Las Vegas is aiming for a more entertainment-focused future and the city is working hard to attract conventions, events and festivals across various disciplines and demographics. The following is a just sample of the many annual attractions held in the city.
March: Rugby Sevens
Vegas hosts a round of the HSBC Rugby Sevens around March each year and people from all over the world come for the party. The rugby is great but the American razzamatazz – think booming announcements, cheerleaders, daytime fireworks, fighter jet flyover, loud licks of music and scrum-sized plates of nachos – takes it to a new level. The 16-nation Sevens tournament is a three-day rugger bugger-fest held at Sam Boyd Stadium, about half an hour from the Strip.
April: Fremont Street Mardi Gras
Now this is a New Orleans-style Mardis Gras, where Cajun food and music makes the party zing and the Fremont Street arcade erupts with a spicy burst of non-stop dancing and music. One for aficionados of the genre, it all goes down about the third week of April each year.
April / May: Epicurean Affair
This confrontational cuisine combat pits local restaurants against each other in a festival of culinary hedonism in late April / early May. Competition is fierce as chefs and mixologists try to outdo each other in creativity, taste and presentation. Lots of delicious fun and free samples.
May: Cinco de Mayo
A celebration of all things Mexican in Freedom Park, Cinco de Mayo is held over the whole weekend with the main festivities on the Sunday closest to May 5. Sponsored by the Mexican Patriotic Committee, the festival includes clowns, parades, food stands and lots (and lots) of tequila.
July: Fourth of July Fireworks
A great day to be in the USA and especially so in Las Vegas. Crackers big and small go off everywhere and are best enjoyed at Cashman Field, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Desert Breeze Park, Morrell Park, the Stratosphere Lounge and the Primm Valley Casino.
October: Red Bull Air Race World Championship
The spectacular manoeuvres and speed of these stunt planes has to be seen to be believed, like a lot of what goes on in Las Vegas. Weaving in and out of high pylons, pulling scary G-forces and making right angle turns in the high-altitude air over Las Vegas Motor Speedway is adrenalin pumping stuff – even for the spectators – and is held annually in October. The Speedway also hosts ground-based action, including NASCAR and drag racing events.
November: Las Vegas Odyssey
Held in November across a variety of venues, the Las Vegas Odyssey is a four-day celebration of food, wine and art, with proceeds benefiting Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College Scholarship Program plus a very worthy children’s charity.
December: Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Las Vegas visionary Benny Binion first brought the bareback riding, barrel racing, bull riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling and team roping classic here in 1985 – and it is now one of the hottest shows in town. Bucking good fun every December at the University of Nevada.