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The Best Times to Visit Las Vegas

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|by Mike Dunphy |

The optimal times to visit Vegas in every season

When a gambler gets hot in Las Vegas, it’s usually the cards in the hand, not the blaze of the sun. Step outside the casinos, however, and the desert climate becomes a blazing fact, particularly in the summer, with temperatures averaging more than 100°F. Less publicized are the chilly, breezy nights of fall and spring, or even the few wandering snowflakes that flit through during the Christmas holiday seasons. Just as the weather is seasonal, so too is Las Vegas. Each season comes with its own flavor – and wildly fun shows and entertainment. Here are the best times to visit Vegas in each seaon of the year.

The Las Vegas skyline sparkles (Photo: Getty)

The Las Vegas skyline sparkles (Photo: Getty)

The pool decks in Las Vegas begin to stir in mid-April, as the winter showers bring the spring flowers, and the city’s annual rebirth, which quickens as average temperatures crawl into the 70s.  Best of all: This is a time when the largest crowds haven’t arrived yet, and the parties are more mellow, at least by Vegas standards.

Spring is the perfect atmosphere to savor the impressive culinary swagger that rolls into Vegas in April. The month begins with the two-day Great Vegas Festival of Beer, where 500 craft beers pour from 100 breweries, and finishes with the Uncork’d food festival, thrown by Bon Appétit Magazine. For four days, the world’s greatest chefs, mixologists and sommeliers lead sensory adventures in tastings of more than 100 wines and 60 participating restaurants. 

If that’s not enough, in between comes “the biggest rockabilly party in the world” (and Vegas’ longest-running music festival), Viva Las Vegas, which redecorates the Orleans Hotel with ‘50s rebel-without-a-cause spirit, pin-up fashion, tattoos, vintage cars and four days of live, greasy, hip shaking music.

Top off the spring with Vegas’ famous, wildly colorful Cirque du Soleil shows, from the sexy Zumanity to the otherworldly Ka.

It doesn’t matter if the heat is “dry” in a Vegas summer; at more than 100 degrees, it’ll inspire some serious sweat and bronzing each time air conditioning is left behind. The evening respite turns up the heat on the nightlife, as the cooler air brings out the bling to the poolside and rooftop parties, unless the passing monsoons don’t wash them out.

Summer’s largest explosion is during the Fourth of July fireworks, which seemingly rocket skyward from every corner of the city through the first week, including the colossal 13 1/2-minute display above Caesars Palace. Get the best views (and book well ahead) at the Vortex lounge or High Roller at the Linq or atop the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas, although just about anywhere is good.

The patriotic vibe follows the electronic one of mid-June, when Las Vegas hosts one of the world’s largest EDM festivals, Electric Daisy Carnival.  The Las Vegas Motor Speedway gets stuffed to the gills all three days with laser and digital spectacles, endless electronic dance music beats and thousands of taught, sweaty bodies ecstatically surfing the grooves.

Weather-wise, fall is the favorite of Vegas aficionados, as the falling evening temperatures temper the summer extremes but lose none of amenities. Indeed, throughout September, the heat may pop back above 100°F now and again, but it usually settles into the 80s by the last two weeks.

That’s just in time for two back-to-back music festivals of different beats. Life is Beautiful takes over several blocks of Downtown for two days with shows by everyone from Lorde to Chance the Rapper to Gorillaz, while the streets are filled with DJ stations, food and cocktail booths, giant temporary art installations and more.

A week later, the Route 91 Harvest Festival brings in Country Music’s veteran stars like Little Big Town, Chris Young and Toby Keith to the Las Vegas Village Grounds, across the Strip from the Luxor. There and at the attending bars and clubs, 25,000 fans dive into three days of fun with the requisite Vegas extravagance.  In other words, watch out for an errant spur on the bartop of Coyote Ugly.

The season’s top party, however, comes at Halloween. Indeed, the Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball at Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa has been dubbed “one of the Top 10 Events in the World” by Travel Channel and “One of 5 Top Events to See Before You Die” by Maxim magazine. The adults-only party infuses no small amount of naughtiness in the music, dancing, laser light displays, stage performances and the wildest – and most revealing – costumes you’ll ever see. Forget the mechanical bull – ride the bucking banana.

Fall also ushers in a new season of celebrity shows. Vegas attracts the biggest names from around the world, from Celine Dion to Ricky Martin – keep an eye out here on ShowTickets for new concert announcements.

A Norman Rockwell winter scene Las Vegas ain’t, but more than a few snowflakes has been known to fluff up the neon in December and January, when temperatures can dip below freezing. Rather than recoil from the cold, Sin City makes the most of it.

Start at the annual Winter Parq at the Linq, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, featuring open-air shopping, dining and entertainment among thousands of music-synched LED lights and a nightly holiday show, or lace up ice skates on the seasonal rinks at Caesars Palace and The Cosmopolitan during the same period.  

For pure spectacle, it’s hard to beat the breathtaking Winter Wonderland that opens in early December in the Bellagio that fills the conservatory and botanical gardens, featuring 28,000 poinsettias, 12-foot-tall snow globes, a 42-foot holiday tree with 7,000 LED lights and 2,500 ornaments. The only greater shows are on the stages of the Caesars Palace, Orleans and Grand Sierra, where the favorite holiday tunes get special treatment by the likes of Mariah Carey, LeAnn Rimes and Brian Setzer.

It all reaches a climax on New Year’s Eve, when the skies erupt with nearly an equal number of explosions by fireworks as champagne corks. The hangover may last a month, but when it passes, it’s then Christmas for gamblers: Super Bowl Sunday.  

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