Some readers will not require an excuse to go to Las Vegas. There’s gambling, celebrity chef restaurants, endless club nights, beautiful people, and multi-million dollar spas. For some people, those are all reasons enough. But for visitors looking for an extra something special to enliven their trips, check out the five events below.
The World Series of Poker started in 1970, when a group of 30 professional poker players sequestered themselves around tables in a hotel-room-sized space to play for the title of World Champion. The city of Las Vegas had less than 50 poker tables at the time. Now, anyone with a monitor and an Internet connection can play their luck, and real world big-time players exhaust every available mode of transportation to arrive at the Rio. The stakes are higher than 43 years ago: 74,766 players registered in 2012, and now there are 480 poker tables used during the tournament. It costs $500 to buy, which means that the pool is… well, huge. The biggest poker game in the world is getting exponentially bigger.
On the biggest party night of the year, the biggest party city in America will absolutely throw the biggest freaking party. New Year’s Eve on the Strip is not for the introverted or weak of heart – for one night, Las Vegas turns into an pulsating red inferno burning a hole in the sky while showering lights down on the crowds below. Throngs of pedestrians ooze their way up and down Las Vegas Boulevard as the largest hotels in the city attempt to one-up each other with extravagant fireworks displays. The clubs throw celebrity-hosted bashes with world-class DJs, stock up the bars with every last drop of premium alcohol they can get their hands on, open their doors to only the hottest people, while the party rages on in the street. In the city of sin and excess, the big guns come out on New Year’s Eve.
Get those daisy dukes and cowboy hats on, folks, ‘cause we’re going to the rodeo! For 10 days in December, catch the gals and guys in boots blazing their saddles into the bright Vegas spotlight for the National Finals Rodeo. Over 140,000 participants and spectators from the U.S and Canada flood the area to celebrate the age-old rivalry between man and beast spread over competitions like roping, wrestling, bull-riding and bareback riding. Plus, it’s the Nationals, and it’s Vegas, so of course it’s not just going to be about the wild horse chase. Light shows and fog machines abuzz, and the sweet and swaggering drawls of Miranda Lambert, Randy Travis, and a whole host of other renowned Western music performers take over concert venues up and down the Strip. The ceiling: a hollerin’ good time at the campus of the University of Nevada watching mere humans take down 2,000 pound galloping quadrupeds; the floor is the glimpse of probably many sexy cowboys with wrestle-toned six-packs. Even if you don’t dig country music, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
See the speedway stars all in one place. On NASCAR weekend, speed demons get zipped into their Ferrari-emblazoned jackets and hit the legendary Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Race Weekend. Spectators can gawk over gorgeous automobiles at the Neon Garage, check out procession of chrome-rimmed trucks at the annual NASCAR Hauler Parade along the Strip, cheer on their favorite racers and participate in tons of NASCAR-themed events around the city.
The spirit of Elvis lives on in Las Vegas, and not just in cheesy impersonations. Every year in April, tatted kids in cat-eyed sunglasses and leather jackets roll into the Orleans Hotel to show off their bouffants for Rockabilly Weekend. It’s a little bit country, and a little bit rock’n’roll, but they boogie with the best of them through classic rockabilly sets by the best Rockabilly bands all over the world. There are burlesque shows, pool parties, vintage car shows, jiving competitions, swimsuit competitions, pin-up contests and on-site weddings. And the miles of vintage vendors – it’s bound to be one of the best stylish weekends of the year. Ladies, don’t forget the lipstick.