October Surprise: Vegas Has a Music Festival

Your questions about the Life is Beautiful music fest, answered

What’s this Life is Beautiful festival we’ve heard about?
Life is Beautiful, which sprawls around downtown Las Vegas Oct. 24-26, is a relatively new player on the festival scene; this will just be its second year. But, in keeping not only with the general spirit of Las Vegas—where spectacle is king—but also with the upswing of activity in downtown Vegas, LiB has serious ambitions. There will be 70-plus musical acts, top-lined by Kanye West, Outkast, Foo Fighters, Flaming Lips, Skrillex and Arctic Monkeys. But there are hordes of niche performers, too, from TV on the Radio to Girl Talk to—you’re reading this correctly—Lionel Richie. Organizers see all of this as a way to get people into a good life groove. This is from the website: “The world we live in is a beautiful place. But, more often than not, people don’t see it that way. Too many people are consumed by their fears. … That’s where we hope to help. Life is Beautiful is meant to guide people to the place where they can embrace life and find happiness, whatever that looks like to the individual.”

Sounds … big. Where will it be held?
Downtown Las Vegas—all over downtown Las Vegas, in fact. More than a dozen blocks of the city’s redeveloping urban core will be fenced off, meaning there will plenty of room for multiple outdoor stages, food stations set up by name chefs, murals and art projects and and a series of speakers. In other words, it’ll be a festival enclosed in an urban setting rather than in the giant field grounds more typical of a music festival. Definitely unlike, say, Coachella. It means some of the events, particularly speakers and art exhibitions, will be held indoors.

You mentioned chefs?
Yes. The LiB organizers put almost as much effort into coordinating the food program as the music. Most conspicuous among the featured chefs, perhaps, will be Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis. But other noteworthy kitchen wizards—Jose Andres, Hubert Keller, Rick Moonen—will anchor a solid lineup of food providers. Other names: Cat Cora, Jet Tila, Shawn McClain.

And you say there’s a visual art component to it, too? And a speakers series?
Another example of the festival’s all-things-to-all-people mentality. For starters, check this: A swarm of artists will take over the old Western Hotel, filling rooms and spaces with mini-galleries and immersive installations, using every variety of artistic medium: painting, sculpture, video, sound. In addition, a global mod squad of street artists—hailing from the U.S., Australia, Japan, Spain, Belgium and elsewhere in Europe—will mural up select walls within the LiB footprint.

As for the speakers, they range from TV host Rikki Lake to Zappos chief Tony Hsieh to Banana Republic founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler—plus a medical humorist, a MOTH storyteller, conservationists and a guy touted as “language creator, Game of Thrones.”

A three-day general admission pass is $249; individual days are $105. VIP tix, which get you “enhanced viewing areas” and, no small perk this, “VIP restroom facilities”—are $595 for a three-day pass or $249.50 for single-day admission. Click here for more.

Where should I stay?
Choices abound. The ideal lodging would be the El Cortez, a classic old-Vegas pile that’s neatly situated within the LiB enclosure. But this is Sin City—there are plenty of options nearby. The Golden Nugget, which has plenty of non-festival attractions (good restaurants, bars and sharks) would be a good bet, as would The Downtown Grand or the D.