Vegas Weekender: Festive parties ignite and excite the town

February may be one of the chilliest months of the year but with all the celebrations in town, this weekend is about to be sizzling.


Late night TV host Jay Leno takes the stage at The Mirage, Friday, Feb. 8. The show starts at 10 p.m.

For fans of late night TV, host Craig Ferguson, will perform at the Sands Showroom, Friday, Feb. 8 at 10 p.m.

Chefs battle it out with Good vs. Evil: Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, live at Pearl Theater inside The Palms. See this one-of-a-kind “food fight” Saturday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.

Funny man Kevin James (pictured right) returns to Vegas at The Mirage, Saturday, Feb. 9. Show times are 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Puppy love

Want to find out if you have America’s Most Kissable Dog? Bring Fido to the Cashman Center (850 N. Las Vegas Blvd.) on Saturday, February 9 at the Vegas Pet Expo. Bring your pup to the expo between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. where you’ll have an official “kissing” photograph taken of your dog.

Admission to the Pet Expo event is free. There is a $5 fee to enter the contest, but you’ll receive a $5 voucher toward any PetzLife oral care product purchased at the expo. A portion of the $5 entry fee goes directly to benefit a local Las Vegas animal welfare or rescue organization.

For directions and dog attendee requirements, click here.

The dog with the most online votes at the end of a 30-day voting period will be crowned the the K-9 Kissing King or Queen for that location, win a prize package provided by sponsor  Petzlife and be automatically be entered into the national competition for a chance to be named “America’s Smoochiest Pooch.”

Mardi Gras Events

Golden Nugget’s Gold Diggers hosts a night of mystery and allure with its third annual Mardi Gras-themed Masquerade Ball on Saturday, Feb. 9. Dance the night away and sip specialty cocktails from Gold Diggers’ full service bars. Gold Diggers also offers outdoor balcony views of the world-famous Fremont Street Experience. Cover charge includes admission, complimentary beads, doubloons and mask ($15 per person, $25 per couple if purchased in advance). Admission is $20 per person the day of event.

Rockhouse inside Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian presents its “Rock You Like a Hurricane” Mardi Gras party on Tuesday, Feb. 12. With plenty of beads to go around, the ultra-dive bar invites Fat Tuesday partygoers to enjoy $5 Hurricane cocktails all day long.

PBR Rock Bar & Grill inside Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops brings the taste of New Orleans with its “Bourbon, Beads and Bulls” Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 12. In honor of the famed Bourbon Street party, enjoy a bourbon drink, colorful beads and bull rides all day for $10.

Chinese New Year Events

The Cosmopolitan celebrates the Year of the Snake with a “Dotting of the Eyes” ceremony and street parade on Sunday, Feb. 10. See dancers, a twisting and turning dragon and lions. The ceremony begins at 5 p.m. and will be held at the east side entrance, followed by the ceremonial parade through the resort.

Stop by Bellagio during the lion dance festivities and check out the Chinese New Year themed garden at the Conservatory (photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International).

Dynamic and colorful lion dances commemorate the Year of the Snake at Bellagio, Aria, Crystals at CityCenter and MGM Grand. Schedule is as follows:

  • Aria: Monday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. at the main porte cochere
  • Crystals: Monday, Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. at the entrance near Todd English P.U.B.
  • MGM Grand: Monday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at the front desk
  • Bellagio: Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the main porte cochere

Yau Kung Moon will perform the traditional Chinese lion dances at Bellagio, ARIA, Crystals and MGM Grand. Yau Kung Moon, which translates to “Style of Flexible Power,” is considered one of the most-respected martial arts, dragon and lion dance organizations in the world.  It is a traditional Southern Shaolin Kung Fu system with more than 1,000 years of history.

Within the lion dancing culture, Yau Kung Moon is considered one of the pioneers of Northern and Southern lion dancing (Nam Si Buk Mo). Yau Kung Moon is known for its trademark gold uniforms and innovative routines and has been recognized internationally for being the first U.S. team to compete in the 1990 Invitational World Lion Dance Festival in Malaysia.  The group also has finished as the 10-time undefeated Chinese National Lion Dance Champions.

Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef celebrates the Year of the Snake by decorating the habitat of its Burmese python with traditional Chinese décor. Native to Southeast Asia, the Burmese python is one of the largest snakes in the world, reaching up to 20-feet in length and weighing up to 200 pounds. Fun fact: Flexible jaws allow them to consume prey up to five times as wide as their head.

If you want to enjoy fine dining during your stay, you’re in luck: Typically reserved for royalty, heads of state and other world leaders, Diaoyutai State Guesthouse of Beijing will host a series of exclusive dinner parties within Tuscany Kitchen inside Bellagio on Thursday, Feb. 14 – Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

The lavish dinner offers an eight-course menu featuring a collection of historic dishes modernized from ancient menus. It will be prepared and served by the Diaoyutai culinary team, dressed in traditional Chinese attire and led by Executive Chef Hao Baoli, who hosted more than 1,000 world leaders in his decades at the Guesthouse.

Celebratory décor will complement the elegance of Bellagio. Tableware will be shipped from Beijing to Bellagio specifically for the event, capturing the essence and spirit of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in breathtaking form. Tickets for this rare culinary event are $500 per person. Reserve by calling (866) 406-7117.

Rugby events

Enjoy imported beer while cheering on your favorite rugby team at PBR Rock Bar.

Now through Sunday, Feb. 10, USA Sevens Rugby hosts autograph sessions, food and drink specials and world-class rugby at Sam Boyd Stadium, located southeast from the Strip on 7000 E. Russell Road. Tickets start at $10 for children 14 and younger and $33 for adults. For complete details of schedule and events, call 1 (888) RUGBY-7S.

Get down and dirty at PBR Rock Bar, the official headquarters for USA Sevens, the largest rugby tournament in North America. The tournament celebrations kick off Wednesday, Feb. 6 with a tailgate after party from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. PBR offers select import beers priced at $6. On Thursday, Feb. 7, enjoy the USA Sevens official after party’s open bar access from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. for $40.

Fans and players have a 10 percent discount off their bills during the tournament with proof of ticket stubs or team credentials.

Located inside Mandalay Place, Rí Rá hosts Six Nations rugby viewing parties. For $20, enjoy a complimentary full Irish Breakfast featuring two eggs, Irish sausages, rashers, black and white pudding, grilled tomato and sautéed mushrooms. Select games will be broadcast on BBC America, and fans can catch those at the pub free of charge.  The pub will offer guests $4 pints of Newcastle and Heineken during each viewing party. See the following games in February:

  • Saturday, Feb. 9:  6:30 a.m.: Scotland vs. Italy;  9 a.m.: France vs. Wales
  • Sunday, Feb. 10:  7 a.m.: Ireland vs. England
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: 6:30 a.m.: Italy vs. Wales; 9 a.m.: England vs. France
  • Sunday, Feb. 24: 6 a.m.: Scotland vs. Ireland


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.