Help me choose: a Las Vegas show

In Help Me Choose we ask our expert writers to help us make the best decision for our trip. In this edition we asked Las Vegas expert Jesse Scott to help us narrow down all those amazing Vegas shows. 

One thing is clear within your first minutes in Las Vegas – the city’s shows want your attention. Advertisements for Vegas’ signature entertainment plaster the baggage claim area at Harry Reid International Airport. On your drive to your hotel, it’s billboards aplenty outside the airport, on Interstate 15 and even atop taxis. It doesn’t stop there – you’ll see digital billboards attached to the back of slowly sauntering trucks on The Strip.

With so many options in so many forms – spanning comedy, music residencies, magic and everything in between – it can be difficult to pick just one (or even a couple) to check out during your stay. In a city full of good and bad bets, these are your best bets when it comes to choosing a Las Vegas show.

The Las Vegas show to see for…

… a little bit of everything: Cirque du Soleil

Through the decades, Cirque du Soleil has become synonymous with Las Vegas. The Canadian-bred entertainment company specializes in circus shows, each with their own artistic flair, immersive experiences, colorful characters and customized tunes. While some Cirque shows make stops in major cities throughout the world, a number of hotels on The Strip have Cirque du Soleil residencies that you can only see in Las Vegas. 

Among your top picks, Mystere at Treasure Island was the very first Cirque show to arrive in Sin City and has been a family-friendly staple since 1993. Fans of The Beatles should head next door to The Mirage where LOVE has been rockin’ since 2006 – the only drawback compared to many other Cirque shows is that it does not have live music. O at The Bellagio is another standout with a water-filled setting, including divers and synchronized swimmers in addition to Cirque’s typical dosage of high-flying acrobats.

The Sphere is an eye-catching addition to Vegas’ impressive venues © Anadolu / Getty Images

… visual wizardry: Sphere

It’s been the talk of the town since opening in late 2023. Sphere is equally as captivating outside and inside, thanks to its exterior shell made of 1.2 million hockey-puck sized lights that work together to create a variety of larger-than-life images that are visible from miles away: a giant fireball, a jack-o-lantern, a massive emoji, the moon and more. Inside you’ll find seating for nearly 18,000 and the world’s largest wraparound LED display. Inside and out, it is visually stunning. 

It’s free to gawk at its exterior shell – you can easily do so from the neighboring Venetian, Palazzo, Wynn and Encore resorts. As for catching a show inside, Sphere has multiple daily showings of its nature-focused show Postcards from Earth, which puts its audio and visual capabilities on full display. Some of the biggest bands on Earth, like U2 and Phish, have notably signed on to play Sphere. If you’re going for a concert experience, snag floor seats to appreciate the band’s performance as much as possible – otherwise you’ll easily be distracted by all of Sphere’s video enchantments the entire time.

… a little magic: David Copperfield

From Siegfried and Roy taming tigers to David Copperfield making everything under the sun disappear, Las Vegas has been the home of legendary magicians galore. You can still catch Copperfield at MGM Grand – he’s been going strong at the iconic Strip property since 1996. For such a big name – if not the biggest name in magic – he’s super down-to-earth live, weaving in stories of family, getting the audience involved and, for an upcharge, hosting meet-and-greets with fans.

Beyond Copperfield, fellow magician Criss Angel has been a Vegas mainstay for nearly two decades, premiering at Luxor and now having a residency at Planet Hollywood. Whereas Copperfield has a more sophisticated and refined vibe, Angel’s showmanship definitely appeals to a younger and edgier crowd. 

Twin brothers Sean and John Scott tap dance on a small circular stage during "Absinthe" at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas
Absinthe delivers a sexy take on the circus variety show © Las Vegas Review-Journal / Getty Images

… something sexy: Absinthe

This is Sin City and sometimes you just want some raunch. For that perfect overdose of art-meets-sexiness, Absinthe is it. Tucked in a white tent on the Roman Plaza in front of Caesars Palace, this show blends burlesque, comedy and circus acts in one 90-minute experience. The show is hosted by a quirky host – known as Gazillionaire – and, well, he’s about as vulgar as it gets. Whatever Absinthe is doing, it has been working for nearly two decades in a very prime location.

As for an equally as sexy alternative, Rogue at The STRAT debuted in 2022 and features nearly two dozen topless performers, with contortionists, comedians and aerialists woven throughout. Like many shows in Las Vegas, Rogue runs Tuesdays through Sundays, with Monday as an off-day for performers.

How to prepare for a Las Vegas show

Snagging a deal: Check the show’s resort box office on-site for advanced and day-of discounts – you may be comped tickets with certain tiers of a casino’s rewards/players club. Tix4Vegas also operates kiosks along The Strip with deeply discounted tickets.

What to wear: Strict dress codes are a thing of the past at Vegas shows. Do dress warm as most venues – and casinos for that matter – like to blast the air conditioning particularly during the summer months.

When to book tickets: The sooner you purchase tickets, the better the seats will be. “Better seats” can be contingent on what you’re seeing – for example, opt to sit close to the stage for a magic show, whereas select seats mid-venue for a Cirque show, so you can take in the full scope of everything on stage.

Where to park: The bulk of casinos now charge for parking. Three properties on The Strip offer free parking – Sahara, Treasure Island and Circus Circus. 

Adele performs in a black dress onstage at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Artist residencies like Adele’s offer the perfect chance to see your favorites in concert © Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Let’s not forget music residencies and comedians, too

Adele, Katy Perry, Garth Brooks, Barry Manilow, Maroon 5 and ventriloquist/comedian Terry Fator are among the laundry list of big-time acts to have current and/or recent residencies in Sin City. The schedule of “a residency” can vary greatly – equating to a one-week stretch of shows to sporadic weekend visits to a venue over the course of a year. If you’ve heard your favorite musician or comedian has a Vegas residency, your best bet is to check their tour calendar for Vegas dates and build a trip around that versus showing up in Sin City and expecting them to have a show.

Keep planning your trip to Las Vegas:

Plan a slam-dunk itinerary with 11 of the best things to do in Las Vegas
Sin City can be overwhelming – here’s our First-timer’s guide to Las Vegas
Take a break from the neon with The 8 best parks in Las Vegas
Find good deals and good weather with the Best times to visit Las Vegas

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