Vegas Winter Wonderland Sights & Sounds

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Sleigh bells ring
Are you listening
In the lane
Snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
We’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland

Good luck with that here in the Las Vegas Valley. There’s nothing like sunny skies, 60 degree temperatures, and scantily clad Fremont Street performers to get you in the mood for the holidays. I for one, am not complaining rather stating the obvious; that this is why I and my fellow Las Vegans live here in the desert as opposed to the arctic tundra of the Midwest or North East. Your holiday isn’t complete until you’ve seen a wreath lashed to the grill of ‘55 Pink Cadillac with Elvis in tow donning a Santaesque bedazzled jumpsuit crooning Blue Christmas at the stroke of midnight next to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign pandering photos for a five-dollar bill. Now, that’s what I call a blue, blue blue blue Christmas!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

However, the Christmas Holiday is alive and well in our slightly altered universe. After all, “The Strip” is one nonstop “Great Christmas Light Fight” 365 days a year! Who needs ABC host Carter Oosterhouse to goad families across America into garishly decorating their homes and neighborhoods to the extreme for Christmas in pursuit of cash prizes and the coveted Light Fight trophy when we have MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment slugging it out every second, every moment, every hour of the day. WE WIN! (Please FedEx the giant light bulb trophy with an overnight delivery to the attention of Mayor Carolyn Goodman.)

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

You can count on me to have sand and mistletoe and presents by the cacti. Christmas eve will find me where “The Strip” lights gleam. Oh yes, I’ll be home in Viva Las Vegas. If only in my Jabbawockeez DREAMZ. So, here’s the inside scoop on Las Vegas group activities from me to you as I have been making a list and checking it twice for all the kids in Vegas Girl and Boy land to have a joyous jubilee. Without further ado, unleash the reindeer and let the games begin!


Opportunity Village

Experience the Magic! Celebrate the holidays with a cherished southern Nevada tradition – the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village! The Magical Forest is a winter wonderland with millions of sparkling lights, nightly entertainment, great food and endless holiday cheer. For the Magical Forest’s special silver anniversary and 25th season, you’ll enjoy all this and much, much more:

  • A Forest Filled with Hundreds of Dazzling Trees
  • Forest Express Passenger Train
  • Cheyenne’s Enchanted Carousel
  • Boris the Elf’s 3D Experience
  • Avalanche Slide Rudolph’s Raceway
  • Rod’s Mini-Golf
  • Nightly Entertainment For All Ages
  • Photos with Santa in his Workshop
  • Free Parking

Make this year’s holiday season a magical one at Opportunity Village…Las Vegas’ Favorite Charity. Through Jan. 1 (closed Christmas day), $9.99-$21.99. Opportunity Village, 6300 W. Oakey Blvd.

Ethel M Chocolates’ Botanical Cactus Garden

Experience the sweet sparkle of the holidays at the largest luminated botanical cactus garden in the South West! This must-see Henderson (of course) experience features more than 500,000 colorful lights arrayed in, on and around the three-acre cactus garden. Factory tours 8:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. and lights 5-10 p.m. daily; Santa visits 5-9 p.m. and choir performances 6-8 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Dec. 24, FREE, Ethel M Chocolates, 2 Cactus Garden Drive.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

EDC’s (Electric Daisy Carnival) glitterati have nothing on the track crew who light up the Speedway with more than 3 million lights. Drive the course or reserve a seat on the new Santa Tram for a Claus worthy lap view of the spectacular known as Glittering Lights through Jan. 7, times vary, $20-$30 per car, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7000 Las Vegas Blvd. North; Santa Tram Dec. 16- 24, 6:15 p.m., $35 (reservations at Exotics Racing, 7065 Speedway Blvd.

