The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan
The Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan

Everything You Need to Do in Las Vegas Over the Holidays

Las Vegas isn't just a city of sin. It's a city of celebration. As the temperatures drop and we take bets on if it will snow again this year, the holiday season heats up with events, dinners, and activities all around town. From now until the end of the year, we've got everything covered in Vegas. So check out what to do between shopping for gifts, snacking on candy canes, and getting stuck in holiday traffic.

Glittering Lights
Glittering Lights | Courtesy of Gabe Ginsberg

Drive your car through a racetrack of holiday lights

Friday, November 8 - Sunday, January 5
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The annual Glittering Lights display is taking over the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Drive your car through displays of more than 3 million lights or hitch a ride with a Santa Tram and let your own someone else get behind the wheel. Overall, the lights cover more than two miles. Spend a little extra for hot chocolate and a bag of kettle corn. 
Cost: Admission begins at $20 per vehicle

Snap a holiday selfie at the Forum Shops

Friday, November 15 - Sunday, January 5
The Forum Shops at Caesars
The Forum Shops is giving itself a new holiday makeover for the season, and you can post the photos to prove it. The mall will not only have a 40-foot tall fully decorated tree, but also eight-foot-tall Roman Centurion toy soldiers, an oversized laurel wreath, thousands of colorful lights and other decorations, sets, and backdrops serving as photo stations. It's a great way to make your holidays brighter on Instagram (#NoFilter needed).     
Cost: Free

Downtown Summerlin
Courtesy of Downtown Summerlin

Watch a parade between rounds of ice skating

Friday, November 15 - Monday, January 20
Downtown Summerlin is going all-in for the season with a holiday parade down Park Centre Drive every Friday and Saturday night at 6pm through December 21. All week long, kids can meet with Santa at the promenade by Macy's through December 24 (with special Tuesday night sessions for pets from 7-9pm through December 17) while Rock Rink welcomes ice skaters by The Lawn with holiday train rides through January 20. 
Cost: Parades are free, photo packages with Santa begin at $29.99, ice skate rentals start at $15, and train rides are $4

Ice skate on a rooftop pool deck

Wednesday, November 20 - Sunday, January 5
The Cosmopolitan
This annual holiday tradition never gets old, especially with a cocktail in hand. The Boulevard Pool rooftop deck mixes Vegas Strip views with the fun of a skating rink. When not slipping and falling, roast s'mores by the fire pit, browse a special food and drink menu, and take photos by a colorful 36-foot-tall tree. Stop by on Mondays and Tuesday for holiday movies on the Cosmopolitan's giant digital marquee at 6:30pm. 
Cost: Free admission (all day skating begins at $25 with discounts for locals, hotel guests, and military)

Mariah Carey Las Vegas
Mariah Carey | Courtesy of Denise Truscello

Watch Mariah Carey present a diva-worthy Christmas 

Friday, November 22 - Saturday, November 30 
Caesars Palace
Mariah Carey managed to escape the ’90s with the only new Christmas song anyone remembers, and she did the smart thing and made a holiday show out of it. All I Want for Christmas is You replaces the singer's semi-regular Caesars Palace residency with five dates at the Colosseum. If you prefer just the hits, The Butterfly Returns show resumes in February. 
Cost: Tickets begin at $55

Sip on a drink at a holiday pop-up cocktail bar

Monday, November 25 - Tuesday, December 31
The historic Sand Dollar Lounge is transforming into "Miracle on Spring Mountain" for six weeks, serving holiday-themed craft cocktails 4pm-4am daily. Everything comes served in festive mugs and glassware that even the Grinch would appreciate. The idea is an extension of the Miracle pop-up bar concept that began in New York and has now gone worldwide. Think of it as the ultimate Christmas office party with over-the-top decorations, stiff drinks, and a loose social atmosphere. (Just behave yourself underneath the mistletoe.) The Sand Dollar is known for nightly live music, which will only make the joint even jollier. 
Cost: Free admission

The Smith Center Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical | The Smith Center

Get your culture on at The Smith Center

November 26 - December 31
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts has an especially loaded lineup for the holiday season. Take a trip to Whoville with Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical November 26-December 1 (with a special sensory-friendly performance the morning of November 30). The Las Vegas Philharmonic presents two Christmas concertos and Handel's Messiah on December 6 and A Classic Holiday performance on December 6. The Nevada Ballet Theater takes the stage for The Nutcracker December 13-24. 
Cost: Tickets begin at $32.95 for How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, $30 for both Philharmonic performances, and $32.95 for The Nutcracker

Feel the holiday spirit at Sam's Town

Wednesday, November 29
Sunrise Manor
Mystic Falls is an indoor park at Sam's Town casino with a mountain pioneer theme, waterfalls, trees, and animatronic creatures. It takes on a winter vibe with festive decor and the official lighting of a Christmas tree at 4pm. Nine minute laser and light shows run on the hour from 5-10pm throughout the season, complete with falling snow and classic holiday songs. 
Cost: Free

