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From shopping in the East Village to a winter wonderland of lights at an amusement park, Des Moines is full of family-friendly activities during the holidays. Take a ride on a train with Santa or skate the night away under the stars. Or just nibble your way around the city. Here are some great ideas to get you into the holiday spirit in Des Moines. Brian Taylor Carlson/The Register

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It's time to kick off the holiday season, and this annual Des Moines tradition is the perfect way to do it.

Brenton Skating Plaza, downtown Des Moines’ outdoor ice skating rink, opens for its 13th season on Friday, Nov. 16, in conjunction with the Historic East Village Holiday Promenade.

The Holiday Promenade has become one of the most anticipated kickoffs to the holiday season in downtown Des Moines.

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This year, the Holiday Promenade takes place on Saturday as well, giving people extra time to enjoy shops, restaurants and attractions of the East Village.

East Village Holiday Promenade

Friday night's activities begin at 5 p.m. and will feature:

  • Free horse-drawn trolley rides
  • Carolers strolling around the neighborhood
  • Ice skating, plus live ice sculpting and tree lighting at Brenton Skating Plaza starting at 6 p.m.
  • A fireworks display will cap the evening at 9 p.m.

This year's Holiday Promenade event will run through Saturday, Nov. 17, with special activities at neighborhood shops and more time for family fun from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. East Village retailers’ hours may extend past 5 p.m.

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Be sure to bookmark these frequently-updated dining guides:

The Downtown Winter Farmers’ Market will also take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in Capital Square at 400 Locust Street in downtown Des Moines.

Brenton Skating Plaza

Brenton Skating Plaza will host its annual tree lighting at 6:05 p.m. and live ice sculpting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16. Santa Claus will also make an appearance.

Brenton Skating Plaza is located in downtown Des Moines on the Principal Riverwalk at 520 Robert D. Ray Drive. It is open for the ice skating season from Nov. 16, 2018, through March 2019.

“The kickoff to the holiday season in downtown DSM isn’t complete without some ice skating with the skyline acting as a perfect backdrop,” said Brenton Skating Plaza manager Robbin McClelland in a release. “Help us break the ice on opening day on Nov. 16 and celebrate the beginning of the winter season at Brenton Skating Plaza.” 

Brenton Skating Plaza

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission and skate rentals: Adult, $8.50; Child/Seniors 62 and over, $5.25; Skate Rental: $4.75; Holidays, $1 more.

Parking: The lot behind the Armory Building; the Iowa Workforce Development lot; along the street on Robert D. Ray Drive; the parking ramp at East Second Street and East Grand Avenue. 

More info: (515) 284-1000; brentonplaza.comFacebook

Holiday City Ride

Deck out your bike in holiday lights, tinsel, and holly and meet other festive bike riders at the Holiday City Ride. Bicycle riders of all ages can meet at the Des Moines Bicycle Collective at 506 East 6th Street, Suite 100, Des Moines at 6 p.m.

The Bicycle Collective will provide final touches and last minute bike decorating before embarking on a short, leisurely ride around East Village and downtown. 

After the ride, bikes can be locked up in the bike valet so riders can enjoy the East Village Promenade. Open to all bikes and all ages! $5 suggested donation.

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