Chinese New Year Explodes in Las Vegas!
“Kung Hei Fat Choy! (Chinese for “Happy New Year!”)
Las Vegas is set to celebrate Chinese New Year which starts on Thursday, February 19 and runs through March 3rd with a pyrotechnic explosion of festive events throughout the city. This year’s event, also known as the “Spring Festival” in Asia, brings thousands of Asians to Las Vegas in celebration of the “Year of the Goat.” With the lucky numbers of “2” and “7,” many of these folks will be betting the numbers 27 and 72 on the roulette wheel. (Although odd numbers are still considered to be bad luck.) In ancient times, this event, also known as the Lunar New Year, coincided with the annual cycle of spring planting and the hope of a bountiful harvest in the fall. As part of the mythology surrounding the festival, the ancient Chinese lit firecrackers and performed dragon dances to ward off an evil monster named “Nian” who promised destruction.
Here’s another interesting fact: This animal-themed zodiac coincides with a cycle of the elements, including metal, wood, fire, water, and earth. This means that it’s actually the “Year of the Wooden Goat.” Perhaps if we used the same type of mythological imagery to describe our own election cycles, we’d come up with something like: “The Year of the Teflon elephant.” Or maybe: “The Year of the Plastic Donkey.”
But I digress.
Other important traditions associated with Chinese New Year include younger people receiving red envelopes filled with money, eating lots of fish (which is also associated with good fortune), and wearing red-colored undergarments. (Of course, all of us here at Destination Fabulous also think that the color red is simply divine, since its part of our “official” company color scheme.)
Along with Macau, Vegas is a magnet for Asians who proclaim a fondness for Lady Luck. (Maybe they’ll take her out for some Chinese food and hope that she responds favorably when they hit the tables.) Indeed the significance of the Asian market to our fabled city’s prosperity cannot be overlooked. Consider that Steve Wynn’s Encore resort features an Asian theme where the color red (symbolizing good luck) predominates throughout the hotel’s décor.
And we are all breathlessly awaiting the official groundbreaking of Genting/Resorts World’s multi-billion dollar Chinese-themed entertainment destination to be built on the former site of Boyd Gaming’s aborted Echelon project. This massive project will require upwards of 6,500 construction workers and will employ thousands more when it is completed. It’s rumored to house a special panda exhibit that should rival the Mirage’s white tigers in popularity.
That being said, it should come as no surprise to anyone that we love to cater to our free-spending friends from across the Pacific, which is why our fair city will be awash with a wide variety of Las Vegas events and Las Vegas parties specific to the holiday throughout the Chinese New Year period, which usually runs from Feb. 19 through March 1st. And as the premier Las Vegas destination management company with our pulse on the latest happenings, we here at Destination Fabulous Las Vegas DMC are your “go-to” source for the latest information about all the fun and exciting Las Vegas special events surrounding this most significant holiday. Here’s a synopsis of the biggest and best:
Special Chinese New Year Events around Town:
Each year both the Bellagio and the Venetian/Palazzo try to outdo each other with spectacular themed displays. The Bellagio Conservatory, for example, features a spectacular To honor the year of the goat, 14-foot grassy mountain that’s home to five whimsical animated goats. A miniature waterfall, a pond that with live Koi fish and topped by a 12-foot-tall lantern and a floral representation of three dancing Chinese children add to the joyful presentation. Additionally, the Beijing Trio performstraditional folk and pop music with authentic Chinese instruments. (The Bellagio’s presentation is especially spectacular this year and I encourage you to check out my special “Chinese New Year Photo Album” on our Facebook page.) Not to be outdone, the Venetian/Palazzo also features a magnificent display which represents both goats, rams, and sheep. Three life-sized and hand-sculpted by Las Vegas artists, are joined by eight sheep adorned with fleece of fresh carnations. Both the Venetian’s and the Bellagio’s tributes to the Year of the Goat feature numerous “I-Ching” coins that are a traditional symbol of good luck.
Over at the Forum Shops at Caesars, a dazzling illuminated dragon graces the casino entrance to the upscale shopping promenade. A traditional symbol of strength, good luck, and power, the Forum’s dragon measures an impressive 22 feet long, is six-feet wide, and 12 feet high. It sparkles with more than 30,000 red and yellow lights. Other New Year’s festivities planned at the Forum Shops include exuberant performance of traditional dragon dances. Equally spectacular are the displays in the main lobby of Aria main lobby. These include an awe-inspiring 229-foot-long dragon from the lobby’s ceiling and winding through 140 colorful red lanterns. Representations of three lucky Chinese deities are displayed behind the resort’s front desk which represent happiness, wealth and longevity. Eight stuffed lions are also on display throughout the property.
