Life Is Beautiful festival to transform downtown Vegas once again in Sept.

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A reported 190,000 attended last year's Life is Beautiful festival in downtown Las Vegas.
A reported 190,000 attended last year's Life is Beautiful festival in downtown Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Life is Beautiful

Life Is Beautiful, a three-day music festival now in its seventh year, is set for Sept. 20 to 22 in downtown Las Vegas.

Taking place on 18 city blocks extending from Seventh to 11th streets and from Mesquite to Casino avenues, the festival has been among the catalysts for change in the often-overlooked section of the city, according to its CEO, Justin Weniger.

"It's grown from a small community festival to something that's known nationally and internationally," he said. "And with that it's given us a bigger platform to showcase all the amazing pillars of our community as well as bring in artists from around the world, whether it's musicians or chefs or muralists or street artists."

Chance the Rapper is the headliner on the festival's opening day, with Billie Eilish and Portugal The Man among the many other acts performing. The Black Keys, Lil Wayne, Rufus du Sol and Janelle Monae top Sept. 21's lineup. Post Malone headlines Sept. 22, with Vampire Weekend, Zedd and Rae Sremmurd also on the bill.

"We try to keep the lineup as balanced as possible between genres and everything else. We want to make sure that there's always a sense of discovery at the festival," Weniger said. "You might be a big fan of a certain genre or an artist, and part of why you go to a festival is to discover new things that you might not have discovered otherwise."

Life Is Beautiful will also feature comedy. Jonathan Van Ness of "Queer Eye" will take the stage Sept. 20. Desus & Mero, seen most recently on their eponymous Showtime talk show, are set for Sept. 21 and hosts of the popular political podcast Pod Save America will provoke thought and laughs on Sept. 22.

The festival has also become notable for its culinary experiences and its art, with many of the murals commissioned for the event living on long after festivalgoers leave. Vibrant art appears to jump off large building facades and demand the attention of passing motorists and pedestrians, while others are subtler, waiting to be discovered with just the right light and angle.

Although muralists have not been announced this year, Weniger said he expects 10 to 12 murals and four or five major art installations. Previous artists have included Banksy and Shepard Fairey. An abandoned hotel will again become Art Motel, an immersive art experience.

Those attending also can enjoy cuisine and cocktails from more than 70 local and regional restaurants and bars and acclaimed chefs and mixologists. Previous festivals have included a variety of food trucks and cooking demonstrations. Vendor details have not been finalized.

Downtown, where the city of Las Vegas began, is undergoing something of a rebirth, according to Weniger. He said he believes the crime has decreased, and there is more walkability, noting that more small businesses, coffee shops, open-mic nights and other things are "cultivating culture in this community."

"The whole intention of Life is Beautiful and why we did it was really to embed art and culture into the foundation of the community and build it in a way that wasn't reliant on having a master plan," Weniger said.

"It wasn't part of a real estate development plan or anything along those lines," he said. "It was a little bit of experiment: What happens when you do this aspirational weekend? Here are three days of what a city could look like if there was just music in the street and artists painting on the walls and chefs coming together and all these people celebrating. Maybe that takes footing in the community and starts to transform that."

Last year, a reported 195,000 attended over the three days, enjoying such acts as The Weeknd, Arcade Fire, Florence & the Machine, Travis Scott and DJ Snake. Past festivals have featured Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Lore, Kendrick Lamar and the Gorillaz.

Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, Plaza Hotel & Casino and Golden Nugget Las Vegas are hotel partners of Life is Beautiful. General admission for the three-day event is $315 (single-day is $145), with VIP packages available. Go to www.lifeisbeautiful.com for more information.

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