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Desert Companion

The 2014 Fall Culture Guide: Family food and festivals

The 2014 Fall Culture Guide: Visual Art | Music | Lit and ideas | Family food and festivals | Theater and dance

So, how's your schedule look next week?  And the week after that?  And the week after that?   Whether you're an art-lover, a dance aficionado, a foodie or a live music fan, our culture guide's got the goods for one very busy fall.  And we mean busy in a good way - this year's calendar is brimming with sights, sounds and tastes to engage, inspire and entertain you.  Enjoy.

Sept. 13

Annual problems, perennial answers

We’ve all strolled helplessly along the greenhouse walkways wondering, “Is that a good one? Is this water-efficient? Is it just me, or does this only look semi-alive?” The Autumn Plant Sale at Springs Preserve is just in time for autumnal planting and to quell the anxiety of those with green or even black thumbs. (Garden experts will be on hand to answer questions about care.) Desert-adapted native and drought-tolerant plants will be ready to go in containers from 1 to 15 gallons. So even if you really just want to swap out a potted failure for a fresh start, you’ll be set. (MO) 8a, with a 7a preview for members, free, Springs Preserve

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Sept. 20-Jan. 4

Something wicked that way grows

Wanting to know what kind of plant can kill a man is as natural as dancing in your living room when no one’s home. Everyone does it, but no one talks about it for fear of looking like a psychopath. But curiosity only killed the cat. (You’re not a cat, are you?) Find out what else could kill a cat and a lot of other things at Wicked Plants, the Springs’ presentation of nature’s most satanic botanicals. Inspired by Amy Stewart’s book Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and other Botanical Atrocities, this exhibit offers up-close and personal experience with everything Walter White wished he could get his hands on. (MO) free for members or with general admission, Origen Museum, Springs Preserve


Sept. 25-28

Greek to you and me and everyone

Spanakopita, gyros, souvlaki, dolmades, calamari, and tiropita, followed by baklava and kataifi … you could win a spelling bee on these alone. Fortunately, the 42nd annual Greek Food Festival will mean the only thing that’s Greek to you might be how to pronounce gyro, “jee-roh” or “hee-roh.” (It’s “yee-roh,” btw.) Aside from providing the opportunity to stuff yourself with the food of the gods, the festival will be host to traditional Greek music and dancing. On the not-so-traditional side, Criss Angel has been spotted there in years past, and they’ll also be raffling off luxury goods. Even Pythagoras would say that’s worth the wager. (MO) 5p Thurs., 3p Fri., 12p Sat. & Sun., $6 & free for kids 12 and under and active-duty military, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, 5300 El Camino Road


Sept. 27

One-night oasis

Death Valley is a beautiful place in a stark and extreme way. That’s why the rangers there either seem like the happiest people on earth or like the first inhabitants of a penal colony. But for one night only, the white sand dunes will turn into white-capped waves, and Dante’s view will become Hi’iaka’s. The Death Valley Luau in Tecopa, California, will transform the southern-most corner of the hottest spot on earth into an island paradise. In support of the Goldwell Open Air Museum and Tecopa Artists Group, everyone will savor a sumptuous Hawaiian dinner while enjoying traditional dance and music from area pros like Gary and Sheldeen Haleamau. So hop from the ninth island to one of the other eight without stepping foot in McCarran. (MO) 6p, $25 admission with dinner included, Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, Death Valley


Desert HopsSept. 27

Classy cold one

Beer has become as specialized as wine. Craft brews and small batches lap the once-familiar microbrews. This is why a beer festival hosted at the Cosmo makes as much sense as a Bedazzling craft party hosted by Liberace. Desert Hops (1) may sound like the latest indie band out of SoCal, but this poolside international festival will feature more than 150 beers from over 25 countries. Noshing on savory delicacies prepared by The Cosmopolitan’s restaurants while looking down on the Strip's twinkling lights will also make this party much less of a brouhaha and more of a soirée. (MO) 8p, VIP entrance 7p, tickets starting from $30, Boulevard Pool in The Cosmopolitan


Oct. 9

A fix for stunt junkies

October is one of the nicest months of the year in Las Vegas. so if you must indulge in the buttery-aired, darkened cinema, make it action-packed. There’s no better way to get excited about the cooler weather than to watch the professionals ski, bike, ride, and paddle their way through the 2014 edition of the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s Radical Reels Tour. The film lets you see incredible bike jumps, kayak drops, and runs down the steepest mountains through the eyes of athletes and adventure-sport filmmakers. Plus, you’ll have an amazing reel to play in your head as you’re doing your own perhaps less-than-amazing weekend version. (MO) 6p wristband distribution, 7p screening, free, Clark County Library Theater courtyard


Oct. 10

This martini is improving education

Harvest for Hope is a party with a cause, one that benefits Communities in Schools Nevada, the nation’s leading dropout-prevention program. Guests will enjoy a sumptuous autumn spread and specialty cocktails from the kitchens and bars of The Cosmopolitan. Transforming the Cashman Center into an epic fall escape, Harvest for Hope will include family games, activities for children, live and silent auctions, and surprise entertainment from area performers. (MO) 5p, $100-$350, Cashman Center


