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PJ Perez is an honorary native of Las Vegas, and has covered the city for Zagat, Rolling Stone and Time Out. Follow his lead to escape from the city's crowds

Las Vegas might not be the first place that comes to mind when people think of the holiday season. But with mild weather (no snow!) and slightly decreased crowds, at least until New Year’s Eve, there are benefits to a Sin City Christmas, including ice skating at the Venetian Las Vegas and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The Venetian’s ice rink sits right out on the Strip, above its canal, and has nightly performances by costumed characters, while the Cosmopolitan’s open-air rink is on its fourth-floor Boulevard Pool, in a temporary park-like setting with benches, fire pits and a full bar with warm cocktails. While at the Cosmopolitan, stop into P3Studio on the third level.

Las Vegas is second only to New York as a New Year’s Eve party destination, and in the size of its celebratory bombast, but for those hoping to avoid celebrity-hosted nightclubs or the throng along the Strip, try the stunning Art Deco-influenced Smith Center for the Performing Arts. You can still fit in proper revelry after with a short cab ride to a downtown bar or casino.

If you’re around Vegas for New Year’s week, block out the evening for the monthly First Friday event, which draws thousands downtown to both the Las Vegas Arts District (aka the 18b) and the Fremont East Entertainment District to celebrate art, music and culture, and enjoy mobile bars, food trucks and live entertainment. The best way to encounter the city’s creative offerings that locals enjoy daily, but most visitors never experience.

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