Mardi Gras in Las Vegas, what could go wrong?

Forget Valentine’s Day or The Big Game, February is the month we dedicate to the best holiday of the year, Mardi Gras. It’s the best time of year to look at the sparkly green and purple beads among many other things that flash before your eyes. We know what you’re thinking, you think we are some random drunk uncle pervert from across the yard; but that’s not the case. We’re getting in the holiday spirit, and so should you. We might not get crazy like New Orleans, but as a sister party town, we feel it’s our duty to rage with them during this purple and green frenzy. It’s the last day before we try and give up alcohol for the 113th time for Lent. We’re trying people, what else do you want from us? Mardi Gras in Vegas 2018 is about to blast off, so let’s turn this city upside down with these things to do in Las Vegas.

Photo credit: Topgolf Las Vegas

Topgolf near MGM Grand

On Monday, February 12, Top Golf is hosting a Mardi Gras party with the help of MarchFourth. This circus-like-troupe will be entertaining guests with their kaleidoscope-like costumes and wild acts. They have stilt walkers, hoopers and Vaudeville-style dancers to get the party started while you’re hitting balls out onto the green. Most people find golf a very quiet sport, but not on this day. With the help of MarchFourth, the game as we know it is about to become ten times more fun. The only time you’ll be yelling “FOUR” is when you start swinging your clubs around, trying to start your own circus career. And if you whack yourself in the head, don’t worry you can crawl over to MGM Grand for the night and get some much-needed rest. 

Photo credit: Therapy

Therapy in downtown Las Vegas 

Why wait for the week of Mardi Gras to come around? Let’s get this party started early and get a buzz going before it’s time to really throw down on Tuesday. Therapy in downtown Las Vegas is bringing Bourbon St. to Sin City. You know, that famous street in New Orleans where people drunkenly stumble around? Yeah, that one. And in true honor of that great city, the bar is busting out a well-known cocktail called the “Hurricane.” It sounds exactly how it feels, so drink up; it’s time to give New Orleans, and the rest of the world, a run for their money.

Photo credit: Eater

Freed’s Bakery

We want to be on that next level of extra when it comes to Fat Tuesday in Las Vegas. Instead of only experiencing the festivities, we want to TASTE the festivities. Like a wise man once said: “Don’t just eat the food, but smell the food, feel the food, BE the food.” Yeah, it sounds a little weird at first, but once you stuff your face with a King Cake from Freed’s Bakery, your insides will turn purple and green to really get in the spirit, so technically you will become the food. No, not really, but the idea of that happening sounds cool. So, for $26.95 get ready to consume the green, purple and gold cake that’s topped with beads to truly make it Mardi Gras style. Oh, and don’t eat the plastic baby placed inside; that’s for good luck, not your belly.

Photo Credit Anthony Mair

Beer Park at Paris Las Vegas 

Get ready for hurricane season, and we’re not talking about the tropical storm. Now, you might be wondering, “are they drunk?” Not yet. But we will be after we chug a few of these yummy concoctions. In celebration of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, Beer Park at Paris is hosting one big storm of a party and we’re going to be in the middle of it. But, if that’s too much for you, head to the edge of the patio and take in the Bellagio Fountains. With a little wind, and the gusto of the blasts of water, the fountains will cool you off with a little splash. Drink up people, it’s time to create our own storm. 

Photo credit: Vegas Seven

Lola’s – A Louisiana Kitchen in downtown Las Vegas 

Lola’s in downtown Las Vegas and Summerlin (the bougie west side of town) brings a little bit of the bayou to us. And this Mardi Gras we’re going to celebrate by eating great creole and cajun food, listening to a live jazz band and having a party. Their flavor combos explode in your mouth with every bite and their crawfish is something straight outta the mud. If you told us that we had to eat the whole menu to save our family, we would eat it twice without even thinking. So don’t threaten us with a good time, because we’ll rise to the occasion for Mardi Gras. And since we’ve been talking about food so much, excuse us while we dive into their blackened catfish and grits.

Las Vegas pool parties: the side you don’t see

“Tell us a bit about yourself.” If you’re hearing that question in January, chances are you’re being interviewed to work at one of the most coveted businesses in the world: Las Vegas day clubs.

