From Pop-Up Bars to Ice Skating, No One Does Holiday Events Like Las Vegas

Make sure to check out all three "The Nightmare Before Christmas" experiences.

The Ice Rink at the Cosmopolitan
The Ice Rink at the Cosmopolitan | Photo courtesy of the Cosmopolitan
The Ice Rink at the Cosmopolitan | Photo courtesy of the Cosmopolitan

Viva Las Christmas, baby! While there’s never a shortage of over-the-top things to do in Vegas, spending the holidays in Sin City is an experience like no other, offering an adult-friendly alternative to the usual Kidsmas activities by way of endless Christmas cocktails, naughty Elf on the Shelf, and The Nightmare Before Christmas-themed pop-up bars, burlesque interpretations of classic Christmas icons, elegant holiday soirées, and really, a lot of booze.

So throw on your favorite ugly Christmas sweater and spread some cheer as you check out all the fun (mostly boozy, some artsy) holiday things to do in Vegas this year.

Winter at the Terrace
Winter at the Terrace | Photo courtesy of Genesis Palomo

Holiday Outdoor Activities in Las Vegas

November 24–December 31
Downtown Summerlin, $34 and up
This fully immersive frozen fairytale returns to the Las Vegas Ballpark with an ice-skating trail, a 100-foot all-white tree, and a Santa’s Magic Timepiece-themed light maze illuminated by millions of twinkling lights. Plus, visitors can shop at the tiny storefronts in the Christmas market, enjoy live entertainment, visit with Santa, and sip from a menu of Christmas cocktails. Plus, there are photo ops at every turn. New this year, an Enchant Dinner Ticket gets you a buffet dinner and a little reprieve from the busier areas (only select nights). The dinner menu includes crowd-pleasers like ham and cheese sliders, cornbread stuffing, meatballs, and green bean casserole.

December 2–January 2
The Cosmopolitan, Prices vary
One of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions is ice skating on a covered pool on a rooftop overlooking the Strip in 70-degree weather as Christmas movies like Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation play on a 65-foot marquee. Vegas, baby! Christmas-themed cocktails and rink-side fire pits for toasting s’mores, and periodic snow showers join the mix. For reserved seating, make plans to get cozy at The Chalet, an alpine-retreat-style lounge area with a communal fire pit, light bites, cocktails, and a dedicated server. The rink is open daily; Christmas movies are shown on the marquee most Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 pm through Christmas Day. Skate all day for just $20.

Green Valley, Prices vary
Winter at the Terrace, the seasonal pop-up at popular locals’ favorite Green Valley Ranch casino, returns with wintery cocktails served in cozy, heated igloos (with a food and beverage minimum), a hot chocolate cart with cocoa bombs and flavored marshmallows for customizable fun, and s’mores roasted over a fire pit. You’ve got all winter season (aka Vegas patio season) to enjoy the experience along with fireside punch and cocktails like the Snow Day (Patron Silver, Licor 43, coconut cream, and white cranberry) and Warm and Cozy (a rum and cider cocktail served hot). Reservations are recommended for igloos and fire pits.

Golden Tiki
Golden Tiki | Photo courtesy of The Feast of Friends

Holiday Dining and Drinking in Las Vegas

November 21–December 31
Chinatown, Free entry
Las Vegas’s original holiday pop-up bar Miracle on Spring Mountain is back for another round. The iconic Sand Dollar Lounge in Chinatown has once again transformed into a kooky Christmas-loving cat-lady-aunt’s living room with holiday cocktails in fun holiday mugs and barware (which you can buy), guest chef pizza pop-ups, and lots of Christmas cheer, plus a Hanukkah section for Jewish friends. Meanwhile, Miracle’s sister Christmas tiki bar Sippin’ Santa takes over the Sand Dollar inside DTLV’s Plaza Hotel and Casino also from November 21 through December 31.

November 24—December 25
Chinatown, Free entry
Celebrate the Golden Days of Christmas at the Golden Tiki, a kitschy quasi-Polynesian paradise in the middle of Las Vegas’s Chinatown. Get Blitzen’ed on the extra-cheery Christmas tiki cocktails, which include a Pumpkin Batida made with coconut cream (it’s delicious) and a duck-fat-washed Cognac Negroni with hoisin ginger vermouth (it’s weird). Fun theme nights lead up to the big day, so get your ugly sweaters and Christmas onesies ready. Also, Golden Tiki opens at 2pm on Christmas Day, just in time to make your desperate escape from your family.

