Coolest events happening in December across Nevada

Coolest events happening in December across Nevada

This year, The Christmas Express is sold out. Each year Western Elite & The Williams Family invite residents of Southern Nevada, community leaders, and business associates (and their families) to experience the magic of Christmas. It’s an escape to the star-filled skies of Lincoln County -located just 60 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada- for a spectacular journey to the North Pole that allows visitors to experience the sights, smells and sounds of a country Christmas. (Frank Alejandre / The Nevadan / El Nevadense)

By Aleza Freeman

November 28, 2023

As the year winds down and our thermostats go up, you may have the urge to stay out of the cold, under the covers, or by a warm fire. 

But there’s so much fun stuff in store for all ages in Nevada this December, you’ll be missing out if you do.

From winter-themed train rides to pop-up ice skating rinks, here are some of the coolest family-friendly events happening in Nevada throughout December.

Ride a Train

Blow off steam this December by taking a train ride with your family on a historic Nevada railroad. Between Las Vegas and Reno, there are several railroads to choose from.

Santa comes bearing gifts on the Polar Express Train, which runs through Dec. 24 at the V&T Railway Eastgate Depot in Carson City. You are welcome to wear your pajamas on board to sip on hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols.

The Nevada State Railroad welcomes families for a holiday ride with Santa on a historic locomotive in Carson City and Boulder City. The Carson City Santa Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum runs through Dec. 19. The Boulder City Santa Train at the Boulder Railroad Museum runs through Dec. 23.

The Nevada Northern Railway is located in Ely, but you’ll feel like you’re in the North Pole while sipping hot chocolate and eating cookies through Dec. 28 on Santa’s Railroad Flyer.

Take the whimsical Candy Cane Express or the brightly decorated Electric Holiday Train O’ Lights during a month packed with events for Christmas on the Comstock in Virginia City. The trains will depart the Virginia City railroad depot through Dec. 24.

Watch a Parade

Everyone loves a parade, especially when you can attend in person. Here are several parades taking place in Nevada this December.

Gather with your family to watch festive holiday characters march down Park Centre Drive at the Downtown Summerlin Holiday Parade in Las Vegas. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 16, starting at 6 p.m. 

The ​​Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade, “Dashing through the Decades,” travels east to west on Victorian Avenue from Pyramid Way to Victorian Plaza Circle on Dec. 4 from 1-2:30 p.m. The marching band will showcase music by Sparks middle and high school students.

Don’t miss the dazzling decorated boats in the 45th annual Parade of Lights at Lake Mead on Dec. 2. Visitors can watch the parade from their car at Boulder Beach in the Lake Mead Recreation Area, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Virginia City will have a Lighted Christmas Parade down C Street, starting at 5 p.m., Dec. 2 and 9.

See a show

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a performance of The Nutcracker. 

You can see the Tchaikovsky ballet, performed by the A.V.A. Ballet Theater, at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno, Dec. 10-12. Nevada Ballet Theater presents the classic holiday story in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center in Downtown Las Vegas, Dec.8-14.

Keeping with the winter spirit, world-class synchronized and freestyle figure skaters will dazzle Reno audiences with a holiday spectacular, Christmas on Ice at Eldorado Resort Casino through Dec. 30.

Meanwhile, your kids’ favorite heroes, the PAW Patrol pups, are headed to Henderson for an interactive show, Paw Patrol Live: Heroes Unite at Dollar Loan Center Dec.15-17. 

On the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, the Tournament of Kings transforms into a winter wonderland for its annual ‘Twas the Knight Christmas dinner show at the Excalibur through Dec. 25.

Arts & Crafts

Artsy kids will stay busy in December with holiday-themed crafts and other art projects. They can enjoy hands-on activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the  Nevada Museum of Art in Reno; or from 10 a.m.–noon on Dec. 16, during STEAM Saturday at the Neon Museum in Downtown Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, in Sparks, the Generator hosts the Maker Family Meet-Up, a drop-in art experience for kids and their families, every Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m.–sponsored by the Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kids will learn about holidays worldwide during daily discoveries at the Discovery Children’s Museum in Downtown Las Vegas, starting Dec. 16 with arts and crafts like a Hannukah Menorah or an ornament inspired by Filipino parol lanterns.

Art instructor Kim Bavington will lead a two-day art camp, Dec. 20-21, for kids ages 6-12, to create a winter-themed masterpiece in Downtown Las Vegas. Budding artists will display their work at an art show at 5 p.m. on Dec. 21.

Go Ice Skating

Ice rinks are popping up all over Nevada. 

In Las Vegas, Downtown Summerlin has rolled out its 8,000-square-foot Rock Rink through mid-January while the Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has been transformed into a 4,200-square-foot ice rink through Dec. 25. 

Glide into the Ice Rink at Grand Sierra Resort in Reno for some family fun, including skating, hot cocoa and s’mores.

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

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