With so many festivals to choose from on a busy weekend in late September, many wonder what makes Life is Beautiful Festival in Historic Downtown Las Vegas stand out. In its third year, the festival spreads over 11 blocks with 4 stage hosts including a new Insomniac stage added this year. Even though the festival may be big, there is a hometown energy that makes the experience very intimate.
The festival does a great job at expressing its message that life is indeed beautiful with the use of street art, installations, and interactive exhibits. Talented street artists transform the walls of the surrounding buildings on a large scale with creative graphite murals. The praying mantis art installation featured synchronized bursts of flames from the antennas. The most talked about piece of artwork was Banksy’s “Mobile Garden” that was brought from his 2013 New York residency. The truck may look like your average tagged-up delivery truck but the interior contained artificial plants, a waterfall, and even a rainbow.
*Insider Tip: Make sure you set aside time to visit the art motel! It is incredible and a must see!
Perhaps the most unbelievable experience was the transformation of a Motel 6 into a mind blowing fully interactive art motel. Your imagination is free to roam wild in these 40 or so rooms each with its own colorful theme and concept. Talk about sensory overload. I could have spent the entire 3 days in the motel watching the performers interact with the amused crowd.
This years lineup featured a diverse range of musicians. Among those crowd favorites were Stevie Wonder, Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar, each artist ended out the nights with a familiar and feel good set at the Downtown stage. Insomniac brought a full EDM experience with state of the art lasers, pyro, and confetti pulling in younger crowds from Las Vegas and Southern California. The Troubadour stage, a twist on EDC’s Circuit Grounds mega structure, included Jauz, Knife Party, and Porter Robinson.
*Insider Tip: For the best viewing experience for the Troubadour stage, walk outside the structure to the first entrance on the left side and walk into the empty left front side!
If two massive competing stages weren’t enough, the Ambassador stage was home to some of the best rising talent like Lindsey Sterling and Kygo (but also the worst, like Major Lazer, who fell short with this Life is Beautiful crowd). The biggest improvement from last year was the set times. I heard over and over again how the times were set up so perfect so that almost nobody played at the exact same time for the entire set. It was a very relaxing feeling to not have to rush from stage to stage; I even have some time to enjoy the great food!
Food & Learning Series
The culinary experience at Life is Beautiful is one that you won’t be treated to at many other festivals. If you aren’t enjoying samples from celebrity chefs then you are tasting food from dozens of food trucks or vendors including actual restaurants in the Container Park.
*Insider Tip: Most vendors in the Container Park sold alcohol for just $4 a drink! Life is Beautiful truly spoils festivalgoers with low cost alcohol price options.
If you want some inspiration while enjoying your $4 beer, celebrities like Bill Nye the Science Guy lead learning series that hold different themes each day of the event. These learning series create opportunities for attendees to learn from athletes, entrepreneurs, and innovators about their success and difficulties in creating a better world.
In only three years, Life is Beautiful has been able to accomplish an atmosphere that others of its size struggle to do. Maybe it’s because of the older crowd or all of the things that make it unique such as free snow cones, cheap alcohol, and a diverse lineup. Nobody was too out of control, stages were not super crowded, and nobody was fighting. The reason we go to these festivals is to get away from reality and enjoy music, and at Life is Beautiful you can do just that.
*Insider Tip: Be sure to use your in/out wristbands, and enjoy the attractions and restaurants on Fremont Street.
I was reminded constantly throughout the festival to live in the moment. It is important to remember at the end of the day that these festivals are what you make of them, but Life is Beautiful just makes it easy to want to return.
PHOTOS - Meghan Lee