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Deck the slots with boughs of holly fa la la la la, wait what? Las Vegas may not spring to mind as a city in which to spend the most wonderful time of the year, but it really should be. Consider that December is a slower season which means hotel rates are low; the weather is typically sunny and 60s by day and scarf-worthy 40s and 50s at night; and Vegas goes seriously all out as only it knows how. Here are 13 reasons Vegas is the reason for the season.

RELATED: 11 best Las Vegas casinos where the locals hang out

Las Vegas, Park MGM

Holiday at the Park Tree Lighting | Photo Las Vegas News Bureau

Holiday at The Park

Yes, Las Vegas has a park. Squished between New York, New York, and the Park MGM (formerly the Monte Carlo) is The Park, a misty summer respite and a delightful winter wonderland in December.  Picture an enormous tree wrapped in twinkling light and holiday goodness plus live entertainment, skating rink warm and boozy drinks, photo ops and more.

A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour

At last, a holiday event where it’s better to be naughty! RuPaul’s finest queens sashay their way to the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay for a one-night-only evening of lip-syncing and ugly sweaters that promises queer holiday cheer for all ages. Miz Cracker and Monet host Thorgy, Trinity, Shea, Vanjie and others.

Cowboy Christmas

Once upon a time, Vegas was a dusty Wild West town. For 10 days each December, it becomes one yet again when thousands don Levi’s jeans and wide-brimmed hats for Cowboy Christmas at the Sands Convention Center. The extravaganza includes the National Finals Rodeo, Miss Rodeo America a marketplace and more.

Photo courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau

The Ice Rink at the Cosmopolitan

Even sunny cities are getting in on the ice rink action, but how many of them are located above the world-famous Las Vegas Strip? Every year, the Boulevard Pool at The Cosmpolitan of Las Vegas transforms into a 4,200 square-foot skating rink featuring cocktails, s’mores and other seasonal edibles.

Downtown Summerlin Holiday Parade

For the two weekends leading up to Christmas, suburban Summerlin (about 14 miles northwest of the Strip) does its best to spread holiday cheer with a downtown parade featuring floats inspired by classic holiday films, plus dancers and festive characters. Bundle up, there will even be snow!

Santa in the Shipwreck

Is that Santa we see at the craps table? Not quite. But the man in red does make an annual pilgrimage from the North Pole to Vegas to pose for pics and hang with kids every weekend at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. He even dons scuba gear and plunges into the water to hang with his fishy friends. Ho ho holy cow!

Cactus garden, Las Vegas

Ethel M Cactus Garden | Photo: Las Vegas News Bureau

25th Annual Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Botanical Garden

Vegas-based chocolatier Ethel M boasts the largest cactus garden in the Southwest (who knew?!) and every holiday season those prickly plants get swaddled in more than one million holiday lights which are illuminated nightly from sunset until 10pm. Stroll the twinkly gardens and save room for hot chocolate afterward.

“’Twas the Night”

Run, make that gallop, to castle-themed Excalibur for this long-running, holiday-themed retelling of King Arthur’s tale. Think kings and queens, chivalrous knights, daring duels, an appearance from Merlin and a three course meal (Dragon’s Blood Soup, Cornish game hen and holiday apple strudel). Yes, there will be snow.

“It’s a Very Terry Christmas”

From America’s Got Talent to the Las Vegas Strip, Terry Fator has made a name for himself as a master ventriloquist voicing celebrities as diverse as Elvis, Elton John, Michael Jackson and Donald Trump. This holiday spectacular at the Mirage mixes sing-along holiday classics alongside a new yuletide tradition Fator likes to call “Juana.”

Christmas Town

Don we now our swimsuit? Not quite. While Cowabunga Bay Water Park may seem like an unlikely destination for yuletide cheer, consider that every December it becomes Christmas Town, a holiday wonderland featuring an ice skating rink, Christmas tree, sledding hill, photo ops with Santa, classic Christmas characters and more.

Las Vegas, holiday, motor speedway

Glittering Lights | Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Glittering lights

Don’t say we didn’t warn you that Las Vegas is over the top. Every holiday season the 2.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway decks its walls with 3 million LED lights for a trippy holiday light show. No car? No worries. Climb aboard the open-air Santa Tram and let a driver steer the ship while you relax with a cup of free hot chocolate.

Holidays at Town Square

Fabulous Las Vegas gets even more fabulous when the holiday festivities kick off at Town Square, a 93-acre shopping and dining destination about two-miles south of the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Think nightly snowfalls, a 45-foot Christmas tree and photo ops with Santa Claus (by reservation only ).

Bridge Bash

Vegas only closes the Strip to cars twice annually and one of those times is New Year’s Eve. Huddle with the masses at the Brooklyn Bridge at New York New York Hotel and Casino and greet 2019 with an open bar, DJs, dancing and a prime viewing location of the fireworks. WARNING: Tickets do sell out.

Tagged: Destinations, Las Vegas

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