Christmas in Las Vegas
Towering fir trees festooned with tinsel and shiny baubles, magical festive scenes and nearly as many fairy lights as there are stars in the sky. Christmas in Las Vegas is every bit as flamboyant and OTT as you’d expect from the neon capital of the world. And here, as every day in Sin City, you’ll find everything (and we mean everything) open as usual: that includes all shops, restaurants, bars, casinos and thrill rides.
As the song says: ‘Christmas in Las Vegas, it’s a trip!’ So dive in and check out our guide to some of the best things to do in Vegas during holiday season, including:
- Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
- Ice skating at The Cosmopolitan
- Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Speedway
- Flamingo and LINQ Promenade
- Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden
- The Magical Forest
- The Great Santa Run
The Bellagio at Christmas
The Bellagio’s dazzling dancing fountains are a spectacle at any time of year, but be sure to catch them during December when the huge water plumes soar and sway to Mariah, Bing, Wham! and other Christmas party bangers. Inside, the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens gets a marvelous festive makeover, with decorations made from plants and flowers and supersize displays featuring sparkly polar bears, massive Christmas baubles, thousands of lights, and that all-important skyscraping Christmas tree. Best of all, it’s completely free and – unlike elsewhere in the Bellagio – children are welcome.
Ice Skating at the Cosmopolitan
High above the Strip lies a winter wonderland par excellence in the shape of the Cosmopolitan’s rooftop which – glitzy enough at the best of times – really ramps up the tinsel factor in December. Expect cozy Christmas vibes aplenty thanks to sparkling trees, blazing firepits, gooey s’mores, festive cocktails (snowball, anyone?) and romantic views of the neon-lit Eiffel Tower over at Paris Las Vegas. Better yet, a 4,200 square foot ice rink replaces the pool up here during the holiday season, complete with fake snowflakes. So pull on your mittens, wrap your scarf tight, strap on your skates, hit the ice and let it snow!
Drive-Through Light Show
Rev up your engine and hit the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Glittering Lights, one of the biggest and best light shows in the country. Every December, the 2-5-mile course is festooned with somewhere in the region of five million – yep, that’s five MILLION – lights, each contributing to spectacular festive scenes and other Vegas-themed displays, meaning you’re as likely to see a hip-wiggling house-sized Elvis as a jolly Santa Claus. Pile the family into the car (with a hot chocolate each), tune into the custom radio station that plays carols and other Christmas favorites, and brace yourselves for the light show of a lifetime.
Have you been dreaming of a... pink Christmas? Look no further than the Winter Parq – the promenade connecting the Flamingo and LINQ hotels where, by the Flamingo at least, bright pink decorations are de rigueur. Take in the glittering lights, giant snow globe and kitschy Christmas ornaments at the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat before strolling to the LINQ for live entertainment and Christmassy cocktails under the towering tree. Afterwards, warm up and take in panoramic views of the Neon City aboard the High Roller Observation Wheel which (you’ll be unsurprised to learn) is, at 550 feet, one of the tallest on the planet (second only to the Ain Dubai). Those who suffer from vertigo need not apply.
Ethel M Cactus Garden
If there’s anything more ubiquitous than Christmas trees in Vegas in December, it’s Christmas cacti. You’ll see these bristly beauties bedecked with festive baubles nearly everywhere you go, but nowhere more so than in the grounds of the legendary Ethel M Chocolate Factory. Here, the three-acre cactus garden receives an annual festive revamp that incorporates hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, Christmassy scenes aplenty, and even a family of animated reindeer. We recommend visiting in the evening when the garden's at its most magical and, of course, combining your visit with a chocolate-tasting experience. It would be almost rude not to!
Take in a Show
There can be few quicker ways of getting right into the Christmas spirit than an evening spent watching classic Las Vegas shows that have been tweaked for the holiday season. Think classic Christmas rock and pop hits (as well as a few carols) from the Legends in Concert, immersive performances of The Nutcracker, and Christmas-themed magic and comedy shows. As Christmassy as your dad’s Rudolph sweater.
Christmas Tree Trail
December in Las Vegas sees Christmas trees sprouting up here, there and everywhere, each more fantastically bejeweled than the last. Take advantage of this free spectacle by visiting some of the major hotels to see how many stops have been pulled out to get one up on their neighbors. At over 40 feet, the Bellagio’s is inevitably among the most spectacular but the trees at Wynn’s Winter Wonderland, the Fashion Show Mall and the Venetian are no slouches either. Take a tour with your camera and make your Instagram feed the envy of all your Christmas-loving buddies back home.
The Magical Forest
A stalwart of the Vegas Christmas scene, the Magical Forest is just that: a woodland wonderland crammed with twinkling lights and festive decorations. This one is a must-do if you’re traveling with kids: they’re going to absolutely love the carousel, giant slide and cute train rides on the Forest Express. Plenty of live performances, food trucks and funnel cakes should keep the grown-ups happy too.
A visit to Las Vegas in December might almost make you believe there's more than one Father Christmas. He certainly gets around. Meet him at the aforementioned Magical Forest or head to Tivoli Village for a few memorable family snaps in his beautifully decorated grotto. You can even see the man in red swimming with sharks at the Mandalay Bay Shipwreck! If that’s not enough for you, go all in and dress up as Santa yourself: the Great Santa Run takes place in downtown Vegas and sees thousands of wannabe Santas take to the streets for a 5k fun run (or walk, if you prefer) every December. Ho ho ho and viva Las Vegas!