Six ways to illuminate the joy and spirit of the season
Off The Strip is celebrating the holiday season with a 30-days of stories counting down to the big day Dec. 25! Our #WYD Holiday Guide features all the best places to go, experiences to have, festive displays, party destinations, holiday cocktails and dinners—plus where to shop local and cool ways to give back! Check out the features »
Las Vegas is known as a “bright lights, big city” destination, but when winter comes around, the focus shifts from neon casino marquees to colorful holiday exhibits. As we draw closer to Christmas and round out the year, the following holiday lights attractions are drawing festive visitors from all over the valley.
Load up the car and drive through Glittering Lights, the largest holiday light display in Southern Nevada. The exhibit is an annual tradition at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with five-million lights covering 2.5 miles in a 45-minute drive. The designs range from Santa and Rudolph to tributes to Las Vegas sports teams. If you prefer not to drive yourself, guests can board an open-air tram instead.
There’s a reason Enchant has proven to be the runaway hit of the winter season in Las Vegas. The pop-up holiday experience inside the Las Vegas Ballpark in Downtown Summerlin has drinks, food, shopping, photos with Santa and best of all, an elaborate illuminated light maze. Get lost in the colorful surroundings with a new selfie station around every corner. It’s impossible to take a bad photo. Find time to zip around the ice skating trail and have a sip of the Holiday Cheer cocktail.
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
Once again, the Ethel M chocolate factory in Henderson has transformed its outdoor cactus garden into a holiday spectacle. Roam the three-acre grounds from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to see more than a million lights spread throughout the trees and desert landscaping. Head indoors to browse the Ethel M shop for last-minute and grab a cup of delicious scratch-made hot chocolate. Santa will be around to take photos until Dec. 23. Groups of up to six people can make a reservation with a $5 deposit, which goes directly to Three Square Food Bank and HELP of Southern Nevada.
The Magical Forest celebrates a milestone of 30 years in Las Vegas. The annual fundraiser for Opportunity Village is an indulgent winter wonderland with rides that include a vintage-style carousel and a 50-foot-tall Avalanche slide. Soak in all the lights and decorations with a ride on the passenger train that travels throughout the park. Take photos with Santa, shop for gifts and have fun with a variety of carnival games.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
If you only see one holiday tree this season, make it the 42-foot-tall fir that serves as the centerpiece of the Bellagio’s annual winter display at the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. The tree is decorated in 7,000 LED lights and nearly 9,000 ornaments with a toy train zipping around the base. Smaller trees line the perimeter of the exhibit, which feels extra-special this year with an all-new design. Visit a Swiss chalet and meet arctic foxes, polar bears, and baby seals, all thanks to elaborate floral designs by the Bellagio’s dedicated horticulture team.
Festival of Lanterns
Enjoy an Asian-inspired holiday season at Cowabunga Bay. The Henderson water park is now the Festival of Lights for winter. The walkable exhibit includes dozens of artisan-crafted, large-format Chinese lanterns, many of which have a holiday theme to round out the year. (The exhibit celebrates Lunar New Year in January and February.) See Santa, Christmas trees and other classic images brought to life by the Zigong Lantern Group. Save your appetite for mini apple pies and fried “Thanksgiving leftover” balls of turkey, stuffing and creamed corn, served with gravy or cranberry sauce for dipping.