Summer Preview

Ready for a sip of summer? Here are a few of our favorite events, steeped in local flavor.

“Antiques Roadshow,” June 10, Living History Farms

Des Moines Choral Society
May 4. The choir caps off its season with a masterworks concert at St. Ambrose Cathedral.

Napoleon Douglas
May 4. The local singer anchors two nights at Noce in May, first with Broadway tunes and then with the Nate Sparks Big Band on May 25.

Safe Space Prom
May 4. LGBTQ+ students from local high schools can dance up a storm at the Des Moines Art Center, which is co-hosting the party with the Queer Youth Resource Center.

Alyssa Allgood
May 10. The jazz singer and bandleader swings in from Chicago to release a new album at Noce.

Brick Convention: A Lego Fan Event
May 11-12. If you’re looking for a “hands-on, minds-on” activity for builders of all ages, head to the MidAmerican Energy RecPlex in West Des Moines.

Des Moines Symphony
May 11-12. The orchestra wraps up its indoor season at the Des Moines Civic Center with Beethoven’s 200-year-old Ninth Symphony, with help from 150 local voices for the “Ode to Joy.”

Des Moines Community Orchestra
May 12. The orchestra presents a free, all-Spanish program with help from the Heart of Iowa Classical Guitar Society at Drake University’s Harmon Fine Arts Center.

May 14. The national tour of the musical about a murder and its sensational aftermath brings the old razzle-dazzle to Stephens Auditorium in Ames. center.

“The Secret Agency”
May 16-17. The “family funk phenomenon” known as Secret Agent 23 Skidoo combines hip-hop and science fiction into family-friendly shows at Water Works Park and Riverview Park, which kick off a free outdoor series Des Moines Performing Arts presents across the metro.

Greenbelt Music Festival
May 17-18. This year’s indoor-outdoor shindig at the Horizon Events Center on the Clive Greenbelt Trail features Umphrey’s McGee, Railroad Earth, the Yonder Mountain String Band and plenty more.

May 18. The rock band, not the musical, visits the Vibrant Music Hall in Waukee. They formed in 1967 and are still going strong, with a 2020 Grammy for lifetime achievement.

Damani Phillips with Mitch Towne and Ernie Adams
May 18. Ever heard a saxophone, drum and organ trio? Now’s your chance! Head to Noce for some sweet hot beats.

Valley Junction Arts Festival
May 19. The juried arts festival on Fifth Street in West Des Moines hosts more than 50 artists from Iowa and farther afield.

Steve Berry & Gina Gedler
May 24. We’d go see these two at Noce just to bask in their charisma. The fact that they’re singing Burt Bacharach tunes, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

Decoration Day
May 25. Learn about Memorial Day’s Civil War origins during a ceremony and procession at Living History Farms.

George Strait, Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town
May 25. The country legends visit Jack Trice Stadium in Ames for fans of new country, old country and all the country in between.

Joyce Carol Oates
May 30. The National Book Award winner and five-time Pultizer finalist takes a turn in the annual AViD series of Authors Visiting in Des Moines at the Central Library. The bestselling romance writer Jasmine Guillory rounds out this year’s series on June 13.

“The Play That Goes Wrong”
May 31 through June 16. Former Des Moines Playhouse executive director John Viars returns from his new home in Texas to direct the farcical, disastrous, wackadoodle — pick your adjective — murder mystery in the theater that now bears his name.

Dam to DSM Half-Marathon
June 1. The 45-year-old race formerly known as Dam to Dam starts on the Saylorville Dam, where runners can see the 801 Grand skyscraper as a teeny-tiny spike on the horizon, and finishes with a well-earned party at Cowles Commons.

Iowa Craft Brew Festival
June 1. Beer. Cider. Food trucks. All at Water Works Park. Got the picture?

The Ruckus
June 7-8. The country music festival that started in 2009 at the Guthrie County Fairgrounds is moving this year to Adventureland with headliners Chris Young and Jake Owen. Bonus: Tickets include admission to the amusement and water parks.

“The Melancholy Play”
June 7-16. Iowa Stage Theatre takes over the Des Moines Civic Center’s Stoner Theater to tell playwright Sarah Ruhl’s tale of an ordinary bank teller who becomes suddenly, inexplicably happy. And things get weird. And her hairdresser turns into an almond.

Emancipation Day
June 8. Explore a century of Black history in Iowa, from the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation through the 1960s Civil Rights movement, at Living History Farms.

“Antiques Roadshow”
June 10. Producers from the popular PBS series visit Living History Farms to appraise antiques, artwork and any other odds and ends that you can dig out of your attic or garage. Guests can bring up to two items and receive free evaluations, plus a chance to appear on the show.

June 12-15. Human-sized ants use sound and body language to find giant breadcrumbs in this interactive, educational show for all ages that Des Moines Performing Arts presents outdoors in Des Moines, Polk City, Johnston, Grimes and Urbandale.

June 13-15. Tallgrass Theatre Co. revives the catchy, clever 1960 musical about King Arthur, Guenevere and the Knights of the Round Table at the Jamie Hurd Amphitheater in West Des Moines.

Bacoon Ride
June 15. The annual bacon-fueled bike ride on the Raccoon River Valley Trail is sort of like RAGBRAI, but with more bacon and fewer miles. What’s not to love?

June 21-23. The innovative percussion-dance group returns to make some noise at the Des Moines Civic Center.

Des Moines Gamer Symphony Orchestra
June 23. Power up! The local ensemble plays some of the best music from video games in a free concert at Urbandale High School.

The Pixies and Modest Mouse
June 23. Both alt-rock bands with roots in the ’90s team up for a show at the Vibrant Music Hall in Waukee.

Des Moines Arts Festival
June 28-30. Stroll around the Pappajohn Sculpture Park for a hit of inspiration from artists and musicians from across the country.

For more ideas, sign up to receive our new free newsletter, dsm Season Preview, which offers our editors’ essential recommendations for the months ahead.

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