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A fresh dusting of snow atop the Luxor’s pyramid-shaped exterior may not scream Christmas (and almost never happens anyway), but that doesn’t mean Las Vegas isn’t a worthy holiday destination. If decking the casino floor with boughs of holly and amazingly low hotel rates adds a holiday spring to your step, then get yourself to Sin City right now. Beyond the gaming and the glitz you’ll find a city that embodies the spirit of the season—as only Las Vegas knows how.

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Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden Lighting

Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden Lighting | Photo courtesy of Ethel M Chocolates

Holiday Lights at Ethel M Botanical Garden

(Daily through January 1)
The Cactus Garden at Vegas-based chocolatier Ethel M is an Off-Strip gem that has been enchanting locals and in-the-know visitors for years. But it’s only during the most wonderful time of the year when more than one millions holiday lights are strung around the cacti to create a riot of colors that brighten the desert sky. The light display is free to the public and happen daily beginning at 5pm. Also, Ethel M is a full-service chocolatier so don’t leave until your belly aches from sugary goodness.

National Finals Rodep | Photo courtesy of @globaltoppicks

National Finals Rodep | Photo courtesy of @globaltoppicks

Cowboy Christmas

(December 1-11)
Strip away the casinos and the relentless Vegas neon and you’ll discover remnants of a dusty, Wild West town. That spirit is alive and well each December when the National Finals Rodeo descends upon the Sands Convention Center just one block east of the Strip for ten days of pioneer purchases, including everything from boots, spurs and saddles to plaid shirts and tight Levi jeans. The conspicuous consumption even spills over to the other side of town where the NFR sets up additional vendors at the Cowboy Marketplace Casino at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Photo courtesy of Al Powers

Photo courtesy of Al Powers

New Year’s Eve Bridge Bash

(December 31)
Fun fact: Las Vegas closes the Strip to automobile traffic only twice annually. The first is for the annual night time half and full marathon in November and the second is New Year’s Eve, an event which invites hundreds of thousands to ring in the new year with a fireworks spectacular and massive block party that most definitely includes lots of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” tomfoolery. Hit the Brooklyn Bridge at New York New York Hotel and Casino for open bar, live entertainment and primo viewing location.

RELATED: New York City vs. New York Las Vegas

Snow in the Square

Snow in the Square | Photo courtesy of Town Square Las Vegas

Snow in the Square

(Daily through December 23)
Dreaming of a white Christmas, but worried that Sin City won’t quite deliver? Get ready for a nice surprise. Town Square, a 93-acre dining, shopping, entertainment and office complex located on South Las Vegas Boulevard just a stone’s throw from the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is making spirits brighter with a 45-foot Christmas Tree in Town Square Park and, yes, regular snow showers in the form of ten-minute choreographed shows happening daily at 7pm (Fri–Sun, 7 and 8pm). Additional yuletide offerings include photos with Santa for both humans and their four-legged friends.


Glittering Lights | Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Glittering Lights

(Daily through January 7)
Zoom through the holiday season with this exhilarating light show that decks the walls of the 2.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway with 3 million LED lights while motorists drive their vehicles through a glittery spectacular like no other.You’ve definitely never seenholiday lights like this before, although if you’d rather your sleigh be guided by someone else simply board the Santa Tram and let another Kris Kringle do the driving while you relax with free cocoa aboard an open-air tram.

© Al Powers,

Downtown Summerlin Holiday Parade | © Al Powers,

Downtown Summerlin Holiday Parade

(December 2, 3, 9, 10 and 16–24)
The name Summerlin is a head scratcher to most visitors to the Silver State, but this breezy, upscale community set against the dramatic backdrop of Red Rock Canyon National Parkis located just 15 miles west of the Strip and goes all in during the holidays with a big-hearted holiday parade featuring outrageous floats, prince and princesses, toy soldiers and nutcrackers, penguins, polar bears and reindeer set to holiday tunes. Naturally, a Santa hangs around all season for photo ops and there’s also daily ice skating at the Rock Rink.


WinterFest | Photo courtesy of City of Henderson


(December 8–10)
Suburban Henderson sprawls across the desert floor just minutes southeast of McCarran International Airport and with a population of just less than 300,000 is—remarkably—the second largest city in Nevada. As such, it’s home to its ownbevy of cheery holiday activities that stretch across the second weekend of December including a performance by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra, the lighting of the tree, visits with Santa Claus, strolling carolers, pony rides and its signature event—the WinterFest Evening Light Parade Friday at 5pm.

Tournament of Kings

Tournament of Kings | Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International

Tournament of Kings Holiday Show

(Through December 26)
A holiday spectacular featuring kings, queens and galloping horses that’s amusing for bothkids and adults alike? Surely you joust! Not atall. This long-running adaptation of King Arthur’s tale featuring chivalrous knights, amusing court jesters and pyrotechnics is given a holiday twist featuring actual snowfall. Bring your appetite: This Vegas staple features a three-course dinner consumed using utensils common during King Arthur’s era—your hands.

Terry Factor | Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International

Terry Factor | Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International

A Very Terry Christmas

(Through December 22)
Vegas is a city that loves showman (think the Rat Pack, Wayne Newton and Penn & Teller, among many others), so if you’re bored of the Cirque duSoleil takeover of the town, drop by The Mirage to see comedian, ventriloquist, singer, impressionist and America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator who charms audiences with a variety of cheeky puppets like Vikki the Cougar, Winston the Impersonating Turtle and Hyphen the Fifth Beatle. His “A Very Terry Christmas” promises so much cheer that yule absolutely love it. Get it? (Note: Fator’s show is way better than our lame jokes).

December to Remember

December to Remember | Photo courtesy of the Neon Museum

A December to Remember

(December 17)
Part of a larger cultural initiative that includes various happenings around town, the Neon Museum digs into the holiday spirit with ornament making in its fabulous Boneyard Park followed by a photo shoot with Santa, hot chocolate (Vegas gets chilly in winter so you’ll definitely be craving it) and late afternoon caroling at dark courtesy of the Las Vegas Academy choir. Unlike the usual docent-led and reservations-only visits to the Neon Museum, this event is free and open to the public.

Shall we dance on ice

Shall We Dance on Ice

Shall WeDance on Ice

(December 11)
Ho Ho holy cow is this anamazing lineup! For one night only, skating champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White will come together at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, along with indie band the Goo Goo Dolls. Former Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi hosts this spectacular night of entertainment that weaves together ice skating and music.

Photo courtesy of Al Powers

Photo courtesy of Al Powers

Holiday at The Park

(Daily through January 16)
For decades Las Vegas was a city whose centerpiece attraction—the Strip—was lacking in public green space. Enter The Park. Sandwiched between New York New York, the Monte Carlo and T-Mobile Arena is this brilliant new outdoor play land which opened in April boasting desert foliage, seating areas, misters, open-air eateries and Bliss Dance, a 40-foot sculpture scooped up from Burning Man. For its first ever holiday season, The Park is rolling out ice skating at Toshiba Plaza, a nightly lighting of its 60-foot Christmas tree, visits with Santa, hot cocoa and winter treats like gingerbread men Rice Krispy snowmen.

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Tagged: Las Vegas

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.

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