Entertainment on a shoestring: Vegas’ top free shows
Get dazzled in the desert. No purchase necessary.
The Fountain – Bellagio
The show in a nutshell: 1,214 illuminated jets dance to a choreographed routine every 15-30 minutes in the evenings (depending on the day). With more than 30 songs in its catalogue and choreo that puts Beyoncé to shame, the fountain show really is one of the best free attractions on the strip.
If the free show isn’t enough for you, you can reportedly spend six figures to request your own song for the fountain along with a 30-liter bottle of champagne, just in case you’ve got a few million $$$ lying around…
Circus acts – Circus Circus
The show in a nutshell: The Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas are legendary (and pricey), but the Circus Circus hotel generously provides a free alternative for visitors, which is pretty darn impressive as well. This hotel is home to the world’s largest permanent circus and has all of your standard circus acts like jugglers and acrobats, plus your not-so-standard foot jugglers and quick change artists.
Fall of Atlantis – Caesars Palace Forum Shops
The show in a nutshell: For 8 fabulous minutes, 9-foot robot puppets act out the story of sibling rivalry in Atlantis with accompanying fire, water and lights. The Forum Shops are pretty darn gorgeous and the show is a nice little break from your retail stroll. It’s not the most high-tech show out there, but it does actually make for a pretty good wager if the adjacent Cheesecake Factory is tempting you…
First, have your friends each pick a show element (fiery sword, water jets, smoke show, bursts of flames). Each player gets a point for each time their assigned element happens during the show. The person with the lowest score buys a round of drinks for all, plus the corresponding cheesecake slice for their total score, to share (ex. 6 total smokeshows = 6th slice on the menu). In this game, everyone wins.
The show in a nutshell: It’s a volcano show… Only in Vegas right? Lots of fire, water and, well, fire water erupting to funky drum music. All eruptions are choreographed to the music, of course, and erupting out of a volcano. The show is right in the front yard of the Mirage Hotel, and erupts every half hour in the evenings. It’s only about 5 minutes long, so stand close by and you’ll get a lil’ toasty on a cool desert night.
Viva Vision and concerts – Fremont Street
The show in a nutshell: A 1,500 foot long TV screen covers the ceiling with a light and sound show. Combine that with the calendar of free concerts almost daily and you’ve got an awesome and cheap day at the old strip.
Mermaids in the Aquarium, Silverton
The show in a nutshell: Prepare for your inner Ariel to squeal with envy. The Silverton Aquarium itself is a great free attraction with thousands of fish species, stingrays and sharks, but when the mermaids come out to play things get pretty epic. Just like in the Disney classic, these five professional mermaids serve up a severe dose of water hair goals and job envy daily.
The show in a nutshell: Want something a little less Vegas and a little more Europe? The Venetian has about 30 free performances daily with suave serenades, living statues, stilt walkers, jugglers and dance numbers. Very buono when it’s all free.
Street performers – everywhere!
The show in a nutshell: This isn’t a show per-se, but the action along the strip is pretty much guaranteed to be an entertaining variety show 24/7. You can always count on street performers of all talents and skill levels, and of course all of your favourite costumed characters are usually out to play. There’s also the joy of unashamed people watching – Vegas attracts an eclectic mix of visitors who provide unlimited reality-show-level entertainment.