Catch holiday vibes at these Vegas Christmas events

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Ethel M Chocolates and Cactus Garden is located on Sunset Way and Cactus Garden Drive and is a Las Vegas Christmas must see. Photo by Larissa Geilen.

While there are always great holiday movies and parties, Las Vegas itself comes alive with Christmas-inspired events that you can explore and enjoy this season. Get out and into the community this December with this round-up of Vegas holiday events.

To kick off your December on a high note, feel free to roam the ever-famous First Friday that will be open Dec. 3rd from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Arts District Downtown. Come early to catch a good parking spot for an event jam-packed with over 80 vendors and 50 artists, all themed around the holiday season. It is also a great place to shop local, grabbing cards, gifts, postcards, and other artsy goods for your gift list. There will be food, entertainment, galleries, and pop-up shops to explore, full of creativity and sure to delight you a little beyond the typical holiday offerings. 

Ethel M’s holiday cactus garden is a classic for a Vegas Christmas, as the chocolate factory becomes a near-endless trail of string lights and cacti. Come by and roam for free anytime between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. through Jan. 2. It makes for a festive date night or friend hangout spot, as you can just wander, grab a chocolate sample, and take pictures with the best of our very desert Christmas. 

Another Vegas holiday classic is Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest. While mostly geared towards kids and families, there are still some fun things to check out for your child-at-heart self. It is open from Nov. 26 through Jan. 2, Thursday through Sunday, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The park will light up with holiday train rides, a carousel, live entertainment, and an atmosphere that feels straight from Santa’s workshop. It costs $15-22 a person depending on age and takes place at Opportunity Village on Oakey Blvd. 

For more lights and magic, explore the Christmas Celebration Festival of Lanterns at Cowabunga Bay. Yes, a lantern display at a water park sounds a little bizarre, but it is supposed to be absolutely beautiful and fun, with an immersive Candy Land and Santa experience. They also are serving holiday delicacies, amidst all the festive lanterns glowing. It goes from Dec. 1 to 31 every night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for $26 per adult and $22 per child.

To get your charity, and your sneakers, on, there is the annual Great Santa Run on Dec. 4 starting at 8 a.m. You will need to sign up ahead of time to register for this jolly good run supporting our local Opportunity Village. Come in a Santa hat and coat for the world’s largest collection of Santas! Registration costs $40. 

Another great chance to support a good cause is St. Jude’s Annual Night of Lights at the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. It will feature live local entertainment, reindeer games, hay rides, and sugar cookie decorating with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. This family-oriented event will be on Dec. 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and costs $10 per person for entry. 

We all have trees to fill, and shopping local is your best bet to support our local community and get something truly one-of-a-kind for your people. Boulder City’s annual Doodlebug Bazaar makes a comeback as colorful as its name, bringing together hundreds of local makers and artisans that will sell everything from handmade spice mixes to sun catchers to pies to ornaments and dishware. Truly you can find something for everyone on your list as the Bazaar takes over Boulder City’s Recreation Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and there is bound to be great food and shopping for everybody, no matter the age. 

If you are looking for more artsy vibes, Fergusons has two markets coming up to help you shop local. First up, there is the Small Business Saturday market next weekend on Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. where the whole space will feature over 50 makers, artists, and small businesses from all over. Then, on Dec. 18 and 19, they will host a holiday Market in the Alley from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with even more creators you can support. There will be everything from crystals, vintage clothing, specialty teas, body butters, candles, Vegas-inspired artwork, and so, so much more in store at Ferguson’s this holiday season. 

There is also a whole menu of entertainment options if you want something to take you, your friends, and your family to for festive music. For the classy chap, the Silver Statesmen Barbershop Chorus Holiday Concert will be on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Clark County Library. It is completely free and will feature iconic Christmas songs and choruses, featuring the great voices of this professional group. 

For the musical theater nerds, Henderson amphitheater will host a Holiday on Broadway show on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. for absolutely free. Come down for Broadway hits and favorites, celebrating wonderful holiday-inspired numbers and fan favorites throughout the years. 

If you have parents or relatives to impress with something a little fancier, the Smith Center has a full list of holiday entertainment classics like the Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. A Christmas Carol will run from Nov. 23- 28 with 7:30 p.m. performances every night and 2 p.m. performances from Nov. 26 to 28. Tickets range for $30-40 for this Christmas classic. The Nutcracker will run from Dec. 11 to 26 with various times each day and tickets ranging from $30 to $180 depending on seating choice. 

Other Smith Center performances include the Las Vegas Philharmonic Very Vegas Holiday on Dec. 4, with shows at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. going for $29 to 121 per ticket depending on seating. This renowned orchestra will reimagine and deliver gorgeous renditions of holiday favorites, and is sure to please the more musically-minded. 

UNLV’s Jazz band will also be hosting a snappy holiday concert on Dec. 10 for free at Summerlin Library at 7:30 p.m. Come listen to some jazzy classics and support UNLV talent while you are at it. Also, unlike many of the other music-based events, it is completely free to attend, which makes it a great choice for an adventurous friend group, date night, or family outing this holiday season. 

Another free musical entertainment option is Jessica Fichot’s Holiday Around the World show which will feature festive music selections from across the globe with a myriad of fascinating and genuine instruments from each region. Fichot will be performing on Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at West Charleston Library and on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. at Windmill Library. Both performances are free of charge and family-friendly. 

For even more jazz, the Las Vegas Brass Band will be hosting a concert at 2 p.m. at the Clark County Library at no charge. They will perform Christmas classics and beloved songs of the season with all brass instruments. This might also be a fun adventure for the jazz-lover, or someone who just wants to try out something new or have a twist on a holiday date night. 

Finally, there is the Ugly Sweater Best Dam Wine Walk which sounds absolutely fantastic for those of you over 21. It will be a walking wine-tasting across Hoover Dam, featuring several local and specialty wines and foods that you can judge like you are a renowned wine critic. Come in your best ugly sweater to be both fancily adult and hilariously corny all at once, with Christmas decorations everywhere. The wine walk is $27 per person and runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. where you will check in at My 4 Sons in Boulder City. 

Take this Christmas season as a chance to dive into the Las Vegas holiday scene, especially if you did not get to last year due to COVID-19. There are so many local creators, musicians, places, and magical things for you to explore, discover, and include as you make your own holiday traditions.

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