Winter in Venice, Vegas style

Even after living half of my life in the desert I still miss my hometown, Seattle.

Nothing compares to the winter seasons in the Northwest: The snow. The trees. The cool, crisp air. How can the desert compare to this?  While Vegas doesn’t offer the same atmosphere, my prayers for a true winter experience in the city finally came true. To my delight, the Venetian and Palazzo are holding the first-ever, 49-day “Winter in Venice” festival, a celebration of the winter season on the Las Vegas Strip.

From Nov. 21, 2011 through Jan. 8, 2012, the Venetian and Palazzo will host winter festivities throughout both resorts. “Winter in Venice” is sure to offer an unforgettable holiday experience for travelers, as well as locals. From winter-inspired weddings and spa treatments to festive activities, food and entertainment, everyone will be in for a treat.

“The holidays are such a magical time for everyone and ‘Winter in Venice’ offers the perfect place to truly enjoy this special time of year,” said John Caparella, president and chief operating officer of The Venetian, The Palazzo and Sands Expo.

“Winter in Venice’s” opening act sure to “spark” attention


Jordin Sparks performs a free show in front of the Venetian to celebrate the beginning of "Winter in Venice" on Nov. 21.

Grammy-nominated and platinum recording artist Jordin Sparks kicks off “Winter in Venice” with a free show open to the public in front of the Venetian’s exterior.

The 2007 “American Idol” winner will delight fans Monday, Nov. 21 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Free concert, amazing singer, and great atmosphere — need I say more?

Winter on the Strip

Located  in the front of Venetian, Doge’s Palace whisks you off to another world. Surrounded by snowflakes,  holiday lights strung overhead and a  65-foot LED holiday tree sitting atop the Doge’s Palace fountain, this area also includes entertainment like strolling candy cane stilt walkers, puppets, jugglers and magicians. Carolers and gondoliers singing holiday classics also set the tone.

Once the sun sets, this experience transforms into something even more magical.  Each evening, Doge’s hosts the Strip’s most stunning nightly holiday spectacular. Once the music begins, a woman (dressed as an angel) appears from the Rialto Bridge and lights the 65-foot holiday tree. The lighting of the tree begins at 6:30 p.m. and plays every hour afterward, with the last show at 10:30 p.m.


Rendering of ice skating rink opening outside of the Venetian hotel.

Ice, ice baby

Vanilla Ice had his time, but now it’s Vegas’ turn. Who would have ever though you can ice skate on the Strip? Made of recyclable polymer, the synthetic ice rink is electricity-free and environmentally friendly. Located above the hotel’s outdoor Grand Canal, enjoy a view of the gondolas on the outdoor ice skating rink from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily. Tickets are $19 per person, per 30-minute session.

Adding to the experience, more than 2,000 lights hang over the majestic ice skating rink while 30 larger-than-life snowflakes (ranging from 48 to 72 inches in diameter), surround the façade of The Venetian. If you send pictures to your friends back home, they may not believe you’re really in Vegas.

Food and drinks bring holiday cheer


Available in both drink (and cupcake!) form, eggnog serves as one of the tasty staples during "Winter in Venice."

Summer may be long gone, but I’m not in the least bit sad. I’m ready to embrace winter with the fun holiday drinks. The Venetian offers tasty classics like cider and eggnog, as well as other signature seasonal drinks. These are available at lounges throughout the casino, including the sophisticated Laguna Champagne Bar.

Has sightseeing got you working up an appetite? Holiday-themed menus are available at both Venetian and Palazzo restaurants. These include Aquaknox, B&B Ristorante, Bouchon, Canaletto, Canyon Ranch Café, Delmonico Steakhouse, FIRST Food & Bar, Grand Lux Cafe, Pinot Brasserie, Postrio, Table 10, LAVO Italian Restaurant and Valentino.

If you’d rather eat in the comfort of your hotel room, a special “Winter in Venice” menu includes crispy parmesan polenta cake with sautéed porcini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms and cavatappi with short rib ragu with sweet peas.

I don’t normally crave sweets, but since Sweet Surrender is offering eggnog cupcakes for a limited time, I’m going to have to make room for this sweet, wintery, goodness. Eggnog and cupcakes? Match made in heaven.

Treat yourself with winter-inspired spa services

Canyon Ranch SpaClub at Venetian and Palazzo offers winter services to get you ready for the holiday season. 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 offers a Holiday Radiance Facial, which is sure to brighten the skin.

Winter  Wedding

Don’t let the cold weather fool you: Winter weddings can be just as romantic as summer. For those looking to tie the knot in Vegas, celebrate the beginning of your lives together with “Winter in Venice” wedding packages.  Amidst an enchanting holiday atmosphere, ‘Winter in Venice’ offers a White Gondola Wedding experience along the beautiful Grand Canal. You can even choose a Winter Wonderland Wedding, which includes an ice skating session for two, photo album, snowflake photo ornament, hot chocolate, mulled cider and holiday cookies for the reception.


Get a taste of winter during your spending spree inside the Shoppes at Palazzo.

Adding to the Venetian’s picturesque winter displays, the Shoppes at The Palazzo also celebrates the colder months with jaw-dropping holiday displays. Located in the center of the Shoppes at Palazzo, the waterfall atrium features hand-designed snowflakes hanging in the three-floor high atrium. Other notable pieces include the 20-foot frosted birch tree with surrounding pine and glittering trees, crystal ice pond and pearl peacock statues. On either side of the waterfall, the gardens feature red-beaded ornaments, pinecones and fresh poinsettias.

While I don’t see myself making a trip back home this winter, I think spending time in Vegas’ own version of Venice will do just fine.

“The holidays are based upon wonderful traditions that become lasting memories and we hope that this celebration brings joy, fun and good cheer to everyone,” said Caparella.


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.