By Jacki Wood

If you’re looking for a change to your Christmas season activities or want to create a new tradition, fill up the gas tank and head out on our Christmas Tour 2016.

First stop: a short drive up north to Des Moines, IA.


Christkindlmarket, the first-ever German Christmas market in Des Moines, offers authentic food, music and gifts.


The first-ever German Christmas market in Des Moines, Christkindlmarket, will be held December 2 to 4.

Attendees can experience authentic food, music and unique gifts in a way that has been a German holiday tradition for nearly 700 years.

Vendors will be housed in village-like huts decorated for the holidays and will offer old-world, artisinal, hand-crafted products, baked goods, teas and more.

KinderKorner will feature stories, songs and other cultural activities for kids and a variety of entertainment will be provided throughout the weekend.

The free event is open from 11 am to 11 pm, Friday, December 2; 11 am to 10 pm, Saturday, December 3; and 11 am to 5 pm, Sunday, December 4.

Christkindlmarket will be located at Cowles Commons, 221 Walnut Street, Des Moines.

To learn more, call 515.250.6366 or visit

Festival of Trees and Lights

Fun for all ages, the Festival of Trees and Lights features beautifully-decorated trees donated by local celebrities and businesses which can be bid on as well as activities, attractions and entertainment.

Children’s activities include ornament making, cookie decorating and a Lego station. There’s also the Festival train to ride and Santa will be available to hear wish lists and take photos.

In addition, area music and dance groups will provide entertainment throughout the weekend and a variety of food and baked items will be for sale to enjoy or take home.

The festival is at Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, 833 Fifth Avenue, Des Moines.

It is open from 11 am to 7 pm, Wednesday, November 23; 1 to 7 pm, Thursday, November 24; 11 am to 7 pm, Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26; and 11 am to 5 pm, Sunday, November 27.

Admission is $5; children two and younger are free.

For more information, call 515.241.3215 or visit

Family Christmas

Living History Farms presents Family Christmas, an open house full of Christmas cheer with horse-drawn wagon rides to Flynn Mansion and an old-fashioned holiday social with dance music and Christmas shopping at the MarketPlace Museum Store.

Children’s activities include printing holiday greeting cards, decorating cookies, crafts and a visit from Santa.

The event is from 2 to 6 pm, Saturday, December 3 at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, IA.

Cost is $6.75 for adults and $6.50 for children. Discounts are available for advanced tickets and members.

To learn more, call 515.278.5286 or visit

Jingle in the Junction

Historic Valley Junction lights up with over 150,000 twinkling lights for its annual Jingle in the Junction.

The event features free horse and trolley rides, a visit from Santa, caroling, live ice sculpture carving and balloon magic from Professor Von Air.

Jingle in the Junction is from 5 to 9 pm, Thursday, December 1, 8 and 15 at 137 Fifth Street, West Des Moines, IA.

For more information, call 515.222.3642 or visit

Jolly Holiday Lights

A tradition for over 20 years, Jolly Holiday Lights is a drive-though light display at Adventureland that benefits the Make-A-Wish foundation.

The 2.5 mile ride features over 100 magical light displays and includes cookies and cocoa at Santa’s Wish Shop and a gift shop offering snacks and small gift items.

Cost is $10 per car, $20 per limo or minibus and $45 per chartered bus.

The hours are 5:30 to 10 pm from November 22 through January 1 and it’s located at 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona, IA.

To learn more, call 800.797.9474 or find Jolly Holiday Lights on Facebook.

Editor’s note: Next week’s feature will be places to visit for live nativities, pageants and displays.