This means, that sometimes, when a storm and dark clouds come in, the lights might come on during the daytime, but this is usually pretty rare, so the waste of electricity isn’t too critical.

The Fremont Street Light show times are easy to remember: the show starts on the hour, every night starting when it’s dark, and going until either midnight or 1 AM (depending on the day).

LED street lights
LED street lights

These are the summer/early fall hours. Showtimes start earlier during the later fall and winter months.

On the Flintstones, a small bird sits inside the light and turns it on every night before he goes to bed. In a modern streetlight, a small circuit replaces the bird and turns the light on when the amount of light falls below a certain threshold.

A common light-sensing component is the cadmium sulfide photo-resistor, also known as a CdS cell. A photo-resistor changes its resistance based on the amount of light that hits it. When a lot of light hits it, it has almost zero resistance — it conducts electricity very well. When no light hits it, it has high resistance — it conducts electricity poorly. In an extremely simple circuit, you would wire a CdS cell directly to a relay (see How Relays Work), so that a lot of light would energize the electromagnet and a small amount of light would not. Usually, however, a CdS cell cannot draw enough current to activate the relay when light hits it. Therefore you need to add a transistor to amplify the current that flows through the CdS cell.

Officially called the Fremont Street Experience, the light show is the most visible part of downtown’s concentrated entertainment efforts to bring in (and keep) those visitors who may be inclined to spend all their time at the strip.

Entertainment options downtown include a regular series of free concerts, (some by some pretty impressive names), and a thrilling zip line that takes riders high over the heads of the tourists below.

The Fremont Street light show itself runs about six minutes in length, and is one of the coolest things to do while in Las Vegas. Even better, it’s completely 100% free (you don’t even have to struggle through a 5 hour time share presentation to see it).

More about the Fremont Street Light Show

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, the experience is an enormous light and sound show broadcast on the largest television screen in the world.

The screen is 90 feet above the ground, on a high one-half circle canopy that covers four entire blocks of Fremont Street from 4th Street to Main Street, at the Plaza Hotel and Casino. (You may remember the Plaza as being the place that “Biff” owned in one of the “Back to the Future” movies).

This downtown Las Vegas light show has been popular since its inception in December of 1995.

Casino owners had fretted over the erosion of their business to their glitzier cousins a little south on the Strip, and wanted a unique attraction in their own right to bring the tourists back downtown.

25,000 a day

According to official tourism stats, 25,000 people each day watch the shows. 18,000 of them suffer dangerous neck injuries from staring up above at the show.

led street lighting
led street lighting

Ok, I made that last part up, but the Fremont Street light show is addictive.

Both the sound and graphics light up downtown in a visual and audio display that leaves you with one of those, “only in Vegas” moments. I know personally, I’ve actually left the craps table at the Golden Gate to venture outside to check out the canopy show. And trust me, it takes a lot for a degenerate gambler like me to leave the table.

(Related: Bellagio Fountains Schedule)

Although the overhead canopy was built in 1995, the entire system underwent a $17 million dollar upgrade that was completed in June of 2004. The “Viva Vision” screen is said to be the largest projection screen in the world.

In fact, over 12 million LED lights work their magic during each performance, accompanied by a sound system that has over a 1/2 million watts.

There is a constantly rotating selection of shows, but some popular standouts (like the “American Freedom” shows) always seem to be in the mix. A recent random Fremont Street show schedule showed tributes to Queen, the Doors, Bon Jovi, and Don McLean – and that was all just on one night.

In February of 2018, the Las Vegas city council approved a plan to ask for a multi-million dollar grant to upgrade the lighting at the Viva Vision light show, and to make it a 24 hour-a-day show.

Work on the $32 million dollar upgrade has begun, (with one section already completed). The work will be done in sections so that most of the show will still be seen as work continues.

The entire re-lighting is expected to be completed just in time for New Year’s Eve. When completed, the lights will be up to 8x brighter, with 4x the resolution, according to the recent Associated Press article.

Fremont Street Experience parking

On the corner of Fremont Street and 4th Street, attached to the Walgreens Store on the eastern end of Fremont, is a 1,430 square foot parking structure called the Fremont Street Experience Parking Garage.

The last update from Scott, (who works at the Fremont Street Exprience and who hosts a great and fun podcast called “Vital Vegas” in addition to the blog of the same name), stated that hourly rates at this garage are $3 per hour, with a daily maximum rate of $12.


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