You don’t have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson to know there are plenty of rad things to do in Las Vegas, but we’re pretty sure you don’t know what it takes to work at one of the best pools in Vegas. And you know what? We don’t blame you. Who has time to consider what that security guard or bottle server is doin’ when you’re waist deep in a margarita and raging your face off to Rae Sremmurd or Calvin Harris? But that’s where we come in. We’re going to show you how the sausage is made and let you see what it takes to make sure the phrase, “Vegas pool parties are the best pool parties” lives up to the hype.

Photo Courtesy of Drai’s Beachclub

Let’s start with Drai’s Beachclub at The Cromwell. This place is a whopping 35,000 square feet and has a mind-blowing 40 cabanas and bungalows. Think about that. You’re basically partying on a football field. Now add about 2,500 people, cue that gazillion-degree Vegas heat and you can begin to see that working at a day club takes a bit more than a pretty smile or mountain-sized muscles.

Photo Courtesy of Drai’s Beachclub

But what does “a bit more” actually mean? Like, we all want a bit more guac on our burritos, or a bit more money (hey bosses, what up?!), but usually asking that of your employees can be hard to zero in on. Not for Drai’s though. They got “a bit more” nailed down like that prized family heirloom. To them, it’s not all about whether or not a potential employee has experience. The team at Drai’s can teach proper workplace etiquette with their eyes closed. What they’re looking for is personality. Are you personable? Are you entertaining? Are you friendly? Are you a member of The Partridge Family? Ok, we’re sorta kidding on that last one. But if we’re being honest, Las Vegas pool parties are a dime a dozen. It’s a commitment to the customer experience (and super rad live music) that keeps Drai’s Beachclub in the mix as one of the best pools in Las Vegas. So, an outgoing and accountable personality is what they hang their swimsuits on.

Photo Courtesy of Hakkasan Group

Google “day clubs Vegas” or “pool parties Las Vegas” and you’re sure to stumble upon Wet Republic at MGM Grand and Liquid Pool & Lounge at Aria Resort & Casino. Shiny jewels in the the Hakkasan Group crown, these two venues are as synonymous with Vegas as slot machines and Elvis. But what keeps these spots as easy to remember as your favorite “drunchie” order? Well, the employees at Wet Republic day club and Liquid are able to fall back on the values and standards that made Omnia, Jewel and Hakkasan Las Vegas so successful: service, design, innovation and experience. This doesn’t just apply to the cutie parading that giant bottle of booze to your cabana. It’s also the dude bringing fresh towels and a mop bucket to clean said alcohol once you’re too drunk to correctly put liquor in your glass. And we haven’t even touched on how the marketing teams at these venues work year-round to bring the dopest acts to Sin City. We’ve never wrangled cats before, but we imagine getting an A-lister to Vegas is very much the equivalent. Countless hours are spent talking and negotiating with managers and agents. You have to make sure the money is right, the dates are available, there are no yellow Skittles in the green room, etc. etc. We’d say that “Professional Cat Wrangler” is a fitting job title.

Photo Courtesy of Encore Beach Club

Encore Beach Club at Encore has a couple hundred team members working at any given time. We’re talkin’ everything from the ID checker all the way up to an on-site barbecue chef (didn’t see that coming, did ya?). To say that keeping this ship running at full speed is a challenge is like saying “Las Vegas hotels are only OK.” It’s a bit of an understatement. But it’s the staff’s Hallmark Channel type of vibe and desire to deliver that “unique Vegas experience” that keeps these guys and gals coming back to work each and every morning (and seeing David Guetta or Marshmello up-close probably doesn’t hurt, either). Speaking of perks, they have to be pretty sweet. Imagine walking into a job where all day, every day people are trying to recreate “The Hangover.” Free meals or a dap from a celebrity does wonders for the morale. Especially if you’re a lifeguard and you have to keep fishing merkins out of the drain.

Photo Courtesy of Hakkasan Group

So there you have it. The next time you’re soakin’ up some rays at one of the best Las Vegas pools or are flippin’ through the Las Vegas day club calendar, go “Inception” and think about all the things that have to happen for you to not think about the things happening behind the scenes. And if that last statement just mind freaked you, find comfort in knowing there are plenty of Las Vegas tours, Las Vegas shows and Las Vegas nightclubs out there to help you unwind.

Las Vegas pool parties: the side you don’t see

“Tell us a bit about yourself.” If you’re hearing that question in January, chances are you’re being interviewed to work at one of the most coveted businesses in the world: Las Vegas day clubs.

