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Six spots around Las Vegas to take in a holiday lights show

Conor Shine
Las Vegas Sun

Christmas is still more than a month away, but for Las Vegans eager to start getting into the holiday spirit, elaborate light displays and holiday festivals already are starting to open.

Whether you’re in the mood for lights or flowers, ice skating or reindeer rides, local attractions provide plenty of opportunities for holiday fun, even on a budget.

Here’s a look at six spots around town to get your holiday fix:

Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Glittering Lights

The Glittering Lights show will drape the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in more than 2 million LED lights, with displays featuring tributes to Las Vegas icons such as Elvis and Liberace.

Visitors who drive their way through the 2.5-mile course will be able to sip hot chocolate and munch on kettle corn sold on-site by local Boy Scout troops.

The Glittering Lights display opens to the public today and closes Jan. 6.

Tickets are $15 per car Monday through Thursday and $20 per car Friday through Sunday. The display is lit every night at 5:30 p.m., closing at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The Venetian’s Winter in Venice

This holiday season, parts of the Venetian and the Palazzo will be turned into winter wonderlands, bedecked with holiday lights, snowflakes and a 65-foot tree.

Starting Sunday and continuing through Jan. 6, a nightly holiday parade will march through the two casinos, and 3-D light projections will be displayed on the hotel facades.

Visitors can sip hot chocolate after skating on the ice rink in the Venetian’s Grand Canal or taking in Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas show during the group’s six-week residency.

The festivities are free, except for ice skating and the holiday shows.

Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest

gives visitors the chance to take in a dazzling holiday scene while supporting the nonprofit group’s efforts to assist people with disabilities.

The Magical Forest is home to hundreds of decorated trees, millions of lights and oversized gingerbread houses. Visitors can stop by Santa’s workshop for a photo or take a ride on the Forest Express train.

The Magical Forest, located at the nonprofit’s Oakey Boulevard site near Torrey Pines Drive, is open from Nov. 21 to Jan. 6. General admission tickets are $9 for children under age 13 and $11 for adults; passes for the rides cost a few dollars extra. The display is open starting at 5:30 p.m. nightly, closing at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Ethel M’s Holiday Cactus Garden

During the holiday season, the 300 species of cacti at Ethel M’s botanical cactus garden are draped in a colorful spectrum of lights.

Santa regularly makes visits to a secret gazebo in the garden, and after strolling through the 3-acre display, visitors can listen to carols sung by local choirs or pick up some holiday sweets inside the chocolate factory.

The cactus garden, which is free to the public, is open daily through Jan. 1 from 5 to 10 p.m.

Springs Preserve’s Holiday Spectacular

Reindeer rides, carolers and holiday arts and crafts can all be found at Springs Preserve during its Holiday Spectacular.

Visitors to the gardens can marvel at elaborate, colorful light displays, visit Santa or snack on holiday treats.

The Holiday Spectacular is open from 5 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8 and 9 and from Dec. 15-23. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children 4 and younger.

Bellagio Conservatory’s 2012 Winter Holiday Exhibit

The Bellagio Conservatory’s ever-changing floral displays will take on a holiday theme Dec. 2 through Jan. 5.

Last year’s display featured thousands of lights and ornaments, plenty of flowers and a few penguins.

The conservatory is free to the public and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Venetian Resort Hotel Casino

In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.

The Venetian offers entertainment for the whole family with the critically acclaimed "Blue Man Group," comedian and songster Wayne Brady and the smash hit "Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular," a 90-minute version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera."

The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.

The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.

Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.

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