The great big weekend in Vegas BEFORE New Year’s Eve

The weekend after Christmas is going to be a big one in Vegas.

Typically, the days following Santa’s visit are slow in Sin City as people linger with their families before making tracks to this New Year’s Eve mecca in the desert. This year, however, the revelry is getting off to a running start in Vegas on Dec. 27 – 30 with a slew of grand openings.

Just think – the debuts of two sizzling pop singers turned resident artists (Britney Spears and Bruno Mars) as well as of a madcap entertainment/nightlife venue (Beacher’s Madhouse) and an experimental restaurant-meets-show-meets-social club concept (Rose.Rabbit.Lie.).

Add to this the comeback of the beloved O’Sheas Casino and the public’s first chance to set foot in The Linq, plus the unveiling of a hip new Mexican eatery at MGM Grand…and you have the recipe for a truly over-the-top weekend. What more could anyone ask for?

So this year saying goodbye to 2013 is going to mean saying hello to several new faces and places on the Strip and in downtown. With all of these awesome things happening, you’ll want to come to Vegas early so you don’t miss a minute of the excitement. Then just stay on through New Year’s Day – or better yet, the next weekend!

Here’s a day-by-day rundown of the fun and fabulousness you can experience:

Friday, Dec. 27

The opening of Beacher’s Madhouse with Miley Cyrus
At the center of MGM Grand’s casino floor in the former site of the adult revue “Crazy Horse Paris,” the unconventional, circus-like world of Beacher’s Madhouse is about to unfold. Showman Jeff Beacher, who actually got his start in New York City and then Vegas before building his vaudevillian entertainment empire in Hollywood, is the ringleader of all the rowdiness. Knowing how to push boundaries, he’s enlisted none other than music’s good-gone-bad-girl Miley Cyrus to help kick things off appropriately. At the outset, Beacher’s Madhouse will offer a late-night production/club-style experience with an early evening show debuting in mid-January. Guests will make their entrance into his surreal performance theater through a speakeasy-like passageway hidden behind a library bookcase. Tip: Expect the unexpected – this includes flying little people, an 8-year-old DJ, a lady who can crush watermelons with her bosom and a life-sized stuffed elephant.

Artwork for Britney Spears' "Work B**tch"

Artwork from Britney Spears' latest single, "Work B**tch," which she may perform in her new Vegas show "Britney: Piece of Me."

The opening of “Britney: Piece of Me”
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino is the place to be tonight if you want to see Britney Spears begin her two-year Las Vegas residency. Following on the heels of “Work B**ch,” the well-received lead single from her recently released eighth studio album, “Britney Jean,” the legendary pop princess will now be at the helm of a totally tricked out showroom. Formerly known as the Theater for the Performing Arts, the space has been transformed into The Axis, courtesy of a partnership between Caesars Entertainment and Live Nation Entertainment. Boasting impressive acoustics, unobstructed views and one of the largest video and projection installations in the world as well as exclusive table and bottle service, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind concert-going experience during “Britney: Piece of Me.” After passing through a lobby with a club-like atmosphere, you’ll enter into the immersive show that will recreate some of Spears’ most iconic moments as a performer. Note: If you’re a super fan, stop by the Britney: Wanna Piece of Me? souvenir store in the Miracle Mile Shops. You can purchase T-shirts or more distinctly Brit-tastic items such as a fedora or “Work B**tch” logo hot pants.

The refurbished sign at O'Sheas Casino

The original sign for O'Sheas Casino was refurbished and has been hung at the Irish-themed casino's new site. Photo by Steve Marcus / courtesy of the Las Vegas Sun.

