I’m not being facetious if I say ‘whenever you want’ since Vegas is open for business every day of the year. Most of the street doors to the casinos don’t have locks because they’re never closed. Let’s rephrase. When are the best times to visit Vegas?
There is a school of thought that Vegas is best when it’s quietest. Less visitors means cheaper hotels and flights, shorter or no queues for restaurants and facilities, more table game and slot machine availability and less jostling on the Strip. I can’t think of many shows or entertainments that close during slower periods, most of them have the same ‘dark’ (closed) days each week regardless of the season. If you’re a poker player there might be less action to be had but that’s not a concern when you’re gaming and playing against the house.
I’m a fan of visiting when it’s quiet. With a few exceptions, (see below) it’s quiet from early January through to a week or so before the Easter school holidays. It gets quiet again in mid October and remains so until a few days before Christmas with the exception of Thanksgiving week.
Another consideration is the weather. A lot of visitors come for some sun. I know many players who come down from Canada during the Winter to escape temperatures in the minus thirties. A popular pastime is hanging outside by the pool. A few outdoor pools open all year round. I can think of Bellagio, Hard Rock, MGM Grand and Palazzo. There must be others on The Strip but the majority close throughout the Winter. They use this time for maintenance and improvement. If you like the pool you want to be sure it’s open. As a general rule of thumb the majority of properties open their outdoor pools by mid March. They’re closed again by November so plan accordingly.
As I’ve told you before it gets very hot in Vegas. July is normally a little hotter than August which is hotter than June then September followed by May, October and April. The average high reaches 41 degrees in July and only a couple of degrees less in June and August. If you really don’t like the heat and/or want to be able to spend more time outdoors without burning then April and October have average highs of 26 and 28 degrees respectively. Of course you can be unlucky. I’ve seen it snow on The Strip (which many locals haven’t) and, for a couple of nights in December 2015, the temperature even dropped below freezing and that’s very unusual. As a general rule of thumb though, if the outdoor pools are open it will be warm at the very least.
So, how about some highlights by calendar month? Obviously the town will be busier when there’s something special going on and hotel prices are likely to rise commensurately:
- The Martin Luther King Day holiday brings some extra folks to Vegas over that weekend.
- Super Bowl weekend. The whole town goes manic. I’ve come to the conclusion that the NFL finale is really just an excuse as so many people can’t surely be football fans. This is one of the busiest periods in the entire calendar. The remainder of January is usually very quiet.
Chinese New Year. That’s about it apart from the President’s Day federal holiday. One or two days of mayhem usually at the beginning of February otherwise another quiet month.
- Nascar hits town at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and brings hundreds of thousands of racing fans to town.
- The College basketball finals arrive – lots of action in the sportsbooks (you may have to reserve seats weeks in advance).
- Spring break. Lot’s of barely legals getting wasted all over the place.
- St Patrick’s Day – ditto, and everyone wears green.
By and large a quiet month all round.
- Depending on scheduling, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) commences at the Rio and runs continually though to July. In 2016 the first event has been scheduled for 31st May. Poker players descend from all over the world, the amount of action increases exponentially and so does the standard of play!
- Cinco de Mayo weekend culminates on the Sunday closest to 5th May. I visited one Cinco de Mayo (the date of the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín) and the only room I could find was in the North Strip Travelodge so book early.
- Then there’s Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month. There hasn’t been a federal holiday for some time so folks like to let their hair down.
Generally a month for lying by the pool.
Fourth of July firework parties and displays are held all over the city and the weekend nearest to Independence Day can be very busy indeed. The whole week tends to be very busy and it’s time to mock the English! Schools start to finish for the Summer holidays and numbers steadily grow.
This is the height of the school holidays all over the world so there don’t tend to be many special events as it’s family time throughout and hotel prices are generally high.
Labor Day weekend at the beginning of the month will be busy then the College Football season starts on Saturdays and NFL on Sundays, Monday and Thursday nights. Groups tend to come to Vegas for the weekends built around these games and the sportsbooks once again become very busy. The weather is still pretty hot.
Viva Las Vegas hits town for the GLBT communities. The professional bull riding championships are held in Vegas towards the end of the month and the Halloween weekend is a must for those who like to dress up and over indulge. And there’s the Columbus day national holiday.
Veteran’s Day isn’t too busy but then there’s Thanksgiving Day when it seems half of America ups sticks and visits the other half. A huge number choose to do so in Vegas for the whole of the week and flights are hard to get. There’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday at the stores and you take your lives in your hands! Again, depending on scheduling, the Final Nine shoot it out to win the WSOP Main Event at the Rio and about $8 million.
- There’s the Las Vegas marathon starting somewhere near Mandalay Bay during the first week of the month if that floats your boat.
- The cowboys also come to town for about 12 days as the National Finals Rodeo take place at the Thomas & Mack Centre. Truly my favourite time of year, most venues make an effort to welcome the country folk and the atmosphere at South Point and places like Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill in Harrahs becomes electric. If you can’t get tickets you can watch the action on screens throughout the city. You can’t look up without seeing a cowboy on TV doing something with a steer. Jack Daniels becomes the order of the day.
- And then there’s New Year’s Eve. You’ll never see so many people in the city all having a good time, the hotels will be full and your bank account empty!