Over the past five years, Downtown Las Vegas has undergone a major transformation thanks to the revitalization of the second most famous street in town – Fremont. Bars, restaurants, coffeehouses and stores have flooded into the area, capturing the soul and spirit of the new Las Vegas. During this movement, Life is Beautiful was born. Debuting in 2013, the three-day event broke into the festival scene, combining top-tier musical artists, ideas from highly respected speakers, art including murals created by renowned street artists and, in true Vegas form, an incredible food and drink selection. In the years that followed, more of the hottest acts, artists, influencers and culinary talent flowed into the streets of Downtown Las Vegas. And what started as a festival, became something more: a symbol of unity, optimism and creativity. A refreshing reprieve from our complicated lives and our complicated world, now more than 137,000 individuals converge across 18 blocks in the cultural hub of the city to be part of in this beautiful social and cultural takeover.
From the moment the gates open until the last stream of confetti rains down, the Life is Beautiful festival is a celebration, uniting people who love music, art, food and ideas. And when you put that many like-minded individuals together in the streets of Downtown Las Vegas, there’s a surge of electricity that courses through the city: positivity prevails, culture and creativity thrive, and transformation occurs. Experience the stages, dance to the music, hear stories, try the food, hug a new friend, explore the art and meet people who will change your life. These are the best days of our lives.
In 2016, Life is Beautiful welcomed more than 137,000 attendees. Named “Music Festival of the Year” by the 2017 Pollstar Awards, the event has featured unforgettable headliners including local legends The Killers, GRAMMY Award-winning rockers the Foo Fighters, hip-hop hitmaker Kendrick Lamar, platinum-selling folk band Mumford & Sons, and many more. Thanks to the festival, every year, countless artists also add installations to Downtown Las Vegas’ ever growing collection of murals, which is quickly becoming one of the largest, free public galleries in the world. Prominent speakers, including television personality and activist RuPaul, as well as educator and scientist Bill Nye, have inspired and moved festival attendees.
The festival showcases two separate art programs; one, Rise Above, includes street art/murals and the other, Art Odyssey is a more immersive, interactive experience. In 2013, Rise Above was curated by Charlotte Dutoit and featured works by nine different artists from Las Vegas, Portugal, Brazil, New York, the U.K. Puerto Rico, San Francisco and Houston. One of the murals required 3D glasses, which were provided. Unfortunately, the mural by Interesni Kazki (Ukraine), which illustrates hands emerging from the desert, was painted over by its building owners who did not feel it reflected the spirit of Las Vegas. The incident, though, has sparked a dialogue about the role of art in urban areas. The Rise Above program was so successful that they took it to Miami for Art Basel, where four murals were created in Wynwood, the arts district.
Art Odyssey, the other experiment, involved taking the shuttered Travel Lodge and transforming more than 20 of its rooms into mini art galleries. Artists were present and onsite to answer questions and interact with visitors. Some artists transformed their spaces completely; others left some of the old motel furniture intact and worked around it and with it; others decided to create something on the spot. Expect bigger and better next year, we’re told.
In 2015, Life Is Beautiful partnered with Insomniac Events to elevate the electronic dance music production at the festival. Along with the new Troubadour stage, two art cars, Wide Awake Art Car and Mayan Art Car, made their debut at LIB.