The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be of the slowest times of the year in Las Vegas. Hotels were half-booked and rooms were cheap.
It was a great time to visit Las Vegas in part because shows and restaurants had ample availability. On top of the great access, December was a great time to visit for those looking for an inexpensive mellow trip to Las Vegas.
But now, December has become one of the busiest winter months in Las Vegas in the past five years or so. Between the holidays, sports, and residencies, the entertainment calendar is packed all month.
Las Vegas is now a major location for one-off sporting events. This adds to the entertainment options throughout the month. Sports in Las Vegas in December is more than just the NFR like it was years ago.
During the month there’s pro and college football and basketball, NHL, UFC, and even WWE.
There’s also the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) which is more than just a rodeo. It’s the catalyst for country music shows all over Las Vegas for 10 days before the holidays.
The year ends with a literal bang as 2024 will begin with fireworks above the Vegas Strip. Add holiday cheer, music, and displays in the casinos and the vibe is overwhelmingly positive.
In addition to all of the entertainment, Fontainebleau will finally open on Dec. 13.
This edition of the monthly Las Vegas planner will be light on the news and heavy on things to do in Las Vegas during December.
Las Vegas Christmas attractions inside and near casinos
Many of the Las Vegas holiday displays are located away from the casinos and geared toward residents. There are still several holiday displays and attractions that are convenient for those visiting Las Vegas casinos.
While all casinos will have holiday displays and music, the following properties offer a bit more:
The adorable gingerbread house returns to the Aria lobby. This is a cute display that makes for a nice family Instagram or Facebook picture.
It may not be a destination display like the next holiday exhibit but it’s nice to see if you happen to be at the casino.
The holiday display at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is probably the best of the year. If there’s one holiday attraction for the family to see, this is it.
The Bellagio Gardens is always busy and gets even more crowded closer to Christmas. An early visit might be to avoid the masses.
The Boulevard Pool transforms into a winter wonderland with an ice skating rink that offers gorgeous views of the Vegas Strip. Visitors can simply grab a hot or cold holiday-inspired drink or reserve space to toast smores and enjoy those drinks rinkside.
Entry is complimentary but there’s a charge for food, drinks, and skating.
Enchant Las Vegas
This year Enchant Christmas is only at Las Vegas Ballpark across the street from Red Rock Casino. The outdoor exhibit has a light maze, ice skating rink, holiday vendors and more.
This year the Henderson casino will have an outdoor holiday event called Rockin Christmas. Prices start at $40 per car to drive through a mile-long sound and light display.
The Boulder Highway casino might not be on the mind of most visiting Las Vegas but the Mystic Falls (indoor) Park display is rad. It’s one of those holiday activities that many would be surprised to see inside of a casino.
The casino has opened the BAD ELF Pop-Up Bar for those looking for an adult holiday-inspired party. Additionally, the Bass Pro Shop at the property offers free pictures with Santa.
The Linq Promenade and The Palazzo also have standout holiday displays to check out while visiting Vegas Strip casinos.
How to spend New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas
New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas is unlike any other time of the year. The Vegas Strip is closed for a few hours so revelers can enjoy the fresh air and fireworks show at midnight.
Between the action inside and outside of the casinos, Las Vegas is a must-experience similar to Times Square in New York City.
Heads up that getting around via rideshare or taxi is a bit more difficult since the Vegas Strip is closed for a while. Rideshares will have surge prices in effect.
There are parties throughout Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve. Every club will have its most popular DJs spinning.
There are a handful of music and comedy performances in Las Vegas just to celebrate New Year’s Eve:
- Post Malone at Fontainebleau: Dec. 30, 31
- Black Eyed Peas at The Venetian: Dec. 30, 31
- Chris Brown at The Cromwell: Dec. 31
- Demi Lovato at The Cosmopolitan: Dec. 31
- Gabriel Iglesias at The Cosmopolitan: Dec. 29-31
- John Oliver & Seth Meyers at Caesars Palace: Dec. 31
- Katt Williams at Mandalay Bay: Dec. 30
Downtown Las Vegas does New Year’s Eve a little differently. The Fremont Street Experience is closed to the public and only open to hotel guests and Time Of Your Life ticket holders.
