Chinese New Year in Vegas: No Paper Tiger

Welcome to 4707, the year of the Tiger if you happen to be Chinese. And, as fortune would have it, tiger day starts on Valentine’s Day this year, making it a particularly auspicious time to get married – or pay your dues to Lady Luck. 

Las Vegas has its own ways of celebrating the lunar calendar. Casinos add tables for baccarat and pai gow poker – both favorites for Asian gamblers. Casino marketers throw parties for their guests from East Asia and hand out red envelopes stuffed with money or gambling chips adorned with the year’s lucky creature. Pop sensations from China and Taiwan take to the city’s stages and dragon dances take to the halls of the Strip’s high-ticket malls. In fact, casino resort executives note more money hits the tables during this two-week period than at any other time during the year.

Tiger hunters will find their bounty this year in the city known for tigers – white tigers, to be exact. However, those looking to be touched by Chinese fortune will find tigers – and dragons – parading down the corridors of the Shoppes at Palazzo and smelling the flowers – more than 10,000 of them – at the Bellagio Botanical Conservatory.

At The Venetian and The Palazzo this year, celebrations begin on February 13 at 3 pm. with a dragon and lion dance complete with the necessary pounding of firecrackers. Watch for a 16.5-foot long Tiger and check out the Chinese Bridge in the atrium gardens of The Shoppes at The Palazzo surrounded by citrus trees for good luck and fortune.

An eye painting ceremony complements the parade’s launch at The Venetian's Porte-Cochere entrance, while the retinue makes its way through The Venetian Casino, into The Palazzo Waterfall Atrium, through The Palazzo Casino and out to the upper Palazzo Porte-Cochere. Catch the encore on February 14th at 1 p.m.

MGM Mirage puts its money on the Chinese zodiac this year with lion dance performances, a concert at MGM Grand and authentic cuisine at a variety of resort restaurants. See the Las Vegas version of the Chinese lion dance at MGM Grand Saturday, February 13 at 3 p.m followed by performances at The Mirage February 14 at 3 p.m.; Bellagio, February 14 at 7 p.m.; Mandalay Bay, February 14 at 10 p.m. and ARIA, February 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Sam Hui, Cantopop musical legend, performs at MGM Grand? Garden Arena Saturday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m., electrifying the crowd with his popular hits including “Tian Cai Yu Bai Chi” and “Ban Jin Ba Liang.” Tickets are priced from $50.40 (not including handling fees).

Dim Sum and traditional Chinese New Year dishes will be served in buffets and Chinese dining venues throughout the MGM Mirage system and a special treat awaits those who follow their luck to Bellagio.

The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens does what no one else in Las Vegas does with the Chinese New Year – says it with flowers. Actually it’s a floral extravaganza set to ancient laws of Feng Shui for fortune and positive energy. The centerpiece here is a tiger whose 'fur' coat is comprised of dried petals. The tiger stands among a garden of Taihu rocks, believed to encourage circulation of ch'i, or natural energy, and overlooks a pond of Koi, another symbol of abundance and fortune. Gold leafed I-Ching coins surround an18-foot-tall Chinese God of Prosperity and nearby, a trio of six-foot pandas put these plants to the test in a lush garden filled with towering bamboo.

Those needing a little extra luck in Las Vegas should hide a few Chinese coins with square holes in their purse or pockets. Or better yet, make that nine of them. When it comes to the tiger, take no prisners.