You don’t have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson to know there are plenty of rad things to do in Las Vegas, but we’re pretty sure you don’t know what it takes to work at one of the best pools in Vegas. And you know what? We don’t blame you. Who has time to consider what that security guard or bottle server is doin’ when you’re waist deep in a margarita and raging your face off to Rae Sremmurd or Calvin Harris? But that’s where we come in. We’re going to show you how the sausage is made and let you see what it takes to make sure the phrase, “Vegas pool parties are the best pool parties” lives up to the hype.

Photo Courtesy of Drai’s Beachclub

Let’s start with Drai’s Beachclub at The Cromwell. This place is a whopping 35,000 square feet and has a mind-blowing 40 cabanas and bungalows. Think about that. You’re basically partying on a football field. Now add about 2,500 people, cue that gazillion-degree Vegas heat and you can begin to see that working at a day club takes a bit more than a pretty smile or mountain-sized muscles.

Photo Courtesy of Drai’s Beachclub

But what does “a bit more” actually mean? Like, we all want a bit more guac on our burritos, or a bit more money (hey bosses, what up?!), but usually asking that of your employees can be hard to zero in on. Not for Drai’s though. They got “a bit more” nailed down like that prized family heirloom. To them, it’s not all about whether or not a potential employee has experience. The team at Drai’s can teach proper workplace etiquette with their eyes closed. What they’re looking for is personality. Are you personable? Are you entertaining? Are you friendly? Are you a member of The Partridge Family? Ok, we’re sorta kidding on that last one. But if we’re being honest, Las Vegas pool parties are a dime a dozen. It’s a commitment to the customer experience (and super rad live music) that keeps Drai’s Beachclub in the mix as one of the best pools in Las Vegas. So, an outgoing and accountable personality is what they hang their swimsuits on.

Photo Courtesy of Hakkasan Group

Google “day clubs Vegas” or “pool parties Las Vegas” and you’re sure to stumble upon Wet Republic at MGM Grand and Liquid Pool & Lounge at Aria Resort & Casino. Shiny jewels in the the Hakkasan Group crown, these two venues are as synonymous with Vegas as slot machines and Elvis. But what keeps these spots as easy to remember as your favorite “drunchie” order? Well, the employees at Wet Republic day club and Liquid are able to fall back on the values and standards that made Omnia, Jewel and Hakkasan Las Vegas so successful: service, design, innovation and experience. This doesn’t just apply to the cutie parading that giant bottle of booze to your cabana. It’s also the dude bringing fresh towels and a mop bucket to clean said alcohol once you’re too drunk to correctly put liquor in your glass. And we haven’t even touched on how the marketing teams at these venues work year-round to bring the dopest acts to Sin City. We’ve never wrangled cats before, but we imagine getting an A-lister to Vegas is very much the equivalent. Countless hours are spent talking and negotiating with managers and agents. You have to make sure the money is right, the dates are available, there are no yellow Skittles in the green room, etc. etc. We’d say that “Professional Cat Wrangler” is a fitting job title.

Photo Courtesy of Encore Beach Club

Encore Beach Club at Encore has a couple hundred team members working at any given time. We’re talkin’ everything from the ID checker all the way up to an on-site barbecue chef (didn’t see that coming, did ya?). To say that keeping this ship running at full speed is a challenge is like saying “Las Vegas hotels are only OK.” It’s a bit of an understatement. But it’s the staff’s Hallmark Channel type of vibe and desire to deliver that “unique Vegas experience” that keeps these guys and gals coming back to work each and every morning (and seeing David Guetta or Marshmello up-close probably doesn’t hurt, either). Speaking of perks, they have to be pretty sweet. Imagine walking into a job where all day, every day people are trying to recreate “The Hangover.” Free meals or a dap from a celebrity does wonders for the morale. Especially if you’re a lifeguard and you have to keep fishing merkins out of the drain.

Photo Courtesy of Hakkasan Group

So there you have it. The next time you’re soakin’ up some rays at one of the best Las Vegas pools or are flippin’ through the Las Vegas day club calendar, go “Inception” and think about all the things that have to happen for you to not think about the things happening behind the scenes. And if that last statement just mind freaked you, find comfort in knowing there are plenty of Las Vegas tours, Las Vegas shows and Las Vegas nightclubs out there to help you unwind.

