Experience This: Country Music Weekend in Vegas

By: Maxine Sheppard

March 20, 2012

Prone to excess and gloriously over the top: the coming together of Las Vegas and the world of country music seems like a match made in heaven.

From 30th March – 2nd April 2012, it’s time to pull on your boots, amplify your hair and experience Vegas country-style. For four twang-filled days, Sin City plays host to a packed calendar of non-stop events with country music’s biggest stars, including the ACM Experience; a huge country music lifestyle expo at Mandalay Bay, free concerts and sports events, and culminating in the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand.


Mandalay Bay © Franco Ricci

Mandalay Bay © Franco Ricci



Legends of Country perform

He’s the #1 selling solo artist in US history: yes, it’s Garth Brooks and he’ll be playing two one-man shows per night on the 30th and 31st March at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. Garth certainly don’t come cheap these days – all seats are a whopping $253, but when you’re the only artist in America to sell more than 128 million albums, you can just about get away with it.


With tickets starting at a far more reasonable $46.95, Kenny Rogers will be taking his love to town for a one-night-only performance at Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino on the evening of 31st March. The voice of more than 70 hit singles including The Gambler, Coward of the County and everyone’s favourite karaoke duet Islands in the Stream with Dolly Parton, Kenny has spent an incredible 420 weeks – more than 8 years – in the country and pop charts during his career.


Free at Fremont

Also taking place over the Friday and Saturday is a two-day series of free public concerts across two stages in downtown Las Vegas at Fremont Street Experience, featuring up-and-coming and established acts including 2011 American Idol winner Scotty McCreery and New Artist of the Year nominee Hunter Hayes.


The Country Music Awards – the most high profile event in country music’s annual calendar – takes place on Sunday 1st April followed the next evening with a major concert by Lionel Richie; a collaboration with country’s elite including Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts, which will be filmed for an upcoming primetime TV special.


Country: Shop it, Taste it, Ride it, Hear it

The free-to-the-public ACM Experience will give country music fans a fully-rounded country experience under one roof. Shop for new boots or a sequined jacket from one of the 250 unique vendors, sample some ribs at the ACM BBQ Throwdown featuring champion grillers, take a RAM truck for a test drive on the closed-course outdoor test track and hear yet more country at the ticketed ACM Fan Jam.



Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Las Vegas from London Gatwick. Visit Virgin Holidays for the best deals on an extensive range of Las Vegas hotels including Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand and Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

Photos: © Rudi1976 | (header shot), © Franco Ricci |


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.

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