Are you prepared for the arrival of the Year of the Snake on Sunday? For the Chinese, the Lunar New Year is akin to Thanksgiving or Christmas. Las Vegas visitors will have the opportunity to celebrate with dragon dances, symbolic foods and much more – while spreading blessings for good luck, fortune and happiness. Here’s a list of the fun you can have this weekend!
• Enjoy Chinese New Year in the Desert, a three-day festival at Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas from Feb. 8 – 10. Mayor Pro-Tem Stavros Anthony will conduct the opening ceremony and ribbon cutting on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. on the Third Street Stage. This will be followed by an authentic dragon dance performed by the Las Vegas Lohan School of Shaolin, complete with virtual firecrackers on the 1,500-foot-long Viva Vision canopy, an eye painting ceremony and elaborately costumed performers. Throughout the weekend, you can also taste traditional dishes at the International Vendor Village, watch the Miss Asian American Pacific Islander USA pageant (Feb. 8 – 10 at 8 p.m. nightly), check out floats in the McDonald’s Las Vegas Spring Festival Parade (Feb. 10 at 8 a.m.) and create a lantern to display as part of the Lunar Lantern Festival (Feb. 8 from 5 – 10 p.m. and Feb. 9 – 10 from noon – 9 p.m.). For a complete schedule of events, go to cnyinthedesert.com.
• The Venetian and The Palazzo will kick off Chinese New Year with a parade and other festivities on Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. Highlights include a dragon dance and eye painting ceremony accompanied by fireworks. Beginning at The Venetian’s porte cochere, the parade will make its way through the casino to The Waterfall & Atrium Gardens at The Palazzo, where “Sophie Chow” – a 98-foot blue snake – awaits in a giant peach tree.
• Regis Galerie, a prestigious gallery in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, is unveiling a special display on Feb. 9. About 60 pieces from Regis’ extensive Asian art collection will be put on view. Take a look at the elegant hand-carved ivory “Emperor and Empress,” which dates back to the mid 20th century and a gray and white jade sculpture of a recumbent water buffalo and a child holding an umbrella made in 1880. The exhibit will remain at the gallery through the month of February.
• The Cosmopolitan will be hosting a parade on Feb. 10 that features 40 performers who will “awaken” a giant dragon and ferocious lions by dotting their eyes with red paint. It begins at 5 p.m. on the resort’s east side/Las Vegas Boulevard entrance.
• A posh Chinese eatery, Fú in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is preparing a special menu on Feb. 10 designed to evoke wealth, luck and happiness. Select from one of these delicious entrées: Ground Full of Gold Coins (shrimp stuffed with shiitake mushrooms), Laughter & Happiness (pan-seared prawns with a sweet tomato sauce), Prosperity & Gold Coins (sun-dried sea scallops with sea moss), Luck Comes Easily (pork shank stewed in a bean curd) and Prosperity & Good Occurrences (oysters with sea moss).
• Special menus will also be featured on Feb. 10 in several other Strip restaurants. Fleur by Hubert Keller in Mandalay Bay is cooking up a festive four-course prix fixe dinner available from 5 – 10:30 p.m. Dragon Noodle Co. & Sushi Bar at Monte Carlo has a three-course prix fixe menu for $29 that will be served from 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Rice & Co. in Luxor is offering a three-course prix fixe dinner for $65 from 5 – 11 p.m.
• Cheer on the Meadows School’s 17th annual Dragon Parade Performance. The Forum Shops at Caesars and Mayor Carolyn Goodman will welcome 120 students (from kindergarten and first grade) on Feb. 11. The parade gets under way at 10 a.m. A unique kid-powered snake costume has been created for the event. Many of the kids will also be adorned in red and gold costumes while beating drums to keep evil spirits away. The parade commences near Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab and then continues through the entire shopping center with an extended stop at the Fountain of the Gods for a special performance and remarks from the mayor.
• A Yau Kung Moon organization is performing traditional Chinese lion dances at three MGM Resorts properties on Feb. 11. Yau Kung Moon, which means the “style of flexible power,” is one of the world’s most respected forms of martial arts. It originated in Southern China. To see this group in action, head to Aria’s porte cochere at 1 p.m., the Crystals shopping complex (near Todd English P.U.B.) at 1:30 p.m. or MGM Grand’s front desk at 7 p.m.
• In addition, Bellagio is showcasing a colorful dragon and lion dance led by the Yau Kung Moon organization on Feb. 12. It will start at 6:30 p.m. from the resort’s main porte cochere. Later in the week, take the rare opportunity to enjoy one of a lavish series of dinners ($500 per person) in Bellagio’s Tuscany Kitchen. The culinary team from Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse will prepare an eight-course menu featuring a collection of historic dishes modernized from ancient menus. These meals are traditionally served to visiting dignitaries. They will be held Feb. 14 – 16 at 7:30 p.m. nightly.
For a more comprehensive list of activities in Las Vegas celebrating Chinese New Year, click here.