Third Eye Blind and others are performing at the 3rd Street Stage next to The D. Blackstreet, Kid N Play, Tone Loc, and Young MC are performing on the 1st Street Stage.
In addition to other performers inside the mall of casinos, guests can head out of the canopy to see the midnight fireworks show at the Plaza.
December Las Vegas residencies
We’ll take a break from looking at the special events in Las Vegas to see which popular Las Vegas residencies are taking place in December.
There’s another 2024 extension as well as a rumor about one of the most popular singers in the world returning to Las Vegas.
- U2 at The Sphere: Dec. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16
- Garth Brooks at Caesars Palace: Dec. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9
- Usher at Park MGM: Dec. 1, 2
- Carrie Underwood at Resorts World: Dec. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16
- Barry Manilow at Westgate: Dec. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9
- Erika Jayne at Mandalay Bay: Dec. 1,2,15, 16
- Miranda Lambert at Planet Hollywood: Dec. 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 14, 16
- Toby Keith at Park MGM: Dec. 10, 11, 14
- Bruno Mars at Park MGM: Dec. 22, 23, 28, 30, 31
- Luke Bryan at Resorts World: Dec. 29, 30, 31
- Christina Aguillera at The Venetian: Dec. 30, 31
- Kelly Clarkson at Planet Hollywood: Dec. 30, 31
The biggest entertainment rumor in Las Vegas right now may be that Beyonce is in talks to return to Las Vegas with a residency at The Sphere. Expect to hear more about this and the other potential residencies that have been making rounds in the rumor mill for months.
Speaking of rumors about The Sphere, the venue finally confirmed that Phish will be playing at least four shows next year.
Caesars Palace announced Garth Brooks is extending his residency into 2024. He’ll perform 18 shows from Sept. to Dec.
New Edition will have its first Las Vegas residency at Wynn next year. The group will perform shows at the Encore Theater in Feb. and March.
December sports in Las Vegas
Dec. 1 action kicks off with the Pac-12 Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium. The Mountain West Conference championship is the following day. College football will return to the stadium with the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 23.
The first NBA in-season tournament will culminate with a champion being crowned in Las Vegas. The semi-finals takes place at T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 7. The final game will be on Dec. 9.
NFR returns to the Thomas and Mack Center from Dec. 7-Dec. 16. Rodeo events often sell out so plan accordingly. Remember, there are NFR activations and shows all over town so check the listings at your favorite casino.
The Raiders play one home games at Allegiant Stadium, including a Christmas Day game against a rival:
- Dec. 25 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The Golden Knights have a slew of games throughout the month:
- Dec. 2 vs. Washington
- Dec. 4 vs. St. Louis
- Dec. 10 vs. San Jose
- Dec. 12 vs. Calgary
- Dec. 15 vs. Buffalo
- Dec. 17 vs. Ottawa
- Dec. 28 vs. Los Angeles
Additional Las Vegas sporting events in December
Combat sports returns to Las Vegas in December with UFC and WWE events. UFC 296 featuring Edwards Vs. Covington takes place on Dec. 16 at T-Mobile Arena. The WWE: Live Holiday Tour hits MGM Grand on 12/29.
The first college basketball tournament of the month tips off on Dec. 2 at MGM Grand. The Legends Of Basketball Las Vegas Invitational features Washington vs. Colorado State & Gonzaga vs. USC.
The Jack Jones Classic takes place at The Dollar Loan Center in Henderson from Dec. 9 and 13. This event has:
- New Mexico vs. Santa Clara
- Drake vs. Nevada
- UNLV vs. Loyola Marymount
- UNLV (again) vs. Creighton
The HBCU Challenge takes place at Mandalay Bay on Dec. 16 and 17. T-Mobile Area will host the Desert Classic with Arizona Wildcats vs. Florida Atlantic Owls on Dec. 23. The same day the Holiday Hoops Classic takes place at the Orleans at 2 p.m.