Each December, Las Vegas goes a little crazy for country. Cowboys descend on the city and country music abounds when the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo returns.
The rodeo features competitions in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
The event at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas has been a sellout for 26 years in a row. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do all over town if you don’t have a ticket — and much of it is free. You might even be lucky enough to snag a last-minute seat (see below).
The National Finals Rodeo is one of the biggest events of year, and in Vegas that’s saying something. Almost every resort in town wants in on the action, with viewing parties (often in the race and sports books), live entertainment and – just in time for the holidays – plenty of cowboy-themed shopping.
Here’s a taste of what to expect:
Downtown Hoedown on Monday at Fremont Street Experience. Grab your boots and hat, and kick off the rodeo with six hours of country music, including headliners Old Dominion and Sawyer Brown. It’s free.
The Priefert World Series of Team Roping Finale from Dec. 5 to 11 at the South Point hotel-casino. The second richest equestrian event in the world has a whopping $10-million purse. Admission is free.
With rodeo tickets already snatched up, the venue will offer what it calls the Mad Dash. Here’s how it works: You buy a ticket to the sold-out event of your choice and arrive early to find an empty seat in the arena’s balcony. If the reserved seat holder shows up, move to another empty seat. If that fails, you can get a refund.
A searchable list of events around Southern Nevada timed to the rodeo finals can be found online.