The opening of O’Sheas Casino and the first phase of The Linq
Fans of the small Irish-themed casino that shut down on April 30, 2012 to make way for construction of The Linq, a $550 million entertainment district being built by Caesars Entertainment, can rejoice in its return. Best known for having affordable table games, cheap beer and beer pong, O’Sheas Casino is coming back in a big way. Spanning 5,000 square feet inside The Quad, it will boast three bars – the indoor Lucky Bar and Dublin Up Bar and the outdoor Blarney Bar – that will serve everything from $3 draft beers to imaginative libations like the Irish Margarita made with whiskey. Featuring pub-like décor as well as a hand-painted mural of the original O’Sheas Casino, guests will also discover entertainment by way of six beer pong tables, live bands, DJs and an interactive jukebox. In addition, several other tenants in the first section of The Linq, the open-air district in the corridor between The Quad and the Flamingo resorts, will make their first appearances in Vegas – like the Purple Zebra, a self-serve slush and daiquiri bar. Guests can select one of 38 novelty containers (in sizes as big as 100 ounces) to fill with a mix of 30 different alcoholic and “zero-proof” flavors and top off with candy. How sweet it is!

The opening of Banger Brewing
In the latest round of reinvention and revitalization in downtown Las Vegas, a local brewery that has been in the works for some time is finally ready to draft pre-New Year’s Eve crowds. Located in Neonopolis on Fremont Street Experience, Banger Brewing is built on both friendship and a passion for creating craft beers that reflect the spirit of Sin City – in that the brews are “sexy, classy and one-of-a-kind.” So what’s on tap? At Banger Brewing you can knock back one of five cool concoctions. There’s the DTB (brown ale), the El Heffe (jalepeño hefeweizen), the Hops Anonymous (IPA) and the Perfect 10 (American pale ale). Or enjoy a swig of the fresh and light-tasting Sandia, which gets its unique flavor from watermelon.

Saturday, Dec. 28

Hecho en Vegas logo

The logo for Hecho en Vegas, MGM Grand's newest restaurant offering.

The opening of Hecho en Vegas
The cantina-style Hecho en Vegas is being launched at MGM Grand in the former Diego restaurant space in The District. The menu focuses on traditional Sonoran cuisine. It was created using recipes spanning generations of the Flores family, who operate two acclaimed restaurants in Arizona. Interesting signature items include Enchiladas Banderas (a trio of beef, chicken and shrimp enchiladas served with verde, blanca and rojo mole sauces that reflect the colors of the Mexican flag) and the Sonoran Dog (a half-pound Angus beef hot dog topped with charro beans, jalapeño street salsa, tomatoes, mustard and mayo). Cocktail-seeking guests will be able to imbibe an exciting selection of tequilas, margaritas and Mexican beers.

Sunday, Dec. 29

The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The Chelsea is The Cosmopolitan's new concert venue that will open with star power from Bruno Mars.

The opening of The Chelsea featuring Bruno Mars
The Cosmopolitan’s long-awaited concert and event facility, The Chelsea, is sure to become one of Vegas’ coolest live music venues. Spanning 40,000 square feet, its décor seamlessly blends industrial grittiness with an elegant vintage feel. Dramatic glass chandeliers, private opera boxes and a grand stairwell will take your breath away. Three bold large-panel paintings from Maya Hayuk adorn the space as well. Plus, the latest technology is being utilized here. It’s only natural such a venue would draw the most elite performers to its stage, so fittingly Bruno Mars, who was recently named Billboard’s “Artist of the Year,” has been signed on to inaugurate it with what’s guaranteed to be an exhilarating appearance tonight. He’ll perform on New Year’s Eve too and return for a series of appearances that extend into 2014.

Monday, Dec. 30

The opening of Rose.Rabbit.Lie.
Restaurant. Bar. Show. Nightclub. Why be just one? Rose.Rabbit.Lie. offers an avant-garde evolution of all of these things at The Cosmopolitan. Spiegelworld, the traveling and resident circus that conceived “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, is the creative force behind this “grand social experiment.” Evenings will begin at 6 p.m. with cocktail and dinner service. A theatrical show called “Vegas Nocturne” will unravel later, much like a poem, in three distinct cantos – at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight. Its unpredictable plot will twist and turn while showcasing an ensemble cast of some of the best talent the world has to offer. Of course, in the wee hours, the entertainment elements will ebb and more of a nightclub vibe will remain. This blurring of lines at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. is sure to be a ground-breaking experience unlike any other in Vegas – so what better way to usher out 2013 or ring in 2014!


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.