Mark your calendar for this year’s top events, conventions
A look ahead at the gatherings that keep Las Vegas’ business community alive
You hear it all the time in Southern Nevada: We have more happening on a good weekend here than most places have in a whole year.
Thanks to Las Vegas’ robust convention industry, meeting schedule and nonstop lineup of special events, calendars quickly fill up with happenings that keep the local economy pumping.
To make sure you don’t miss any, VEGAS INC compiled a calendar of some of the city’s most important conventions, special events, business meetings and government happenings.
Among the most significant this year will be the arrival of four relatively small conferences that could pay enormous dividends to Las Vegas if history repeats. The reason: All of them are geared toward meeting and tourism planners and airlines, giving key decision-makers a chance to see the city in person.
The U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow — or the more politically correct new name for it, IPW — arrives at the Las Vegas Convention Center on June 8. The event is designed for tour companies, which match themselves with travel agents and packagers to boost their destinations. Las Vegas has the added bonus of being able to show agents the very product it is promoting — the city — instead of just telling them about it.
The convention was last here in 2008.
Similar gatherings include the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress, during which 3,600 industry leaders will meet July 16 to 26 at Mandalay Bay, and IMEX America, which focuses on Latin American tourism and will bring an expected 8,000 attendees to the Sands Expo Center from Oct. 15 to 17.
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority executives say the most significant event for future tourism development will take place Oct. 5 to 8 when 3,000 people arrive from more than 100 countries for Routes, or the 19th World Route Development Forum at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The forum provides one-on-one meetings for tourism developers, airport executives and airlines to plan routes for thousands of airplanes that will fly millions of passengers.
“It’s not a gigantic convention, but its importance is enormous for any destination,” said Chris Meyer, vice president of sales for the LVCVA. “In the past, the destination host has seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in airline routes after hosting the event.”
The Las Vegas conference will be the first time Routes has landed in North America.
What else is on the horizon? Here’s a month-by-month look at some of the key conventions, special events and significant business happenings in Southern Nevada.
In case you haven’t noticed, the International Consumer Electronics Show is in town. With an estimated 155,000 people packing the Convention Center and Sands Expo Center, CES is likely to be 2013’s largest convention.
Also coming this month:
• Three significant conventions are scheduled back-to-back.
The Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show, known as the SHOT show, will be at the Sands Expo Center from Jan. 15 to 18. About 61,000 people are expected to attend.
The International Builders Show makes its first appearance in Las Vegas in four years Jan. 22 to 25. It will be at the Convention Center and is expected to attract 62,000 people.
The five-day Las Vegas Winter Market furniture exhibition opens Jan. 28 to an estimated crowd of 50,000. Held at the World Market Center downtown, the show features 1,500 exhibitors and caters to furniture buyers, designers and professionals.
• Preview Las Vegas 2013, sponsored by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, will be Jan. 24 at the Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion. The conference and trade show is billed as the premier business and economic forecasting event of the year. It is aimed at local corporate executives, small business owners and entrepreneurs. About 2,000 people are expected to attend. Speakers will include Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, LVCVA President Rossi Ralenkotter and analyst Jeremy Aguero.
• The court case against a former M Resort sports book director linked to an illegal gambling ring is scheduled to begin Jan. 29. Former Cantor Gaming Vice President Michael Colbert is due in court to answer charges of illegal bookmaking and money laundering. He is one of several defendants charged in an alleged illegal betting ring with ties to offshore gambling.
It’s hard to argue which will have more impact on the state: the Super Bowl or the convening of the Nevada Legislature.
Thousands of bettors will wager millions of dollars on the National Football League’s championship game Feb. 3. The city is usually filled that weekend.
The day after, the Nevada Legislature begins its 2013 session in Carson City. The session is due to last 90 days but has been known to run longer.
Other events include:
• The World of Concrete convention and trade show that attracts 50,000 people is scheduled Feb. 5 to 8 at the Convention Center.
• Las Vegas resorts will welcome large numbers of Asian visitors in town to celebrate Chinese New Year. In 2013, the Year of the Snake kicks off Feb. 10.
• MAGIC Marketplace, a major fashion exhibition, is scheduled Feb. 19 to 21 at the Convention Center and Mandalay Bay. About 75,000 people usually attend.
• Valentine’s Day, typically a big day for marriage licenses in the city, falls on a Thursday but could be a big boon for Las Vegas government and tourism. Who knows how many people will take Friday, Feb. 15, off and take advantage of the Feb. 18 Presidents Day holiday weekend?
Sports play a huge role for Las Vegas in March with basketball, baseball and racing:
•The best-attended single-day sporting event in Nevada occurs March 10 when the Kobalt 400 NASCAR race culminates three days of racing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. More than 100,000 people typically attend the Sprint Cup race.
• Four college basketball tournaments have found their way to Las Vegas. The West Coast Athletic Conference tournament is March 6 to 11 at the Orleans. The Western Athletic Conference tournament runs at the same site March 12 to 16 while the Mountain West tournament, featuring the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, will be the same dates at the Thomas & Mack Center. New to Las Vegas this year is the Pac-12 men’s tournament, which will be played March 13 to 16 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
• Big League Weekend, a chance for locals to see Major League Baseball Cactus League spring training games, is scheduled at Cashman Field from March 16 to 17. This year, the Chicago Cubs play the Texas Rangers in the weekend series that will put Las Vegas on television in the Chicago and Dallas markets.
