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LAS VEGAS The relative upstart Life Is Beautiful festival wrapped in downtown Las Vegas after its three-day run September 25 to 27. The event, founded and helmed by Rehan Choudhry, is the centerpiece of the Downtown Project led by Zappos C.E.O. Tony Hsieh aimed at revitalizing downtown Las Vegas and encompasses a four-pronged program of music, food, art, and a TED-style learning program.
When the event kicked off in 2013, it drew 60,000 over two days—a solid stat for a debut festival, especially in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Last year, attendance figures jumped to 90,000 people and the program expanded to three days. This year, it again demonstrated growth, pulling in more than 108,000 attendees for a packed lineup of performances by musicians like Stevie Wonder, Duran Duran, Snoop Dogg, and Las Vegas natives Imagine Dragons.
The event,which closes city streets for an utterly urban experience, unlike many other major North American festivals held at fairgrounds, also took over more than 18 square blocks of downtown, the largest footprint it has owned in its three years. But beyond the consistent rise in attendance and area, the festival continued to evolve this year in various other ways.
For the first time, Life Is Beautiful partnered with Insomniac to produce the Troubadour Stage—a massive 120-foot-wide structure outfitted with lasers, video tiles, and confetti blowers—which brought some of the biggest names in electronic dance music to be a part of the festival. In addition to the specially curated stage and dance lineup expansion, Insomniac also brought its art cars to roam the festival as another new experience for attendees.
The culinary program included daily interactive pop-up demos, for the first year performed in the V.I.P. area of the Downtown Stage with a live stream for festival attendees to experience.
As well this year, the vacant Town Lodge motel saw a transformation into a so-called “Art Motel” pop-up experience curated by John Doffing. (He also created the “Painted Rooms” exhibitions at the Hotel des Arts in San Francisco.)
Also introduced in 2015 was the organization of the learning program around different daily themes. “A Force for Good” highlighted new approaches to giving back to the community, “Shaping the Future” focused on topics including technology and new media, and “Challenging the Game” included subjects such as overcoming defeat and facing adversity.