December 1 at 9 pm
Downtown Las Vegas, $150
The Legacy Club’s series has served up some of the year’s best special events since kicking things off last year’s holiday party. So—with the swankiest rooftop cocktail lounge in Las Vegas hosting a holiday soiree with live music; festive small bites; and an open bar pouring holiday cocktails, wine, and beer—you won’t want to miss it. Unlike last year, this year’s holiday party is a dress-to-impress yuletide event, so pull out your finest “holiday chic” attire.

Through January 1 at 5 pm
Silverton Casino, Free entry
Inspired by everyone’s favorite holiday menace, the Elf on the Shelf, the Shady Grove Lounge is full of “retired” shelf elves donated by fans from all over the country again this holiday season. As the Bad Elf pop-up bar, the Silverton Casino bar becomes a festive holiday scene popping with lights, oversized ornaments, and elves hanging from the ceiling. The Bad Elf Experience, just $25, includes two holiday cocktails, a chance to play the Bad Elf puzzle hunt, and a souvenir glass.

Ongoing from 4 pm daily
The Cosmopolitan, Free entry
This “hidden” après-ski-cabin-style bar within Superfrico’s psychedelic Italian restaurant and performance space stays open 365 days a year, the holidays just feel like an extra-right time for this extra-wrong (in all the right ways) spot. Order cocktails from the seasonal “ski season” menu like the Yukon Cornelius, made with Bulleit Rye, cognac, Branca Menta, and vanilla bean foam, or the Kalikimaka, made with El Dorado 12-year rum, Crème de Banana, and Thai milk. You can also roast your own s’mores, order the “shotski” (3 Baileys-based shots on a ski) and hope you’re one of the lucky ones who spot a Yeti during your visit – one is known to roam around here!

Lost Spirits Distillery and Circus
Lost Spirits Distillery and Circus | Photo courtesy of Lost Spirits Distillery

Holiday Performances in Las Vegas

December 1–17
Chinatown, $30
The heartwarming modern Christmas classic got the Broadway treatment and is now an equally heartwarming musical, and this year that musical is coming to the Las Vegas Little Theatre, an independent amateur theater company that has been operating since 1978.

December 15-24
AREA15, Tickets start at $49
If you want to get into the holiday spirit, look no further than Lost Spirits Distillery and Circus at AREA15. It’s already considered one of the best experiences in Las Vegas, and for the two weeks leading up to Christmas they’ll have special holiday-themed performances, including a very naughty Nutcracker and a NSFW Abominable Snowmonster. They are all within arm’s reach; just remember—no touching!

Throughout December
DTLV, Prices vary
At Las Vegas’s world-class performing arts center, the holiday shows run the gamut, with everything from singing comedians to sultry crooners. Highlights include A Swingin’ Little Christmas, blending music and comedy from Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester in Glee) and Kate Flannery (Meredith Palmer in The Office), and An Evening with Seth MacFarlane and Liz Gilles, when the Family Guy creator teams up with Gilles for to perform songs from their festive new album We Wish You The Merriest. The Nevada Ballet Theater puts on a truly magical production of The Nutcracker and the Las Vegas Philharmonic hits all the holiday classics in A Very Vegas Christmas.

"The Nightmare Before Christmas" at AREA15
"The Nightmare Before Christmas" at AREA15 | Photo courtesy of AREA15

The Nightmare Before Christmas Events in Las Vegas

November 22–December 28
Chinatown, Prices vary
Chinatown’s Más Por Favor has everything your Halloween-loving heart craves at Christmastime. The entire back room is covered in Nightmare decor, from the black-and-white parasols and screaming Christmas wreath hanging from the ceiling to Mr. Oogie Boogie in the corner. Special food and drinks include Frog’s Breath Pozole and Sandy Claws Tacos and clever cocktails served in festive Jack and Sally mugs.

Sundays through December 17 at 11 am
DTLV Arts District, Tickets start at $34
If all you want for Christmas is Halloween, check out the holiday version of the year-round Haunted Brunch Show held Sundays at Nightmare Cafe. This dance-driven show pays homage to modern horror favorites with campy fun and plenty of audience participation, and the Nightmare Before Christmas edition promises visits from Sandy Claws and his fellow Halloween townsfolk. Brunch and drinks, like the Blair Waffle Project and Bloody Carries, are not included in the basic ticket price.

Through December 25
Immersive yourself in the world of Tim Burton and join the Pumpkin King on his travels to Christmas Town. Inside the Portal at AREA15, check out the immersive The Nightmare Before Christmas viewing experience, complete with wall-to-wall digital projections and some added lighting effects while the film screens on a huge projection screen with a legit killer sound system and a themed holiday cocktail menu. Tickets include one cocktail.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Nicole Rupersburg is a freelance writer covering food, travel, arts, culture, and what-have-you. She winters in Las Vegas and summers in Detroit, as does anybody who's anybody. Her favorite activities include drinking beer and quoting Fight Club.