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Ways to Get Into the Las Vegas Christmas Spirit

Bellagio Conservatory Winter Wonderland display 2007

Christmas in the desert isn’t easy to imagine. But, this being Las Vegas, all things are possible, and the Christmas spirit is alive and well…just waiting for you to discover at these places around town.

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The Bellagio’s Conservatory has set-up their holiday display and it is all about a Winter Wonderland. The centerpiece is a 49-foot holiday tree topped with an 8-foot mirrored star, while other displays feature topiaries depicting Emperor penguins, icebergs, polar bears and more. The exhibit is free for all visitors to the resort and will be in place until January 5, 2008.

The Clark County Museum (1830 South Boulder Highway, Henderson) will presenting Heritage Street Holidays through January 13, 2008. The exhibit features trees, ornaments and other holiday decorations from the 1920s through 1950s that were present in Nevada homes. Admission is $1.50 for adults and $1 for children.

The District at Green Valley Ranch is all decorated up for the holidays and features Christmas carolers on Friday and Saturday nights from 5-9pm through December 22. Their weekly Outdoor Picture Show also catches the holiday spirit by offering free 7pm showings of Christmas-themed movies on the weekends. The upcoming schedule includes Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas next Friday (12/22) and the classic It’s a Wonderful Life next Saturday (12/23).

Ethel M Chocolates has transformed its three-acre botanical cactus garden into what they’re calling a “Chocolate Wonderland”. Chocolate sculputes by award-winning chocolate chef Jin Caldwell line the pathways, lit by thousands of sparkling lights, leading to a meeting with Santa. The attraction is free of charge and will be on display until January 1, 2008.

“Believe in Magic” has returned to the Fashion Show Mall, and it features a 35-foot Christmas tree, dancers, 25-foot tall “Holiday Glamour Girls” statues suspended from the ceiling, giant sugar plum fairies made of glass, crystal and jewels, 12-foot wreaths of “diamonds” and, of course, Santa. The display runs through the holidays.

A gingerbread village has been set up in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel, featuring 20 gingerbread houses and a giant working cocolate and sugar carousel designed by Pastry Chef Jean Luc Dual and his team. The lobby is also home to a seasonal display of over 200 teddy bears and other stuffed animals from the FAO Schwarz collection.

The Fremont Street Experience downtown offers a live skating show called “Bright Lights on Ice” nightly through December 22. The free family-friendly show features a cast of professional figure skaters performing solo routines from an iced platform on the 3rd St. stage while trampoline acrobats defy gravity from the ground below. The show occurs nightly at 7:30pm, 8:30pm and 9:30pm. The FSE Viva Vision canopy show also has holiday themed light shows occurring nightly, accompanied by the 50-ft Christmas tree all decked out for the holidays.

The Gift of Lights is a special holiday light exhibit over at Sunset Park (2601 E. Sunset Rd) that runs through January 01, 2008. Tune your car radio to a special station for holiday music that plays as you drive through theis spectacular of holiday lights. Admission is $13 per vehicle (get a special admission discount of $2 off with any bag of “gently used items” donated to Goodwill of Southern Nevada at any Goodwill location in Las Vegas or Henderson or on-site at the event) and the the nightly show is open from 5-9pm Sundays through Thursdays and 5-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

South Point casino plays host to Mele Klikimaka: A Hawaiian Christmas Concert from December 20-24. The concert blends traditional and Hawaiian interpretations of Christmas classics, such as “Oh Holy Night” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with dance numbers inspired by the Polynesian heritage of the performers. Tickets range from $20 to $30 and can be purchased at the South Point box office online.

MonteLago Village at Lake Las Vegas has converted their floating music stage into a floating ice rink for the season. Yes, you read that right. You can go ice skating in the middle of a lake, thanks to modern technology. From now until December 22, Friday nights will feature carolers throughtout the village area surrounding the rink, and on Saturdays, Santa will stop by for a visit. This is a great family outing to get the whole gang in the holiday mood, and you can either bring your own skates or rent them at the village. The rink itself will be open until February 17, 2008.

Nevada Ballet NutcrackerThe Nevada Ballet, the state’s largest professional ballet company, is currently presenting its annual production of the classic holiday musical, The Nutcracker. Performances at the Judy Bayley Theatre at the UNLV Performing Arts Center are scheduled for 8pm for December 18 throught 22, and December 26 and 27, along with matinee shows on December 21 through 24. Tickets are priced at $39, $49 and $72 and can be purchased at the UNLV PAC box office or online.

Charity organization Opportunity Village has once again created their popular Magical Forest attraction for the holidays. Hundreds of trees covered in millions of lights, an Alpine Slide, rides on two “Forest Express” passenger trains and a visit to Santa are but a few reasons why this attraction is fun for the whole family. The Magical Forest can be found at 6300 W. Oakey Blvd and is open nightly through December 30th from 5:30-10pm. Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under, or upgrade to the passport, which also includes unlimited rides, for $14 adults and $12 for those 12 and under. Purchase yours at the gate or in advance at any Vegas CVS store. For additional information, call 702.225.XMAS (9627).

The Springs Preserve presents its first annual Winter Lights Festival to the public this month. Over half a million LED lights, powered by solar energy, are on display in the 8-acre garden, as well as other areas of the preserve. Holiday-inspired refreshments from the Springs Cafe by Wolfgang Puck and live music by local entertainers and carolers compliment the Christmas atmosphere of the displays. Horse and carriage rides are also available throughout the season on the attraction’s trails. Admission to just the Winter Lights Festival is $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 5-17, or visit the entire Springs Preserve, including the galleries, for $9 for adults and $4.50 for those 5-17. A complete entertainment schedule can be found at

Town Square Las Vegas, the new 1.5 million-square-foot shopping center on the southern end of Las Vegas Blvd, has set up an exclusive Norman Rockwell holiday exhibit with interactive life-size replicas of several covers he created during his career with The Saturday Evening Post. The center has also set up a 30 sq.-ft. Santa House and a traditionally decorated 40-foot Christmas tree. The Christmas displays are available for viewing from 11am to 7pm daily until December 24.

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Since most of these events are free, or very low-cost, grab a group and make a night of it, going from one event to another.

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Great Santa Run Vegas 2007

And just as a follow-up, a few weeks ago I reported on the Great Santa Run in downtown Las Vegas. Organizers were trying to beat the Guinness world record for most Santas gathered in one place. They did indeed claim the record, with 7,269 Santas. Unfortunately, the title was shortlived, as Dublin beat the record last week with over 11,000. Oh well…just gives Vegas something to shoot for next year, right? Opportunity Village, the charity that benefits from the event, has already set the date for December 6, 2008. Mark it on your calendars.