If there’s one positive thing you can say about 2021, it’s this: At least it was better than 2020. The past year hasn’t exactly been the stuff that dreams are made of, save for that brief window when those of us who’d been fully vaccinated thought the pandemic was behind us.
Much like this time 12 months ago, it’s easy to hope that the new year will be substantially less awful than the last. With that in mind, here are 22 things to look forward to in ’22.
1. “Weekends With Adele”: We haven’t seen anything like the demand for this residency in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace since the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020. Tickets for the shows, two each weekend Jan. 21 to April 16, started at more than $300 yet never made it past a complicated Ticketmaster Verified Fan process to go on sale to the general public. Elsewhere, Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort will host John Legend’s “Love in Las Vegas” residency starting in April, Scorpions’ “Sin City Nights” starting in March and a limited engagement with the Doobie Brothers in May. Over at Resorts World Las Vegas, Luke Bryan will launch his residency in February, Michael Bublé will have a six-night engagement in April and May, and the delayed opening of Celine Dion’s residency is still on the books.
2. The dining revolution at Paris Las Vegas: The resort is expected to see the opening of the city’s third Nobu, along with a new Bobby’s Burgers from Bobby Flay, Lisa Vanderpump’s Parisian-inspired venue and Martha Stewart’s first restaurant. Other celebrity restaurants announced for the Strip include Boss Cafe from “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro at The Linq, Nellie’s Southern Kitchen from the family of the Jonas Brothers at the MGM Grand and a bakery from cronut creator Dominique Ansel at Caesars Palace. Then there are the two upcoming restaurants with football ties: Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, in which Drew Brees is a partner, coming to Harrah’s and Emmitt’s from Emmitt Smith, which is headed to the Fashion Show mall.
3. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”: There are so many reasons to love Nicolas Cage, his Las Vegas trilogy (“Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Con Air”) and the fact that he put down roots here a decade ago barely scratch the surface. How do we say this nicely, though? It’s been awhile since we were excited to see one of his upcoming movies. That’s all changed with “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” The action comedy, due out April 22, finds Cage playing a heightened version of himself who, feeling unfulfilled and facing enormous debt, takes a $1 million payday to appear at a birthday party for a dangerous superfan (Pedro Pascal). Elsewhere, plenty of sequels and spinoffs will try to lure moviegoers back to theaters, including “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” “Avatar 2,” “The Batman,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “The Flash,” “Jurassic World: Dominion,” “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” “Mission: Impossible 7,” “Thor: Love and Thunder” and the long-delayed “Top Gun: Maverick.”
4. Feb. 25 and 26: It’s going to be a monster weekend for Allegiant Stadium. Up first, Metallica will thunder into the venue for what is, as of now, its only scheduled North American concert in 2022. The following night, Billy Joel ventures away from his Madison Square Garden residency for his biggest Las Vegas show yet. Need more concerts? How about Garth Brooks (Feb. 4-5 at Park MGM), Billie Eilish (April 1 at T-Mobile Arena), Jack White (May 29 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas), Red Hot Chili Peppers (Aug. 6 at Allegiant Stadium) and The Killers (Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena).
5. The NFL Takeover: It’s not the Super Bowl, yet. For that, you’ll have to wait till 2024. But the NFL is sending its other two marquee events to town, with the Pro Bowl on Feb. 6 and the draft April 28 to 30.
6. NHL All-Star Weekend: The annual skills challenge is headed to T-Mobile Arena on Feb. 4, with the league’s top players competing in a three-on-three tournament on Feb. 5. The NHL Fan Fair, where fans can take part in 300,000 square feet of games, attractions and memorabilia displays, is coming to the Las Vegas Convention Center from Feb. 3 to 6.
7. Jack Eichel: The Golden Knights gave up the popular Alex Tuch, promising rookie Peyton Krebs and a future first-round draft pick — plus whatever player(s) they’ll have to dump to get under the salary cap — to land one of the top centers in the game. It will be nice to see the return on that investment once Eichel is cleared to play following the experimental neck surgery that prompted Buffalo to trade him.
8. The Dollar Loan Center: Sure, it sounds like just another, albeit massive, payday loan shop. (Technically, shouldn’t it be the Dollar Loan Center Center?) But the 6,000-seat facility that’s replacing the Henderson Pavilion will be the new home of the Henderson Silver Knights, while also housing the Vegas Night Hawks, the Indoor Football League team that’s scheduled to begin play in March.
