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Despite pandemic, holiday season is festive at Las Vegas casinos

Updated December 8, 2020 - 10:03 am

Not even a global pandemic can put a stop to holiday celebrations in Las Vegas.

While certain features have been altered to allow for more social distancing, a number of casino operators are forging ahead with elaborative holiday decor. Here are some of the festive decorations that can be spotted across the Las Vegas valley.

Wynn Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas has decked its halls with six intricate winter villages inspired by “Gulliver’s Travels,” more than 8,000 poinsettias, dozens of holiday trees and oversized wreaths.

The company is also offering a series of holiday-themed, hands-on small group Master Classes throughout December. The annual holiday cookie and ornament decorating class, led by pastry chef Patrice Caillot, is Saturday at 2 p.m., and costs $125 per person. A class on decorating the ultimate gingerbread house, also led by Caillot, takes place Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. and costs $95 per person.

Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Sam’s Town, Cannery, Aliante and California

Boyd Gaming Corp. is shaking up its annual tree-decorating contest this year. “Trees of Hope” has become “Wreaths of Hope,” where participating nonprofits have been given wreaths to decorate off-site to be put on display at Boyd properties instead of decorating a tree on-site.

“We felt this was a safer approach, as it could have been difficult for participants to properly socially distance while decorating a tree at our properties,” said company spokesman David Strow. “Additionally, customers are able to vote online for their favorite charities if desired, so everyone can participate in Wreaths of Hope – even if they are staying home.”

Cash prizes have been raised $500 this year to provide nonprofits with additional assistance “during these difficult times,” according to a Boyd press release. First-place winners get $3,000, with a guaranteed minimum cash prize of $1,000 for all participants.

With four of Boyd’s properties still closed, seven will be participating this year: Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Sam’s Town, Cannery, Aliante and California. A $60,000 prize pool will be awarded to the 35 participating nonprofits. Voting is open through Dec. 16 online or at participating casinos.

Linq Promenade

Caesars Entertainment Inc. is promoting “socially-distanced family fun” at the Linq Promenade for the holidays this year.

The promenade offers festive decor, open-air dining options and a light show on the High Roller that is synchronized with holiday music. Nevada residents have access to complimentary parking and discounted tickets to the High Roller and Fly Linq Zipline.

The High Roller’s “Lights at The Linq” show runs every hour on the half hour from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. through Dec. 28.

Bellagio and Aria

While a number of MGM Resorts International resorts are getting into the holiday spirit, major holiday displays can be found inside the Bellagio Conservatory and at the Aria Lobby.

Bellagio’s “Hopeful Holidays” display debuted the first week in December. The display includes a Snow Queen pulled in a carriage by four white horses, a fireplace setting surrounded by elves, a family of polar bears and a 42-foot-tall Christmas tree.

The Aria now features a “Winter Wonderland” lobby display, complete with custom-designed trees, hand-carved ornaments and a 17-foot Christmas tree with 500 crystals. Chef Mathieu Lavallee, a recent winner of Netflix’s Sugar High, led a team that turned 4,000 pounds of sweets into the display’s centerpiece: a 15-foot-tall Sugar Palace.

Tropicana

Penn National Gaming’s Tropicana is hosting its first outside Holiday in Paradise event through Jan. 3.

Located outside the Tropicana Plaza, the free lights show features more than 25,000 lights covering the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd, as well as a 20-foot Christmas Tree flanked by 25 palm trees and Christmas trees — all covered in lights. Visitors can take a photo next to a 10-foot poinsettia photo wall, grab a winter-themed drink or hot cocoa from a pop-up bar and listen to holiday music on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 3 p.m.

There will be a rotating calendar of holiday-themed weekend events, including entertainment, donation drives for Three Square food bank and special promotions.

“We wanted to celebrate the holidays as safely as possible and provide a much-needed free outdoor holiday experience people of all ages can enjoy,” assistant general manager Mike Thoma said in a press release.

Red Rock Resort

Merry Crimson, a popup bar at Red Rock Resort, will be serving holiday-themed cocktails through Jan. 3.

A hallway lit with thousands of lights leads visitors to the bar, which features a candy-cane swing set, a massive gingerbread model of the resort and photo ops with Santa and a life-sized Elf on the Shelf.

In addition to the indoor offerings, there is also a fire pit, heated cabanas and s’mores kits located outside.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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