Also at City Center, The Shops at Crystals feature an intricate “Flower Carpet” on the first floor that presents “The Tree of Life,” a stunning aluminum sculpture festooned with lights, crystals and 72 suspended Chinese silk lanterns. A contemplative good-luck Buddha sits serenely amid chrysanthemums and orchids.
Other activities, events, and live performances include:
Shen Yun – March 2-4
Cost: $50 and up
Location: The Smith Center
This awe-inspiring theatrical performance is a worldwide sensation. Shen Yun takes audiences through five centuries of Chinese history presented through a series of brilliantly staged dance numbers accompanied by a live, 40 piece orchestra. Elaborate costumes, incredible backdrops, and a supremely talented international ensemble.
Dragon and Lion Dances
Feb. 19th at 6 p.m.
Location: M Resort
The contemporary M Resort on the far south end of the Las Vega Strip presents an energetic and enthusiastic Dragon Dance parade performed by a team of 30 dancers. The audience will be treated to a 63-foot dragon, along with traditional lion dancers, Buddhas, musicians, and flag bearers. The hotel will also be dressed up in beautiful Chinese-themed décor throughout.
Eye Ceremony and Lion Dances
Feb. 19 at 3 p.m.
Location: Venetian | Palazzo
A spectacular lion dance parade will wind its way through the Venetian/Palazzo, featuring an array of brightly costumed dancers and drummers, plus firecrackers and an authentic lion which symbolizes good luck.
Cost: $88 and up
Multi-talented Hong Kong sensation TANG Tsz-Kei, who also goes by the name G.E.M. (short for “Get Everybody Moving”), performs in The Venetian Ballroom on Feb. 21. As the best-selling female artist in Hong Kong, she has a huge following in both China and internationally. Her music ranges from soul, R&B, and classical to rock.
Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Location: Gold Coast
This popular off-Strip property once again features an elaborate Dragon Dance parade that is sure to delight young and old. Calligraphers will present examples of ancient calligraphy and painting which dates back thousands of years.
Chinese New Year Celebration
Feb 22 at 2 p.m.
Location: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Guests are invited to receive their good fortune from the outstretched paw of a nine-foot tall “Lucky Cat.” A handful of special “golden tickets” will be dispensed opening up an array of delightful experiences for the lucky recipients. A traditional ‘Dotting of the Eyes’ ceremony at the hotel’s east entrance where 30 performers will ‘awaken’ a dragon and lions by ceremonially dotting their eyes with red paint. It’s followed by an exciting parade throughout the casino.
Lion and Dragon Dances
Location: Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand
Known as “Style of Flexible Power,” Yau Kung Moon is a martial arts tradition that dates back more than 1,000 years of Chinese history. This premier authentic dragon and lion dance organizations is notable for being the first U.S. team to compete in the 1990 Invitational World Lion Dance Festival in Malaysia. Performances will be at Bellagio on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. at the main porte cochere; MGM Grand on Friday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. inside the main lobby; and Aria on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the main porte cochere.
Chinese New Year 2015 Dining and Nightclub Entertainment
Feb. 8 – March 1
Location: MGM Grand
Hakkasan will be honoring the Chinese tradition of a “Wishing Tree” will be showcased at the MGM’s ultra-club/restaurant where guests can write their own wishes on special “wishing ribbons.” A spectacular eight-course menu will feature an assortment of skillfully prepared Asian delicacies as only Hakkasan can present them. Guests will receive a complimentary cocktail with their meal.
The celebration continues as Hakkasan also presents a star-studded lineup of the hottest DJ talent from around the world through March 1, including Calvin Harris, James Ryan and Sunnery Marciano, Don Diablo, Oliver Heldens, Dada Life, Tiesto, and a surprise special guest.
Blossom will serving delectable Asian cuisine in honor of Chinese New Year with special lunch and dinner menus from Feb. 19 through March 1. On February 19, Blossom will feature a special Chinese New Year holiday menu including fish filet with extra spicy broth, stewed pig knuckle and more.
Location: Mandalay Bay
Mizuya and The Noodle Shop will present special menus to ring in the New Year including raised pork knuckles noodle soup.
Feb. 19 -22
A Chef-Owner Daniel Boulud and Executive Chef David Middleton present an exceptional menu of unique dishes, including a half suckling pig for four and three pound lobster for two.
So there you have it. The sights, sounds, smells, and spectacle of The Year of the Wooden Goat make for a fabulous time to visit Las Vegas as we go “all in” to celebrate this most festive Asian New Year’s holiday. It’s a sure bet that I won’t be “sheepish” when it comes to wearing my favorite red dress more often over the next couple of weeks as all of us here at Destination Fabulous DMC join in the fun.
“Kung Hei Fat Choy! (Or as I prefer to say: “Be Fabulous!)