Breaking up in Vegas

Love: the four-letter word you should always bleep out. When it comes to that sappy, romantic foolery, The J. Geils Band had the right idea: “Love Stinks.” And we get it, we know exactly what you’re thinking –bitter much? Damn straight we’re bitter! Four divorces in three years will do that to you. But luckily, we’ve had Vegas to help us stay strong. This city has kept us more like Beyoncé and less like Lindsay Lohan (depending on the night, we’re guilty of being a little bit of both). And with there being so many things to do in Vegas and Las Vegas restaurants basically being a catwalk, it’s hard to even think about being down in the dumps. So toss that bum and their negativity to the curb! Here’s how to make the most of your breakup in Las Vegas.

Photo Courtesy of Sapphire Las Vegas

Let’s be honest. You wanna see some skin.
We all learned about this in middle school, so we’re not saying anything new here, but the three things essential to human life are food, shelter and a little bow-chicka-bow-wow. So it makes sense that after a breakup, the usual routine is to stay inside, stuff your face and try to find someone to bring back home. You know, once you’ve inevitably grown tired of the first two things. And what a place to be single. Gah, Las Vegas strip clubs like Sapphire, Men of Sapphire and Crazy Horse III make finding love in a strip club seem not so farfetched. T-Pain was a pioneer. But, like we said, if you’re a little more Beyoncé and looking for a subtler eroticism, the hunks of Magic Mike Live inside Hard Rock Hotel know how to get a gal off her seat. They have biceps, washboard abs, doey eyes AND they know how to make you feel like a woman. Wow, we think we just found the perfect Tinder date. Don’t be alarmed fellas, because the women of Fantasy at the Luxor are the ladies in the street and the freaks on the stage that Ludacris was talking about in his song, “Yeah!” They reenact all the fantasies we’ve had since something got slipped into our cereals when we were going through puberty. We’re talking bedtime snuggles, slippery showers, cowgirls, schoolgirls and more. Can you tell we’re into it?

Photo Courtesy of Hakkasan Group

Party, party, party, party!
There’s no better way to sweat out the nasty juju’s of a broken relationship than to hit the club and shake your money maker. And these hips aren’t lyin’ when we say that nightclubs in Vegas are the best. Whether you’re into mega clubs like Omnia inside Caesars Palace and Hakkasan at MGM Grand or prefer getting down with at a place with a Strip view like Chateau at Paris or Voodoo Nightclub at Rio, you can expect world class DJs, boomin’ sound systems and bottle presentations that’d make King Midas jelly. This is Vegas, you’re going to see celebrities out the ying-yang, ok? A good rule of thumb is to act like you’ve been there before even if your insides are telling you to act like a teenage girl at a boy band concert.

Photo Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Blow your own freakin’ mind
If you haven’t noticed, we firmly believe that the best way to recover from a breakup is by having a great time. How could we not be? Las Vegas attractions and Las Vegas tours are Uh-Maze-ing. Oh, and the best shows in Las Vegas aren’t too shabby, either. For a quaint evening out, it’s hard to beat one of the Cirque Du Soleil shows in Vegas. No two are alike, and like a great holiday movie, they always leave you feeling awed, inspired and wondering how the big guy fit through the tiny hole. Prefer to get your kicks like a teenager who just got their driver’s license? Then Exotics Racing is for you. This is your chance to ditch that battery-powered minivan and go full-throttle behind the wheel of a Porsche 991 CT3, Audi R8, Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Huracan. Even better, there’s a professional instructor to tell you how to drive the thing! But personally, we’re suckers for a view, that’s why we’re so high on the Vegas Nights tour. You don’t have to be Pablo Picasso (or Drake for that matter) to know Vegas at night is visually pleasing. And seeing it from up above in a helicopter? It takes every ounce of our being to not squeal.

Love still stinks, but we’re beginning to have a change of heart. Maybe we’re not the loveless, soul-sucking heathens our exes claim. Maybe we’re just hopeless romantics who can’t find a love like Vegas. And to all of the scrubs out there telling you they’re “cut from a different cloth,” first off, they’re napkins. So the next time you’re feeling down in the dumps and thinking about calling your ex, visit Vegas.com instead. You won’t regret it. And you won’t have to explain it to your parents, either.

How to plan a Vegas vacay with the family

Planning a family vacation is like trying to navigate Disneyland on a Saturday afternoon in July. It sounds like a great idea, but it’s hot, you always end up losing one kid and someone’s crying. Not only do you have to worry about them, but you also have to take into consideration some R&R for yourself. Clark Griswold made it look so easy, but unfortunately it isn’t. So, we’re here to help you out with a full guide on how to book the perfect family vacation in Vegas. While we do this, focus on packing Tommy’s lunch for tomorrow, you don’t want history to repeat itself by accidentally smearing mustard on his PB&J.

