Tuesday, December 26, 2023 | 2 in the morning
It’s hard to believe that anything could happen to make Las Vegans forget even for a day that the entertainment capital of the world took another huge step in 2023 with the opening of the first-ever venue known as the Sphere . But that’s how big Vegas has become – even the world’s largest spherical building and possibly the most technologically advanced entertainment venue ever built has to compete in today’s landscape.
Major sporting events like the Vegas Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup and the arrival of the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix have captured the community’s consciousness (which includes Vegas visitors, of course), but when it comes to traditional entertainment, Sphere’s opening with 17,600 seats and the debut of U2’s long-awaited concert residency stole the show in 2023. Even before the arrival in September, the Sphere lit up the skyline and went viral around the world with the first illumination of its LED-covered outer shell.
The 367-foot-tall ball at the Venetian is also home to the Darren Aronofsky film “Postcard from Earth” and will be home to the 2024 NHL Draft in June and a series of concert performances by Phish in April. U2’s “UV Achtung Baby Live” shows will end in early March.
This year also saw new residency performances by well-known artists Garth Brooks (at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace) and Maroon 5 (at Dolby Live at Park MGM). And a different kind of residency in a different kind of venue offered a new twist to that Vegas experience when global pop star Kylie Minogue opened her show at the brand new Voltaire at Venetian. This intimate new room is a cross between a nightclub and a theater and will host Christina Aguilera for New Year’s weekend. Minogue returns to Voltaire in January, March and April.
Strip superstars Adele (at the Coliseum) and Carrie Underwood (at the Resorts World Theater) had no choice but to extend their residencies after setting ticket sales records. But the two biggest concert stars of the year also made stops in Las Vegas this year: Beyonce played Allegiant Stadium on August 26 and 27 on her Renaissance World Tour, while Taylor Swift’s epic Eras tour took over the home of the Raiders on the 24th and March 25.
Vegas-born Life Is Beautiful celebrated a decade downtown with this year’s three-day music and culture festival headlined by The Killers and Kendrick Lamar. And the city continued to expand its festival offerings with the inaugural Sick New World, a hard rock-focused event that will return to the Las Vegas festival in April 2024.
It’s been a bit of a slow year for Gaza production shows, with the glitzy debut of Dita Von Teese’s burlesque spectacular Dita Las Vegas at the Horseshoe’s Jubilee Theater jumping to the top of the must-see list. Three Cirque du Soleil shows celebrated significant anniversaries this year as “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay turned 10, “O” at the Bellagio reached its 25th anniversary, and “Mystere” at Treasure Island celebrated 30 years of jaw-dropping entertainment.
Closing out the year was the opening of Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a casino resort some 16 years in the making. The grand Vegas version of the iconic Miami hotel has yet to reveal its full entertainment lineup, but the private opening party saw performances by Keith Urban, Paul Anka and Justin Timberlake, and Post Malone is set to ring in the new year at the 3,800-seat BleauLive Theatre.