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16 things you’ll do in Las Vegas in 2016

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Forget "happy" New Year. How about cultured, victorious, good-hearted, engaged and rich with legit Swedish meatballs New Year? Here are 16 ways to take '16 by the horns.

    • Catch a show at the Las Vegas Arena.

      Will Southern Nevada get NHL hockey? Our guess is yes, but why wait to test drive that giant dome-y thing next to New York-New York? The LV Arena—which we’re assuming will have a glitzier (corporate-sponsored?) name by the time it opens in April—has some big acts lined up for its opening season, like George Strait, The Killers, Garth Brooks, Janet Jackson and the Dixie Chicks. We’re hoping a shiny new 20,000-capacity joint might entice recent Vegas avoiders like Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam to find their way back to town, but whether or not that happens in year one, we’re eager to cozy up to the Strip’s new main attraction, figure out where the hell to park and have a look around.

      Watch the Riviera implosion.

      Losing the Riv for good will be sad, because how many casinos with ties to the Marx Brothers, Liberace and Dean Martin are still standing? And it will be exciting, because Las Vegas equals change, even if losing a storied casino for convention space isn’t the most thrilling progression in the town’s in-with-the-new tradition. But mostly, we’ll watch the Riviera’s finale because scheduled, giant explosions are weird and somewhat rare, and we haven’t had one on this scale since the Stardust came down in 2007. It’s a perfect excuse to host a party or crack open that bottle you’ve been saving since you first moved to town.

    • Party at Jewel and Intrigue.

      Two new nightclubs arrive on the Strip this spring, from two nightlife groups that have been battling each other for supremacy for the past two years. At Aria, Hakkasan Group is taking the downstairs space first occupied by Haze and transforming it into Jewel, which should show us what Hakkasan can do with a more intimate setting. At Wynn, the pioneering Tryst has shuttered to make way for Intrigue, which promises to make good on its name by moving away from DJ-focused programming in order to create an ever-changing, exclusive experience. The next wave of party is coming.

      Attend a UNLV football game expecting to win.

      Focus on the Rebels’ 3-9 2015 record and you’re missing the big picture. In straight-from-high-school coach Tony Sanchez’s first collegiate season, his team made some serious strides, like staying within spitting distance of a quality Northern Illinois squad on the road, hanging tough against a top 25 Michigan team in Ann Arbor and toppling rival UNR to reclaim the Fremont Cannon. The season ended disappointingly, with six losses in UNLV’s final seven games, but Sanchez already has a head start on a better 2016, with ex-Nebraska QB Johnny Stanton committing last month. A few more recruiting wins like that, and the team’s victory tally might not be far behind.

    • See art at the CAC's new gallery.

      Famous for bouncing back from near death, the 27-year-old Contemporary Arts Center launches into 2016 with a group exhibition in a new permanent home at Soho Lofts. Planned as an annual winter show highlighting Las Vegas artists, Taste opens in the space January 15—a grand stride capping off more than a year of reorganizing and rebuilding by the nonprofit’s hyper-dedicated board, led by Melissa Petersen. Featured artists are: Wendy Kveck, Justin Favela, Chris Bauder, Mikayla Whitmore, Linda Alterwitz, Adam Morey, David Ryan, Daniel Habegger, Shawn Hummel, Sean Russell, Brent Sommerhauser, Alisha Kerlin, Mark Brandvik, Sierra Slentz and Elizabeth Blau.

      Finally dine at the Vegas Mr. Chow.

      With restaurants in London, New York City, Miami and California, Michael Chow’s artfully composed dining empire has been a sensation for more than four decades. And we should have had Mr Chow in Vegas a long time ago; the restaurateur has had five different deals with hotels and casinos that never came to fruition, the most recent being a potential location in the recently disappeared Harmon Hotel. Now the regal designs and Beijing-focused menu arrive on the Strip at last at Caesars Palace, in the plum poolside location formerly occupied by Empress Court. It seems a perfect fit, for Chow and Vegas.

    • Watch for yourself on The Real World.

      This dude mounted a go-go platform, showing off Photoshopped abs and Tommy Hilfiger skivvies. A catty argument broke out near the women’s restroom, resulting in the requisite “let’s go to the bar and talk sh*t” session. There was drama at the off-Strip gay club, and there were cameras. This wasn’t promotional marketing material being filmed—it had to be The Real World. If you’ve been out on the town in the past three months—specifically Downtown, where Season 31’s cast has been living at the Gold Spike—you might have encountered the seven strangers. Will you be a blurred-out face in the background when the new installment airs?

      Rediscover the Natural History Museum.

      Now that we’ve stepped it up culturally with a stellar performing-arts center, moved the Discovery Children’s Museum into a state-of-the-art space and boasted plenty about the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum and the State Museum, it’s high time to give love to our Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which for more than 20 years has been building out its collection in a space much too small for dinosaurs and life-size dioramas. Recently designated a federal repository for Nevada artifacts, it’s able to stretch its wings with 10,000 square feet of new space and the same irrepressible energy. Check it out. Support it. Help it grow.