Find a good restaurant on Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28
Multiple Locations
Stuffing and slicing a turkey sounds like more trouble than it's worth. Save the hassle and eat out at one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Partage adds a French touch to the holiday with a three-course menu for $75 per person with rolled turkey stuffed with veal and other dishes. Sparrow + Wolf has a holiday feast for $65 per person with duck breast and leg confit, Korean-spiced acorn squash and more. Marche Bacchus by the water at Desert Shores has a three-course menu featuring a choice of free-range turkey or honey glazed ham as the main course for $49.95. And Mabel's BBQ at the Palms has a full feast to go with smoked turkey and enough sides and desserts for 6-8 people for $175. 
Cost: Prices vary

Courtesy of The LINQ

See a free holiday show at The LINQ

Friday, November 29
The LINQ promenade debuts a new holiday show at the Fountain Stage that runs throughout the season with performances at the top of the hour Thursday through Saturday nights. Expect dancers dressed in LED lights, acrobats, elves, and traditional Christmas songs mixed with hip-hop music. The entire promenade will be decorated and the High Roller wheel will show off holiday colors when it lights up at night. Icebar debuts at the LINQ during the first week of December and will provide snow and ice sculptures to celebrate. 
Cost: Free

A Very Terry Christmas 2, The Sequel
A Very Terry Christmas 2, The Sequel | Courtesy of Tom Donoghue

See if lips move during Terry Fator's Christmas sequel

Friday, November 29 - Monday, December 30
The Mirage
Every winter, Terry Fator's residency at the Mirage takes on a holiday theme patterned after the format of an old-school Christmas television special. Although the singer and ventriloquist regularly updates his puppets and routines, he's giving the production an even fresher coat of paint this time around. The new show, A Very Terry Christmas 2, The Sequel, will be a top-to-bottom revamp of characters, songs, and routines -- although it wouldn't be a bad thing if the longtime David Bowie-Bing Crosby duet stuck around.  
Cost: Tickets begin at $39.95

Las Vegas Christmas Town
Courtesy of Las Vegas Christmas Town

Take a trip to Christmas Town 

Friday, November 29 - Tuesday, December 31
Why let a water park go to waste during winter? Cowabunga Bay is transformed into Las Vegas Christmas Town for the holiday season. No, you can't swim. But you can sled down a 100-foot snow hill, take a ride on the Polar Express, play yuletide laser tag, dive into a snowball pit, and even do battle with paintball. If last year is any indication, stations will serve up a variety of drinks and food based on the flavors of the world. 
Cost: Admission begins at $20

Venture deep into the Magical Forest

Friday, November 29 - Saturday, January 4
West Valley
The Magical Forest, the biggest fundraiser of the year for Opportunity Village, covers a lot of ground -- carnival rides, activities, food vendors, animatronics, a passenger train, and more than a million lights decorating hundreds of Christmas trees. New this year and included in the ticket price is a Santa-themed escape room and nightly performances of Elf the Musical (based on the WIll Farrell flick). Check out this deal: Take a Magical Flight of Flights helicopter ride above the Strip with Papillon and receive free entry to the Magical Forest anytime this season. 
Cost: Tickets begin at $15; Papillon helicopter package begins at $99

Tivolli Village
Courtesy of Tivoli Village

Spend Christmas in the Hamptons

Saturday, November 30 - Tuesday, January 7
Tivoli Village
The Hamptons restaurant at Tivoli Village is giving itself a wintery makeover with elaborate decor and a seasonal menu that includes prime rib and themed cocktails. Grab a meal and explore the Tivoli Village outdoor plaza, which will be in full holiday mode. Kids will love Operation Santa's Village, a pop-up of five themed rooms that include exclusive photo time with Old Saint Nick.  
Cost: Prices vary  

Solve a holiday-themed whodunit

Sunday, December 1 - Wednesday, January 2
Marriage Can Be Murder has been keeping the dinner-and-a-show tradition alive in Vegas for 20 years now, mixing humor with improv, audience particiaption, and a three-course meal. The holiday version of the production runs all month long, letting guests in on the mystery of solving a murder -- and it could be anyone. Even the person sitting next to you. Doors open at 6pm for performances at The D Las Vegas Showroom, which will actually close in January for hotel remodeling. That means this could be your last chance to see Marriage Can Be Murder until it finds a new theater to call home in the new year.
Cost: Tickets begin at $75.27

Order holiday cocktails at a tequila joint

Sunday, December 1 - Friday, January 31
Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood
Cabo Wabo Cantina is best known for its tequila, but the bar has its own take on a few familiar holiday drinks. The Warm Apple Cider is a combination of Pusser's Rum, Fireball, salted caramel syrup, and seasonal spices. The Cabo Wabo Eggnog is a secret in-house recipe, but features brandy and Grand Marnier. Try both.  
Cost: Warm Apple Cider $12, Cabo Wabo Eggnog $14

