Now that we live in Orange County, Las Vegas is a quick 45-minute plane ride away, and we took advantage of the close proximity this past weekend. We’ve been a few times before, but never in December and I was thrilled to see The Strip in its seasonal best. If you’re thinking of coming for the holidays, I would definitely recommend experiencing Christmas in Las Vegas if you want to see a different, more festive side of the city.
The Best Holidays Activities in Las Vegas
The highlight for me was the holiday decorations in various resorts on The Strip. Not all hotels were decked out, but those that were were quite impressive.
The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden was the one that I was looking forward to the most. Each season the Conservatory puts on impressive horticultural displays, and Christmas is no exception. I would say out of all the holiday displays we saw, this one was by far the most elaborate with its giant horse and carriage. It was also one of the most crowded, and I would recommend getting there early in the morning or later at night since the midday crowd was a little overwhelming.
The Bellagio holiday decorations run from November 20, 2021 – January 1, 2022, and are located next to the hotel lobby.
While you’re at the Bellagio make sure to check out the holiday-themed Fountains at the Bellagio, which are timed to classic holiday tunes. Check the schedule here. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see them due to high winds, but it’s just an excuse to come back!
Although the Bellagio was impressive, I have to say that my favorite was the Christmas display at the Wynn hotel. There were two illuminated tree canopy walkways, complete with six lit-up miniature villages inspired by Gulliver’s Travels. I’m a sucker for holiday light displays and this one surprised me in the best of ways.
This holiday display is the perfect backdrop for photos and is located in the main atrium right next to the equally enchanting Parasol Down Bar, which is known for its aerial dancing parasols and views of the Lake of Dreams and its 90-foot performance waterfall.
The life-sized dark chocolate gingerbread man that is encased in a larger-than-life sugar-paneled snowglobe in the lobby is hard to miss. Surrounding the impressive main holiday display, there are sugar-filled candy canes, a donut tower, and hot chocolate mug decorations constructed entirely out of chocolate, fondant, and sugar. The trees are made out of 1,000 French macaroons and many, many sugar cubes. Aria’s pastry chiefs spent over 200 hours creating this edible holiday masterpiece.
Transport yourself to Christmas time in ancient Rome, where you can wander around the Forum Shops and see the hotel decked out for the holidays. The decorations are spread out throughout the property, and the multi-level Augustus Tower was my favorite with the lit-up columns amid Greek statues.
Note: we found out from a very expensive breakfast sandwich that not all Starbucks are created equal in Caesars Place, and the one located on the lower level of the Augustus Tower (not the Forum Food Court) takes stars and best of all is regularly priced.
Honest talk: I was not expecting Las Vegas to get so cold. I guess I thought since it was a desert and it was always pretty hot when I previously visited, so it couldn’t be that chilly during winter. I was sorely mistaken. Luckily, though that means you can do festive things like outdoor ice skating at The Cosmopolitan.
The Boulevard Pool is transformed into The Ice Rink, which features 4,200 square feet of real ice. The Chalet is a new wintertime experience next to The Ice Rink where you reserve a fire pit in advance, and sip on handcrafted cocktails, and indulge in small bites high above The Strip.
The Palazzo Waterfall Atrium and Gardens has a festive winter display that complements the massive waterfall cascading from the second floor and the colorful LOVE installation by artist Laura Kimpton. There are also decorations throughout the hotel property, including a holiday-themed gondola.
One thing that we didn’t get to try was the seasonal treats at the Bouchon Bakery, which we couldn’t find until we passed by it in our Uber headed to our hotel, but now know it’s located in front of the Venetian Theater (as well as two other ones in the Venetian Clock Tower).
The LINQ Promenade
Under the glow of the High Roller, the promenade is a great place to shop and experience holiday cheer at the Winter PARQ. This entertainment district is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, where you can get into the spirit with holiday shows at the Fountain Stage (every hour), decorations, music, and snow.
Every half an hour from 5:30-12:30 pm, the Lights at the LINQ is a light show that incorporates the High Roller and the LINQ fountains. If you want to take it all in from above, there is a zipline that goes above it all.
Holiday Experience at the Park
As one of the newest entertainment districts on The Strip, this area between New York-New York, and Park MGM Las Vegas, has giant holiday light installations, food and drink selections, and seasonal entertainment. Keep your eye out for carolers from 4-8 pm on the weekends.
Other Las Vegas Holiday Activities
The Strip is not the only place where you can find noteworthy holiday decorations. From other locations in the city to neighboring cities, here are alternative things to see and do during the season.
- Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolate Factory – for a true desert Christmas, head over to this chocolate factory in nearby Henderson that features three acres of cacti with over a million twinkling lights. Runs until January 2, 2022, 5-10 pm, reservations required. Admission includes a factory tour.
- Mystic Falls Winter Wonderland – witness the holiday transformation of the beloved indoor park at Sam’s Town, where you will see snow-covered trees and get to peek into Santa’s workshop. There is also an impressive nine-minute laser show that is accompanied by classic Christmas carols.
- Fremont Street Experience -located downtown, I found this area a great place to take a break from The Strip, but still, experience a little bit of neon and the fun Viva Vision Light Show. Snap a pic with the 50-foot decorated Christmas tree and stay for the seasonal free concerts.
Weather In Las Vegas In December
As mentioned above, I was surprised by how cold it was during our visit. It was low 50s during the day, but factor in the wind chill and it felt much colder. During the nighttime, it can easily get into the 40s or even the 30s. Make sure to bring a warm jacket, since you will be going inside and outside on The Strip. A warm hat and gloves are not a bad idea either. Also, warm, and comfortable shoes are a must since you will most likely be walking a lot (we walked 20,000 steps the first day!).
What Is Open On Christmas Day in Vegas?
All the hotels are open, as well as their restaurants, buffets, bars, and casinos. Christmas in Las Vegas draws major crowds, so it’s not for the crowd-adverse. If you are planning to eat at restaurants, especially popular ones, make sure to make reservations beforehand. Hotel buffets usually increase their prices, since they feature a special Christmas dinner and usually have long-than-usual lines.
Getting Around Las Vegas
We got around this trip using a mix of Uber/Lyft from the airport (a quick ride to The Strip), and Las Vegas Monorail to and from our hotel. Rideshare options are plentiful, and there are designated areas in each hotel. It was my first time taking the Monorail, and if you’re staying near a stop it’s a more inexpensive option since you can buy daily passes.
We have also rented a car in the past when we stayed off The Strip, but wouldn’t recommend it, especially if you’re mostly going to hang out on the Strip for the holiday festivities.
Where To Stay In Las Vegas
This hotel on the strip boasts high-tech rooms and plenty to do onsite, including several restaurants/cafes, a spa, casino, and pool area. This is a great resort to choose if you want a lot of options onsite and not have to worry about schlepping around the Strip.
If you want to go all out, this is the hotel to book on the strip. This iconic property with the Fountains of Bellagio show out front is where you want to stay if you want to treat yourself to a classic Vegas trip, especially if you are celebrating a special occasion. On-site there are top-notch restaurants, Cirque du Soleil performance, and pool and cabanas.
If you prefer to be off the Strip, this hotel is great for providing an impressive amount of amenities, while not having to deal with the sensory overload that comes with being on Vegas’ most famous street. It’s nice to come back to the relative quiet every night, but still, be a part of the city.
What’s your favorite thing to see or do during Christmas in Las Vegas?
Updated November 23, 2021