Vegas goes country crazy during ACM week

The Academy of Country Music bills the days leading up to its annual awards ceremony as “the week Vegas goes country.” It’s a fitting description considering the numerous star-studded special events and concerts being held around town leading up to the big night on April 7.

Country music fans will want to stop by the ACM Experience, which will be held April 5 – 7 at The Orleans Hotel & Casino. This three-day family-friendly event gives fans the ultimate country experience with more than 200,000 square feet of shopping, gaming and food. Unique vendors from all over the United States and Canada will offer products such as customized jewelry, Western wear, furniture, original art, homemade crafts and pottery. The ACM Expo also includes a backyard patio food area with tastes from around the country and a live acoustic stage for some of the brightest rising stars in country.

The Orleans is also hosting the ACM Party for a Cause Festival, a two-day outdoor music festival April 5 – 6, which will showcase some of country music’s top acts while raising awareness and funds for a variety of charities. Two-day passes and single-day tickets are available. Acts scheduled to appear on Friday are The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore, Florida Georgia Line, Cassadee Pope and Greg Bates. Saturday’s headliners include Dierks Bentley, Kix Brooks, Eli Young Band, Hunter Hayes, Lee Brice, Love and Theft and Dustin Lynch.

PBR Rock Bar & Grill inside Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino is honoring the ACM Awards April 5 – 7 by giving patrons the opportunity to toast their favorite country singers with cocktails inspired by this year’s Entertainer of the Year nominees, priced at $10 each. The Taylor Swift “Love Story” cocktail includes Zing Red Velvet Vodka and Crème de Cacao. Sip on the Captain Morgan, pineapple, cranberry and orange juice “Shelton Shake Up” in honor of Blake Shelton. Partygoers will also enjoy the Jason Aldean Malibu Coconut Rum, Jagërmeister and pineapple juice “Tailgater.” The Luke Bryan “Drunk on You” concoction will feature Patron Tequila paired with fresh lime and orange juices. The “Lambert Lemonade” is made with Wild Turkey Honey Whiskey and lemonade in honor of Miranda Lambert.

PBR Rock Bar will also feature a 45-minute acoustic performance by ACM country star Ray Scott on April 4, followed by a performance by Jordan Allena and American Idol singer Morgan Leigh. Patrons will also enjoy bull riding competitions April 4 – 7. Winners from each night will be included in a drawing for a dinner for two at PBR Rock Bar and two tickets to Monday’s  Tim McGraw Superstar Summer Night concert.

Each year the ACM presents a weekend of free concerts on Fremont Street. This year’s concerts are scheduled for April 5 – 6 beginning at 9 p.m. each night:

Friday, April 5, 2013
9 p.m.  Sunny Sweeney (New Female Vocalist of the Year Nominee) — 1st Street Stage
9:50 p.m.  Joe Nichols — 3rd Street Stage
11 p.m. Kip Moore — 1st Street Stage
12 a.m. Gary Allan — 3rd Street Stage

Saturday, April 6, 2013
9 p.m.  Chris Janson — 1st Street Stage
9:50 p.m.  Randy Houser — 3rd Street Stage
11 p.m. Jana Kramer (New Female Vocalist of the Year & New Artist of the Year Nominee) — 1st Street Stage
12 a.m. Jake Owen — 3rd Street Stage

The week culminates with the 48th annual ACM Awards show, which will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena April 7. The show, which honors country music’s best and brightest, will be hosted by Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan and will air on CBS television. Artists scheduled to perform include Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Kelly Clarkson, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert, George Strait, The Band Perry and more.

George Strait and Garth Brooks, the two most recent ACM Artist of the Decade Award recipients, will also perform together for the first time to pay tribute to Dick Clark, the longtime producer of the ACM Awards.

During the awards show, Brad Paisley will host the 3rd Annual ACM Fan Jam, taking place at The Orleans Arena. This live remote location gives country music lovers the ultimate pass to be a part of the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Throughout the three-hour Awards telecast from MGM Grand, there will be live ACM Fan Jam performances, via remote from The Orleans Arena, by Brad Paisley and other acts. The Fan Jam also continues after the Awards telecast ends, with performances by Brad Paisley and special guests like Dierks Bentley, Hunter Hayes, Brantley Gilbert, Jana Kramer and Florida Georgia Line. General admission tickets are $55.

The fun will continue Monday with Tim McGraw’s Superstar Summer Night. The two-hour, star-studded concert event will feature performances and collaborations from country, pop, rock and more. Scheduled to appear are Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Pitbull and Ne-Yo. The special will be taped (to be broadcast on CBS at a later date) at MGM Grand Garden Arena with ticket proceeds going to the ACM Lifting Lives charity. Tickets are $205 (general admission floor, standing only) and also $205, $155 and $105 (for reserved seating).


It’s not that warm in Minnesota. I know this from spending half my life freezing in the northern part of the state. So 20 years ago, I decided to thaw out and traded in scarves and mittens for tank tops and flip-flops (Take that, polar vortex!). I swapped snow for 300 days of sun a year. I may not have been born here, but there are hotels that haven’t lasted in Vegas as long as I have. The Sands, Hacienda, Aladdin, Desert Inn and the Stardust too. I've been to my fair share of implosion parties. (Yeah, that’s a thing.) As a writer for, I've applauded hundreds of shows, explored every major hotel in town and raised a few glasses at most of the city's bars and clubs. Now I'm the resident foodie here. I write about all things dining — from $3.99 shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate to the finest sushi at Nobu, and everything in between.