Learn to make your own holiday treats

Thursday, December 4 and Saturday, December 14
Paris Las Vegas
Give your holiday parties a serious upgrade. Chef Vincent Pouessel of Mon Ami Gabi is leading two classes on how to make holiday hors d'oeuvres with a French twist. Even better, the creations will be sampled on the spot with wine and champagne pairings. Don't worry about paying attention too closely. A recipe booklet will be provided to take home. The December 5 class is 6-8pm and the December 14 class is 1-3pm. Each features a different menu, so feel free to attend both. Call 702-944-4224 for reservations. 
Cost: $55 per person (gratuity not included)

Hit the Bellagio lobby for a festive floral display

Friday, December 6 - Saturday, January 4
The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio -- also known as the best place on the Strip to walk into someone's camera shot -- averages more than 30,000 visitors a day during the holiday season. One of the best free attractions in Vegas will be merry and bright with a 42-foot tall tree and carnation-heavy floral designs taking the shape of polar bears, elves, giant ornaments and anything else that might look good in Santa's sleigh. 
Cost: Free

Downtown Container Park Las Vegas
Courtesy of Downtown Container Park

Meet Santa and binge on breakfast at the Container Park

Saturday, December 7 and Saturday, December 14
The stress of telling Santa what you really, really want for Christmas can build up an appetite. For two Saturdays in November, adults and kids alike can wolf down a bottomless breakfast from 10am-1pm at the Downtown Container Park while the Jolly One takes wish lists and photo requests. Visit an omelet station and fill your plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, Belgian waffles, silver dollar pancakes, mini-donut breakfast sandwiches, muffins, pastries, and fruit. Kids can also decorate cookies.  
Cost: Breakfast is $35 per adult; $15 per child

Fremont Street Experience
Courtesy of Fremont Street Experience

Get lit at the Fremont Street Experience

Thursday, December 12
Downtown shifts into holiday mode with the lighting of a 50-foot tall Christmas tree at the Fremont Street Experience. Mayor Carolyn Goodman will help flip the switch with a ceremony at 5pm. Santa will be around for photos beginning at 4:45pm. The event is a good excuse to get an early look at the newly renovated Viva Vision overhead video-screen canopy, which is shining brighter than ever with more than 12 million LED lights. 
Cost: Free

Toast to the holidays with a little bit of the bubbly

Tuesday, December 17
Paris Las Vegas
Ready for the good stuff? G.H. Mumm & Cie hosts a champagne tasting at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant from 4:30-5:30pm. Hors d'oeuvres will be served in between sips of Mumm Brut, Mumm Rose, and Perrier Jouet Blanc de Blancs. Views of the Strip are included at no extra charge. 
Cost: $60   

Light the menorah for Hanukkah

Sunday, December 22 - Monday, December 23
Multiple locations
The eight crazy nights of Hanukkah get underway a little later in December this year. The lighting of the 20-foot tall Grand Menorah at the Fremont Street Experience is 4pm on December 22. Downtown Summerlin hosts a Hanukkah celebration from 4-7pm on December 23 with a menorah lighting, entertainment, ice skating, and hot cocoa. And The District at Green Valley Ranch gets in on the fun with "Light up the District" from 5:30-7:30pm on December 23 with live entertainment, dreidels, and doughnuts. 
Cost: Free

Eat out for Christmas

Monday, December 23 - Wednesday, December 25
Multiple Locations
Las Vegas is full of great restaurants, so why spend time cooking a holiday meal when you can eat out? Ferraro's has a four-course Buon Natale feast, featuring a main entree of seared scallops or roasted lamb, for $95 per person on December 23-24. Sage at Aria has a three-course meal of chestnut soup, roasted venison loin, and sticky ginger cake for $50 on Christmas Eve. Costa di Mare at Wynn serves a four-course Feast of the Seven Fishes, featuring fresh Mediterranean seafood, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for $130 per person. And Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan has a five-course holiday feast, including duck carved tableside on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for $148 per person. 
Cost: Prices vary

Feast on a dim sum brunch

Tuesday, December 24 - Wednesday, January 1
Wynn Las Vegas
A holiday meal doesn't have to be all about sliced turkey and fruitcake. The Holiday Dim Sum Brunch at Wing Lei is an annual tradition at the Wynn -- and you get a lot of food for the price. Make your way through buffet and carving stations while eating all the Cantonese, Shanghai, and Szechuan-style Chinese flavors you can handle. 
Cost: $68.88 per person

Las Vegas NYE fireworks
Courtesy of Mark Damon / Las Vegas News Bureau

Catch the best spot for NYE fireworks

Tuesday, December 31
The Strip
Fireworks will erupt across the Las Vegas Valley to welcome 2020. The best place to be, however, is the Strip, where fireworks will shoot off the rooftops of seven casinos. You can shell out for a fancy party or just scope out a spot on Las Vegas Boulevard, which will be shut down to traffic from Russell to Sahara the entire night. 
Cost: Free

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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than six years. He’s still digging coal out of his stocking from last year. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.