Holiday attractions make the season bright in Las Vegas

With our legions of neon and LED lights, Las Vegas is already one of the brightest cities around. But the winter holidays are fast approaching and with them comes an array of holiday attractions that are bound to make the season even brighter.

Winter in Venice

The Venetian and The Palazzo present a flurry of seasonal festivities as the luxurious resorts kick off their third annual Winter in Venice celebration Nov. 18 through Jan. 5.

Festivities will include a skating rink, character performances, a fantasy scene in The Palazzo Waterfall Atrium and Gardens, a 3-D light projection show and two Italian-inspired food festivals.

Additionally, food and beverage venues throughout the Venetian and Palazzo will offer seasonal Winter in Venice menus.

Learn more.

Neon Museum

The Neon Museum will introduce a special holiday-inspired palette of lights during night tours of the boneyard Nov. 30 through Dec. 31.

The museum will also host a holiday ornament-making activity on Dec. 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. followed by hot chocolate and caroling from 5 to 6 p.m.

Night tours of the Neon Boneyard cost $25; $22 for seniors, students, active military and veterans, and Nevada residents (with valid ID).  The holiday ornament event is free and open to the public.

20th Annual Holiday Cactus Garden

"M" is for merry at the Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden.

Oh Christmas cactus, thy candles shine so brightly! More than 300 species of plant life will bloom with cheerful colors when the three-acre Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden is decked with half a million lights Nov. 13 through Jan. 1.

The brilliant light display will kick off Nov. 12 with a community cactus lighting event from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring comedian George Wallace as host as well as performances by MO5AIC and Michael Grimm. There will also be photos with Santa, performances by local choirs, chocolate samples, face painters, balloon artists, raffles and more. Donate a new, unwrapped toy for a child in need and receive a four-pack of tickets for the Cactus Lighting.

The Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden, 2 Cactus Garden Drive in Henderson, will be lit nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. Visitors can also visit the chocolate factory and purchase delicious chocolate treats. There is no charge to visit.

Ice Rink

Skate figure 8’s around the holiday season on the Cosmopolitan‘s ice skating rink at the Boulevard pool. Open Nov. 22 through Jan. 5, guests can enjoy a warm winter atmosphere with fire pits, s’mores and warm cocktails Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday, noon to midnight. Cost is $15 plus a $5 skate rental fee.

Bellagio Conservatory

Now THAT's a tree.

Bellagio will celebrate the magic of the holiday season when it unveils its winter display in the 13, 573-square-foot Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden at 5 p.m. Dec. 6.

Stroll through an enchanted winter wonderland surrounded by more than 45,000 fragrant fresh poinsettias, majestic 8-foot chocolate reindeer, a life-size candy house and a life-size snow globe. A family of topiary polar bears will be adorned with 18,000 snow white carnations.

The centerpiece is Las Vegas’ largest indoor holiday tree standing at 45 feet tall and weighing 8,000 pounds, hand-picked in Mount Shasta and flown in for the display.

The Conservatory’s holiday show will remain on display through Jan. 5.

Bellagio Fountains

The Bellagio Fountains are showing their holiday spirit with performances set to holiday tunes beginning Dec. 1. The classic repertoire includes Hallelujiah Chorus, Carol of the Bells, O Holy Night, Santa Baby and more.

Glittering Lights

Drive through a colorful, glowing display as Glittering Lights illuminates the Las Vegas Motor Speedway nightly Nov. 15 through Jan. 5. Now in it’s 13th season, the attraction features more than 400 animated, energy-efficient LED lights along a 2.5-mile racetrack.

The attraction will also feature a Living Nativity, Princess Fairy World and the Avenue of Trees.

Glittering Lights will be open Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Cost is $15 per vehicle on weeknights and $20 per vehicle Friday through Sunday and holidays. The Living Nativity will run every Thursday through Saturday through Christmas with additional dates on Dec. 22 through Dec. 24.

Mystic Falls Park Winter Wonderland

Cowboy Santa and Mrs. Claus say "Ho, ho, howdy."

Mystic Falls Park at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall will be transformed into a pioneer-themed winter wonderland this holiday season with festive lighting, decorative snowflakes, garland streams, wreath-adorned lampposts, poinsettias, red garland, ice crystals, sculpted polar bears and snow-covered trees.

Festivities begin with a lighting ceremony on Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m. featuring Boyd Gaming Executive Chairman Bill Boyd, Sam’s Town Vice President and General Manager John Sou, Cowboy Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the Chaparral High School Choir.

A 15-minute laser light show will take place hourly from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 1. Cowboy Santa takes up residence in the park’s gazebo on Thursdays and Fridays from 4 to 8:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8:30 p.m.

Shark Reef

Santa has set his sights on the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Throughout December kids can sit on Santa’s lap in the aquarium’s shipwreck exhibit. Paid children’s admission to the museum includes a photo with Santa and a candy cane.

Underwater Santa

Santa Claus will dive into the holiday season inside the 117,000 gallon aquarium at the Silverton hotel on Saturdays and Sundays throughout December.  Santa and his elves will interact with guests and the aquarium’s 4,000 tropical fish, sharks and stingrays. Be sure to bring a camera.

Magical Forest

Here's a forest you'll want to get lost in.

Millions of sparkling lights, nightly entertainment, great food and endless holiday cheer make for a warm winter evening of festive family fun at the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, 6300 W. Oakey Blvd., Nov. 22 through Jan. 6.

The winter wonderland includes a forest filled with hundreds of dazzling trees, the Forest Express passenger train, Cheyenne’s Enchanted Carousel, Boris the Elf’s 3-D Experience, Snowflake Mountain Slide, Rudolph’s Raceway, Rod’s Mini-Golf, a Magical Midway, nightly entertainment for all ages, photos with Santa in his Workshop and a gingerbread house display.

The Magical Forest is open Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Passports (which are good for unlimited rides and attractions) cost $19.99 for adults and $17.99 for children.