Christmas and New Year in Las Vegas: let’s start with NY (for Christmas, scroll down).
New Year’s Eve in Vegas Information & Tips
Scroll down for fireworks display information on the Strip & Fremont Street NYE plans. New Year’s Eve can be real fun in Vegas and I think it’s ideal for 2 types of visitors: 1) those who want to spend NYE in style (expensive hotel, expensive restaurant or nightclub or lounge – all surrounded by the glamour of Vegas) and 2) those who want to spend NYE amidst celebrations but… ‘On the cheap’. In some ways, both Christmas and New Year in Las Vegas are also suitable to those who would find them otherwise sad or nostalgic; for this reason I think Vegas can be very therapeutic!
If you prefer to celebrate ‘on the cheap’, your biggest expense is the hotel (hyped-up prices for NYE everywhere, especially on the 31st and the 1st); however, you can receive a complimentary or discount Vegas hotel offer and you can book one of the more affordable weekend Vegas resorts. You need to prepare yourself to the chaos of New Year celebrations: visitors flock to Vegas for this occasion and many of them want to celebrate either in style (so limos, taxis etc won’t be as easily available as during other times) or in a cheap-cheerful-and-loud manner (on the main tourist areas, namely the Strip and Fremont Street, but more on the latter further down).
Tip 1: in the evening the Strip becomes completely closed off to cars and buses so you will need to walk there; if you are staying far away from the Strip you are advised to make your way to the Strip before it closes (around 6 or 7pm, but double check since this can change). If you are staying in a resort off-Strip but not too far, you can even start walking to the Strip at around 10pm, as we did: we were surrounded by many people who did the same, so you won’t feel ‘awkward’ doing it at all; on your way back you’ll be surrounded by people who will be walking back to the resorts (shortly after the fireworks end), thus you will be in good company then as well.
Fireworks on the Strip Location and Tips
Very entertaining, ‘shooting off’ from several (around 7) resorts all along the Strip (so you won’t miss out no matter where you are); which resorts have the display changes (allegedly), but no matter which ones, you still have a good selection from various spots all along the Strip; during the last NY they would have been ARIA, MGM, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, Venetian, Stratosphere. Ironically, the resorts involved seem to be the same as the previous year.
The fireworks themselves are not outstanding (nothing compared to the huge and complex displays by world cities like London) as they are relatively ‘small’ and the display lasts a relatively short time; however, the overall atmosphere is definitely fun. , We we have a Vegas New Year’s Eve & fireworks diplays video (you can click on the underlined words to access one of our videos on it) which will give you a very good idea of what to expect.
Of course, if you pre-plan and stay at high-end resorts such as Encore, Palazzo, Mandarin Oriental or Bellagio, you may still be able to enjoy a beautiful, ‘classy’, elegant and even romantic New Year celebration, but you will be surrounded by huge crowds and plenty of noise almost anywhere. You may prefer to sit at a balcony suite strategically placed for Strip crowds and fireworks display.
In terms of New Years Party, all venues will run a special New Year’s Eve event. From loud and cheerful venues like Margaritaville (in the Flamingo complex) to classier venues like Vood Lounge (great rooftop from which you see all of the Strip and the various fireworks), you can book directly with them – you save some money if you reserve online in advance).
New Year’s Eve on Fremont Street
Fremont is usually where you can enjoy live bands free of charge, among a very loud atmosphere Friday & Saturday nights. However, during special holidays such as Christmas & New Year’s Eve, there is an overall admission charge (around 30 to 40 dollars per person, NYE being the most expensive of course) for anybody wanting to enter this area. The sky screen which typifies the Fremont Experience, will show fireworks and other NYE-related display. Tip for families: we don’t think that Fremont Street on weekend nights is ideal for children (far too loud); during NYE this becomes even more the case, we think, especially if they are very young children. Of course, it’s up to you 🙂
Christmas in Las Vegas
This is where Christmas and New Year in Las Vegas differ most. Unlike the two or three nights around NYE, the Christmas period is a time when you can find exceptional hotel deals in Vegas, although lately many have caught up with this! So, these days, though you can still find great deals, if you can go just before or just after the big festivities, the discounts get even better.
During the low winter periods, in order to entice customers, casinos, resorts and restaurants all offer special deals, such as special buffet deals and discounted rooms. If you don’t have a large family or if you are traveling solo to Vegas, spending this time of the year in this city can actually be a relief, since you’ll be surrounded by a huge variety of people, from hard-core gamblers (who often forget what time of the day it is, let alone time of the year!) to solo travelers hoping to meet someone to couples or groups seeking a different experience. During our most recent Christmas we saw plenty of families, though we can’t stop repeating that Vegas is generally not for children, with very few exceptions (see Vegas with children).
Popular Spots & Events for Christmas in Vegas
We love Christmas in Vegas but, although you will find Christmas themes EVERYWHERE, because you’re in the middle of the desert, you won’t ‘feel’ it as much as you feel it, say in the north (surrounded by snow or in the depth of winter). Christmas in Vegas is a ‘general fun’ experience, a place where you almost forget about Christmas in the traditional sense. As per special events, every single resort will have something special for Christmas; for example, Venetian and Cosmopolitan have ice rinks (Venetian’s is next to its huge Christmas tree on the ground floor whilst Cosmopolitan’s is on the forth floor and offers good views of mid-Strip), while Bellagio will have its conservatory perfectly adorned with a Christmas theme (themes change all the time in this ‘garden’). There may be some 2/night big events (big names coming to Vegas for the Christmas period for only a handful of shows), such as Jerry Seinfeld at Caesar’s Palace (best if you can find discounted tickets for them) or special concerts such as Maroon 5 or Josh Groban (basically big names who come only for a night or 2). Keep an eye on websites like Eventful for a schedule. Among the most popular special events are at Ethel M Chocolates Factory, (featuring three acres of cacti festooned with half a million lights) and the Magical Forest; however, both are off the beaten path and only do-able if you are renting a car).
As per buffets, both Christmas and New Year in Las Vegas present the problem of hiked prices and long line ups. Bear in mind that most Vegas establishments will all have ‘special Christmas’ lunches or dinners, and for that their prices will be higher than usual, unfortunately. Be prepared for frustrating line ups (up to 2 hours!), especially on the most special days/nights. Vegas resorts which grace us with year-round pools will have only partial sections open, although a few provide hot-tubs nearby.
The way you find great hotel deals for Christmas and New Year in Las Vegas is similar to how you find Vegas deals during any time of the year; the same goes for Vegas restaurant and buffet deals: scroll the list of topics and sub-topics on our 2 menus to find tips and tricks on this subject, and don’t hesitate to ask us any questions or place any comment via our comments page.
Note that some Vegas shows are not scheduled on Christmas. If you plan to spend Christmas and New Year in Las Vegas (or either celebration) and enjoy some shows, make sure they are scheduled to play during your visit.