HalloweenOct. 10-12, 17-19 & 24-26

Cosplay the “normal” way

Fall is a lot of people’s favorite season. The air is crisper, the light is more striking, and, most importantly, for at least one night you can dress up like a chicken laying a golden egg and no one can have you committed. In October, spooktacular fun for all ages awaits those who dare enter the Springs Preserve’s annual Haunted Harvest (2). The family-friendly event will feature a petting zoo, trick-or-treat stations, carnival games and live music and performances. But will it feature a man dressed as a chicken laying a golden egg? The choice is yours, my friend. (MO) 5p, $3-$6, free for kids 4 and under, Springs Preserve 


Oct. 18

Fire in the sky

The centuries-old tradition of lantern-releasing is a spectacular visual coalescence of the magic of thousands of people coming together to do something inspiring. On Oct. 18, the RiSE Lantern Festival (3) will give you the chance to send a brilliant piece of the whole floating toward the sky and muse on the collective splendor and its significance. The good news is, unlike letting a balloon go, you can also participate guilt-free. Because they’re able to retrieve the lanterns, each lantern is 100 percent biodegradable, and RiSE purchases carbon offsets for every vehicle used in preparing the festival, attendees can feel good about the lantern rise long after they’re home in bed. (MO) sunset, tickets starting from $50, Jean dry lakebed, Mojave Desert


Oct. 18

Money for nothing and flicks for free

So you missed Grease in August and National Velvet in September at Cinema in the Circle. Don’t worry; you’re not quite out of time. October’s a busy month, but a perfect way to take a break without breaking the bank is to hit up Huntridge Circle Park’s monthly free outdoor movie. Grab a blanket and someone to snuggle up with and head to the park for the last screening of the year: The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Huntridge Foundation screens your favorite family-friendly movies on a big blow-up screen, gratis. And if you don’t have time to pack a picnic, there’s pizza by the slice and popcorn for sale for less than the cost of touching the door of a regular movie theater. (MO) sunset, free, Huntridge Circle Park

Ferris Wheel

Oct. 24-26

Festival with a heart

Life Is Beautiful (4) is primarily a music festival, for sure — headliners this year include heavyweights such as Kanye and Foo Fighters, and indies such as Misterwives and Tycho — but, heck, you could go just for the foodie stuff (Hubert Keller, Jet Tila), the art programming, the TED-style talks and the craft cocktails, and never feel like you missed Kanye who? (AK) Various times, $249.50-$595,


Oct. 25

Indoors is so last season

The premise of Get Outdoors Nevada Day is pretty straightforward: Getting you excited about the great outdoors while learning about some of the activities you can get into. Join thousands of Southern Nevada’s outdoor recreation enthusiasts at Craig Ranch Regional Park and sample many of the region’s recreation opportunities. Featuring community groups, non-profit and governmental organizations, retailers, outfitters and event promoters, the day will showcase the spectacular playground just outside our front doors. (MO) 9a, free, Craig Ranch Regional Park


Nov. 1

Super fans unite!

The Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival is a staple around these parts. Who could possibly object to a day spent returning to the glory of childhood fantasy? Or, ahem, apologies, Bronies and respectable comic-book fans alike, enjoying your adult hobby. In its seventh year, the Comic Book Festival promises to be another day full of activities celebrating comic book culture, including panel discussions, workshops, food trucks, kids’ crafts, face painting, live music, and film screenings. Meet your favorite artist or writer of series like American Flagg, The Batman Strikes, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars and experience what it means to be at a truly fun all-ages event. (MO) 9:30a, free, Clark County Library

Dia de los Muertos

Nov. 1-2

The living Dead

Día de Muertos (5), the Mexican tradition of remembering the dead on the first day of November, celebrates what’s most alive about the departed: our memories of them and the impressions that their lives made on us. Inspired by this tradition, the Life in Death Festival honors the dead while mocking death itself. Ofrendas, or altars, will be set aglow with flickering candle light and covered with the food, drink, and objects the dead loved in life to lure them back for a visit. (MO) 5p, free, Winchester Park and Cultural Center


Feb. 21

Getting back to our roots

After we leave elementary school and don’t have a wonderful teacher reminding us of the significance of our country’s diverse cultural history, we sometimes forget about its important markers. The Black History Month Festival not only commemorates the occasion but celebrates it. Documenting the contributions of African-Americans to Southern Nevada’s history and culture, the festival will feature a historic photography exhibit, live entertainment, and food and craft vendors. So join in the party while making your third-grade teacher really proud. (MO) 10a, $3-$5, Springs Preserve


March 28

Nothing like a good Cirque-out

During that second mile of most 5ks, a common but terrifying phenomenon begins to occur: boredom. It’s that point in the run when you’re not tired yet but the novelty of running with so many people is beginning to wear off. But what if just when you hit that point, a crazy acrobat in a fish costume flew across your path? Seems implausible, but anything can happen at the Cirque Run, where Cirque du Soleil performers will help you warm up as you listen to surreal soundscapes. (Try to keep a straight face while a large man dressed as a baby assists you with a hamstring stretch.) This One Drop 5k gives you the chance to support a good cause, while getting so much more than a free T-shirt. (MO) 7a, $27-$40, Springs Preserve

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