Photo credit: Live the Adventure

Flying or Driving to Vegas

You have two options, depending on how far you are from Las Vegas. You can hit the road like a traditional family vacation where your kids get sick of you singing your old-fashioned tunes. Or you can fork over the cash and make it easier on yourself by booking airfare for the whole gang. We make flying ten times easier on our site. You can book your flight and hotel at the same time, all while getting a packaged-rate discount! We understand your time is limited, so we’re here to make it easier for you. Little Suzie can’t get to soccer practice and violin lessons by herself, so we’re lightening your workload by combining the two. Check out our Air + Hotel packages, and you’re one step closer to relaxing poolside with a cocktail in your hand with your kids splashing away.

Photo Courtesy of Alonzo Wright Photography

Hotels

There’s a reason people call The Strip, “The World on One Street.” We have hotels that offer a variety of different themes, some which mimic other cities or countries. It’s like you get two vacations in one. The most family-friendly resorts are Luxor, Excalibur, Flamingo, Circus Circus, New York-New York and Paris Las Vegas. All of these hotels have unique themes and things to do that make staying there so much easier for you and the kids. But what makes some of them stand out are their kid-friendly attractions like the arcades and the hotel pools. Specifically, the 15-acre pool at Flamingo. It’s like taking a dip in a Hawaiian paradise. They have majestic waterfalls for you to swim under and waterslides for the kids. Another perk to these hotels is that they are all cost-effective so you have more money to spend on more Las Vegas attractions.

Attractions

Speaking of activities, there are a million and one things to do with the whole family, some of them are completely free. Yep, your favorite four-letter word is coming into play here. You can check out an action-packed animated show at Fall of Atlantis in The Forum Shops or embrace the beautiful gardens at the Bellagio Conservatory. After you check those off your list, you’ll want to check out the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo or the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage. These three Las Vegas attractions offer you a look at wildlife that doesn’t have anything to do with the Strip at 3 a.m. It’s our version of the zoo, but with a tropical twist. If you’re not into animals, you can head over to Marvel’s Avengers Station for an action-packed, interactive experience. The whole family will become secret agents for the day and help save the world while checking out real artifacts from your favorite superhero movies. After the sun sets, you’ll want to stroll the boulevard and check out the world-renown Bellagio Fountains and the Volcano at The Mirage. Both are free and if you’re like us, you’ll really get into the fountains and start singing along while the water shoots into the air. This is nothing like the pictures you’ve seen on “the Google” as some parents like to call it. As soon as the first fountain goes off or the oozing lava comes down, you’ll be mesmerized by the beauty and sheer mechanics of it. But don’t worry about little Liam jumping into the water with all his clothes on, because there are guardrails to keep people out.

Photo credit: Lindsey Best

Shows

We might have the nickname “Sin City,” but that doesn’t mean we don’t have family-friendly shows. We are the Entertainment Capital of the World for crying out loud, we have something for everyone. If you’re looking for a sensory overload (in a good way) with a side of comedy, Blue Man Group is the way to go (think laser beams and a truck-load of confetti). But if you want to be transported back to the Medieval ages, check out Tournament of the Kings at the Excalibur. There are horses, action and it even comes with dinner. Fun fact: they didn’t have utensils in those days so you eat dinner with your hands. The kids will love it and you can let loose and have fun too. Last but not least, head to Jeff Civillico: Comedy in Action. Your kids will have a sparkle in their eyes from his circus tricks and you’ll get a laugh out of his goofball behavior. It’s a win-win for the whole family. And if the baby can’t sit through a whole show without crying, do things the old-fashioned way and have him suck on your “special” coated fingers for a couple seconds. Our grandparents used to do it on us and we turned out perfectly fine. And this way, you won’t have to worry about him crawling out of your sight again like the last big birthday party.

There you have it moms and dads, Tommy’s lunch is packed correctly, Suzie is at soccer practice, Liam is dry and the baby is fastened in his walker. Now pat yourself on the back for being a great parent and go to Vegas.com. Follow our advice, scream woohoo and start packing your bags. It’s time for a grand old family vacation filled with the best family-friendly activities.

Holidays for the locals

You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Gadget to know that a lot of things to do in Las Vegas are geared towards tourists. But as Las Vegas locals, we like to do things too and we’re not a bunch of cotton headed ninny muggins (well, most of us anyways). Despite all the shows in Las Vegas, tasty Las Vegas restaurants and various other great things this city has to offer, we know that locals often avoid Las Vegas Boulevard like the plague. So, locals, this one is for you (and any tourist brave enough to venture off the resort corridor). Here are the best things for locals to do this holiday season.

