Although “Nevada” is the Spanish word for snowfall, the state holds a prominent reputation for warm weather. Regardless, the Silver State knows how to get into the winter holiday spirit. By staying at a vacation rental in Nevada, you can be situated in the heart of all the excitement, especially when booking a spacious condo or trendy loft in Las Vegas. Look forward to checking out a variety of Christmas-themed light displays and holiday-inspired events. The city of Genoa offers a community-wide celebration that draws locals and visitors alike, while Virginia City lights up with a festive parade. Make your holiday season shine brighter with a family-friendly trip to see stunning Christmas lights in Nevada.

holiday cactus garden

1. Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the City of Lights all year long, but this nickname couldn’t fit any better than it does at Christmastime. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts Glittering Lights, a 2.5-mile drive-through course that features more than 3 million lights. To see the light displays from a bird’s eye view, take a ride on the open-air Santa Tram. Snow in the Square, at Town Square, lets you experience a magical snowfall while you listen to Christmas music. This event takes place every night of the week and twice on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from mid-November through Christmas.

The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village lets you explore an incredible walk-through light display, with hundreds of trees dripping with millions of lights. Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park does winter right with its Las Vegas Christmas Town, with millions of lights all over the park, a Christmas train, sled riding, and more.

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2. Virginia City

Historic Virginia City lets visitors experience an old-fashioned holiday season with its Christmas on the Comstock celebration. This annual event has something for everyone. The mining town hosts a Parade of Lights in early December. Head out in the evening to stroll the streets, shop in the boutiques, and check out the brightly lit sidewalks all decked out with Victorian flair. Take the kids to the Virginia City Visitors Center for photos with Father Christmas, and browse for gifts at the Christmas craft fair. Climb aboard the V&T Candy Cane Express for a ride to Gold Hill, and sip hot chocolate as you relax in the heated train car. Piper’s Opera House Players offer performances of Christmas favorites throughout December, while the Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl is a spirited event that’s just right for the adults in your group.

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3. Elko

Located in the northeastern corner of Nevada, Elko is an ideal vacation destination for families seeking a traditional Christmas celebration. The city’s Annual Snowflake Festival and Parade of Lights occurs in early December. Head to Downtown Elko to watch ice sculptures come to life, take in the live entertainment, and delight the kids with a visit to Santa’s Workshop for crafts, games, and photos with the man in red. Warm up with drinks from the Cocoa Cottage. There’s naughty cocoa for adults over 21 and nice cocoa for the little ones. Don’t miss the parade to see all the floats decked out in twinkling lights. Check out the gingerbread house contest at the Elko County Library, or do some shopping at the annual Christmas Bazaar in early December. For ice skating, watch for family skate times at the Igloo Rec Center.

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4. Henderson

While Henderson lies only 16 miles from Las Vegas, it holds its own as the second-largest city in the state. Experience the magic of the season with a trip to Ethel M Chocolates. This purveyor of premium chocolates hosts an annual Holiday Cactus Garden from early November until New Year’s Day. The 3-acre botanical cactus garden comes to life with more than 1 million festive lights, and it’s truly a sight to behold. There’s also a skating rink, so you can glide around the ice with the family. While there, step inside for a chocolate-tasting class, or pick up some premium chocolates to take back to your vacation rental.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Henderson’s Lake Las Vegas invites locals and guests to a Christmas tree lighting ceremony that features live entertainment. The city’s Annual Christmas Parade of Lights occurs in early December, when illuminated boats sail through Lake Mead Marina to the delight of anxiously awaiting spectators.

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5. Genoa

Genoa begins its Christmas celebration on the first day of December, kicking off the festivities with Christmas caroling at the Genoa Community Church. The singers make their way to the corner of Main Street and Genoa Lane for the tree lighting ceremony. Afterward, warm up with hot cocoa while you await Santa’s arrival. Arrive at Town Hall early the next morning for breakfast with Santa. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance, as seating is often limited for this popular event. If you’re sticking around for the holidays, be sure to attend Christmas Eve services at Genoa Community Church for caroling, candle lighting, and the Christmas Story.

Travel just 8 miles to Gardnerville if you’re looking for a Christmas tree to spruce up your vacation rental’s holiday decor. The Mountain View Tree Farm lets you pick out the perfect tree while you enjoy the view of the picturesque Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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