The whimsical Winter in Venice returns to Las Vegas

There are plenty of things to do on the Las Vegas Strip, but an outdoor winter wonderland — complete with an ice skating rink, festive entertainment and displays — is a whole different story.

From Nov. 18 – Jan. 6, 2013, The Venetian and The Palazzo will feature their second annual Winter in Venice celebration. Winter in Venice consists of 50 days of holiday festivities throughout both properties.

If you visited Winter in Venice last year, then you’re in for a treat. This year, the event features a twist to the festive parade. Before the parade, you’ll get to enjoy a 3-D story. Using state-of-the-art technology, the spectacular 3-D projection show will display on The Venetian’s iconic Doge’s Palace clock tower. The parade boasts new characters like La Bafana, a traditional Christmas icon in Italy, and the Winter in Venice Queen.

The show concludes with a live finale that illuminates the plaza, including the 65-foot Christmas tree. Located in the front of the resort, Doge’s Palace offers plenty to see and enjoy. Surrounded by snowflakes and holiday lights, this area includes entertainment such as strolling candy cane stilt walkers, puppets, jugglers and magicians. In addition, carolers and gondoliers set the tone singing holiday classics.

Venice on Ice

If ice skating tickles your fancy, you’ll have the chance to perfect your triple axel — or have fun attempting it! Located next to the outdoor gondola attraction, the rink is open daily from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Made of recyclable polymer, the synthetic ice rink requires no refrigeration or electricity, making it an environmentally friendly attraction.

The rink offers 30-minute skating sessions with skate rental for $14.95 a person ($9.95 for locals and Grazie members). Children ages 7 -12 skate for free when accompanied by an adult with a Nevada ID or a Grazie cardholder (limit three children). Tickets are for sale at the outdoor booth and available on a same-day reservation basis. Guests must be at least 7 years old to enter the skating area. All guests are required to sign a waiver.

With views of the outdoor gondolas, the winter decorations and a cool breeze, you’ll almost forget you’re in the middle of the desert. And if you come at night, you can see more than 2,000 lights glittering above you. Hot cocoa is available at kiosks next to the ice skating rink.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas brings merry music

Add to the spirit of Christmas with a show: Grammy Award-winning composer/musician Chip Davis brings his holiday production, “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Las Vegas by Chip Davis,” to The Palazzo Theater. The six-week run features Mannheim Steamroller’s signature Christmas classics and state-of-the- art multimedia effects. This classic holiday tradition includes choreography, aerial displays and other new elements.

It runs from Nov. 20 – Dec. 30, with show times starting at 7 p.m. On Nov. 21 – 24 and Dec. 27 and 29, an additional performance is scheduled at 9:30 p.m.

Holiday feast

As part of Winter in Venice, witness the first annual “Culinary Clash” competition. Watch as sous chefs and chefs de cuisine from restaurants inside The Venetian and The Palazzo go head-to-head for the Venetian Victor (master chef) title. Chefs will take on a number of recipe challenges. They will use ingredients provided in a “mystery basket” to be prepared in mobile food truck kitchen at Doge’s Palace plaza. Each chef’s creation will then be available for sampling. The event hosts guest appearances by The Venetian and The Palazzo’s celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Sammy DeMarco, all judges of the competition.

Culinary Clash will give guests the occasion to experience Italian-inspired food and drinks while joining in a festive holiday outdoor party.  Each cooking battle will be highlighted with street entertainment, DJ music and an after party provided by Tao.  The late-night event will run from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. with the following schedule:

  • Round 1: Nov. 29 – Chef Emeril Lagasse
  • Round 2: Dec. 7 – Chef Mario Batali
  • Round 3 : Dec. 14  (semi-finals ) – Chef Sammy DeMarco
  • Round 4: Dec. 21 (finals) –  Surprise chef to be announced

At the conclusion of the Culinary Clash, the surprise chef and prestigious judging panel will crown a victor chef.  This Venetian Victor and a guest will receive a trip to Italy.

In addition to this event, you can also enjoy a seasonal Winter in Venice cocktail menu, including holiday-inspired spiced cocktails such as Gondolier Blanco, Da Vinci Remedy and Pom Prosecco. These will be available throughout both properties at The Bourbon Room, Zebra Lounge, Bellini Bar, Fusion Mixology Bar and Laguna Champagne Bar.

Holiday-themed menus and specials will be offered by select world-class restaurants throughout the season including Aquaknox, B&B, Bouchon, Canaletto, Canyon Ranch Café, Delmonico, First Food & Bar, Grand Lux Café, Pinot Brasserie, Postrio, Table 10, LAVO Italian Restaurant and Valentino.

Spa-tacular holiday services

Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers a variety of winter-inspired spa treatments you’ll be sure to warm up to. The spa features its Winter Solstice Massage, which comes with a Silent Night bath and nourishing oils. Or heal dry, cracked skin with the deep-moisturizing Winter Solstice Cocoon full-body wrap. The spa also has a Holiday Radiance Facial, which is sure to brighten your skin. Other services include the Sweet Winter Cocoon and the seasonal Rasul treatment for two.

 A Christmas story

The Venetian’s Winter in Venice takes the holidays to a whole new level: If you’re bringing the little ones, The Venetian and The Palazzo even offer an “elf” tuck-in (right), complete with milk and cookies as part of the Winter in Venice suite package.

The package includes one elf tuck-in per stay for children ages 12 and younger. In addition to the popular elf tuck-in, this special package also features nightly showings of holiday movies, Santa story readings, butler-drawn baths and more.

Whatever you decide to experience, Winter in Venice takes the Vegas holidays to a whole new level. And now in its second year, we’re sure it’s going to be bigger than ever.


Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.