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September 18, 2014

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Let it glow: Glittering Lights display returns to speedway

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Christopher DeVargas

The ceremonial opening of the Glittering Lights show at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.

Glittering Lights 2012 Opening Ceremony

The ceremonial opening of the Glittering Lights show at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Glittering Lights at LVMS

Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Wednesday Dec. 14, 2011. Launch slideshow »

More than 2 million bulbs will illuminate the night sky above the northern Las Vegas Valley starting Friday as the Glittering Lights holiday display returns to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a third year.

The display, which was started in 1999 and ran for a decade at Sunset Park, is set up on a 2.5-mile course that winds through the speedway grounds.

A crew of about a dozen men working 12-hour days started erecting the giant display in mid-October, said David Fred, owner of Winterland Inc., which designed the show.

The attraction features more than 2 million LED lights — which last longer and are more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs — and elaborate holiday themed displays.

Fred said Winterland puts on 65 holiday shows around the country each year, from California to New Hampshire, and each show attempts to capture the unique spirit of its locale.

In Las Vegas, that means light displays depicting things like Liberace’s piano or Elvis and his hound dog.

“One day, I’d like to do a giant slot machine there,” Fred said.

In order to keep Glittering Lights fresh, Winterland changes about half of its displays every year, Fred said. New exhibits at the speedway this year include a giant, custom Titanic ship and an ode to the rock-band Kiss and its Las Vegas mini-golf course.

The signature piece of the lights show is a tunnel adorned with 250,000 lights that can create 36 different effects, Fred said. The tunnel is 250 feet long and 40 feet wide.

“It can make it look like you’re going backwards when you’re going forwards,” Fred said. “It’s a popular spot for marriages and engagements.”

Visitors to the Glimmering Lights display never have to leave their cars, making it a perfect family excursion, even on cold nights, Fred said.

“People are very comfortable in their own vehicles. They’ll have kids in pajamas and blankets in the backseat,” Fred said. “You can enjoy it from the safety and comfort of your car. You have a wonderful view of the show all the time.”

A trip through the lighted course, which does not include any portion of the actual speedway track, takes about a half-hour on weeknights and closer to an hour on weekends, Fred said.

The grand opening is Friday night. More than 150,000 people are expected to drive through during the holiday season, Fred said.

Tickets are $15 per car Monday through Thursday and $20 per car Friday through Sunday. The display opens nightly at 5:30 p.m. through Jan. 6, closing at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

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