Things to do in Des Moines 2022: Concerts, ‘Hamilton’ and more

Editors note: This article has been updated to accurately reflect the timeframe in which author Jane Smiley wrote her novel “A Thousand Acres.”

The start of the new year means a new lineup of events on the horizon for venues in central Iowa.

Though COVID-19 remains a concern going into the new year, there is no shortage of touring acts and other performances already on the calendar for 2022. Here’s a look at some of the upcoming highlights.

Iowa State Fair remains stalwart

Dates: Aug.11-21

The Iowa State Fair remains one of the most anticipated events of the coming year. In 2021, the event managed to draw more than 1 million visitors despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns over the summer.

Announcements regarding the 2022 State Fair will be rolled out over the course of the year, but already country star Keith Urban, known for his hits such as “Somebody Like You,” “Stupid Boy” and “Days Go By,” plans to take over the Grandstand Aug. 20 after he canceled last summer’s appearance. 

In 2021, the State Fair broke its record for the most attended Grandstand performance after country superstar Chris Stapleton drew 17,320 fans at the renovated space. 

More:Keith Urban announced as Iowa State Fair’s first 2022 Grandstand act after his 2021 cancellation

Tony-winning Broadway in Des Moines

“Hadestown”: March 22-27

“Hamilton”: May 17-June 5

Before the pandemic turned the world upside down, touring Broadway performances of “Hadestown” and “Hamilton” planned to arrive in Des Moines in 2020. Now, both Tony-winning shows have new 2022 dates at the Des Moines Civic Center.

“Hadestown” takes the old tale of Orpheus and Eurydice and tells it as a vibrant folk opera. Though the story of the greatest musician who ever lived and his love who’s stolen away to the underworld is Greek in origin, “Hadestown” borrows its visual aesthetic from American mining towns of the early 1900s.

Kimberly Marable as Persephone and company in the national tour of “Hadestown.”

Half a decade after Linn Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” took home 11 Tony awards, including Best Musical, and propagated months of sold-out shows, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard (much less heard of) the musical phenomenon that modernizes the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton through rap.

More information about these events and other shows in the Willis Broadway Series can be found at

More:Produced with Des Moines Performing Arts’ support, Broadway’s ‘The Band’s Visit’ comes to Civic Center

‘A Thousand Acres’ — opera adaptation

The Des Moines Metro Opera, based in Indianola, will debut the operatic adaption of "A Thousand Acres" in July 2022.

Date: July 9

This July marks the world premiere of the opera adaptation of “A Thousand Acres,” based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley, a University of Iowa grad. This modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” that Smiley wrote while teaching at Iowa State University is set on an Iowa farm. 

The story follows a farmer who decides to hand over his land to his three daughters. When his youngest daughter expresses doubt about the plan, she ends up getting cut out of the deal.

In 1997, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange starred in the film adaptation of the novel. 

More information on the performance can be found at

More:Des Moines Metro Opera to premiere adaptation of Pulitzer-winning Iowa novel ‘A Thousand Acres’

Return of 80/35 Music Festival

Thousands attend the 80/35 music festival Saturday, July 13, 2019.

Date: July 8 and 9

After not holding the 80/35 Music Festival in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, the Des Moines Music Coalition announced plans to bring the two-day festival back for 2022 in full force.

Though acts are yet to be announced for the upcoming festival, past years have drawn names such as hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan, alternative band Wilco, rock band the Decemberists and a variety of other big acts. Typically, 80/35 draws more than 30,000 people to multiple stages in and around downtown’s Western Gateway Park.

More information about the festival can be found at

More:New executive director announces dates for 80/35 Music Festival’s 2022 return after two COVID-19 cancellations

Wells Fargo Arena concerts

Eric Church performs at Wells Fargo Arena in 2017.

Winter Jam: Jan. 22

Eric Church: Feb. 12

Elton John: March 26

Justin Bieber: April 24

Morgan Wallen: April 29

In any given year, Well Fargo Arena boasts an array of impressive touring acts, and 2022 is no different.

Winter Jam brings an annual Christian music tour with performers such as Skillet, Tauren Wells, KB, Colton Dixon and others on Jan. 22.