Everything You Need to Do in Las Vegas Over the Holidays
Rooftop ice skating, light shows, and bar crawls to see off the season.
The best thing about the winter holiday season is that it means 2020 is almost—finally—over. Yet that's not the only reason to celebrate. Las Vegas is as resilient as they come and while the festivities aren't as busy as usual, there's still plenty of fun stuff to do this winter to make the season merry and bright. So check out what to do between holiday shopping, snacking on candy canes, and getting stuck in holiday traffic.
The Fremont Street Experience has a double-shot of holiday cheer within a five-day span. The lighting of a 20-foot-tall menorah on December 10 will celebrate the first day of Hanukkah and remain on display throughout the Jewish holiday. Less than a week later on December 15, Santa will help flip the switch on a 50-foot tall Christmas tree, which will remain up through the rest of the month. Both events are a good excuse to get a look at the Viva Vision overhead video-screen canopy, which was renovated late last year with more than 12 million LED lights.
Eat out at a steakhouse for ChristmasThursday, December 24–Friday, December 25
Nothing beats a Las Vegas steakhouse for an over-the-top holiday dinner. Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres at the Sahara has a Christmas Eve dinner for $95 per person. The spread includes suckling lamb cordero asado and josper-roasted monkfish. STK at the Cosmopolitan is serving a Linz Prime Rib dinner for $69 per person on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with confit fingerling potatoes and port wine shallots with black truffle madeira sauce. Add shaved truffles for $15 or foie gras butter for $10. Old Homestead at Caesars Palace has a three-course Christmas dinner for $120 per person with a choice of dover sole or rosemary-crusted prime rib as the main course. No matter what you get, go with the eggnog cheesecake for dessert.
Cost: See above
Off the Strip
The Vegas Room celebrates the music of Irving Berlin with a holiday show featuring a rotating lineup of singers and dancers. In true supper club style, the evening includes a six-course holiday feast with winter cocktails available and a choice of roast beef, turkey, or a vegan mushroom bourguignon as the main entree. Save room for a dessert that "snows."
Cost: Tickets begin at $109
Ongoing until Monday, December 28
The 550-foot-tall High Roller observation wheel illuminates in holiday colors for "Lights at The LINQ'' performances every hour on the half hour from 5:30-11:30 pm with synchronized music throughout the promenade. Locals can also get 50% off standard tickets for a spin on the High Roller and $10 off the FLY LINQ zipline with Nevada ID. Stick around and try the Hot Chocolate (with the option to add a little booze) at Icebar.
Cost: High Roller tickets begin at $20.50 (kids $7.50), FLY LINQ tickets begin at $21.75
Ongoing until Thursday, December 31
Take your choice of two Downtown bars for a "Holly Jolly on Fremont" holiday pop-up celebration. The outdoor patio at Park on Fremont is being transformed into Santa's Workshop while the Laundry Room continues its takeover of Commonwealth as an engaging Winter Wonderland with live piano performances, roasted chestnuts, and a DJ on the rooftop deck. Both venues will have full holiday menus with complex winter-themed cocktails. Make a reservation at either one—or both!
Cost: Prices vary
The Sugar Factory knows how to mix a dessert and cocktail into one delicious holiday treat. 'Tis The Season blends vanilla ice cream with peppermint sticks into a long candy-coated white chocolate ganache mug with a mini-gingerbread house as garnish. Two straws are included for sharing. The shake is available all month long.
Say goodbye to 2020 once and for allThursday, December 31
The Strip & Downtown
As we continue to grapple with the limits of social distancing, plans for New Year's Eve are still being sorted out in Las Vegas. The annual fireworks show on the Strip has been cancelled this year, although the usual block party on Las Vegas Boulevard (with the tourist corridor closed to traffic), hasn't been ruled out. You can definitely still see midnight fireworks at the west end of the Fremont Street Experience, where The Plaza is promising to continue its annual spectacle. Expect VIP viewing from the pool deck and part of Main Street to be closed off to give revellers a little more space and breathing room.
Sip on festive cocktails at The Dorsey and ElectraOngoing until Thursday, December 31
Vegas has no shortage of top-notch craft cocktail bars, but if you need another option, visit The Dorsey and Electra at the Venetian. Both bars are featuring a killer lineup of holiday-themed creations, including the Lion's Tale Fix (an allspice Old Fashioned with a candy cane), minty Alpine Negroni, and the Roman Holiday (which mixes rye with pine liqueur). Ask about the specialty punchbowl to share (only available at The Dorsey).
Cost: Cocktails $18, punch bowl $90
The historic Sand Dollar Lounge is once again transforming into "Miracle on Spring Mountain" to serve holiday-themed craft cocktails. Everything is served in festive mugs and glassware that even the Grinch would appreciate. Think of it as the ultimate Christmas office party with over-the-top decorations, stiff drinks, and a loose social atmosphere. (Just behave yourself and wear a mask when not drinking… even under the mistletoe.) The Sand Dollar now has table reservations to ensure social distancing and will host live music and guest chef pizza pop-ups throughout the season.