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Each season, the enormously talented horticulturalists and designers who make up the Bellagio Conservatory team transform this 14,000-square-foot floral playground into a showcase of the distinctive sights and colors of spring, summer, fall and winter—along with a special display for Chinese New Year. This year, the display features countless poinsettias, elves decorating a 42-foot fir with 7,000 lights and 2,500 ornaments, a polar bear family at play, giant snow globes and a walnut-encrusted train station guarded by four animatronic toy soldiers. Through Jan.2, FREE, Bellagio 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd.

Circus Circus Adventuredome

Join Santa at the Holi-Dome theme park decorated as a winter playland to celebrate the season. Take pictures with Saint Nicholas, experience the Giant Snow Globe, and enjoy festive holiday treats; including hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, and egg nog. There are also holiday drinks available at Cactus Bar for accompanying parental units. Through Jan. 2, $17.95-$31.95 day pass (individual rides $6-$12, holiday treats extra). Circus Circus, 2880 S Las Vegas Blvd.

Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort

Known for their commitment to getting in the holiday spirit, Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort’s horticulture team created five fantasy villages offering themed experiences, 33 impeccably dressed trees, garlands, and floral arrangements around every corner, but the bulk of the displays are typically found in Wynn’s atrium and buffet (although as a Las Vegas DMC, I recommend taking shopping detours to Wynn Collection boutique and Tiny Treasures, the resort’s luxe take on the toy store). Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort, 3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

The Park and Toshiba Plaza

Tis’ the season for, Holiday at The Park, the new kid on the block located between New York-New York and Monte Carlo now through January 15, 2017. An ornament-filled archway, frosted-crystal blooms, branches sparkling with icicle lights and The Park’s 60-foot holiday tree welcome visitors to this festive winter wonderland. Lace up your skates and show your best axel jump on the first-ever ice rink at Toshiba Plaza, outside T-Mobile Arena. Don’t feel like skating? Visit Santa Claus, listen to the harmonious sounds of carolers all while sipping on a hot toddy and snacking on delicious holiday treats provided by Levy Restaurants.

Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan

For five years straight, the Boulevard Pool has been transformed into an Ice Capades dream high above Las Vegas Boulevard with the return of The Ice Rink. Overlooking the heart of The Strip, you can skate across 4,200 square feet of real ice, roast s’mores by the fire, and indulge in seasonal food and beverage offerings. Lose yourself in a magical, park-like atmosphere surrounded by the glittering lights of Las Vegas while enjoying light snowfall throughout the evening. Cosmopolitan, 3708 S Las Vegas Blvd.


Seasonally branded as Winter Parq, the Linq’s promenade has a nightly snowfall every 30 minutes until midnight. A 35-foot tree glows from the Fountain Stage, where Free holiday themed shows are performed from 6pm-10pm nightly. Don’t miss the Elf Takeover at the High Roller beginning Friday, December 23rd – Sunday, December 25th from 4pm-10pm. An appearance of Hermey the Misfit Elf (now named Hermey the Elf, D.D.S) …priceless! Through Dec. 30, FREE, Linq Promenade.

The Nutcracker

“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.” Las Vegas’ favorite holiday tradition returns in 2016! Featuring a full orchestra and larger than life landscapes, Nevada Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker has been hailed as “the most visually beautiful production ever staged in Reynolds Hall” by the Las Vegas Sun. Enter into a wonderland of moonlit snow and waltzing flowers as Clara and her Nutcracker Prince dance along the border between imagination and reality. Be a part of this cherished holiday tradition that the Las Vegas Review-Journal calls, “a cannonade of stimuli… visually arresting at nearly every juncture.” My review in a nutshell… “Indescribably Delicious!” Dec. 16-18, 21-24, times vary, $29-$179. Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center, 361 Symphony Park Ave.

Enjoy these tidbits that I have shared with your family and loved ones. May the magic and the wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the coming year.

Remember… What Happens Under the Mistletoe, Stays Under the Mistletoe!

Keep calm and jingle on,

Winter Wonderland – Written by Jeremy Stuart Smith • Copyright © O/B/O Apra Amcos, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

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