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Dragons and dogs take over Las Vegas for Chinese New Year

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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.

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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.

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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.

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In North Las Vegas, about 12 miles from the Strip, the China Lights show continues nightly through Febr. 25 at Craig Ranch Regional Park. Featuring more than 40 outsized light displays and cultural performances, the exhibition opens nightly at 5:30.

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.

travel@latimes.com

@latimestravel


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