on January 28, 2007
Before I went to Vegas this picture was what I thought it was all about: neon, flashy, and a bit kitsch. Nothing wrong with that and, of course, there is still that aspect to the city, particularly downtown. Downtown, in Glitter Gulch, is home to the Vegas Vic sign, an iconic image of Las Vegas, and also the flashing lights of illuminated casino fronts and signs. This is where the first casinos opened and where you’ll find recognisable names such as the Golden Nugget and the Lady Luck.The area fell into decline during the 1980s and early 1990s as hotel/casino building was concentrated on the Strip; however, since the mid-1990s and the establishment of the Freemont Street Experience in 1995, the Downtown area and Glitter Gulch began to revitalise. Now, especially at night, the area is buzzing with people, entertainers and, of course, neon.In 1995 Freemont St. was converted into a pedestrian area and covered with a 90-foot-tall "ceiling" of over two million lights. Underneath this you’ll find casinos glittering with neon, stalls selling jewellery and other items, entertainers, rock bands, souvenir shops and, in general, a party-time atmosphere.Visit at night—when the entertainers are about and the neon is shining—and you’ll also see the sound and light extravaganza. This happens hourly from about 8pm; the casinos and stores turn off their bulbs and the whole of Freemont St. is instead lit up by the two million or so lights of the "ceiling/screen" above your head. On the "ceiling" are a myriad of images on a variety of themes, i.e. Las Vegas Legends or Heartbeat of a Planet.To be honest I can’t remember any specific images from our visit, (although I seem to remember there may have been an underwater sequence) just the feel of the whole show which held people captivated with its colour and, like a kaleidoscope, its changing shapes. What I do remember though was how bright it was, both during the show and also when all the neon signs are lit. Like daylight rather than night.There are plenty of places to eat and drink (we went for the Friday Seafood Buffet at the Golden Nugget. Delicious!), casinos if you want another turn of the roulette wheel or spin of the slot machines, and any number of souvenir shops for those poker chip chocolates or fridge magnets. The Freemont Experience is a fab one.
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