Cost: Free admission
One of the coolest things to do in Vegas is only getting better during the winter season. Rail Explorers now has holiday-themed tours with elves providing cookies, candy canes, hot chocolate, and apple cider during evening hours. Maintain social distance while pedaling your own way down a historic Boulder City railroad track.
Cost: Tandem rail bike for two starts at $85, quad rail bike for four starts at $150
After a quiet period this year, Mystic Falls roars back to life with a new holiday display. Located underneath a towering atrium, the indoor park is shining bright with thousands of lights, an 18-foot Christmas tree, and lamp posts wrapped in garland. New this year—animatronic teddy bears handmade in Italy. Drop off letters to Santa at a mailbox near the gazebo.
Cost: Free admission
Holiday in Paradise is an outdoor winter garden with 25,000 lights, 25 trees, and a wall of poinsettias for the ultimate photo spot. There will be a themed bar for adults and hot cocoa for kids (including limited free giveaways December 4-5 and December 18-19). Showgirls, magicians, and tribute artists will perform throughout the season from a socially distant stage. If you want to make a staycation out of the experience, the Tropicana has winter rates as low as $29 per night.
Cost: Free admission
Red Rock Resort
The Crimson poolside lounge is introducing "Merry Crimson" Thursday through Sunday nights. The indoor seating area is nice and warm with endless decorations, including a mirrored front entrance tunnel, oversized gingerbread house, and a selfie station based on "A Christmas Story." The outside pool deck can get chilly, but warm up by roasting marshmallows at one of several fire pits. Festive cocktails include the Drunken Cocoa Bomb (basically a spiked gingerbread hot chocolate) and Reindeer Room (similar to a vanilla-pear Old Fashioned). A few of the drinks have fun, interactive presentations. Table reservations are recommended. (Ask for a cabana if you're feeling fancy.)
Cost: Cocktails $16-19
Off the Strip
AREA15 is transforming its A-Lot outdoor space into Wanderland, a trippy tree-lined village with rentable igloos, fire pits, pop-up treats, and shops, and plenty of selfie spots for your Instagram feed. Snap pics in front of a Mad Max-inspired kinetic art car and a 30-foot illuminated art sleigh, which is something Santa might use to travel from planet to planet. Visit The Portal next door, where "Holiday 360: The Dream Before," a 30-minute wraparound sound-and-projection show, runs regularly (with a drink included for every adult ticket).
Cost: Wanderland is $20 for adults, $15 for kids ages three to ten, free for children under two, and $60 for a four-ticket bundle; "Holiday 360: The Dream Before" is $20 for adults and $12 for kids ages 3-11
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. Admission on the ice is limited with capacity updated on a TV monitor. When not slipping and falling on the ice, roast s'mores by socially distanced fire pits and pick out libations from a holiday drink menu. Campfire snacks include tomato soup with grilled cheese and a hot dog topped with BBQ beef brisket. 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 $30 with discounts for locals, hotel guests, and military)
The Aria debuts an immersive Winter Wonderland display in the lobby, featuring a 15-foot-tall white and silver Sugar Palace made of sugar bricks and tile and designed by Pastry Chef Mathieu Lavalle (who recently won an episode of "Sugar Rush" on Netflix). Browse a selection of snacks and chocolate stocking stuffers or grab a cocktail in the nearby lounge with nightly piano music.
Cost: Free admission (prices vary for food and cocktails)
North Las Vegas
Craig Ranch Regional Park welcomes the Festival of Lights 5:30-10:30 pm daily. Social distancing protocols will be in place while wandering among more than a million lights that synchronize to holiday music three times an hour. Snowfall is every 30 minutes. Hop on carnival rides, enjoy festive treats, and say hello to Santa (from a distance, of course).
Cost: Daily passes begin at $15, Santa photos $14
North Las Vegas
The annual Glittering Lights display is back, celebrating 20 years at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Drive your car through exhibits of more than 3 million lights covering nearly three miles. Highlights include the Neon Forest of glowing trees and Sports Alley, which pays tribute to local teams. A living nativity scene performs on select evenings.
Cost: Admission begins at $25 per vehicle
Downtown Summerlin is toning down its holiday celebration this year—but just a little bit. You can still lace up your skates by a 40-foot holiday tree and take a spin on the Rock Rink on The Lawn with reservations required. The train rides are back and the Lane of Lights (near H&M and Hollister) promises to be a colorful selfie station. No parades and no Santa this year, but kids can drop off a letter to the Jolly One at a red mailbox until December 22. Carolers will perform on Fridays and Saturdays until December 19 and you can marvel at a second 30-foot tree in the Dining Grotto. The lighting of the menorah for Hanukkah is December 14.
Cost: Ice skate rentals start at $16, train rides are $4
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