Holiday activities list with a Vegas twist

Who needs snow, pine trees and roasted chestnuts when we’ve got faux snow and a holiday cactus garden decorated with colored lights?

The Christmas season is approaching faster than a toboggan zipping on black ice, and Southern Nevada already is forging plans to celebrate the Yuletide season in its own unique ways.

As always, the schedule of holiday activities you see here will grow like Santa’s beard as the big day approaches. But, already, several popular Southern Nevada Christmastime attractions have released plans for the coming weeks.

Call ahead, because things often change. But feel free to consider this the start to your planning for the 2014 holiday season.


Town Square continues a seven-year-long holiday tradition by heralding Santa Claus’ arrival with a parade Friday. In addition to the big guy himself, costumed holiday characters and performers from Nevada Ballet Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker” are scheduled to participate.

At the end of the parade, Santa will light Town Square’s 45-foot Christmas tree — snow is promised to fall — and then retire to his seasonal digs to meet with kids and take photos.

The parade will begin near the West Valet, by the Yard House, and end at Santa’s house at Town Square Park. Guests who await him there even can see the parade live on a screen set up at Town Square West, across from Santa’s house.

Also slated for Town Square this season is Norman Rockwell Holidays, a collection of six life-sized, interactive scenes based on classic Rockwell magazine covers. The scenes include audio and can be viewed at no cost.

Santa will be available for photos at his house at Town Square Park from Saturday through Dec. 24. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday (although Santa breaks from 1 to 2 p.m. and 5:15 to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday). Guests can avoid lines by using the Town Square Santa Fly By Reservation system by texting 913-752-XMAS (9627) or going online (

“Snow in the Square” shows will run from Friday through Dec. 23 in Town Square Park. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 and 8 p.m Friday through Sunday. Each show lasts 10 minutes and is choreographed to holiday music.

Town Square also will present Holiday Nights & Lights community concerts each Thursday at 6 p.m., from Nov. 20 through Dec. 18, in Town Square park, with holiday music provided by valley elementary to high school students.

Claws & Paws Pet Photos will be available from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays from Nov. 19 through Dec. 24 at Santa’s house. Photos will be limited to dogs and cats.

For more information, visit or call 702-269-5000.


You want colorful displays of holiday lights? The Neon Museum Boneyard is happy to oblige, via its collection of lights that take the form of more than 150 vintage neon signs.

Now that Christmas is here, the signs will be illuminated as part of the museum’s holiday-inspired “Palette of Lights” from Nov. 28 through Jan. 1.

During that period, everyone who takes a nighttime tour of the Neon Boneyard will experience a Santa’s bagful of illuminated signs, including recently restored and installed Jerry’s Nugget and Liberace Museum signs.

On Dec. 13, the museum holds its second annual “December to Remember” holiday ornament-making event from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Boneyard Park, followed by hot chocolate and caroling from 5 to 6 p.m. by the Las Vegas Academy choir.

The event is free and open to the public, and reservations aren’t required.

Meanwhile, nighttime tours of the Neon Boneyard are $25 for general admission, while seniors, students, active military and military veterans and Nevada residents pay $22 (current ID is required).

For more information about tours and special events, visit or call (702) 387-6366.


The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas again will spend the holiday season as The Ice Rink, bringing to this year’s revelers a new experience: snow showers.

That’s right. Guests will experience snow showers throughout the evening as they skate, huddle around fire pits and enjoy seasonal cocktails and foods.

The Ice Rink begins its season Nov. 21, and a light blanket of snow will fall every 30 minutes, Thursday through Sundays between 6 and 10 p.m. throughout December.

This year’s schedule also includes: “Date Skate Mondays,” when guests can watch such holiday movies as “A Christmas Story,” “Elf” and “Miracle on 34th Street” on the Cosmopolitan’s digital marquee; “Industry Skate on the Strip” on Wednesdays, when the rink takes on a nightlife vibe; and “Throwback Thursdays,” with skating to the music of the ‘70s. ‘80s and ‘90s.

This year’s drink menu will feature such seasonal libations as their Campfire Delight, while food offerings include fireside s’mores kits.

The Ice Rink will remain open for its 2014 season through Jan. 4. Hours are 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, and noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday. From Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, special hours of noon to midnight will kick in.

All-day skating access is $10 for Nevada residents and $15 for nonresidents. Visitors may bring their own skates or rent a pair for $5. A limited number of season passes, which cover unlimited skating access and skate rentals, are available for $60.

Guests ages 2 and older are welcome, but children 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 21. For more information, visit


The 21st annual edition of Ethel M’s Holiday Cactus Garden opens today.

The holiday version of the cactus garden will feature more than 600,000 festive lights arrayed over the expanse of the three-acre Botanical Cactus Garden. Guests can view the garden and also enjoy live entertainment Fridays and Saturdays and pose for photos with Santa Fridays through Sundays.

This year’s lighting ceremony is scheduled for tonight. A limited number of tickets to the lighting ceremony will be available at the Ethel M Chocolate factory in Henderson during regular store hours of 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guests can receive a family four-pack of tickets in exchange for one new, unwrapped toy that will be donated to the annual KLUC Toy Drive, which benefits HELP of Southern Nevada.

