Holiday attractions add color, music and fun to desert landscape

Today is Thanksgiving, and that makes it official: The 2010 Christmas season is here.

That means those Christmasy commercials that started airing before Halloween no longer will seem as annoying.

Even better, it means many of Southern Nevada’s favorite yuletide attractions are up and running.

Perhaps the most well-known, and certainly one of the longest-running, yuletide attractions here is the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, which this year celebrates its 19th anniversary.

Last year, about 150,000 people visited the Magical Forest, said Stephen Miller, Opportunity Village’s special events manager.

This season’s rides again include trains, the Alpine Slide and the antique carousel, and visitors may visit Santa Claus and view an extensive array of trees, lights and holiday decorations.

New this year, according to Miller, are a few outside vendors — Ethel M, The Cupcakery and Scentsy — a holiday-themed miniature golf course and a hay bale maze.

Meanwhile, visitors may enjoy the forest’s classic funnel cakes and hot cocoa and hot apple cider, Miller said.

The annual event raises funds for Opportunity Village, which serves people with intellectual disabilities. Along the way, it has become a holiday tradition for thousands of Southern Nevadans.

"In fact, we get calls from people wanting us to stay open all year around," Miller said.

"It’s tough to get a sense of the holiday in the desert. But when you walk around the forest, you see we have about 3 million lights. And when you see those lights, it kind of instantly gets you into the holiday spirit."

The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, 6300 W. Oakey Blvd., is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 1. General admission is $9.75 for adults and $7.75 for kids 12 and younger (younger than 2, free). A passport, which covers admission plus unlimited rides, is $16.25 for adults and $14.25 for children (for more information, visit

By the way: This year’s Las Vegas Great Santa Run, which also raises money for Opportunity Village, is scheduled for Dec. 4 at Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

The run will feature a one-mile walk and run, a 5K walk and run, live music, a tasting village, breakfast with Santa and, above all, a chance to set a new world’s record for the most Santas gathered in one location (for further details, visit

Another longtime local yuletide favorite, Ethel M Chocolates’ annual Holiday Cactus Garden, this year celebrates its 17th season.

The garden boasts an impressive sampling of cactuses all year. But, add a few thousand lights and a suitably Christmasy vibe, and the garden becomes a desert-friendly spin on classic Christmas vegetation.

Last year, more than 100,000 people viewed the holiday garden, said Jennifer Gudgel, Ethel M’s director of gourmet chocolate.

This year, visitors can choose to experience the garden via 3-D glasses. The glasses, which can be purchased for $2 in the Ethel M store next to the cactus garden, make the lights resemble snowflakes, Gudgel said.

This year’s display features close to 600,000 lights, according to Gudgel.

"What we’ve been doing is taking out a lot of the lights over the years and changing them to LED lights. What’s cool about that is you get these really vibrant colors of purples and pinks and greens and blues. They just shimmer out there."

Nightly entertainment will be provided by local school choirs performing holiday selections, and Santa Claus will be in attendance on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings through Dec. 23.

"I love the garden because you can really see how beautiful the Southwest landscape can look," Gudgel said, "but lighting it up, I think, melds our desert culture with Christmas."

Ethel M’s Holiday Cactus Garden, 2 Cactus Drive, Henderson, is open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 1. For more information, visit Ethel M’s Facebook page. Gudgel said visitors are encouraged to post their photos of the garden on the page.

Then, she said, "we’ll do a little contest through the season for the best picture each week."

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@review or 702-383-0280.

Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like