Getting into the holiday spirit when you live in the desert can be a bit different. Bundling up in cute winter gear, drinking hot cocoa by the fire, hoping for snow days or a white Christmas… you don’t really get much of that. But, even though your neighborhood won’t look like a Thomas Kinkade painting, that doesn’t mean you can’t get into the spirit. Besides, cacti look just as good all strung up with lights as evergreens.
The Ethel M Chocolate Factory just outside Las Vegas, Nevada is one place that goes all out each season. They string more than a million lights up on the cacti in the three-acre botanical garden next door, creating a glowing wonderland of uniquely twisting branches. Once night falls and the cacti are lit up, it looks just the same as a magical winter forest decorated for the holidays! There’s even a synthetic ice skating rink, so you can lace up your skates and hit the… well, the fake ice to get the classic winter experience of skating outside. And, of course, Santa is known to stop by on the weekends.
The Botanical Cactus Garden is impressive even when it’s not adorned with glowing lights. It’s the largest of its kind in Nevada, with 300 species of cacti, succulents, desert shrubs and trees, all drought tolerant and arranged based on the English landscape model of naturalistic design. And did we mention that it’s run by the chocolate factory next door? Ethel M Chocolates has a viewing aisle where you can see the goods being made, and they offer chocolate tasting classes, hot chocolate, tasty treats for sale, and more.
The annual display is open nightly between sundown and 10 pm through January 1st. And the best part? It’s free to visit!
More Christmas magic…