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Get the Story Behind the Outrageous Holiday Display at Wynn

Wynn’s master cake artist Flora Aghababyan shares some details behind the 12-foot display

The holiday display at Wynn
Jeff Green

Wynn’s master cake artist Flora Aghababyan creates a holiday display that takes center stage all season long at The Buffet each year. The elaborate 12-foot tall showpiece features a rotating carousel, holiday classics including The Nutcracker and The Little Drummer Boy, and the resort’s restaurants, luxury boutiques, elaborate floral displays, gaming attractions and Le Rêve — The Dream. The entire piece is made from sugar, fondant, chocolate, and sugar paste. Aghababyan talks about what went into the display.

When did you start planning the holiday display?

I’m always planning things in my mind based on the inspiration I get from all corners of the resort. Something will seem interesting or whimsical to me and I’ll keep it in mind for the moment the sketching begins. I start sketching out plans about a month prior to buildout to give us enough time to make tweaks and perfect the scenes, colors, layers and the whole display altogether.

How long did it take to create?

The holiday centerpiece takes about a month to create. It’s up at The Buffet the day after Thanksgiving when all of the beautiful decorations throughout the resort go up.

How tall is this and where can we find it at Wynn?

The display is 12 feet tall with five uniquely themed rotating tiers. Our annual holiday display is near the entrance of The Buffet so that all guests can come and see what we’re doing.

What are some of the interesting candies involved?

This year’s showpiece is inspired by the holiday classics The Nutcracker and The Little Drummer Boy. Everything is made from scratch out of sugar, gum paste, fondant and molding chocolate. We incorporated five rotating tiers, each representing a different element of the resort. The first is a carousel like the one you see in our atrium, which has different characters — from polar bears to reindeer — and vibrant colors and design. The second tier is our retail stores — all about the luxurious shopping experience at Wynn, featuring models, shopping bags, designer labels — even the classic Louis Vuitton luggage can be spotted in the display. For the third tier we incorporated the signature Tree scene from our show Le Reve — The Dream. I was able to recreate the performers and synchro swimmers to portray the beauty and elegance of the show. Although you can’t see so high up, I made sure to incorporate the pool as well to fully depict the scene. On top of Le Reve, we have a tier dedicated to the restaurants and talented chefs at Wynn adding a bit of detail to each in order to let their individuality shine through — breads, pastas, seafood, fruit baskets, and all. The final tier is the casino. We added some playing cards, chips, lucky numbers 7s, dice, roulette wheel and all!

How many people were involved?

Primarily myself. My fantastic team of assistants help with some of the details considering how incredibly detailed the display is and takes a lot of time and work to perfect.

Do you feel the need to outdo yourself every year with these displays?

Of course! Every year is a new canvas to paint on and I look forward to bringing new ideas to life. We choose a different theme every year because year over year, we have returning guests who really look forward to the holiday display and of course want to see something new. I think every year we get more creative and the displays become more intricate since I love challenging myself. There may be parts of this year’s display which aren’t easily visible to guests, but I make sure they are still perfect and don’t have any flaws.

Is it edible? Has anyone tried to eat something from the display?

Yes, completely edible! Although it’s out on display, it’s roped off just in case, but people are usually more mesmerized by the whole display and jump at the opportunity to take pictures of it or with it.

Which display is your favorite from years’ past?

I really love all of them. The theme over the years has been the Wynn and Encore towers made out of gingerbread, but the scenery always changed. One year we highlighted the esplanade featuring our luxury retail shops; last year we had an arctic theme with penguins, polar bears, a moving train carrying gifts. Guests really loved that. This year we changed things a bit, bringing the focus from the outside in, highlighting the elements and people who make this resort wonderful. I love walking by and seeing guests get excited, take pictures and bring the memories home with them.

Las Vegas Holiday Restaurant and Bar Guide [ELV]

The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas

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