Never mind that highs last week were a balmy 80 degrees. Never mind the perpetual sunshine or the lack of snow below mountainous climes. With the exception perhaps of Lapland or the North Pole, Sin City is the most Christmas-y place to spend the holidays. Hands down.


See, Las Vegas loves a theme party. Whether it's Valentine's Day, Halloween, Super Bowl Sunday or the Fourth of July, the Strip pounces on an occasion to celebrate with unrivaled gusto. Out come the decorations, the digital billboard displays, the themed parties with matching uniforms.

In Las Vegas, a one-day party lasts an entire weekend and often seeps into the week before, so the holiday season? Well, it's already in full swing.

The holidays in Las Vegas aren't some subtle or -- heaven forbid! -- tepidly classy affair. They are big and bold and shining throughout the (un)silent night. This is the land of Christmas trees taller than a single-family house, with every square inch of arboreal real estate supporting some sparkling light or glittering glass bulb. This is the land of faux presents larger than a toddler, real outdoor ice rinks (cooled to withstand the above-freezing temperatures) and winter wonderlands so laden with lights, you'd think the city might blow its collective fuse. Want to feel the holiday spirit this winter? Think Vegas.

At Crystals, a custom-designed tree that took three days to install towers above shoppers, decked with 100,000 LED lights and 5,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments. At Mandalay Bay, Santa Claus dons a regulator and fins to set up shop inside the Shark Reef Aquarium's shipwreck, posing for photos alongside "Santa Jaws." (All he wants for Christmas is fish.)

In Henderson, Green Valley Ranch will debut its Winter Village, an interactive experience benefitting St. Jude's Ranch for Children. The resort's outdoor amphitheater will be transformed into a sparkling landscape of 60 decorated trees with a 6,000-square-foot skating rink and a menu that includes hot cocoa and s'more kits for roasting round the fire pits.

On the Strip, the Cosmopolitan's popular ice rink has returned, along with its selection of boozy beverages, treats and s'mores. The resort's Dive-In Movies take a frosty turn with Date Skate Mondays, where holiday doubleheaders like "Four Christmases" and "A Christmas Story" (Dec. 4) or "The Muppet Christmas Carol" and "Elf" (Dec. 11) play on the 65-foot marquee while skaters carve up the ice and sip hot cider.

MGM Resorts' The Park will also undergo a holiday season makeover. Starting Nov. 30, guests will enter the pedestrian thoroughfare under ornament arches and be greeted by strolling carol singers, a holiday market, an 80-foot silver fir Christmas tree and an ice rink.

Even Las Vegas' resident performers are getting into the holiday spirit, giving their shows a seasonal spin. Terry Fator is reviving his "Very Terry Christmas" show, complete with a David Bowie/Bing Crosby puppet duet and holiday classics like "Winter Wonderland" and "Baby It's Cold Outside." Human Nature has added Christmas tunes to its "Juke Joint" performances at the Venetian, and at the Flamingo, Piff the Magic Dragon is jettisoning his usual act for the third annual "Piffmas at Piffany's," a competitive Christmas show where the audience attempts to pummel each other into submission (intellectually speaking).

The Bellagio Conservatory will turn into its annual winter wonderland, a highlight at an attraction that always astounds, and chefs will serve holiday specials, full of hearty roasts, hot toddies and the inevitable egg nog.

Las Vegas isn't your family holiday. But it may just be better.
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