Vegas Yuletide: Sin City's Sparkliest Season

The Bellagio gardens and a life-sized chocolate Santa lend pizzazz.

BRINGING THE RAZZMATAZZ: Though a certain natural-nice, twine-pretty, evergreen-and-snowflake aesthetic has taken hold of our collective hearts in recent years, we still want our holidays to arrive with plenty of razzmatazz. You could use the words "blingy" or "sparkly" or "twinkly" or "out-sized" and all would apply, very well, to our desire to see the end-of-the-year proceedings do it up, a bit. And only one place has a true lock on the business of razzmatazz. Oh, for sure, New York's got the knack, and other big cities, and little towns devoted to decorations, but Las Vegas is Razzmatazz Central all year long. It's no shocker, then, that its holiday gewgaws and goings-on don't exactly level the playing field for anywhere else; Sin City is going to go further on the festive front. And so it is, again, in 2014, at several spots along The Strip, and off the main thoroughfare, too. Take a look at...

BELLAGIO CONSERVATORY AND BOTANICAL GARDENS: You can take a guess, each and every year, about how many poinsettias the indoor plot plants, but you'll probably underestimate it by several thousand. Any of us would, because The Bellagio has 28,000 poinsettias on display, which is about 27,999 more than most of us have in our home. Seven thousand warm white LED lights, topiary polar bears, and animated penguins complete the razzmatazzian scene, through Jan. 8. 

MANDALAY BAY SHARK REEF: The Christmas doings at this watery wonderland naturally take on an aquatic theme, so don't be surprised to see "Santa in the Shipwreck" happening every December weekend (and extra dates near Christmas). Free pics with admission are one plus, as is the appearance of Santa Jaws. Santa. Jaws. Wowza. How have we gone forever without pairing Kris Kringle and sharks?

NEON MUSEUM: Take an after-sunset stroll in the Boneyard and admire the signs with a little twinkle. There was the beautiful December to Remember event, too, on Dec. 13, which featured a holiday spin on the classic signage.

JEAN PHILIPPE PÂTISSERIE: The Bellagio-based chocolatier is taking the whimsical notion of the chocolate Santa and going much, much, much bigger. How much? There's a life-sized, fully edible Jolly Ol' Elf in the window of the posh candymaker. Some 230 pounds of dark chocolate and 50 pounds of fondant went into the festive figure. 

AND... if all of that chocolate further sweetens your mood, step outside and eye The Bellagio fountains, which are caroling up The Strip through Jan. 4, complete with the classic water show.

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