The weekend before the Super Bowl is anything but slow in Vegas. There are no timeouts in the action here. Not only has the fierce and fiery Year of the Dragon gotten under way, but several hot rock and country artists – like Brad Paisley and Social Distortion – will be taking the stage.
Chinese New Year
The start of the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese lunar calendar was marked earlier in the week, and there are plenty of celebrations continuing through the weekend.
Be sure to check out some of the fabulous and fortuitous displays in the resorts – most of which pay tribute to the mythical zodiac creature that stands for good fortune and power. Not only are these exhibitions free, but you can view them at any time of day.
A serene sanctuary has been created at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, where two 25-foot blue dragons coil around a column of water and blow steam from their nostrils. Crystals at CityCenter is also commemorating Chinese New Year with a gorgeous display presided over by a blue dragon. This exhibit, with its orange trees and vivid red and yellow flowers, provides the perfect photo opportunity to memorialize the new year. At the Jean Philippe Pâtisserie in Aria, you can see a giant sculpture of a dragon made from milk, dark and white chocolate. The display boasts huge twirling pink blossoms, another symbol of luck, crafted from fondant.
Another impressive exhibit is in The Waterfall & Atrium Gardens at The Palazzo. Here you’ll discover a 128-foot, 8,000-pound, fire-breathing dragon. It took 60 designers, welders and painters more than a year to create this jaw-dropping sight.
If you’ve never watched a lion dance, there will eight opportunities to catch an exhilarating performance this weekend, thanks to Caesars Entertainment. On Jan. 27, observe the traditional ceremony at Harrah’s at 5 p.m., at the Imperial Palace at 6:15 p.m., at the Flamingo at 7 p.m. and at the Rio at 10 p.m. On Jan. 28, it will be presented at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino at noon, at Paris Las Vegas at 1 p.m., at Bally’s at 2 p.m. and at Caesars Palace at 5 p.m.
Get tickets to see Hong Kong singing sensation Wakin Chau in The Colesseum at Caesars Palace on Jan. 28 – 29 at 8 p.m. Born in a rice store owned by his family, Chau learned to play guitar at the age of 13. After playing folk songs in coffee shops during his college years, he steadily rose in popularity as a performer. To date, Chau has released more than 40 records.
On Jan. 29 head to the Las Vegas Chinatown Plaza at 4255 Spring Mountain Road, just minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip. Organized by the Chinese American Chamber of Commerce, this is the city’s biggest celebration. It will feature authentic Asian foods – everything from Japanese and Mandarin to Vietnamese and Hawaiian cuisines. The entertainment includes a lion dance, taiko drumming, Chinese folk dancing and martial arts. The festivities run from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children ages 6-12. Children ages 5 and under can attend for free.
Hunky country superstar Brad Paisley, who reigns as the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, will bring his Virtual Reality World Tour 2012 to the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Jan. 28. Don’t miss hearing his rollicking hits including “Mud on the Tires” and “I’m Still a Guy.” The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and features special guests The Band Perry and “American Idol” season 10 winner Scotty McCreery.
Country fans can double their fun by going to see rabble-rouser Kid Rock. Appearing Jan. 27 – 28 at 9 p.m. in the House of Blues, you’ll get to listen to tunes from “Born Free,” his eighth studio album, along with other well-liked songs, such as “All Summer Long” and “American Bad Ass.”
Is heavy metal more your sound? If so, catch Social Distortion in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel on Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. Punk icons, the band now consists of frontman Mike Ness and longtime guitarist Jonny Wickersham, in addition to bassist Brent Harding and drummer David Hidalgo, Jr. Get swept away in their hard-luck songs of love and loss.
To soften the volume some, make tracks for Ovation at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. Aaron Lewis, formerly the lead singer of the band Staind, takes the stage on Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. He’s been performing solo acoustic shows since he was 17 years old. Having recently ventured into country music with last year’s release of the album “Town Line,” Lewis is sure to play an eclectic mix of music.
On the opposite side of town at the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa, you can enjoy the blues and gospel sounds of Jonny Lang. A talented guitar player, he’ll be performing in Rocks Lounge on Jan. 28 at 8 p.m.
Book & Stage, the ultra hip lounge at The Cosmopolitan, is hosting Wes Quave Jan. 27 – 28. The New Orleans native complements soulful vocals with amazing choreography. Both of his shows are free and begin at 10:30 p.m.
Want to be dazzled and stupefied? “Criss Angel Believe” at the Luxor stars the revered “Mindfreak” magician known for mind-blowing illusions. The show was woven together in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil – which means audience members will get a dose of surreal beauty amid all the trickery. This week performances are offered Wednesday – Thursday at 7 p.m., Tuesday and Friday at 7 and 9:30 p.m., and Saturday at 4:30 and 7 p.m.
Another conjurer, David Copperfield, who is best known for combining storytelling with his illusions, is in town through Jan. 30 at the MGM Grand. Keep your eyes peeled as he can make anything disappear – from ducks to cars. Showtime is at 7 and 9:30 p.m. nightly, with an added 4 p.m. presentation on Saturdays.
Looking for some laughs? Go to The Orleans on Jan. 27 – 28. That’s where Bob Saget, who seemed so wholesome on the TV show “Full House,” is guaranteed to offend you with his hilarious vulgarity. He takes the mic nightly at 8 p.m.
The Improv at Harrah’s, one of Vegas’ favorite comedy clubs, features Brian Dunkleman through Jan. 29. You may remember Dunkleman from his co-hosting gig on “American Idol” with Ryan Seacrest in its first season. He’ll be joined by goofballs Amir K and Brett Walkow. Shows run Tuesday – Sunday (dark Mondays) at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.
To indulge in a more cultural experience, head to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A short distance east of the Strip sits Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall. On Jan. 26 at 8 p.m., Europa Galante, a superb instrument ensemble led by violinist Fabio Biondi, will interpret music from eras long past. Joined by Metropolitan Opera star Vivica Genaux, you will be utterly enthralled.
Vanity Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel is hosting a birthday party for Nick Carter on Jan. 28. Famous as a member of the Backstreet Boys pop group, he’s been making a name for himself as a solo artist these days. Doors open at 8 p.m. Ladies can drink free champagne until midnight, and DJ Cheapshot will spin the hottest dance music. Plus, you can be part of the Rude Photo event on Jan. 27 or the Vanity Nightclub Anniversary Party on Jan. 29.
The authentic Irish pub Rí Rá, located inside The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, flies in a variety of great musical acts from the Emerald Isle and throughout the U.S. Through Jan. 29, see The McCabes joined by Irish fiddler Tony Demarco, who has been performing for more than 30 years. The merriment begins nightly at 8:45 p.m.
Tryst at Wynn Las Vegas is known for hosting all the A-list, must-be-seen-at parties. On Jan. 27, the trendy nightclub presents Along Came a Spider with DJ Spider and Kris Nilsson, and then on Jan. 28, DJs Jermaine Dupri and Derrick Anthony create a cooler-than-cool vibe.
The hip hotspot Bond at The Cosmopolitan features dynamic LED art and performance artists in window boxes as accompaniments to the upbeat house music. DJ Evil One, who has helmed all the top clubs from Miami to San Francisco, takes charge Jan. 27 – 28. Adriana, a super sexy young DJ, rocks out with nightlife devotees on Jan. 29. The music gets under way nightly at 10 p.m.
Last but not least, make a trip downtown to the El Cortez’s elegant Parlour Bar & Lounge. You can try one of their three wonderful new cocktails: the Scottie, the Parlour Refresher and the Fireside Manhattan, a powerful potion made with Original Moonshine and sweet vermouth.