Everyone knows about the casinos, shows and lavish resorts, but there are many other reasons to visit Las Vegas. Among those reasons are the festivals and events held in the valley every year. To enhance your Las Vegas experience you might consider timing your visit to coincide with some of these events.
1. National Finals Rodeo (NFR). The rodeo is one of the most popular annual events in Las Vegas. The dates vary but typically fall in early December, the rodeo is held at the Thomas and Mack Center on the UNLV campus. Even if you don’t have a ticket for the rodeo there are plenty of related events around town that will give you the cowboy experience anyway. Because the dates of the event coincide with the Christmas shopping season there are a number of country and western themed shopping events like “Cowboy Christmas” held at the convention center. You can also attend practice and amateur rodeo events, the Miss Rodeo America Pageant, autograph sessions with rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, and rodeo related seminars. Most hotels have special country/western themed concerts and events during this time as well.
2. NASCAR Sprint Cup Race. Another very popular event in Las Vegas is the NASCAR race held in early March at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Again there are lots of related events that you can enjoy before the race. Race weekend kicks off with the traditional parade of NASCAR haulers down the strip. The Friday before the racing starts you can watch the drivers take practice laps, and visit the Neon Garage, an area in the infield where fans can watch the crews work on their cars. Throughout town there are driver autograph sessions scheduled at various hotels, and several drivers also host charity events during the week before the race.
3. Aviation Nation. This is the closing air show of the season for the Air Force Thunderbirds at their home base of Nellis Air Force Base just north of Las Vegas. This annual air show is held the weekend following Veterans Day in November. You can see numerous military aircraft both in static (parked) display as well as flying demonstrations of both aerobatic and military aircraft. You also have the opportunity to meet and talk with many of the pilots. At the conclusion of each day is the demonstration by the Thunderbird team. Parking for the event is at the nearby Las Vegas Motor Speedway with free shuttles to the base.
4. Las Vegas Film Festival. Venue and dates vary, but generally held in June or July, see www.lvfilmfest.com for up-to-date information. If you like the idea of rubbing elbows with filmmakers this is the place to be. The festival includes film screenings, social events, seminars and workshops.
5. Las Vegas Renaissance Festival. Held each year in early October at Sunset Park, this very popular festival celebrates all things renaissance. Included in the 14 acre park are vendors selling all manner of medieval and renaissance themed items, food, drink, demonstrations of ancient weaponry and crafts. For an additional fee you can attend the Boars Head Feaste, a bawdy dinner theater show. Come in costume and partake in the revelry.