Las Vegas will celebrate Chinese New Year, which begins Friday, with lion dances, lucky charms and dogs. Hotel-casinos go all-out for what will be the Year of the Dog, the 11th zodiac animal in the Chinese zodiac.
The Shops at Crystals will mark the occasion Thursday with a private blessing by a Buddhist monk followed by a traditional lion dance from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The high-end shopping center is sparkling brighter than usual with the addition of a 53-foot gold dragon beside a reflecting pool. The custom-made creature, which features 100,000 LED lights, will be on display through March 1.
A long weekend full of festivities starts Friday at the Linq Promenade and entertainment district.
Live cultural performances, featuring professional and community dance troupes, begin at 5 p.m. Friday and next Monday (Presidents Day), at 6 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Dragon dances will also entertain visitors each evening at 6.
Dragon and lion dancers will parade through the casino at MGM Grand at 4 p.m. Friday to mark the start of the New Year. Visitors are welcomed in the lobby by a festive display featuring a lion and eight panda bears set among floral décor.
The most stunning floral celebration is already underway in the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden.
With guidance from a feng shui master, the gardens feature ding pots, a giant Siberian husky and a money tree full of gold coins, all set amid thousands of red roses and yellow forsythia.
The free display can be viewed 24 hours a day through March 3.
The Year of the Dog theme continues up the street at Wynn-Encore, where three 9-foot sculptures of dogs are covered in gold leaf. Hanging dragons and elaborate floral arrangements round out the displays in the properties' atriums.
A lion dance will begin 6 p.m. Sunday at the south valet entrance at Wynn Las Vegas before moving through both hotels.
A mile and a half west of the Strip, a traditional lion dance and dim sum will highlight the festivities at the Gold Coast, a hotel-casino long popular with Asian visitors.
The property's annual lion dance parade will make its way through the casino 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 22. In addition to dragons, the procession will include costumed characters who will pluck ceremonial lettuce from the ceiling. A symbol of good luck, the leaves will be tossed to spectators.
Lettuce plays only a minor role in the tempting dim sum dishes available at the resort's well-reviewed Chinese restaurant, Ping Pang Pong.
Long popular for its dim sum menu, with more than 70 choices each day, Ping Pang Pong is offering a special, celebratory dish through Feb. 25. Nian Gao, a sweet rice cake shaped to look like a gold brick, is meant to symbolize prosperity and opportunity during the year just starting. Three cake squares seared with egg are priced at $4.88, or guests can purchase whole, 1-pound cakes to take home for $13.99.
Admission is $20 for adults and $12 for youth 5-17 as well as seniors 60 and older. There is a $10 surcharge, and limited availability, for the Chinese New Year celebration on Friday evening.