The lighting ceremony will be hosted by Mercedes of KMXB-FM, MIX 94.1, with a special holiday-themed performance by MO5AIC. Special guest is Oscar Goodman, and guests also can enjoy photos with Santa, chocolate samples, raffles and other attractions.

Then, the holiday cactus garden settles in for its 2014 run. It will be open to the public and can be viewed at no charge from 5 to 10 p.m.daily, through Jan. 1.

For more information, visit


The Galleria at Sunset’s holiday offerings this year include “Light Up the Night,” a musical light show, that will be shown on the hour every evening from 5 p.m. to closing during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, Santa already has settled in for the season in a set that features a 10-foot toy soldier, a 15-foot inflatable plush teddy bear and a 40-foot Christmas tree.

For more information visit or call 702-434-0202.


While Santa already has arrived at The Meadows mall, kids can visit him through Dec. 24, starting at 10 a.m. daily, in the lower level of the mall near Sears.

On Nov. 23 and Dec. 7, from 9 to 11 a.m., Santa will make a special appearance before the mall opens for visits with special needs children.

On Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Animal Foundation and The Meadows will host their fifth annual holiday pet adoption event. The adoption station will be in the first level court near Dillard’s, and people who adopt a pet that day can bring their pet back on Dec. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. for a free photo with St. Nick. The adoption event is free and open to the public. For information, call 702-369-8382.

The Meadows’ popular Pet Nights return this year on Monday nights — Nov. 17 and 24, and Dec. 1, 8 and 15 — from 6 to 8 p.m. Dog and cat owners can bring their pets to the mall for photos with St. Nick.

The Meadows is at 4300 Meadows Lane. For more information, visit or call 702-878-3331.


Santa arrives at the Fashion Show mall on Friday, which also marks the premiere of “Adventure to Santa,” a holiday attraction by DreamWorks Animation.

Santa will be on the mall’s main level, in the “Adventure to Santa” set in the Great Hall. Both run through Dec. 24.

“Adventure to Santa” opens at 10 a.m. Friday and runs through Dec. 24. The attraction — the Fashion Show is just one of eight locations around the country to host it — starts with an appearance by Shrek and, in the end, Santa himself, blending storytelling with cutting-edge technology.

For more information, visit or call 702 369-8382.


Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall’s Mystic Falls winter display kicks off its 20th anniversary year with a tree lighting ceremony Nov. 26, at 5:45 p.m.

The pioneer-themed light and water show began in 1994 with decorations in Sam’s Town’s porte-cochere. Now, garlands, holiday lighting and decorative Yuletide touches fill Sam’s Town’s atrium, amid decorations that include lighted polar bears, indoor snow and poinsettias.

A 15-minute laser light show will run hourly from 5 to 10 p.m., and Cowboy Santa will take up residence in the park’s gazebo from Nov. 28 to Dec. 23, appearing Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8:30 p.m.

Again this year, Sam’s Town will host a Cell Phones for Soldiers drive. Through Nov. 27, Sam’s Town will collect used phones, chargers and cell phone accessories, and each donated phone will give a soldier stationed abroad one hour’s talk time. Guests may drop off used cellphones and accessories at the B Connected Club at Sam’s Town, and all who participate will receive a two-for-one coupon at the Sam’s Town Firelight Buffet.

Visit for more information about Mystic Falls Winter Wonderland.


The granddaddy of Southern Nevada holiday attractions returns for another Yuletide spin, bringing back its festive display of colored lights, nightly entertainment, food and general good cheer.

This year’s Magical Forest season runs from Nov. 21 through Jan. 4. Included on the roster of time-honored Magical Forest attractions are the Forest Express train, Cheyenne’s Enchanted Carousel, Boris the Elf’s 3D Experience, Rudolph’s Raceway and the Magical Midway.

Of course, Santa will be around to pose for photos in his workshop, and guests also can check out a gingerbread house display and other seasonal attractions.

Hours are Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. General admission is $11 for adults and $9 for children ages 3 to 12. Passports, which include admission and unlimited rides and attractions, are $20 for adults and $18 for children.

The Magical Forest is at Opportunity Village, 6300 W. Oakey Blvd.


Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, billed as Nevada’s largest holiday light show, offers a new twist on a “let’s check out neighborhood lights” theme by giving Southern Nevadans a chance to drive a 2.5-mile course around the speedway, viewing lighted displays as they do.

More than 20,000 vehicles full of lighting fans typically stop by each season. The route takes about 40 minutes to drive, as visitors also enjoy holiday tunes transmitted on a low-power radio station.

Other attractions include a live Nativity, presented in partnership with the United Methodist Churches of Las Vegas, starting Thursday, Dec. 4. The live Nativity can be viewed Thursday through Saturday during following weeks, as well as Dec. 22 through Dec. 24.

This year’s Glittering Lights season opens Friday. Hours are 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Tickets are $20 per carload at the gate or $18 per carload online ( Guests will receive $5 off (Sunday through Thursday) or $2 off (Friday through Sunday) if they bring a bag of gently used items for Goodwill, which will have a donation truck on-site.

For more information, visit or call 702-222-9777.

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