by john katsilometes | December 1, 2014 | Lifestyle
Vegas will never disappoint when it’s time to ring in the New Year, but this year’s options are weirder and more wonderful than ever. Tip: start your planning now.
Kick off 2015 with Justin Timberlake at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It’s said that time is suspended for anyone who stays and plays in Las Vegas. But we do respect the clock and calendar to some extent—especially when a new year is nigh.
The ever-rollicking citywide festival that is New Year’s Eve in Vegas is expected to attract more than 300,000 tourists this year, most of whom will mass on the Strip, with tens of thousands partying on Fremont Street. Both of those famous thoroughfares will be closed to traffic starting at 6 pm to let the night unfold, culminating in a vast fireworks show from atop seven Strip resorts: MGM Grand, Aria, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, Venetian, and the Stratosphere. The Downtown party under the Fremont Street Experience will feature bands on multiple stages and a themed light show on the FSE canopy. Moving around the Strip on New Year’s Eve is easiest by cab, via the Las Vegas Monorail (available at hotels on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard), or simply on foot. Of course, where and how to celebrate is up to you, and it’s a particularly difficult choice this year. Here’s where we’re placing our bets....
Britney Spears rings in the new year and celebrates the first anniversary of her show at the 4,500-seat Planet Hollywood venue redesigned just for her. Ticket prices range from $65 to $525 (which includes a VIP meet-and-greet with the pop superstar). The Axis at Planet Hollywood, 702-777- 2782; ticketmaster.com
Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour starts the year at MGM Grand, with performances January 1–2 at the Grand Garden Arena. Timberlake’s most recent album, The 20/20 Experience—The Complete Experience, was the biggest- selling album of 2013, with more than 5 million sold and 15 million tracks downloaded, and earned him three Grammy Awards and seven Billboard Music Awards. Timberlake’s shows are being directed and recorded by Jonathan Demme (Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married, the great Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense) for a concert film. Tickets for Timberlake’s shows are $89.50, $119.50, $149.50, and $279.50 (plus fees). 800-745-3000; ticketmaster.com
One of the hottest DJs in the world and one of the best-known headliners of any kind on the Strip, Calvin Harris, a resident DJ at Hakkasan, performs on the top level of the 80,000-square-foot nightlife fortress at MGM Grand. Admission prices start at $100 and tickets are available at the door. MGM Grand, 702-891-3838
A dozen top tribute bands will perform on Fremont Street for a five-day stretch, from December 30 through January 3, for the Downtown Countdown TributePalooza. Six bands play the preparty on December 30, all 12 take up two stages on Fremont Street for New Year’s Eve, and seven will play each night from January 1 to 3. The ape-tastic acts include Led Zepagain (Led Zeppelin), Queen Nation (Queen), Fan Halen (Van Halen), and Jumpin’ Jack Flash (the Rolling Stones). A fireworks show under the Fremont Street Experience video canopy is also planned. Free every day except New Year’s Eve, when tickets are $30 in advance and $40 from December 27 (you must be 21 or older).
Adam Levine of Maroon 5.
Returning to the Strip on December 30 and 31, the Adam Levine–fronted band Maroon 5 has been performing for 20 years but has vaulted to superstar status over the past seven, after the release of It Won’t Be Soon Before Long and since Levine began coaching on NBC’s singing contest The Voice. Tickets range from $115 to $225. Mandalay Bay Events Center, 702-632-7777; ticketmaster.com
One of the Strip’s most popular headliners, Olivia Newton-John started her run at the Donny & Marie Showroom at the Flamingo in April and is extending her “Summer Nights” show through all four seasons. She plays two shows on New Year’s Eve, at 7 pm and 10 pm. Tickets are $89–$135. Flamingo Las Vegas, 702-731-7111; ticketmaster.com
Tony Bennett performing with Lady Gaga.
Vegas is the ideal city for a show by two legendary—but hardly similar—performers: Tony Bennett, who has been filling Vegas venues since the 1950s, and Lady Gaga, who has been selling out arenas since breaking through with her album The Fame in 2008. In September, Bennett and Gaga teamed on the jazz-standards album Cheek to Cheek, singing classics by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and others. Their show at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas begins at 10 pm (doors open at 9 pm) and features a countdown to midnight. Tickets start at $125 (plus fees). 800-745-3000
For more adventurous Vegas visitors, Snoop Dogg invites guests to hark back to the Roaring ’20s as he turns the downstairs dining area of Tao into the Boss Lady Lounge for his Snoopadelic Cabaret with Snoop Dogg. The entire 40,000-square-foot club will be transformed into a 1920s-themed nightspot, with strolling entertainers performing throughout the evening. Snoop himself will perform a “Snoopadelic” DJ set atop the venue’s LED stage, overlooking the entire venue. Passed hors d’oeuvres will be served beginning at 9 pm, with an open bar from 9 pm to midnight. Tickets are $125 for men, $75 for ladies. Tao at Venetian
Grammy Award–winning DJ and producer Zedd closes 2014 with what promises to be an over-the-top bash at Encore’s indoor-outdoor nightspot XS. All-access tickets are $150 for men, $75 for women. Indoor-only tickets are $30 for men, $20 for women.
photography by brian Killian/Wireimage; Christopher polk/getty images for Clear Channel (maroon 5); C flanigan/getty images (Zedd); patriCk beaudry via getty images (gaga and bennett)