Photo Courtesy of Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas

Las Vegas Christmas Town inside Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas
A Christmas town inside a water park? We know it sounds weird, but so did Jon Snow shacking up with Daenerys Targaryen, and so far that seems to be working out. For the low, low price of one Andrew Jackson you’re going to get admission into the village and access to ALL ACTIVITIES (except for paintball). Yeah, you read that right, Las Vegas Christmas town has paintball! Our love affair with paint filled balls aside, this thing has it all. Over 3 million lights, an ice skating rink, a 40-passenger train ride, 100ft snow sledding hill, bounce houses, games, a 40ft tall Christmas tree, a “snow” ball pit, Santa Claus village and a ton more. We may or may not need to slip a little extra somethin’ somethin’ into our nogg to help us unwind.

Photo Courtesy of Ethel M Chocolates

Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates
Just because we don’t live in the snowy hilltops of the Sierras or Rockies doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the holidays. It just means that we have to enjoy it a bit differently. And nowhere is that resourcefulness better displayed than at Ethel M Chocolates Holiday Cactus Garden. Over a million lights cover this three-acre cactus garden. Safe to say it’s as lit as our drunk Uncle Kenny. More than 300 types of cactus, including yuccas, agave plants, Texas prickly pears and spotted aloe will be living their best holiday life. Taking things up a notch, Ethel M added a skating rink. It’ll cost you $10, but if given the choice, we’d rather fall on ice than in cactus.

Photo Courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal

Winter’s Village at Green Valley Ranch
Remember how excited you were that time you got exactly what you wanted for Christmas? That’s how we feel about Winter’s Village at GVR. We’re not elf-ing around here, we’re legit schoolgirl giddy. And you’ll be too once you see the ice rink, holiday lounge area and weekend Saint Nick visits. Just so we’re clear-ice clear, parking at GVR is free (we know how sensitive of a subject that is), meeting the man in the red suit is free, but photos with him are going to cost ya $10. Them’s the breaks (unless you bring your phone or camera. Workaround!).

Photo Courtesy of Glittering Lights

Glittering Lights
Does the beauty of lights inspire you? Does the cold of the night make you want to keep your tushie inside? We feel you. Thankfully, Glittering Lights does too. Displaying at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, you’re able to take a 2.5 mile drive through three million lights and more than 500 animated displays. We mean, don’t let us tell you how to live your life, but if you wanted to, there technically isn’t a rule about not wearing pants in your own car.  And with tickets starting out at $20 during the weekday and $30 during the weekend, that’s a small price to pay for holiday merriment, warmth and a clothing optional stich.

Photo Courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal

The Nutcracker at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Is it really the Holidays if you don’t see The Nutcracker? For us, there are three time honored traditions during the season: Christmas caroling, The Nutcracker and Uncle Kenny getting too drunk to function. But seriously, what’s not to love about The Nutcracker? The four-story doll house is incredibly lifelike, the musicians are brilliant and the actors are uh-maze-ing. And besides the stunning choreography and brilliant music, the venue ain’t too shabby either. If we had a vote for utter sophistication in Las Vegas, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts would take the toffee.

Photo Courtesy of Opportunity Village

Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
All joking aside, the magic of the holidays is in giving to others. And nothing embodies that spirit more than the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village. All proceeds raised from the magical forest benefit individuals with learning disabilities at Opportunity Village. So what exactly makes this forest so magical? Well, let’s start with the lights. There’s more than three million of them. There are festive trees out the wazoo, more gingerbread houses than you can count and an enchanted carousel. And for you competition-aholics out there, there’s even a miniature golf course, because nothing says the holidays like pulverizing your family and friends at a game of putt-putt.

The world knows about attractions in Las Vegas, tours in Las Vegas and of course the numerous shows and restaurants. But now they know this city has the holiday spirit. So whether you’re a local or a tourist, you know about all of the Las Vegas Strip holiday events and those happening away from it. So get out there and enjoy the season. Or be a Scrooge. Your call.

Poppin’ bottles in Vegas for New Year’s Eve

There are people who spend rent on bottle service and those who play it safe by heavily pre-gaming. No matter what you choose, every choice is the right one when it comes to New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. Whether you’re a veteran who conquers New Year’s every year with style or a newbie just looking to have a good time The Strip, here are some ideas to help you start the new year off right. We’re going to break it down for you based on your budget so listen up party people.

