Las Vegas' 10 Best Holiday Attractions for Festive and Fun Times

Photo courtesy of Springs Preserve
Photo courtesy of Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of Opportunity Village
Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International
Photo courtesy of Fremont Street Experience
Photo courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau
By Terrisa Meeks, Las Vegas Local Expert

The holidays in Las Vegas are filled with decorations and celebrations on a grand scale. This is a city that loves bright, twinkly lights and parties all year round, and the fall and winter holidays are a great excuse to increase the bling factor throughout the city.

In late October, things start getting festive in Las Vegas with the Day of the Dead in early November, and the celebratory mood stays until the Chinese New Year. The holiday season in Vegas is filled with parties, festivals, fireworks and decorations--loads of decorations. Be sure to have plenty of space on your camera for the dozens of pictures you’re sure to take.

The Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens changes with each season, and its Christmas and Chinese New Year displays are perennial crowd pleasers. The area often becomes stuffed with people during the holidays, so you may want to come early in the day to avoid the crowd.

New Year's Eve is a great time to visit Las Vegas, with two major celebrations going on: America's Party on the Vegas Strip and Downtown Countdown on Fremont Street Experience. Crowds in both places brave the cold to be a part of these gigantic block parties. At midnight, the Strip rings in the New Year with its famous roof-top fireworks that light up the sky for miles.

For more on these and other can't-miss events, read on for our list of Las Vegas’ 10Best holiday attractions.

10. Dia de Muertos
Photo courtesy of Springs Preserve

The Springs Preserve is a well-known family destination with museums, gardens and trails, and it's also home to the popular annual Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebration. Dia de los Muertos is a 3,000 year-old Hispanic tradition that honors loved ones who have passed away. The family-friendly event blends rich customs with exciting activities such as live theater and dance performances, mariachis, face painting, sugar skull decorating and an art exhibition. The Botanical Gardens are even decorated with entries from an annual altar contest. The Springs Preserve's annual Dia de Muertos celebration is held at the beginning of November. A nominal fee applies to attend the event.

9. Mystic Falls Park
Photo courtesy of Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall

Every year Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall transforms its pioneer-themed Mystic Falls Park Light and Water Show into the Winter Wonderland experience. Last year, the attraction had a make-over and got a new holiday look and show. The Christmas display gives visitors a peek inside Santa's workshop, where the elves are busy making toys and loading the sleigh. The nine-minute holiday laser light show features classic holiday tunes and runs daily every hour from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cowboy Santa will be in the Park's gazebo on Thursdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on the weekends from noon to 8:30 p.m. through Friday, December 23, 2017.

8. Holiday at The Park
Photo courtesy of The Park

During the holidays, The Park is transforming itself into Holiday at The Park, featuring ice skating, strolling carolers and holiday shops. The Park is the new area on the Las Vegas Strip that's been created in the space around the new T-Mobile Arena, the Monte Carlo (soon to be Park MGM and NoMad Hotel) and the New York-New York. It genuinely is a park, with desert landscaping and the well-known Bliss sculpture. Plenty of dining and shopping options are also nearby. For the holidays, The Park will be decked out with dazzling lights, festive ornaments and an 80-foot Christmas tree. Santa will be there, and you can get a photo with him or a video. Holiday at The Park is open daily from November 30, 2017, to January 7, 2018. Admission is free.

7. Ice Rink at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Las Vegas may be in the desert, but that hasn't stopped the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas from putting in an ice skating rink from November 20, 2017, to January 10, 2018. You'll find fire pits, plenty of places to sit, and a menu of warm cocktails, comfort foods and hot chocolate. The Cosmopolitan promises skaters snow showers every 30 minutes to complete this wintry holiday atmosphere, which also has a great view of the Las Vegas Strip. The cost for ice skating admission is $10-$20 and includes all-day skating access and skate rentals. Entry into the area is free. Children under 18 must have an adult with them.

