December 1, 2017
**Updated for 2017**
While Las Vegas may not be the typical winter wonderland, there are plenty of holiday activities to get you into the Christmas spirit. In addition to special holiday-themed shows from popular Strip performers, just a short trip from the heart of town are unique light displays as well as a ski resort with a whole host of winter activities. Here’s how to make the most of Christmas in Las Vegas.
The Linq Promenade adjacent to the High Roller will celebrate the holiday season with a month-long festive celebration. A holiday show will run hourly Thursdays–Sundays from 6-10 p.m. beginning 1st December 2017, and every night from 21–30 December. Look forward to festive carollers performing at the top of each hour and a “snowfall” every half hour. The High Roller will also be illuminated by more than 2,000 lights, synchronised to a soundtrack of seasonal songs.
Downtown Las Vegas gets festive with the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Fremont Street Experience at the 3rd Street Stage. Watch Mayor Carolyn Goodman help Santa light Las Vegas’ official Christmas tree at 5 p.m on 5th December 2017. The 50-foot tree won’t have as many lights as the 12.5 million lights of the Viva Vision canopy above, but it will still be a beautiful sight to see throughout the Christmas holiday.
If you want to experience a true winter wonderland, it’s only a short drive from the Strip to Lee Canyon Resort. The mountain getaway features 445 acres of hiking terrain, 30 serviced snow trails and three lifts, as well as Vegas’s only snow tubing hill. Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, this outdoor adventure area will make you feel like you’re at the North Pole for the day. Ski, snowboard and tubing equipment are available for rent if you don’t want to pack your own. Call 702-385-2754 for details and daily prices.
If you’re looking for a fun holiday activity with a charitable component, Las Vegas has several. Not far from the Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the Glittering Lights display. Check out over three million lights along the 2.5-mile course as you drive along the track. A portion of the proceeds goes towards Children’s Speedway Charities, which assist various local children’s charitable organisations. The event runs until 7th January 2017, from 5 p.m–9 p.m Sunday–Thursday and 5 p.m–10 p.m Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets start at $20.
Another locals’ favourite is Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest; open until 31st December 2017. The Magical Forest is a winter wonderland with millions of sparkling lights, nightly entertainment and a festive holiday atmosphere. There’s a forest filled with hundreds of decorated trees, the Forest Express Passenger Train, Cheyenne’s Enchanted Carousel, and Boris the Elf’s 3D Experience, as well as mini-golf and photos with Santa in his workshop. Prices are $19 for children and $22 with rides and $10 for children and $12 for adults without rides. Proceeds benefit Opportunity Village, a local charity that aids those with intellectual disabilities. The event is located at 6300 W. Oakey Boulevard, a short trip from the Strip.
One of the most festive annual holiday displays is the one in the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. The Conservatory features new themes and displays each year to complement the massive Christmas tree in the centre. The holiday display will open on 2nd December 2017. While you’re at Bellagio, head to Petrossian (just off the lobby near the Conservatory) to enjoy a Holiday Margarita. The cocktail features Herradura Reposado tequila and apple cider with a cinnamon sugar rim.
Though Las Vegas lacks the temperatures usually necessary for ice-skating, The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas makes it happen at The Ice Rink. On Mondays, enjoy “Date Skate”, where classic movies are shown on the resort’s digital marquee. Snow flurries will get you in the holiday spirit every 30 minutes between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on certain dates, and you can hire a fire pit for groups of two guests or more. The Ice Rink is open until 10th January 2018 from 3 p.m–midnight Monday-Friday and noon-midnight Saturdays and Sundays.
There are several shows on the Strip that put a holiday spin on their usual acts to celebrate Christmas in Las Vegas. Tournament of Kings at Excalibur hosts “Twas the Knight!“ until 28th December 2017, featuring a merry three-course meal with eggnog. The D Las Vegas also takes on a holiday theme with Marriage Can Be Murder, and Human Nature at the Venetian present a holiday twist to their new show JUKEBOX. The show features holiday favourites from the group’s holiday CD, “The Christmas Album,” including classics such as “Christmas Baby Please Come Home” and “Winter Wonderland”.
Just a hop from the Strip in Downtown Las Vegas is the Smith Center, which presents a full holiday line-up of performances. Enjoy Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker”, and two separate shows from the Las Vegas Philharmonic: Handel’s Messiah, and the traditional holiday celebration concert “Home for the Holidays”.
If you’re looking for an authentic Vegas Christmas, embrace the desert vibe and check out the Holiday Cactus Garden at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory. The cacti are decked out in sparkling lights, making a unique backdrop for a holiday photo. Be sure to pop inside for a tour of the factory and a sample of the delicious chocolate at this free experience. The lights are on from sundown–10 p.m until 1st January (closed December 25). This year will see the introduction of a new skating rink, open daily from 10 a.m–10 p.m at a cost of $10 per person.
Header image: Tournament of Kings gets festive with ‘Twas the Knight! © Merrell Virgen
Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Las Vegas from London, bringing a Sin City Christmas within easy reach.