Special dinners, martial arts displays and colorful lion dances are among the events planned throughout the valley to celebrate the beginning of Chinese New Year.
The Year of the Snake begins Sunday . The sixth animal of the Chinese zodiac, the snake represents mystery and delight.
The new year is a time for tremendous celebration within the Chinese community, says Edmund Wong, Bellagio's executive chef. Food is a major part of that celebration.
"There is a lot of symbolism in some of the food and how it's worded," Wong explains. "For example, mandarin oranges translated into Chinese can also mean gold, which is also a sign of wealth and good fortune."
A team from Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse will prepare and serve an eight-course meal at Bellagio Feb. 14 through 16. The Diaoyutai State Guesthouse is known for its high-end dining and VIP guests. They usually serve high-ranking dignitaries, world leaders, presidents, VIPS and state officials. For only the second time, a culinary team from the Guesthouse will cook in the United States, Wong says. They prepared a dinner at MGM Grand in 2008.
"They're bringing their own tableware, which is very symbolic," Wong says.
Guests will get to experience the "dragon beard noodle," an elaborate demonstration of making a thin, light noodle, Wong says. There also will be fruit and vegetable carvings.
The event is $500 per person and is all-inclusive. Tickets are available by calling the Bellagio concierge at 866-406-7117.
If that's out of your price range, there are plenty of other more affordable options. Some are even free.
Here's a list of a few Year of the Snake celebrations taking place during the next couple of weeks:
Jasmine at Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, will offer a dim sum lunch Saturday through Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a traditional Chinese menu from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Call 693-7223 for reservations or reserve online at bellagio.com.
Blossom at Aria, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is hosting a dim sum lunch and traditional Chinese dinner Saturday through Feb. 18. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner at 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Reservations are available by phone, 590-7111, or online at arialasvegas.com.
Pearl at MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is serving a traditional Chinese menu and a dim sum lunch Saturday through Feb. 17, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For reservations and other dining options, call 891-1111 or visit mgmgrand.com.
Dragon Noodle Co. & Sushi Bar at Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is serving a special $29 three-course prix fixe menu for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call for reservations, 730-7965, or visit montecarlo.com.
Rice & Co. at Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is offering a $65, three-course prix fixe dinner menu Sunday through Feb. 24, from 5 to 11 p.m. Make reservations online at luxor.com or by calling 262-4000.
China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is serving a special Chinese New Year menu through Feb. 28. For more information, call 698-7900.
Chinese New Year kicks off Feb. 17 at Las Vegas Chinatown Plaza, 4255 Spring Mountain Road. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., authentic Asian food will be served, including Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hawaiian and more. Live entertainment runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes lion dances, Japanese Taiko drums, Chinese folk dancers, martial arts displays, dragon dances and more. Vendors also will sell their wares. Admission costs $3 for adults and $1 for children 6 to 12 years old. Kids 5 and younger are free.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman will kick off the Year of the Snake in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Fremont Street Experience Friday on the Third Street Stage at 6 p.m. That will be followed by a dragon dance performed by the Lohan School of Shaolin of Las Vegas. There also will be an eye-painting ceremony. Entertainment and vendors will be on hand through Sunday. For a full listing of events, visit cnyinthedesert.com. All events are free and open to the public.
The Lohan School of Shaolin will perform a traditional lion dance at the Gold Coast, 4000 W. Flamingo Road, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
An eye-painting ceremony and dragon dance kick off the festivities at The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Saturday . The dance starts at 3:30 p.m. at the porte cochere and winds its way through the lobby and casino. It passes the Palazzo's waterfall atrium and winds through that resort's casino, ending at the Palazzo's porte cochere.
Aria hosts a lion dance at 1 p.m. Monday at the main porte cochere.
Crystals at CityCenter, 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. South, hosts a lion dance at 1:30 p.m. Monday .
MGM Grand hosts a lion dance at the front desk at 7 p.m. Monday .
Bellagio hosts a lion dance Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the main porte cochere.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@review journal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @StripSonya on Twitter.