Las Vegas Correspondence – December 2016

One of artist Nathan Sawaya's "Park People." (Photo courtesy of New York - New York Hotel & Casino)
                             One of artist Nathan Sawaya’s “Park People.” (Photo courtesy of New York – New York Hotel & Casino)

Diamond Jack loves great art, and that includes LEGO art. Through Dec. 30 at The Park (on the Strip between New York-New York and Monte Carlo), former corporate lawyer Nathan Sawaya has placed several of his playful pieces for visitors to examine and enjoy. The art installation is called PARK PEOPLE and this is the first time it is being shown in Nevada. It has already toured the world.Park People

A small part of the Cactus Garden at Ethel M's Chocolate Factory
               A small part of the Cactus Garden at  the Ethel M Chocolate Factory

Art can also be found at The Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden in Henderson (2 Cactus Garden Drive). The factory has gone through an extensive renovation as it begins its 35th years of making award-winning chocolates in Nevada. And for the 23rd year, it is again the site of one of the most colorful and decorated gardens in the world. More than one million lights beautifully brighten the three-acre garden featuring over 300 species of plants and cacti. Guests can view the newly-remodeled factory store featuring an all-new Chocolate Tasting Room, interactive displays, demonstration areas, expanded retail space, and café. The garden shines every night from 5 – 10 p.m. through Jan. 1.

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum has converted a 1,200 square-foot space into a working laboratory — The Richard Ditton Learning Lab. The Lab is the only one of its kind in the state and serves as a paleontological and archaeological prep lab for college students, research facility for science professionals and a live exhibit for visitors.

Last year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) declared the Museum a federal repository for archeological and paleontological materials removed from BLM lands in southern Nevada. It houses many of these excavated materials that will be used for research and learning as well as being included in exhibits. The private, non-profit Museum opened in 1991 and through its exhibits and educational programs strives to instill an understanding and appreciation of the world’s wildlife, ecosystems and cultures. The Museum is at 900 North Las Vegas Blvd. at Washington Ave., adjacent to Cashman Center. Go to or call 702-384–3466.

— Diamond Jack Bulavsky


Don’t Miss Holiday Time In Vegas!

Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Saturday, December 5, 2015. CREDIT: Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau
                     Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Photo credit: Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau)

What’re we going to do in December?  Cowboy up!  It’s Cowboy Christmas time in Las Vegas. Sure, you can head on down the road a piece to all the Cowboy Gift Shops which have free admission, like:

Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center from 12/1 – 12/10 (9 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
Stetson Country Christmas at Sands Expo from 12/1 – 12/11 (10 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
Cowboy Marketplace Gift Show at Mandalay Bay in Bayside Exhibit Hall D from 12/1 – 12/10 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Western Gift Show at South Point from 12/1 – 12/11 (9 a.m.- 7 p.m.)

Or, in the same spirit of Country, go to one of the gun shows, although there are no rootin’-tootn’-cowboy-shootin’ guns for sale, you can buy, sell or trade guns and view other items at these locations:

The Las Vegas Gun Show at Sport Center of Las Vegas (Sunset Rd. & Las Vegas Blvd.) from 12/10-12/11 – $14 on line, $16 at door – tickets good for both days; $1 off coupon available.

The Crossroads of the West Gun Show at Cashman Center is 12/17-12/18 – $14  with $1 off coupon available.

Okay, so you are not into all things Country. Here are some traditional holiday exhibits which are free to enjoy during your time in Las Vegas:

Holiday display at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden
                                                           Holiday display at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden

The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden has their holiday show from December 1st through January 2nd. You can stroll through their beautiful decorations and floral playground knowing at least 90% of their foliage is recycled.

A part of the Four Seasons Gingerbread House display
                                                               A part of the Four Seasons Gingerbread House display

Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas Holiday Village is always a delight to visit just for the amazing smells of gingerbread crafted by pastry chef Jean-Luc Daul and his team of pastry chefs each year. They have been constructing this display for over 15 years at the Four Seasons. It takes a few days to assemble and takes more hours than we can count (500+) to produce, since there are at least 20 gingerbread houses along with landscapes. It is located near the grand staircase from 11/23/16 – 12/26/16. In case you want to purchase one of the displays to take after 12/26, be forewarned, they can cost upwards of $500 each!

Winterfest 2016 is 12/8 through 12/10 at the Henderson Convention Center on Water Street. This is an evening festival on Thursday, 12/8 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday, 12/9, starting with the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. and runs to 9 p.m. On Saturday, 12/10, it begins at noon until 8 p.m. with the Winterfest Evening Light Parade at 5 p.m.

Holiday lights at the Ethel M Cactus Garden
                                                                             Holiday lights at the Ethel M Cactus Garden

Ethyl M Cactus Garden Holiday Lights display has already begun. Visit now through January 1st. Admission is free, and their holiday lights are turned on between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. each evening. They have live choirs and visits from Santa each weekend.

The Elves' Cookie Factory in the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
                   The Elves’ Cookie Factory in the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

You can also visit their chocolate shop until 10 p.m. each night.

This is the 25th anniversary of the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village. They open nightly (except for Christmas Day) at 5:30 p.m. now until January 1st. The have free parking and a great gingerbread house display. Adult general admission is $11.99 for those over 13 and $9.99 for children. You will purchase ride tickets separately for those prices, but, can have rides included for a passport price of $21.99 adults and teens, and $18.99 for children 12 and under.

— Pauline Cimoch