Las Vegas for the Holidays: Trade the Neon Lights for Holiday Lights
Here are the best places to see festive decor and twinkling holiday lights in Las Vegas. | By Suzie Dundas | December 3, 2021
Las Vegas is known for lights—perhaps more so than any other city in the U.S. From glittering slot machines to colorful stage shows to the 1,375-foot-long dazzling screen hanging above Fremont Street, Vegas is a smorgasbord of neon, sparkling eye candy.
Naturally, Las Vegas doesn't skimp when it comes to holiday lights, either. Many businesses swap their rainbow-colored facades for glittering red-and-green displays. You'll see more than a few palm trees decked out in white lights. If you're visiting Las Vegas between November and early January, be sure not to miss out on:
- "Gape at the Glittering Lights:" Admire this self-guided display at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- Marvel at a larger-than-life snow globe: Resorts World Las Vegas brings the wintry wonderland to you
- Put presents under the cactus tree: Swap traditional fir trees for festively adorned, human-sized aloe plants
Drive Through a Light Show at the Motor Speedway
Probably the most well-known spot to catch holiday lights in Las Vegas is the "Glittering Lights" show at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. You can drive yourself—this Las Vegas road trip takes around 40 minutes—or hitch a ride on the open-air trolley, letting someone else take the wheel while you admire the sights.
It’s practically a holiday miracle: The world-class display has more than four million individual lights and is roughly 2.5 miles long. And don't forget to look up (or open the sunroof!) as you drive through, as this is an immersive experience.
Holidays On the Big Screen
Step inside The District, a massive shopping mall at Resorts World Las Vegas, to see its 50-foot LED dome transformed into a digital snow globe. The animated pictures changes to show displays like snow falling on a hillside cabin decorated with lights.
You'll find more animation in scenes including snowcapped trees, a snowman and more. You’ll immediately feel like you’ve been transported to a winter wonderland, all without having to leave the warmth of Las Vegas.
Experience Christmas in London at the Bellagio
Every November, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens turns into Nevada's version of merry old England, taking guests through spectacular scenes of snow on quaint cottages, Clydesdale horses towing wagons of gifts and scenes of carolers bundled up in earmuffs and scarves.
The display covers 14,000 square feet, so there's plenty of room to fit in a few scenes for children, too, like penguins playing on icebergs or polar bears peeking out of igloos. The best time to visit is early in the morning when most hotel guests are still sleeping. Fun fact: It takes a year-round staff of 120 employees to maintain the flowers, plants and holiday displays in the massive indoor garden.
Can't make it during the holidays? You can visit any time of year and still catch some kind of spectacular display. The gardens transform throughout the year, from reds and golds to celebrate Lunar New Year in February to a colorful spring show and fall harvest celebration.
Play All Day at Area 15
Not to be confused with Area 51 north of Las Vegas, Area 15 is more about all-day entertainment than little green men. From ax-throwing to restaurants, art galleries, virtual reality arcades and indoor ziplining, the huge complex is constantly packed with excitement and activity.
Over the holidays, Area 15 kicks it up another notch with over-the-top displays and photo ops, interactive holiday-themed lights and music exhibits, hundreds of Christmas trees and everything from light-covered sleighs to costumed performers. You'll even find aliens decked out in Santa Claus hats. Our tip? Buy tickets to Area 15 in advance, especially around the holidays.
Take a Free Stroll Past Illuminated Palm Trees
It's not surprising that a cactus garden would thrive in Vegas’s desert environment, but that doesn't make it any less impressive as you stroll through the Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden, about 15 minutes from the Strip. The garden has more than 300 cactus species and is well-known for its huge display of holiday lights every winter.
The garden staff use just over a million lights each year to illuminate 20-foot-tall palm trees in shades of gold and aloe plants as tall as humans glowing bright green. The garden sparkles and shimmers, and visiting is totally free—probably because it draws guests into the Ethel M Chocolate Factory next door, where you can sign up for a chocolate-tasting tour. Don't forget to treat yourself to a few holiday-inspired sweets.
Make Your Las Vegas Memory
An epic kaleidoscope of light and color year-round, Las Vegas goes all out to celebrate the holiday season. For all that twinkles and glitters, there’s nowhere better to celebrate the holidays and create sparkling memories.Plan Your Vegas Holiday Adventure
Suzie Dundas is a Lake Tahoe-based freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. She writes about mountain sports, adventure travel, youth culture and much more.
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