15 Great Weekends

From festivals to bazaars, we help plan your free time

Michael Jackson ONE.

Michael Jackson ONE.

May 24-27

Want a smokin’ hot start to your summer? Boulder City’s Bicentennial Park hosts the Best Dam Barbecue Challenge, where more than 30 teams compete for the honor of best meat. The two-day event also features live music, a classic car show and a rib-eating contest pitting police against firefighters. (Free admission, 4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday, 999 Colorado St., BestDamBarbecue.com.) Still hungry? Spend the day soaking up Southern spirits and specialties at the Straight From the Bayou Crawfish Festival. Don’t miss the dance contest, cook-offs and live crawfish races. ($10 admission, 10 a.m. Saturday, 200 Green Valley Pkwy., EiLasVegas.com/Crawfish.) On Monday, work off all the weekend eating at the last leg of Light and Daylight’s opening weekend. Baaúer mans the decks at the outdoor party, which is free for locals. (11 a.m., at Mandalay Bay, DaylightVegas.com.)

May 31-June 2

Great deals and a dunk tank will keep you busy at the second annual Neon Bazaar. At this pop-up market Downtown you can support local business and shop styles from boutique retailers such as Electric Lemonade and the Gypsy Den, while proceeds from all that dunking will benefit the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. (Free admission, noon Saturday, just outside El Cortez, NeonBazaarLV.com.) Later, at Springs Preserve, the Brews & Blues Festival features craft brewers from around the Valley and beyond, and live music from Las Vegas’ own Scott Rhiner and the Moanin’ Blacksnakes, among other acts. The $36 admission includes unlimited samples, with qualified designated drivers eligible for discounts. (4 p.m., 333 S. Valley View Blvd., SpringsPreserve.org.)

June 7-9

June 8 is National Get Outdoors Day! If you’re feeling this occasion, we recommend a trip to the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard resort for some fresh mountain air. In honor of this special day, the resort will offer outdoor and educational activities for all ages, including chairlift rides to the top of Lee Canyon and a special guest appearance by Smokey the Bear. ($10 for chairlift, 11 a.m. Saturday, 6725 Lee Canyon Road, GoMtCharleston.com.) For another outdoor option, spend some quality time at Spring Mountain State Park. Its celebration includes special ranger-led hikes around two places you probably didn’t know existed: Lake Harriet and the Overlook Trails. (Free with $9 park admission, 10 a.m. Saturday, 6375 Hwy. 159, Parks.NV.Gov.)

June 14-16

What does Dad want for Father’s Day? If he loves baseball, a good bet for a gift is the Las Vegas 51s, who are hosting the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Get him there early, because the first 1,500 entrants to Cashman Field get a complimentary barbecue set. (Noon Sunday, 850 Las Vegas Blvd. North, Ticketmaster.com.) Or maybe he prefers history and the indoors; then it might be time for your family to finally hit the Mob Museum, where they happen to have 10 percent off all items at the gift shop when you give them the special password: “godfather.” (300 Stewart Ave., TheMobMuseum.org.) If speed is his thing, here’s a long shot that’s worth taking: Submit a video explaining how Dad gave up his dream car, and he could win an unforgettable experience: driving a Ferrari for the day at Exotics Racing. (Contest runs through June 8, Facebook.com/ExoticsRacing.) 

June 21-23

Time to put the finishing touches on your PLUR-fect ensemble, as Electric Daisy Carnival is finally here! If you were lucky enough to get a ticket to the long-sold-out festival, don’t forget a shuttle pass for the easiest access to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. ($75, ElectricDaisyCarnival.com/LasVegas.) For the ticketless, there’s still one more option, if you have $3,000: the VIP viewing deck above the main stages, which includes a private table and bottle service provided by Marquee. (Fri-Sun, EDC@MarqueeLasVegas.com.) Throughout the weekend you can also catch festival headliners popping up to spin on the Strip. For example, step in to Surrender to see Porter Robinson and Afrojack (Fri-Sat, SurrenderNightclub.com), or head to Hakkasan for Tiësto, Calvin Harris and Deadmau5 (Fri-Sun, HakkasanLV.com.)

June 28-30

The newest Cirque du Soleil show to hit the Strip, Michael Jackson ONE, opens Saturday. Beat it to the box office now in hopes of scoring tickets before summer’s end. (7 and 10 p.m. Sat-Wed, MandalayBay.com.) For a different kind of a thriller experience, take advantage of this special summer offer: When you buy a ticket to Blue Man Group, you’ll receive one free pass to Circus Circus’ Adventuredome. (Offer ends June 30, mention “Adventuredome” at Blue Man Group box office, MonteCarlo.com.)

July 4-7 

Happy Birthday, ’Murica! The Smith Center celebrates with a full day of patriotic fun. To get things started, Symphony Park hosts an afternoon barbecue before the evening’s Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra’s 4th With the Phil concert. After two years off, the tradition resumes this year with guest vocalists Clint Holmes and Kristen Hertzenberg. Then, about 9 p.m. for the big finale, guest conductor Matt Catingub will lead a performance of the “1812 Overture” to coincide with a fireworks display outside that will also be shown in the concert hall. (Barbecue at 4 p.m., concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 361 Symphony Park Ave., $10 for park entry, $25-$75 for concert, TheSmithCenter.com.) If you’re committed to Henderson, you can ring in the Fourth at Mission Hills Park. Festivities include a battle-of-the-bands competition and fireworks display accompanied by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra. (Free, 6 p.m., 555 Mission Dr., HendersonLive.com.)

