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April 18, 2015

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Photos: Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens ushers in holidays


Tom Donoghue/

The Bellagio’s annual holiday display photographed on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012.

Bellagio's 2012 Holiday Display

The Bellagio's annual holiday display photographed on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (at my house, but that’s year round and another story). So … the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens unveiled its annual Winter Wonderland, and contributing photographer Tom Donoghue made a special trip on an early morning for his fabulous photo gallery.

Fun facts about the holiday extravaganza, which is free and open to the public 24/7 through Jan. 5: The 45-food Shasta Fir, the largest ever at the Bellagio, is adorned with more than 2,500 ornaments and white, energy-saving LED lights. The topiary polar bears are made with more than 35,000 carnations.

Two motorized trains whirl through a gingerbread village. The residents -- toy soldiers, four of which revolved around the main tree, a 7-foot-tall rocking horse, 11 penguins and a polar bear family -- live among 14 types of 50,000 flowers.

Next to the penguin pond is a gazebo where vibraphone and marimba performers fill the Conservatory with music from 5 to 6 p.m. daily. From Dec. 17- 25, the Conservatory will be filled with carolers from 4 to 5 p.m., another first for the holiday display.

“This year’s winter display at Bellagio’s Conservatory is truly magnificent,” said Randy Morton, president and COO of Bellagio, in a statement. “Our horticulture and pastry teams have outdone themselves with remarkable creativity, and visitors from around the world will marvel at what has been created for this magical holiday experience.”

Donoghue reports that Sammy the Penguin was his guide. “Hey, at 4:30 a.m. in Las Vegas, anything is possible.” Or, someone has had too much of the (spiked) eggnog. As well.

Don Chareunsy is editor of and senior editor, arts and entertainment, of

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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