It was a trip to Las Vegas for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo that inspired me to write The Christmas Cowboy, book one in the Rodeo Romance series.
A second trip resulted in the recently released Wrestlin’ Christmas, the second installment in the series.
It’s quite likely if I make another trip to Las Vegas, the result will be a frenzied return home to start writing book three in the series.
Captain Cavedweller and I don’t like to gamble. We aren’t into the whole stay up and party all night scene. We’ve never even gone to one of the fabulous shows everyone raves about (next time!).
But there are plenty of reasons we love going to Las Vegas while the rodeo is in town:
Is unlike any other rodeo you’ll see.
You won’t regret it. Fast-paced and action-packed doesn’t even begin to describe it. You can find all the details about purchasing tickets on their website at nfrexperience.com You’ll also find a host of resources here like free shuttle schedules, event calendars, and so much more.
~ Vendor Shows
Abound in Las Vegas during the rodeo and they are FREE! Whether you’re a window shopper or a serious buyer, you won’t run out of opportunities to purchase unique and interesting items.
The Cowboy Christmas Gift Show is the original NFR show and is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The granddaddy of vendor shows in town that week features more than 400 vendors offering products such as jewelry, western wear, boots and spurs, furniture, original art, crafts and Official Wrangler NFR and PRCA merchandise. I’ll be there Dec. 10 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. and again Dec. 12 from 11 a.m. to noon doing book signings. Stop by the PRCA booth and say hello! Remember, all book sales now through Christmas Eve help benefit the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
While you’re at the Convention Center, be sure to attend Cowboy Fan Fest. In the arena, you can take in Miss Rodeo America Horsemanship, Ranch Sorting, Mini Bucking Bulls, Colt Dummy Bunking, and Horsemanship Demonstrations. On stage, don’t miss Outside the Barrel with Flint Rasmussen, Rodeo Live Unplugged featuring top country singers, The Newly Wed Game featuring the stars of rodeo, and RFD-TV’s Live Studio Broadcast featuring NFR contestant interviews, sponsor interviews, and the Cowboy Shopping Network.
New this year, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Hunter Christmas Exposition at the Las Vegas Convention Center is planned adjacent to The Cowboy Christmas Gift Show. For the hunters on your shopping list, this is a must-visit event.
Other Vendor Shows include:
NRS Shopping Experience at MGM Grand
Roper Cowboy Marketplace Gift Show at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino
Stetson Country Christmas at Sands Expo
South Point Western Gift Show at South Point. There is also a western art show with an auction at South Point.
~ Holiday Decorations
Glitter and sparkle throughout town. Some of our favorite places to take in the holiday fun (all free to see) include:
The Bellagio fountains outside shooting water into the air to Christmas tunes makes it hard not to catch a little of the holiday spirit. Make sure you go inside The Bellagio to the conservatory where people more talented than I can imagine turn florals and fauna into holiday masterpieces.
Past decorations have included fresh poinsettias, flying reindeer made of whole pecans, a life-sized snow globe, and a polar bear family created with white carnations. Also, pop down the hall from the conservatory to the Jean Philippe Patisserie just to watch the chocolate fountain.
The Venetian offers some of the most spectacular holiday decorations. Think two-story high Christmas-scapes that take your breath away. The past two years, they’ve put on Winter in Venice – complete with a nightly parade. Don’t miss it! It’s definitely worth seeing and absolutely free! While you’re at The Venetian, venture into the Grand Canal Shoppes. The architecture alone is worth a visit, but cobblestone walkways and illuminated painted sky ceilings centered along a quarter-mile-long Grand Canal and gondola ride make this a must-see. Last year, my mother-in-law and I were strolling through it, taking in the sites when we stopped to admire a marble statute (or so we thought). Then the statue blinked and we both freaked out a little. So we left the man a few dollars and walked a little ways off to watch him scare another unsuspecting visitor half to death.
Caeser’s Palace shines with a holiday glow. While you’re there, venture over to the Forum Shops and take in the free Fall of Atlantis animatronic show.
Ethel M Chocolates is a ways off the strip, but offers a free tour of their candy facility. Outside, visitors can take a self-guided tour with one of the one of the world’s largest collections of cactus interspersed with holiday decorations
Sam’s Town Mystic Falls Park creates a winter wonderland set to holiday tunes.
The Fashion Show Mall has some incredible decorations not to mention top-notch stores.
Magical Forest at Opportunity Village is a Las Vegas tradition. Although this event isn’t free, it does offer hundreds of dazzling trees and a gingerbread display.
~ Country music to my ears
There are any number of free and ticketed concerts taking place during the ten days of the rodeo.
The Mirage offers a great after-the-rodeo-party opportunity to listen to some big names in country music for free! Some of the performers already scheduled include Easton Corbin (one of my favs), Randy Houser, Jon Pardi, and Craig Campbell.
The MGM Grand has a variety of performances planned with great country stars.
South Point has free entertainment after the rodeo and the Go-Round Buckle Presentations with performers like Aaron Watson.
Gary Leffew’s Legendary Buck ‘N Ball at Gold Coast offers free entertainment nightly beginning at 9 p.m. You can even take free line-dancing lessons if you’re so inclined.
Freemont Street celebrates the 28th annual The Downtown Hoedown Dec. 3. If you get into town a little early, you can enjoy a day of free concerts from Thomas Rhett, Confederate Railroad, The Cadillac Three, American Young, RaeLynn and Old Dominion.
There are an abundance of Country Stars in town for the rodeo. Check LasVegas.com for more concert listings and ticket details. Here are just a few of the concerts you can purchase tickets to attend:
Lady Antebellum at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center with David Nail and Maddie & Tae
Shania Twain at Caesar’s Palace
Charlie Daniels Band at The Orleans
Merle Haggard, Sara Evans, Hank Williams Jr., Alabama, and Travis Tritt at the Golden Nugget
Gary Allen at the House of Blues
Big & Rich at the Brooklyn Bowl
Rodney Carrington at the MGM Grand
John Michael Montgomery, Sammy Kershaw, and Lee Greenwood at the Westgate Las Vegas
~ Other Attractions and Events
You might want to take in :
Freemont Street Light Show The Viva Vision video screen is 1,500 feet long, 90 feet wide and suspended 90 feet above Fremont Street.
Mirage Volcano booms to life at 6 p.m. each evening.
27th Annual Pro Rodeo League of Women Style Show and Luncheon takes place at South Point Dec. 11. Tickets are $40. Each year more than 1,000 women and a few brave men gather for a fun afternoon of fashion, food and prizes! The latest fashions by Wrangler and Rock and Roll Cowgirl are modeled by Wrangler NFR Contestants and wives of competitors. The event raises funds for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
If you only pick up one thing when you arrive in town, make sure you grab a free copy of NFR Experience Fan Guide. They’re available everywhere and offer a comprehensive list of where to go, what to do, and who to see.
And here’s a good resource for up-to-date event schedules, entertainment and freebies!