• Helicopters will take over the Convention Center from March 4 to 7 when the city welcomes the 2013 Heli Expo. About a half-dozen helicopters will land in a Convention Center parking lot before being towed into the convention hall.
April is traditionally a little light for tourism in Las Vegas because annual conventions tend to avoid having to dodge spring break and the Easter holiday. But there are a couple of staples:
• One of the top five Las Vegas conventions every year is the National Association of Broadcasters, which this year will bring an estimated 96,000 people to the Convention Center from April 8 to 11.
• Don’t forget: Tax day is Monday, April 15. That’s the last day to file an IRS tax return without an extension or penalty.
May is expected to mark the return of a long-lost Las Vegas pastime: going to a water park.
Wet ’n’ Wild graced the Strip for years but closed its doors in 2004.
This year, Las Vegas will get two parks, both scheduled to open Memorial Day. Wet ’n’ Wild is under construction in Summerlin, near the Las Vegas Beltway and Sunset Road, while Cowabunga Bay Las Vegas is in development near the Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson.
May dates to keep in mind:
• Vegas Uncork’d, which has become one of the nation’s leading “foodie” events, is scheduled May 10 to 12. The city’s celebrity chefs will present specialty offerings to thousands of diners, many who travel to the city specifically for the event.
• Helldorado Days, a downtown event celebrating western pioneers and the development of what is now Hoover Dam, will be May 16 to 19. The street party also is a great way for local businesses to become involved in the community and show off their goods.
• RECon, an annual retail real estate convention, will be May 19 to 22 at the Convention Center. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend.
• New to the Las Vegas calendar is the AARP Life@50+ event, scheduled for May 31 and June 1 at the Convention Center. Organizers conservatively estimate 8,000 people will attend, but LVCVA officials hope for as many as 20,000. This year’s event will include presentations by Bob Newhart and Don Rickles.
The Electric Daisy Carnival electronic music festival returns to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway from June 21 to 23.
The event has been so successful that pre-sale tickets sold out immediately. Three-day package tickets go on sale Wednesday.
Other June highlights include:
• A court case that could alter the Las Vegas skyline is scheduled for June 24. At issue is the future of the Harmon Hotel in CityCenter. Lawyers for part-owner MGM Resorts International will battle general contractor Tutor Perini Building Corp. in Clark Country District Court to decide the fate of the tower. Legal experts say the case could drag on into 2014.
• The American Society of Safety Engineers is returning to Las Vegas after a four-year hiatus. About 12,000 people are expected to attend the organization’s Safety 2013 event June 24 to 27 at the Convention Center.
• Downtown likely will get a boost in June when the SlotZilla zip line opens. It is an 11-story tower with longer, taller zip lines than those currently hanging over the Fremont Street Experience.
Sports again take the spotlight in July, with basketball center stage. The National Basketball Association Summer League will be played July 11 to 21 at the Thomas & Mack Center and the Cox Pavilion. America’s best basketball players come to town July 24 to 26 for the USA Basketball training camp.
Other July events include:
• The growing Association of Woodworking and Furnishing Suppliers is back. It sets up in Las Vegas every other year. The show, expected to draw 17,000 people, will run at the Convention Center from July 24 to 27.
• The second Las Vegas Market furniture exhibit of the year will be at the World Market Center. An estimated 50,000 people are expected to attend the conference, scheduled from July 29 through Aug. 2.
With school around the corner, August is another slow month for Las Vegas:
• One of the biggest breakthroughs on the 2013 calendar will be the inaugural South by Southwest V2V event Aug. 11 to 14 at the Cosmopolitan. Described as a conference and festival for entrepreneurs, it will include presentations, workshops, coaching sessions and pitch events.
V2V stands for Visionaries to Vegas, Vision to Venture, Voice to Voice and Venture to Vegas. It’s modeled after the successful South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
• One of the most important Las Vegas industry shows is the Global Gaming Expo, known as G2E. This year, it returns Sept. 24 to 26 at the Sands Expo Center. More than 17,000 people are expected to attend.
• One of the world’s premier car auctions also returns to the city. Last year, revenue from the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction hit the $23 million mark.
A version of the event, which also is popular in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Palm Springs, Calif., is planned in September.
• Also, Pack Expo, a conference on packing materials, will bring 26,000 people to the Convention Center from Sept. 23 to 25.
• The ABC Kids Expo, a trade show for children’s products, returns to Las Vegas after two unsuccessful years in Louisville, Ky. It runs Oct. 15 to 18.
• The National Business Aviation Association, focused on the private jet industry, will land at the Convention Center from Oct. 22 to 24. About 32,000 people are expected.
The auto aftermarket has grown so big that two shows meet simultaneously in what is now called Automotive Aftermarket Week.
• SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, meets at the Convention Center while the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo will be at the Sands Expo Center from Nov. 5 to 8. An estimated 130,000 people will attend the two shows.
• One of December’s traditional late-year traffic generators, the Zappos.com Rock and Roll Marathon has been scheduled earlier this year than in the past. The race, which includes Las Vegas Boulevard as part of the course, will be Nov. 17, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
It seems like only yesterday that we said adios to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Wranglers National Finals Rodeo. But a new season awaits in 2013.
The 2013 NFR will run Dec. 5 to 14 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
• There’s no calendar date for the opening of Caesars Entertainment’s Project Linq, which will include a massive observation wheel overlooking the Strip. But company officials say it will ready by the end of the year.
• While some may still be experiencing some of the hangover effects of America’s Party 2013 last week, the LVCVA promises that the next party will be even bigger. The New Year’s Eve celebration brings more than 300,000 people to town.