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Vegas shines even more brightly for the season

Throughout the year, Las Vegas is ablaze with dazzling lights and neon. Now that the holiday season is here, the lights and neon have multiplied.

Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

One of the largest displays of holiday lights is the drive-thru Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway north of town, where Shannon Bentham, co-founder of Ivory Star Productions, is celebrating the event’s 15th anniversary.

“We’re proud to have been doing this for 15 years, and it’s a wonderful way to gather the family and get into the holiday spirit,” she said. “The show has more than 3 million lights along the 2.5-mile course that intertwines through the speedway.

“There’s a $20 entry per vehicle, but if you bring a donation for Goodwill of Southern Nevada, you receive an instant $2 discount. We open nightly at 5:30 … and will remain open until Jan. 3.”

Holidays at Lake Las Vegas

Now turn the car around and head east to Lake Las Vegas and MonteLago Village for a slate of Christmas activities, lights, special Santa Cruises on La Contessa Yacht, Christmas Express train rides, carolers, free hot cocoa and coffee. It’s all there through Dec. 19.

“MonteLago Village’s Mediterranean theme and its Christmas decor and activities create a unique outdoor holiday experience for people of all ages,” said Karl Hanson, president of MonteLago Village Association. “Clearly, the lake provides a beautiful backdrop for any holiday celebration.

“Our main tree is a 40-foot-tall artificial tree with a variety of holiday-themed bulbs, bows and lights. Additionally there are 10 real decorated Christmas trees at each of the lampposts throughout the village and seven trees are in front of each restaurant. The village’s own colorful bridge, spanning Lake Las Vegas and inspired by the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, Italy, has special holiday lighting.”

Ethel M’s Holiday Cactus Garden

Those preferring their lights up close and personal can walk through the 22nd annual Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates. More than half a million lights adorn 300 species of drought-tolerant plants, cacti and succulents within the 3-acre garden. The garden, one of the largest collections of its kind in the world, is dressed up for the holidays. It glows from 5-10 p.m. daily through Jan. 1 and is free to the public.

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden

Attention to detail makes the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden holiday display so inviting. Winter Holiday moves in today and will remain through Jan. 2. Ornaments wreaths, special plants and indoor lighting create a breathtaking display 24/7.

Winter Parq at the Linq Promenade

Decked out in holiday decor, the Linq Promenade will transform into a winter wonderland that includes entertainers, visits from Santa and nightly snowfalls. The annual holiday show begins Saturday and continues through Jan. 1.

Live entertainment begins at 5 p.m. and features holiday performers at the top of each hour though 9 p.m. Snow will fall across the promenade every 30 minutes from 5 p.m. to midnight each day.

Palazzo Waterfall Atrium & Gardens

The Waterfall Atrium & Gardens at The Palazzo have been transformed into a winter wonderland with hand-designed snowflakes suspended midair above three holiday filigree trees and hand-made golden Manzanita reindeer. There are more than 1,000 ornaments sprinkled throughout the display, two Manzanita trees adorned with 80 crystal ribbons, and more than 2,500 plants and flowers. The holiday gardens will remain open to the public through the first week of January.

Mystic Falls at Sam’s Town

Sam’s Town’s indoor atrium, Mystic Falls Park, has been transformed into a winter wonderland through Jan. 1. The transformation begins in the casino’s porte-cochere with festive lighting and decorative snowflakes that lead to wreath-adorned lampposts and snow-covered trees.

The park comes to life each day on the hour from 5-10 p.m. with a 15-minute laser light show complete with animatronics and artificial snowfall. Cowboy Santa will be on hand to greet visitors through Dec. 23.

Holidays at Town Square

“Snow in the Square” is the theme at Town Square Park, where a 45-foot Christmas tree is spreading holiday cheer along with snowflakes showering guests nightly through Dec. 23. Each 10-minute show is choreographed to classic holiday songs.

Snow is scheduled at 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and at 7 and 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Every Thursday before the snowfall (through Dec. 17), local elementary, middle and high school students will perform holiday songs. And, yes, Santa is there for photos inside his Norman Rockwell-inspired house in Town Square Park.

Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

There is nothing more magical than the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village with its sparkling lights, nightly entertainment, great food and holiday cheer. It is open through Jan. 3 and is one of the city’s most popular Christmas light and decoration displays opening at 5:30 p.m. daily.

The winter wonderland is filled with hundred of dazzling trees, a Forest Express Passenger Train, Avalanche Slide, Rudolph’s Raceway, Cheyenne’s Enchanted Carousel and photos with Santa and his elves in the workshop.

Holidays at Downtown Summerlin

The newest location to celebrate the season amid a host of glitter and lights is Downtown Summerlin. Here, Santa leads a holiday parade Friday and Saturday and every evening from Dec. 11-24. The parade begins at 7 p.m. except for Christmas Eve when it begins at 6:30 p.m. The parade takes place on Park Centre Drive.

Not only that, the Lawn at Downtown Summerlin becomes Rock Rink to ice skate within the colorful holiday setting through Jan. 18. Weekday skating begins at 4 p.m., Saturday at 10 a.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m.

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