If you’re feeling holiday spirit-challenged, we recommend a visit to the free Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.
The Conservatory has unveiled its winter display for 2015, featuring enough creativity and whimsy to warm the heart of even the most die-hard devotee of humbuggery.
Fans of the Bellagio Conservatory will find a number of familiar elements, but there’s always something new to see at this beloved attraction.
The centerpiece of the Bellagio’s winter display is the 42-foot white fir tree. Don’t get all bent out of shape, it’s faux fir.
The gargantuan tree, easily the most stunning in Las Vegas, has about 2,500 ornaments and 7,000 lights.
Other tried-and-true elements of the holiday display are frolicking polar bears. We suspect the polar bears aren’t going anywhere given the sponsorship deal Bellagio has struck with Coca-Cola.
The Coca-Cola advertising is done with class, however, and nobody going to begrudge Bellagio for finding a partner to help offset the cost of the producing this winter wonderland in the middle of the desert.
The Coca-Cola partnership once again has a philanthropic component. When guests share a Conservatory photo using the hashtag #HollyJollyVegas, Coca-Cola will donate a buck to Toys for Tots (up to $25,000). It’s hard to hate on Capitalism too much when kids get toys during the holidays.
Each of the polar bears is made with thousands of white carnations. The cubs use 5,000 carnations, and the mother has 12,000.
Conservatory veterans will also recognize the 14-foot toy soldiers.
We also love the working toy train running in endless circles.
One of our favorite Easter eggs in the winter display is the pair video screens showing live video from a camera affixed to the toy train. The screens are located elsewhere in the exhibit, and guests are consistently delighted when they realize what the screens are showing.
A snow tunnel has made its return, perfect for a photo op. The tunnel is constructed so that “snowflakes” move within the tunnel walls.
Also in the new winter display are a collection of crowd-pleasing penguins, several of which clearly have a better fashion sense than this Las Vegas blog. Then again, just about everyone does.
Beyond the returning favorites, new surprises abound.
The house made of chocolate is out, but an animated rocking horse is in (see below).
There are also two 12-foot snow globes. Those are huge globes, even by Las Vegas exotic dancer standards. Yes, in fact, we have to ruin everything. Get used to it.
Overhead bells used in previous displays have been replaced by colorful, 10-foot stockings.
There’s also a 12-foot, animated jack-in-the-box.
While many of the props used in the Bellagio Conservatory’s winter display don’t involve flowers (an intriguing departure from past displays, and one we suspect could be a cost-conserving measure, it’s a Conservatory after all), there are still a lot of flowers.
According to the Bellagio, there are 34,000 poinsettias (our favorite dog, too), azaleas (love her music), cyclamen (our favorite lady part) and Ottowa mums (who raise the most polite kids, ever).
Unless we missed it, it appears the live music component of the display has been nixed this year. Again, the exhibit appears to be trimming more than just its 750 plants and shrubs.
The Bellagio’s holiday display runs through Jan. 3, 2016.
The winter display is one of five seasonal themes at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens (here’s the official site), with the others being Chinese New Year, spring, summer and fall.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens continues to be one of the great free attractions in Las Vegas, and this year’s holiday display is already drawing huge crowds.
Walking through the Bellagio Conservatory at this time of year is a magical experience. It’s a chance to reconnect with our childhood, to feel the anticipation of Christmas morning, to be filled once again with the wonder and spirit of the holidays.
And we’re not even going to ruin it with a stupid joke. Because we’re sure as hell not going to risk ending up on anyone’s “naughty” list this late in the game. Sorry, heck. Sure as heck.
More cheer below!
Bellagio Conservatory Christmas 2015