visitors to enjoy the festivities without any prior ticket purchase.

Q: Are there accommodations near the festival venues?
A: Yes, Des Moines offers a range of accommodations, including hotels and vacation rentals, in close proximity to the festival venues, making it convenient for visitors to stay near the heart of the action.

Q: How can I stay updated on upcoming festivals and events in Des Moines?
A: To stay informed about upcoming festivals and events in Des Moines, you can visit the official city website, follow local event calendars, and subscribe to newsletters or social media pages of event organizers for the latest updates and announcements.

Q: Are there any COVID-19 guidelines or restrictions for attending these festivals and events?
A: It’s essential to stay updated on the current COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions in Des Moines, as they may impact the scheduling and organization of festivals and events. Check the official event websites or local health authorities for the latest information regarding safety measures and protocols.