Photo credit: The Mirage

For the “I probably shouldn’t spend this money, but $50 won’t kill me” kind of person:

If you’re stingy or forgot to ask for money during the holidays, don’t worry we got your backs on this New Year’s Eve in Vegas. Everyone thinks that if you want to have a good time in Vegas for NYE, you automatically have to go to a club. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s not nice to assume things. Haven’t you heard that saying? This time it only applies to you though #sorrynotsorry. We have plenty more bars than we do clubs, and they are just as awesome. Oh, and they’ll be half the price. Head to The Still at The Mirage for a chill time and a $50 open bar. Not only do you get to drink until the clock strikes 12, there’s live music from Rein Garcia. Garcia will be serenading the crowd, so our advice is to grab someone at midnight and plant a smooch. Talk about one unforgettable kiss. If you still want to go crazy, head downtown to Gold Spike or Commonwealth. There’s nothing like old school games, cool DJs and hanging with 500 of your closest friends.

Photo credit: The Palazzo Las Vegas

For the “I can spare a buck and I want to have a good time, but don’t want to go overboard” kind of people:

This is Vegas.com and we approve this message. Shout out to all the event planners who put together organized events for NYE. We really appreciate your time and effort for the betterment of the community. Instead of looking like an ant scurrying around the ant hill with thousands of other people, choose to be the person watching from above and laughing at all the people trying to score one drink. At events like the Eiffel Tower Experience, The High Roller, The Vortex at The LINQ Hotel & Casino and parties at The Stratosphere, they give you an open bar and a bird’s eye view to people watch while sipping on your cool refreshing cocktail. If you want to go to more of an upbeat party where the spotlight is on you as a socialite, check out Hard Rock Café or Sake Rok, they might not give you a view to people watch, but you’ll still have a damn good time. And last but not least, Minus5 Ice Bar. Head to the one in Mandalay Place or the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian | The Palazzo and embrace the Vegas culture and party all day and night because this party is going on for 13 hours. For $250 per person, you’ll get two cocktails, a 5×7 framed photo (so you can remember something no matter how much you drink), a Russian hat and wait for it…a faux fur coat! So, when you walk out at 1 a.m., everyone will be looking at you and wondering if you’re a celebrity. These parties are about $250 – $400. Yeah, it’s a little more, but you can’t put a price on skipping the chaos. Trust us when we say, you’ll be more relaxed and you won’t have to elbow your way to a cocktail.

Photo credit: Hakkasan Group Las Vegas

For the “It’s time to let it all hang out. We aren’t holding anything back. Let’s make it rain” kind of people:

It’s obvious that the nightclubs in Vegas reign supreme when it comes to New Years. If you need proof, Google “Omnia chandelier,” you’ll have at least 10 minutes of entertainment if you check out the videos, and that’s from the comfort of your couch. Not only will you be dancing the night away with 1,000 of your favorite friends, but the best of the best entertainment is lining up and telling every other venue “bring it on mate.” Take The Bank at Bellagio for example, for $100 you’ll have the chance to dance the night away with Bruno Mars serenading you. We don’t know about you, but the Mars man has expensive tickets and this is one helluva steal! But, if you’re not a fan and want to drift towards some baby making R&B music to get the new year started off right, head to Drais where Chris Brown will get the bumpin’ and grindin’ started early. And then, there’s always the classic EDM music with The Chainsmokers at XS or Calvin Harris at Omnia. There’s literally no chance any of this can go wrong. So, pick your fave, put on your Sunday’s best and head to the dance floor. It’s time to chase the sunrise and start NYE for a story that will be told for years to come.

Wear your ugly sweaters to these holiday events in Las Vegas

The holidays. That special time of year spent with loved ones, colleagues and those of whom you still can’t believe share the same gene pool. For all the great things that come during the holidays in Las Vegas, our one complaint is the weather. Being cooped up with all of these “loved ones” is enough to drive anyone to the loony bin. And while we’re a big fan of curing cabin fever with a glass (or 12) of Uncle Kenny’s spiked nog, getting out-and-about is the best remedy (or at least the most socially acceptable). So we’ve gathered a few holiday events in Las Vegas to keep you out of a straightjacket.

Photo Courtesy of Billboard.

