The Creative Scene in Des Moines

Summer in Des Moines: Festivals and Free Art Activities to Look Forward to

Free Art and Cultural Activities

Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Take a stroll through this 4.4-acre park, featuring over 30 world-renowned sculptures.

Des Moines Mural Tour

Des Moines is home to a vibrant street art scene, with murals and public art installations scattered throughout the city. Take a self-guided walking tour to discover some of the best street art Des Moines has to offer.

Des Moines Art Center

This museum boasts an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. Best of all, admission to the museum is always free.

Des Moines Farmers’ Market

A lively market with local farmers, food vendors, and artisans offering fresh produce, crafts, and art. 

Festivals to check out this summer in Des Moines

Des Moines Art Festival

When? June 23rd to 25th

Why? The Des Moines Arts Festival is the ultimate summer festival, featuring top artists from across the nation. Held in downtown Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park, this free event boasts national musical acts, local performers, and lots of food and drink options.

As a twelve-time winner of Pinnacle Awards from the International Festivals and Events Association, it’s no wonder why over 200,000 people attend this outdoor festival each year to celebrate arts and culture.

World Food & Music Festival

When? August 25th to 27th 

Why? Indulge in a world of flavors at the World Food & Music Festival. You will experience a wide variety of international cuisine, live music, cultural dance, cooking demonstrations, wine, craft beers, and more. With an array of vendors, music, and unique experiences, visitors of all ages are sure to find something they love.

Fun fact: Look for the mural “Love Blooms” at the corner of Court Avenue and Second Avenue in Downtown DSM. The mural was created to celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion. The artwork was selected by a committee of individuals who have contributed to the World Food & Music Festival.

Capital City Pride Festival

When? June 9th to 12th

Why? Celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and allies at the Capital City Pride Festival, a weekend event filled with live music, performances, parades, local vendors, and opportunities to support the community through giving and volunteering while also bringing along your loved ones, including furry friends.


When? May 26th

Why? Experience a fusion of Asian cultures through art, music, and cuisine at CelebrAsian, the event that brings together Iowa’s Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. Enjoy a range of cultural performances, including Bollywood dances and martial arts demonstrations, and don’t miss the “Pho-King Cook-Off” celebrating the popular Asian noodle soup dish.

80/35 Music Festival

Dates: July 7th to 8th 

Why? If you’re into pop and alternative music, check out 80/35 – a 2-day festival hosted by Des Moines Music Coalition that brings together a mix of artists while highlighting local businesses. 

What’s new? With the festival’s newest addition, the Vintage and Craft Market, you can browse and shop for unique handmade or second-hand goods like vintage clothing, jewelry, and home decor.