Downtown Las Vegas, like many other cities with an urban center, is being revived as evident with the inaugural Life is Beautiful Festival attended by an estimated 60,000 people Oct. 26-27. More than 15 city blocks were transformed into two days of nonstop music, art, food and education. This included a culinary village, five stages for live performances, a street art program, learning programs and an alchemy garden.
“This is so incredible,” said attendee Shauna Markle, who traveled from Phoenix for the festival. “I have visited Las Vegas before but I will stay downtown this trip. Downtown rocks!”
On Oct. 25, Life is Beautiful Festival hosted its official kick-off party, Grills & Guitars, featuring gourmet delights prepared by 16 celebrity chefs including Bruce Bromberg, Aarón Sánchez, Scott Conant, Cat Cora, Rick Moonen, Kim Canteenwalla, Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, David Myers, Jet Tila and Clayton Arakawa. Dawes and Todd Rundgren performed during the party and Kanye West toured the festival grounds with festival co-founder and CEO Rehan Choudhry and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.
Performances included Beck, Capital Cities and Childish Gambino with more than 70 bands playing throughout the two-day festival. On Oct. 26, Imagine Dragons, an alternative rock band from Las Vegas, performed their No. 1 hit, “Radioactive,” along with other cuts from their debut studio album, Night Visions. The show ended with an appearance by the cast of Mystère by Cirque du Soleil. Headliner Kings of Leon closed out the festival’s first night ending with a three-song encore to screaming crowds who surrounded the stage to capacity.
Along with more than 50 chefs and restaurants in Culinary Village selling a variety of food, there were cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs. Some of the musicians joined the chefs during the demonstations including Youngblood Hawke with Cora,Ben McKee of Imagine Dragons with Tila, Vernon Reid of Living Colour with Bromberg and singer ZZ Ward with Conant.
More than 25 speakers included Hsieh (a crowd favorite) along with Tony Horton and the creators and cast of MTV’s “The Buried Life.” Performers from The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil entertained attendees on Fremont Street in the middle of the festival.
The Killers, a rock band from Las Vegas, performed their new single “Shot At The Night” for the first time during the festival’s closing night show on Oct. 27.
“Both in attendance and sentiment, this festival has exceeded our very high expectations,” said Choudhry. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Every musician, chef, artist and speaker on the festival showed a tremendous amount of love for Las Vegas through their performances, and seeing hometown heroes The Killers close out the festival to thunderous applause was heartwarming.”
Life is Beautiful Festival was developed by Aurelian Marketing Group in partnership with Another Planet Entertainment, MAKTUB Marketing and Downtown Project, and with the cooperation of the city of Las Vegas. Visit www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com.