    • Vote.

      If you’re registered, turn up for February’s party caucuses and November’s general election, and if you’re not (why not?!), at least sign up by the October 18 deadline. If you don’t participate, you’ll only have yourself to blame—okay, and a bunch of other annoyingly apathetic Americans, but also YOU—when someone you absolutely detest becomes your senator, congressman or the freaking President of the United States. Looking at the lineup running for that office, there are even more crazy characters with a legitimate shot to win than usual. So please, get out there and do something about it, so when you’re considering moving to Canada, at least your conscience will be clear while you pack.

      Spend time with a new Valley resident.

      The roster of Vegas-based headliners expands further in 2016, with longtimers like Celine and Santana set to be joined by new luminaries up and down the Strip. Planet Hollywood will make a double-splash, with dancer/singer/actress Jennifer Lopez—yeah, J Lo’s coming to P Ho—and soul hitmaker Lionel Richie primed to touch down on Britney Spears’ Axis Showroom stage. Mix in rockers John Fogerty, who brings Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic catalog to the Venetian, and Billy Idol, who takes his snarl and “Rebel Yell” to House of Blues, and you’ve suddenly got some cool, new neighbors.

    • Get dancey and drinky at Oddfellows.

      Downtown has dancefloors, but none as big as the one hiding in Oddfellows, Fremont East Entertainment District’s newish drink-dance-and-ouija spot on the Odgen’s ground floor. With every visit, it looks fuller and livelier, which portends a thriving 2016. Credit lies partially with word of mouth and the general lack of indie dance spaces, especially since the changes at the pioneering Beauty Bar. But one cannot overlook the curatorial expertise on offer at Oddfellows, from the consistently themed nights to its DJs’ song selections, and how closely it reflects Downtown—or at least the Downtown you’ve always wanted.

      Drink local. Coffee.

      Makers & Finders. Sambalatte. Sunrise. PublicUs. Mothership. With so many quality local coffee shops, why are the lines at Starbucks still out-the-door during the morning rush? Sure, ’bucks has solid beans, and purchasing a red cup to wage war on the anti-War-on-Christmas crowd is the stuff Scrooge dreams are made of (especially if you tell the barista your name is Lucifer). But there are many reasons to fall in love with our local joints—painstakingly sourced beans, beautifully crafted beverages, unique character—and you deserve something special from your morning wake-up call.

    • Make a pilgrimage to the rock totem in the middle of the desert.

      Since word got out that Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone was planning a temporary, leave-no-trace art installation in the Mojave Desert’s Jean Dry Lake Bed, the Southern Nevada and Northern Nevada cultural connection seems to be getting cozier. With the support of the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and New York’s Art Production Fund, the artist will complete his tower of brightly colored, large-scale rock totems, titled “Seven Magic Mountains,” in the spring. It will stand as commentary on 21st-century simulacra in destination cities.

      Adopt a shelter dog.

      Who hasn’t felt a twinge of guilt when scrolling through social media and stopping on a post of a dejected pooch without a home—or worse, without much longer to live due to shelter overcrowding and owner abandonment? If there’s a bright side to this phenomenon, culture has humanely evolved from “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” to “Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter?”—and we do, thanks to Facebook, Instagram and the like, which remind us not only to vet pet shops to ensure they’re not doing business with cash-over-compassion breeders and puppy mills, but also consider the life-saving upside of adopting over shopping.

    • Commune with better angels of taste at IKEA.

      In 2005, the Weekly compiled “The What We Need 100,” including IKEA alongside alternatives to Yucca Mountain and an actual ocean. In 2011, the magazine put a missing-person poster on the cover, with a snap of IKEA above the description: Swedish furniture giant. Smells like meatballs. Then in the summer of 2014, we learned that the company planned to build its 39th U.S. store in Las Vegas, at Durango Drive and Sunset Road, and the opening is nigh! The ground-breaking happened this past spring, and the launch is this coming summer. That means 351,000 square feet of köttbullar (meatballs!) sexy sofa beds (what?!), jumping sacks (finally!) and other goods made well at moderate prices. Plus 240,504 square feet of rooftop solar array to power the space. “Democratic design,” we welcome thee.

      Attend (or play) Neon Reverb.

      The little Vegas music fest that could went away for a while, but it’s back—and with Downtown Project onboard as a partner, it could be bigger than ever for its 11th edition and first in three years. Some of our favorite concert memories date back to late nights on the Reverb circuit, catching biggish acts like The Walkmen, Ty Segall and Moonface, sure, but also countless Vegas-based bands, the lifeblood of this DIY gathering. Catch the latest faces on the scene, with some to-be-announced touring talent thrown in, March 10-13 at familiar venues along Fremont East.

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