July 12-14

Now here’s a very Vegas combination: an open bar and bakery. The best bakers in the West converge upon the Suncoast Grand Ballroom for the Las Vegas Cupcake Bake-Off. Tickets grant you unlimited cocktails and cupcakes, and since this event only happens once a year, you might as well try them all. To make it even sweeter, proceeds will benefit Three Square food bank. ($20, noon Sun., BakeLV.com.)

July 19-21

Add a soundtrack to your summer! No matter your musical tastes, this weekend offers plenty of opportunities to catch a concert. On Friday, Alabama Shakes rock the Pearl (8 p.m., Palms.com), while Sister Hazel and Tonic perform for free at the Fremont Street Experience (9 p.m., VegasExperience.com). Counting Crows fly in to Mandalay Beach on Saturday (9 p.m., MandalayBay.com), and Rancid rounds out the weekend at the House of Blues (6 p.m. Sunday, Mandalay Bay, HouseofBlues.com).

July 26-28 

Need a cool activity? As temperatures rise, you can still recharge with some indoor excitement. Sky Zone offers a little something for all ages with open hours for trampoline jumping ($12 per hour), “sky robics” fitness classes ($3 per class) and a daring game of 3-D dodge ball ($10 with tournament entry, (4915 Steptoe St., Suite 400, SkyZone.com/LasVegas.) At Fast Lap Indoor Kart Racing, you can feed your need for speed without worry of an overheated engine. ($25 per race, 736-8113, 4288 S. Polaris Ave., Suite 109, FastLapLV.com.) 

August 2-4

If you haven’t made your way to Wet ’n’ Wild this season, wait no more! Splash through the Desert Racer slides at 20 feet per second or feel the rush of a 57-foot drop as you ride the Hoover Half Pipe. Should you require a respite from your full day of wave-riding, kick back in one of the park’s 30 cabanas. ($40 for single-day tickets, $100 per cabana, 7055 S. Fort Apache Rd., WetNWildLasVegas.com.) When you find yourself pondering the wonders of water, visit the Discovery Children’s Museum for a little hands-on learning. The Water World exhibit lets guests fit pipes and create currents using models of real landmarks such as Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. ($12, 360 Promenade Place, DiscoveryKidsLV.org.)

August 9-11 

Catch a flick in an unconventional setting. Pack your picnic basket for a night on the grassy knoll next to Whole Foods at the District. As part of the summerlong “Picture Show on the Green” series, you and the kids can watch a free screening of Kung Fu Panda on Friday night and come back for Kung Fu Panda 2 on Saturday. (8 p.m., 2225 Village Walk Dr., ShopTheDistrictGVR.com.) If you prefer to watch a film from the comfort of your car, cruise down to West Wind Theaters. Las Vegas’ only drive-in boasts a 65-foot screen, double-feature showings and, yes, a fully stocked snack bar. ($6.75, 4150 W. Carey Ave., WestWindDriveIns.com.) For some extra weekday movie watching, keep an eye out for “Dive-In Movies” at the Boulevard Pool ($3, 7 p.m. Mondays, the Cosmopolitan, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com) and Bagatelle Beach (no cover, 7 p.m. Thursdays, Tropicana, BagatelleLV.com.)

August 16-18 

The thought of “summer school” may induce groans across the Valley, but these lazy days are the perfect time to try something new. Now that you’ve got a few backyard barbecues under your belt, sharpen up your culinary chops with a class at the Cooking Experience. The new “Quick & Easy” series combines chef demonstrations and hands-on cooking so you can learn to prepare a gourmet dish from start to finish. (From $15 per class, 9500 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 170, MiseEnPlaceNV.com.) When it’s time to refresh your wardrobe, sign up for sewing classes at Stitch Factory. The Downtown designer workshop space provides all the machinery, supplies and instructions necessary to create your own summer must-haves. (From $15 per class, 300 Las Vegas Blvd. North, Suite 120, StitchFactory.com.) 

August 23-25

Ready for some Vegas-style spectacle? To commemorate Le Reve’s eight-year anniversary, locals can take advantage of a special $88 ticket offer through August 27. That’s quite a deal for all of the breathtaking dance and high-flying acrobatics you’ll see in Wynn’s aqua theater-in-the-round. (7 p.m. Fri-Tue, WynnLasVegas.com.) Over at the Venetian and Palazzo, it’s all about Carnevale. In honor of Italy’s summer festivals, you’ll find a wide range of entertainment through September 8, from free cooking demonstrations to wine walks (starting at $10 per glass), plus an exhibition of National Geographic’s 50 greatest photos ($18 admission per person.) 

August 30-September 2 

Cap off your final Friday of summer by soaking up sun and good karma at “Pay It Forward.” When you rent a cabana at the Hard Rock’s Paradise Beach or Breathe Pool Lounge, it benefits the Shriner’s Hospital for Children. ($100 per cabana, 9 a.m., HardRockHotel.com.) Or, if you’ve had enough partying for one summer, check out the newest treatment on the JW Marriott’s Spa Aquae menu: the Moroccan Mud Wrap. While you relax in a cocoon of detoxifying mud, you can remember all the good times you had. ($185 for 80-minute session, Spa.JWLasVegasResort.com.)

Back to the summer guide. 

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