9. The Beverly Theater: Las Vegas is finally about to join the ranks of film-loving burgs such as Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, and Manistee, Michigan, with its own dedicated art house cinema. The Beverly Theater will include a 150-seat main theater to showcase independent movies, as well as a terrace and courtyard for more intimate performances and gatherings. Sponsored by The Rogers Foundation, the Beverly Theater is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter, downtown next to the Writer’s Block.
10. The English Hotel: The 74-room boutique hotel will boast floor-to-ceiling windows, custom silky robes and what it calls “Michelin-star quality room service.” The latter, along with the hotel’s Pepper Club, is part of the food and beverage program overseen by chef Todd English. It’s scheduled to open in February at 921 S. Main St. in the Arts District.
11. The return of the Palms: The off-Strip resort unveiled its $690 million, casino-wide renovation less than a year before it was shuttered for the pandemic. It still hasn’t reopened. After buying the Palms at a discounted $650 million, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians plans to reopen the onetime celebrity-friendly casino sometime in the spring.
12. Making the most of our time with the volcano: We’re not sure when the Strip-side attraction will join the pirate battles at neighboring Treasure Island in the annals of Lost Vegas, but the Hard Rock-ification of The Mirage is coming.
13. Wayne Newton: The singer’s “Wayne: Up Close and Personal” is scheduled to move into the Flamingo on Jan. 24 for his first local performances since March 2020. He’s been headlining showrooms here since 1963, and the Strip just hasn’t been the same without him.
14. The Kiss museum: We may have missed out on a Kiss residency, and Gene Simmons listed his Henderson mansion for sale just five months after buying it. But the veteran rocker is planning a museum at the Rio, scheduled to open in March, that will show off what he says will be “hundreds and hundreds” of items, including costumes and stage props, from his personal collection.
15. Lovers & Friends: It easily would have been the hottest music festival of 2002. As it is, it’s one of the biggest additions to the Las Vegas music scene for 2022. Headlined by Ms. Lauryn Hill, Usher, TLC, Ludacris, Ciara, Nelly and Lil Jon, the Lovers & Friends lineup is as deep as any festival around, with names like Juvenile, Too $hort and Ying Yang Twins in smaller type at the bottom of the poster. After the fest was announced for May 14 at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, a second show was added, with the same performers, on May 15.
16. Wave In: A BMI Festival: The annual Believer Festival is no more because, well, its namesake, the literary magazine overseen by the Black Mountain Institute, is about to publish its final issue. Wave In, scheduled for May 5 to 7, is looking to replace it as one of the valley’s top cultural events.
17. The ACM Awards: Since coming to Las Vegas in 2003, the Academy of Country Music Awards show has bounced around Strip venues more than a midlevel magician. What’s now Michelob Ultra Arena. MGM Grand Garden. T-Mobile. MGM Grand Garden again. Now, after a two-year pandemic-fueled exodus to Nashville, the show will move into Allegiant Stadium on March 7.
18. More Cirque du Soleil: With “Zumanity” having been a victim of the COVID shutdown, the company is retooling that show’s theater at New York-New York for a Big Apple-themed show that’s expected to launch in the spring or summer.
19. “Amystika”: Described as a prequel to “Mindfreak” as well as “a visual feast of hope and triumph,” this new collaboration between Criss Angel and Franco Dragone (of “O” and “Le Reve” fame) was supposed to begin this week. “We are literally inventing the technology and special effects that are used throughout this show, and that level of creativity can’t be rushed,” Angel said in a statement announcing the new opening date of March 11.
20. Nevada Ballet Theatre’s 50th anniversary gala: NBT will take the stage May 14 for a one-night celebration of five decades of dance in Las Vegas.
21. The Smith Center goes lowbrow: As much art as Reynolds Hall gives us each year, from Nevada Ballet to the Las Vegas Philharmonic to the Broadway Las Vegas Series, it’s always fun when the venue lets its hair down. “ ‘The Bachelor’ Live on Stage” (April 29) vows to deliver “a wildly flirtatious and interactive game show” featuring recent cast members, while “ ‘The Masked Singer’ National Tour” (July 30) will bring costumed celebrity-guessing to the esteemed stage.
22. Clarity on the A’s: Will the Tropicana be imploded in order to squeeze a 30,000-seat ballpark into what’s already one of the busiest intersections in America? Will the owners take up the offer of free land in Summerlin and relocate to an area more locals would like to visit? Is all this just a smokescreen to get a better deal in Oakland? The mystery has dragged on long enough.