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August 30, 2014

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2011 holiday guide to Las Vegas

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Bellagio’s 2011 holiday display.

Bellagio's 2011 Holiday Display

Bellagio's 2011 holiday display. Launch slideshow »

Ethel M's 18th Annual Holiday Cactus Lighting

Ethel M's 18th Annual Holiday Cactus Lighting on Nov. 15, 2011, in Henderson. Launch slideshow »

This holiday season, there’s more to do than just watch the classic seasonal cartoons on TV. From ice rinks to cookie-baking classes, choose from a wide variety of entertaining events for the whole family.

Ongoing holiday events and displays

Glittering Lights, formerly the Gift of Lights, is again at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The holiday drive includes 2.5 miles of lights and more than 400 animated displays. Proceeds from the entrance fee goes to various charities.

For the 18th year, the Ethel M Chocolate factory’s cactus garden is again decorated with about 500,000 lights. The free display is open until Jan. 1.

The Magical Forest features lights and displays, entertainment, a train and even an enchanted carousel, plus, it benefits Opportunity Village, which serves adults with intellectual disabilities. The forest is open from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Venetian and Palazzo have decked the halls with a Winter in Venice theme, complete with costumed characters, an ice rink and light show. Guests can enjoy seasonal treats like eggnog cupcakes, warm apple cider and hot chocolate. Enjoying the display is free and the ice skating is available for an additional cost. The winter wonderland is open through Jan. 8.

Henderson’s Winterfest; Henderson presents its first nighttime light parade (Saturday, 5 p.m.) as part of its annual two-day wintry celebration. Santa arrives Friday night for the official tree lighting (6 p.m.), with roving carolers and other entertainment also scheduled.

Santa in the Shipwreck: This holiday season, Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay gets in the spirit with Santa in the Shipwreck. In addition to the Reef experience, children can share their last-minute wishes with the traditional Santa in the aquarium’s shipwreck exhibit. Santa will have a little help again this year from Santa Jaws, the attraction's mascot Sharky, who will be dressed up for the occasion. Throughout the day, Santa Jaws will “swim” by for photo ops. Photos with Santa Jaws are complimentary with the Shark Reef Aquarium admission.

Winter Wonderland display: Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is decorated for the season with a 42-foot Shasta white fir decorated with 13,5000 lights. Other elements of the display include floating ornaments in a lazy river, animated penguins and a trio of topiary polar bears with fur coats made of 35,000 white carnations. Conservatory guests are invited to visit with Bellagio horticulturists designated as “Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb” from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily to receive holiday decorating tips along with additional information about the exhibit.

Mystic Falls Park Holiday Laser Light and Water Show: Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall celebrates the holidays with its Mystic Falls Laser Light and Water Show, complete with visits from Cowboy Santa and Mrs. Claus. The free 15-minute winter laser light spectacular will take place at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. nightly through January 1. Pose for photos with Cowboy Santa and Mrs. Claus on Thursdays and Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 8 p.m. Photo packages start at $11.

Santa Train: The Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City hosts its 10th Annual Santa Train event the first three weekends of December. Santa and Mrs. Claus ride the train and visit with the passengers. The train runs every hour on the hour from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Underwater Santa: Underwater Santa returns to the Silverton Casino Hotel in the resort’s 117,000 gallon aquarium. Santa will be posing for photos, offering guests and families a chance to get creative with their annual holiday photos.

Saturday, Dec. 10:

Santa Tea: Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place invites families for an afternoon of treats and festive activities at the annual Santa Tea to benefit Communities In Schools of Nevada. Children can get their photo taken with Santa, decorate gingerbread cookies, participate in holiday games and enjoy festive music while enjoying Simon’s seasonal favorites. Executive Chef Kerry Simon will dish out some of his famous plates including mac 'n cheese, tea sandwiches, fresh sushi and his signature holiday junk food platters as well as hot cocoa for children and refreshing cranberry mojitos for parents.

Michael Grimm: Singer-songwriter and winner of Season Five of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Michael Grimm, will play an exclusive engagement in the Flamingo Showroom this month. The performances will feature original music from Grimm, including the new holiday song “It Must Be Christmas Time,” as well as other holiday favorites. He will also perform classic covers and will take requests from the audience.

Sunday, Dec. 11:

Flapjacks with Santa: Enjoy a holiday breakfast with the big guy in red while supporting a good cause. Head to the Applebees at 5010 S. Fort Apache Rd. for a breakfast of all-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs, bacon, juice and coffee plus photos with Santa, raffles and giveaways. A portion of the proceeds benefit the All Fur Love Animal Society. Please contact [email protected] for tickets.

Tuesday, Dec. 13:

Film showing of 'The Nutcracker': Galaxy at the Cannery Theatre presents the timeless classic George Balanchine's The Nutcracker performed by the New York City Ballet. The performance will be broadcast one night only.

Holiday Spectacular: Springs Preserve hosts its annual Holiday Spectacular featuring thousands of colorful, eco-friendly LED lights, food, live nightly entertainment, cookie decorating, photos with Santa Claus plus train and reindeer (pony) rides for the little ones. New this year is a 1,000-square foot skating rink where, for an additional cost, holiday revelers can skate across the “ice.”

Friday, Dec. 16:

Night at the Museum: The Polar Express: Enjoy a story with Santa, holiday crafts and fun inside the Origen Museum. Parents can drop children off while they get a little free time. Children can enjoy a pizza dinner, snacks and cocoa while watching Polar Express. The event is open to children ages 5-12.

Saturday, Dec. 17:

The Magical Snowman and the Snow Queens holiday show: The Sobe Ice Arena at Fiesta Rancho hosts The Magical Snowman and the Snow Queens annual winter holiday show that features local figure skaters of all ages. The show will collect food to benefit the Salvation Army. General admission is $9, but a discount of $2 is offered in exchange for a donation of at least three canned goods.

Children’s Holiday Treat Production Class: First Food & Bar hosts a Children’s Holiday Treat Production Class from 10 a.m. until noon where children can come to First’s private dining room and create a holiday treat for free. Hot chocolate with candy canes and marshmallows will also be served. From 1-5 p.m., Chef Sammy D from First will be roasting chestnuts on site at the Winter in Venice event in front of the Venetian plus he'll be serving up hot apple cider, hot chocolate and chocolate cookie dough truffles.

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