6. Chinese New Year in the Desert
Photo courtesy of CNY

The Chinese New Year is on Friday, February 16, 2018, and in Las Vegas the annual Chinese New Year in the Desert will have events on February 16 and 17, 2018, in honor of the Year of the Dog. In recent years this celebration has grown, and this year participating venues include the Fashion Show Mall, Grand Canal Shoppes and Downtown Container Park. The Spring Festival Parade happens on Saturday, February 17, 2018, at 11 a.m. The parade will run from Fremont and 7th Street to the Downtown Container Park at Fremont and 7th Street. After the parade, an after-party will be held at Container Park.

5. Ethel M Chocolates Holiday Cactus Garden
Photo courtesy of Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Garden

Ethel M Chocolates Holiday Cactus Garden has been one of Las Vegas' premier holiday attractions for over 20 years, charming families with its incredible display of lights. The three-acre Botanical Cactus Garden, located adjacent to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, features more than 600,000 lights lit up for all to enjoy--and it attracts thousands of festive chocolate lovers each year. Open this season from November 7, 2017, through January 1, 2018, the annual event is free to attend, making it perfect for families. On the weekend evenings, Santa visits and local choirs perform. While a stop in the chocolate shop isn't mandatory, since they're open until 10 p.m., why not? If you're over 21, try the delicious Creme Liqueurs Collection, which contains alcohol.

4. Magical Forest
Photo courtesy of Opportunity Village

The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village is a holiday tradition in Las Vegas. Every year, the grounds are transformed into a winter wonderland scene, featuring hundreds of trees lit with millions of bright LED lights and adorned with whimsical decorations. Visitors wander the grounds, enjoying the sights and listening to holiday music, taking rides on the miniature train, and warming up with hot chocolate. Guests who visit the Magical Forest can take a spin on Cheyenne's Enchanted Carousel and hit a few rounds of golf on Rod's Mini-Golf course, or take photos with Santa in his workshop. Other can't-miss attractions at the Magical Forest include the Avalanche Slide and Boris the Elf's 3-D Experience. The Magical Forest is open this season from Friday November 24 through Sunday, December 31, 2017, and is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

3. Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International

The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is one of Las Vegas' busiest places during the holiday season, delighting the crowds with photo-perfect scenes with giant Christmas trees and enchanting, over-sized decorations. From September through January, the displays change three times for autumn, the winter holidays, and the Chinese New Year. One of the winter favorites is the polar bear family, made of white carnations. The Christmas tree is always a show-stopper, and the yearly variations in the displays offer something new each season. The airy atrium explodes with holiday cheer and makes a wonderful place for pictures. Displays for the Chinese New Year (2018 is the year of the Dog) will go up early in the new year. Traditional good luck symbols are prominently featured, along with plants like bamboo and bonsai.

2. Downtown Countdown
Photo courtesy of Fremont Street Experience

The Downtown Countdown fills Fremont Street with music and entertainment beginning in the early afternoon on New Year's Eve and continuing into the wee hours of 2018. Performances are slated from 12 bands playing on three stages. As has become custom, the night belongs to tribute bands like Spandex Nation, Blue String Theory, Yellow Brick Road and Zowie Bowie. Other entertainment includes roaming performers and a laser light show. You can also take a ride on the SlotZilla zip line, or test your mettle against some zombies at Fear the Walking Dead Survival's "Scare in the New Year." The FSE pedestrian walkway closes to the public at 5 p.m. and gates for ticketed guests open at 6 p.m. Bands play until 3 a.m. Admission is $35 per person when purchased online by Dec. 25. Tickets are usually available at the entry gate for $40.

1. America's Party
Photo courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau

Spending New Year's in Las Vegas is an experience you won't forget--provided you don't indulge in too many yard-long drinks. While New York City has Times Square, Las Vegas has America's Party along the Strip. Each year, over 300,000 people visit Las Vegas to celebrate the New Year with a massive block party that culminates in a spectacular fireworks display set off of the top of casinos up and down the Las Vegas Strip. The seven properties that usually participate in the annual event, from north to south, are the Stratosphere, The Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, ARIA and MGM Grand. The closer it is to midnight, the more crowded the streets get. Be sure to arrive early for the best vantage point when the fireworks go off! Streets close around 6 p.m., so plan ahead for transportation.