As well as being one of the top casino destinations in the world, Las Vegas also draws hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers into its city limits every year, with a variety of events that embody the unique and vibrant spirit of the town.
As well as major music festivals, Vegas hosts events that celebrate art, food & drink, culture, and history, showing another side to a city many simply associate with gambling.
Many visitors to the city are attracted to the casino halls, and for good reason. Gambling is more popular than ever, not only in Vegas but reflected in the global rise of online casinos, with cutting-edge slots and even games with real dealers — and at some sites, you’ll find a live casino welcome offer for newbies.
But besides the card tables, the casinos host incredible music, from celebrity shows to pumping nightclubs. It’s no surprise then to find a few great music festivals during the year, and Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is one of the biggest and best. Once a year EDC transforms the city into an immersive wonderland of lights, music, and creativity. Hosted at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway brings in a global audience with multiple stages, art installations, carnival rides, and major acts from all over electronic music — 2023 saw Dutch trance supremo Tiesto headline, but also featured sets by visionary techno veteran Jeff Mills, and eclectic underground DJ and founder of Hessle Audio, Ben UFO.
Over on the streets of downtown Las Vegas, you’ll find Life is Beautiful, a multi-genre arts and music festival that takes over the neighbourhood for 3 days. Musically, the festival showcases a diverse lineup of musicians, ranging from rock and pop to hip-hop and electronic music — headliners this September (22nd – 24th) include The Killers and Kendrick Lamar, but there are a myriad of underground acts down to play. However, Life is Beautiful goes beyond just music, incorporating art installations, culinary experiences, and inspirational speakers. The festival aims to inspire and engage attendees through creativity, culture, and social impact, and with its urban setting and vibrant atmosphere, Life is Beautiful offers a unique fusion of music, art, and community that celebrates the beauty of life.
Food & Drink
Every October the Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival tantilises the tastebuds of visitors as it showcases the city’s renowned dining scene, as well as edible and drinkable delights from the rest of the United States and the wider world. You’ll find top-end, fine-dining chefs such as Todd English and Wolfgang Puck headlining with talks and exhibitions, as well as those revolutionising street food, such as David Choi (Seoul Taco), and Will Staten (Ragin’ Cajun). Those with a sweet tooth are catered for by Natalie Collins (Natalie’s Cakes), and Robert Teddy (M.Antoinette Cakes). Restaurants across the city will be showing off their signature dishes, offering special taster menus and beverages from independent companies.
The Great American Foodie Fest appears each April, assembling some of the best food trucks from around the US — although there is a focus on local vendors. Tents and trucks appear overnight, with pretty much anything you can think of — anyone who has watched David Chang’s Ugly Delicious (or a million other street-food-focused shows) will know that fusion is very much the watchword here. Mexican / Korean is one of the most talked about cross-overs of recent years — trailblazer Roy Choi, who has a presence in Vegas, inspired a new generation of chefs and fully embraced the food-truck culture. If you need a break from the burgers, tacos, doughnuts, pho, BBQ,(insert your favourite food here — it’s definitely in there somewhere), there are carnival games, fairground rides, and a whole host of gut-busting or tastebud lacerating eating competitions to enjoy.
When you look at the glittering lights of the Vegas Strip, it’s hard to imagine the city as anything other than a gambling and entertainment Mecca. But back in the day, Nevada was a frontier region of the Old West, full of cowboys and campfire stew, and lacking in law enforcement. “Big Jack” Davis, “Three-Fingered Jack” McDowell, “Fighting Sam” Brown, or “Farmer” Peel were just four of the most notorious outlaws of 19th-century Nevada. Helldorado Days is an annual festival that celebrates that oft-forgotten but rich Las Vegas history across two days of food and fun.
The festival itself has a long history — the inaugural event was held in 1935, and gained traction in the 1940s and 1950s, when it often served as a backdrop for Hollywood films. Helldorado went on hiatus in 1997 but was revived in 2005 to celebrate the city’s centenary. Festival goers can enjoy a range of spectacles and activities, including a large parade, rodeo, and events that showcase the lives of Old West residents, with a focus on music (fiddle enthusiasts take note), and cuisine.
Far from being a mere casino town, Las Vegas serves as a backdrop for some exciting annual festivals. Visitors can expect to find world-class cuisine, cutting-edge music, fairgrounds, carnival, and a bit of history on the side.