For three days, Downtown Las Vegas came to life with the sounds, art, and immersive experiences of Life is Beautiful’s 10th anniversary edition.
Las Vegas could also be considered the “city that never sleeps” as visitors from all over the world come to discover its wonders. From top-tier nightlife, unparalleled entertainment, and the cuisine of world-renowned chefs, Vegas is a getaway for those looking to let loose. Just south of The Strip is Downtown, where every year Life is Beautiful takes over the streets for a weekend of the same – an incredible lineup, spaces and art to explore, and delicious eats – all paying homage to Las Vegas.
From September 22-24, Life is Beautiful celebrated its 10th anniversary in style. Headliners The Killers returned to the festival for the first time since 2013 and put on a fantastic set full of their hits for their hometown crowd, Kendrick Lamar brought the heat, and ODESZA closed the festival with a visually stunning and emotionally captivating set. The Fremont Stage kept energy high and was the main hub for dance music. It hosted performances by Vintage Culture, Madeon, Ben Böhmer, Anna Lunoe, Snakehips, and others.
Rising stars like Nala were featured at the brand-new Mantis Stage. Though tucked away on the festival grounds, it was always bumping. Other notable dance music acts were Franc Moody, who set the JBL Stage alight with their funky sounds, one of our favorites of the weekend Purple Disco Machine, and of course, John Summit, who commanded the main stage and even brought Dom Dolla out for a quick appearance. While we caught a lot of dance music, the festival boasted many entertaining acts across varied genres. It made this year so special.
Entertainment went beyond music, as many of Las Vegas’ renowned acts took to the stage.
Each day, attendees were treated to performances fresh off the strip. BLOND:ISH was joined by the multi-talented Blue Man Group, who also made surprise appearances throughout the weekend, interacting with fans throughout the festival. Magic Mike Live had fans swooning as they showed off their moves to a medley of hits. Piff the Magic Dragon charmed audiences with his comedy and magic set, leaving people laughing and stunned by his tricks.
Our favorites were the famed Cirque du Soleil, who celebrates 30 years in Las Vegas. These talented acrobats and performers showcased scenes from their shows — including O, Mad Apple, KÀ, and The Beatles LOVE — that have become synonymous with Las Vegas entertainment. But it was the Jabbawockeez who really stole the show. I grew up dancing and became an avid fan of America’s Best Dance Crew, which is where my love for them began. The Jabbawockeez are innovators and legends, and It was amazing to see hip-hop dance on TV. Being able to see them perform on the main stage at the festival was such a moment.
Just past the JBL Stage, Fergusons Downtown was transformed into Disco Queen, an LGBTQ+ party hub. Silver streamers and disco balls made the sky glisten as exclusive DJ performances, drag shows, and go-go dancers raised our spirits. It was a testament to the strong and proud queer culture in Las Vegas, and provided a fun escape to grab some bites, explore the shops in Fergusons, and dance to great music.
Las Vegas creators and artists really brought the spirit of the city to life within the festival.
Prior to opening their Omega Mart location in Vegas, Meow Wolf has been a staple at Life is Beautiful since 2015. Their immersive installation has taken on a few different forms. This year, they introduced Party in the SubOrbs, described as “a tiny town full of friends; a mini-city full of inhabitants asking you to stay while.” Inside the colorful space, fun programming from Molodi, surprise DJ sets, and interactive games took place. Attendees could also sip on craft cocktails made to fit the aura.
The entirety of the festival grounds becomes a living, breathing art gallery with murals, large installations, and live artwork happening throughout. These picture-perfect artworks could be found around every corner and lining each walkway. To celebrate 10 years of bringing color into Downtown Las Vegas, Life is Beautiful asked some of their favorite artists to return to the festival to showcase their work. Additionally, more than 50 local artisans and creators were featured at the Market in the Alley, where attendees could shop for jewelry, clothing, skincare, and so much more.
While exploring the art and vendors, we met Alexis Johnson, who was working on a collaborative art piece near Fergusons and spoke to us about the festival. “This is home, so to do it at home at a festival and see it transformed into all of this is dope as hell, and so much fun.” she shared. “Downtown Las Vegas has so much talent. In every little nook and cranny, you can find so much talent that you couldn’t have maybe five or six years ago.“
Speaking on her piece, she said, “this is a collaboration piece with my friend. It’s called ‘Soul Smashing.’ We have our silhouettes here and it’s basically how our souls look – colorful.“ Happening to have stumbled on her piece and getting to chat with her was such a highlight of the festival. Seeing art in action and being able to connect to local artists who make Life is Beautiful what it is enriched our experience and showcased the true soul of the event.
We won’t soon forget Life is Beautiful’s 10-year anniversary festivities. It goes without saying that being able to experience so much music and see so many stars is a highlight. But what makes this festival special is how paying homage to its home in Las Vegas is integral to everything they do. Local artists shine through their work as you walk through the venue, and those selling their wares are always passionate about sharing their craft. Food vendors give attendees a taste of Vegas with their diverse and delicious cuisines. Acts are chosen deliberately and bring the best of the city.
With how wonderful Life is Beautiful is, we cannot wait for next year and couldn’t have imagined a better way to wind down the 2023 festival season.