A Very Terry Christmas
Can’t stand your family’s constant babbling? You should swap ’em out with some puppets instead. Running through Christmas day, Terry Fator’s “A Very Terry Christmas” isn’t your usual impression/puppet show. Ever heard of “America’s Got Talent?” The long-running NBC show has a solid track record of finding great talent, and Terry won. Clearly, the dude is something special. While his non-holiday show at the Mirage is always worthwhile (he does spot-on impersonations and the banter amongst his sidekicks will have you falling out of your seat), this special Christmas edition is next level. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, **gasp** you might even bond with your family. We know it’s a reach, but Terry Fator, his puppets and the holidays have worked greater miracles.

Photo Courtesy of Excalibur Hotel & Casino.

Tournament of Kings: ‘Twas the Knight
OMG, we haven’t been this excited about a knight since the finale of that show about games and thrones. Something about armor and mythical beasts just gets us all hot and bothered. We digress, because from November 22 – December 28, Tournament of Kings Dinner & Show at Excalibur turns into a medieval winter wonderland. Their popular three-course meal is still intact, the journey of a young knight will be rad and there’s rumor of an appearance by that guy in the red suit, but the chance to unleash our repressed heathenistic emotion is the icing on our apple strudel. Think about it, how many times in your life have you been able to yell “rip his head off!” while jeweled yams dribble down your chin? Wait, don’t answer that.

Photo Courtesy of Crazy Horse III.

‘Tis the Season at Crazy Horse III
Each Christmas, all we ever ask for is to be an extra in the “Big Pimpin’” music video. Since that hasn’t happened yet (HOV, where you at?!), our trips to Crazy Horse III are the next best thing. Makin’ it rain at “The Horse” has become a bit of a holiday tradition for us. There are plenty of strip clubs in Las Vegas, what separates Crazy Horse III from the pack is that they have t-and-a and heart. Specifically, December 1 – 9, when they will be collecting toy donations for community youth. If doing a good deed doesn’t motivate you, Scrooge McDuck, maybe knowing that your donation of an unwrapped toy (priced $15+) will get you a free drink. Let’s be honest, it’s always better to give than it is to receive.

Photo Courtesy of Caesars Entertainment.

Legends in Concert Annual Holiday Show
New York City has the Rockettes, Los Angeles has –actually, we don’t know what they do, but Vegas has the Legends in Concert Annual Holiday Show at the Flamingo. Everyone knows that shows in Las Vegas are top-notch, but maybe none are more –wait for it- legendary (funny, right?) than this. From November 30 – December 30, you’ll catch tributes to icons like George Michael, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley all under one roof. We don’t know about you, but these guys and gals are the soundtrack to our holiday. Maybe we can snatch one of these tribute artists and keep them in our house for the season. There’s nothing creepy or illegal about that, right?

Photo Courtesy of David Giral Photography.

Merry & Bright
Of all the things to do in Las Vegas, staring at the lights is our favorite (well, that and Wednesday night benders). Nowhere in town can you dip into luminosity like you can at the Neon Museum. The roughly 120 vintage signs are amazing in-and-of themselves, but sprinkle in a little holiday magic and we’re happier than Santa in a cookie shop. The event takes place December 12 and is going to bring families together like a Hallmark holiday movie marathon (or collectively hating your sister’s new boyfriend. Your call). There will be ornament-making, caroling, hot chocolate and a visit by the “Big Guy.” You know, all the things you like to do without your sister’s new boyfriend. The best part about this? It’s free. And it’ll be lit.

Photo Courtesy of Eater Vegas.

Freed’s Bakery
Ok, so technically this isn’t a “holiday event in Las Vegas,” but a trip to Freed’s Bakery is guaranteed to earn you some brownie points (ba-dum-tss). This family-owned bakery has been warming the hearts of valley residents for more than 55 years. Whatever your sweet tooth desires, they got it. Cakes, uh, duh. Cupcakes, cha brah. Cookies, oh so gooey. Macaroons, the best. They even have rugelach! Chances are, you don’t even know what rugelach is, so look it up and know that Freed’s has the best. FYI, Freed’s is a bit off the beaten path of the Strip (9815 S Eastern Ave.), but let’s be honest, haven’t we all gone a little out of our way for some goodies? But if you ain’t got no whip (or are just being lazy), they do deliver.

Now you have no excuse for being bunkered down all winter. If anything, getting out and doing something this holiday season should keep you from making a fool of yourself at the company party (we’re lookin’ at you, Cheryl). And if you’re lookin’ for more deets about other things to do this holiday season, you already know where to go.

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