Las Vegas emits a steady power to draw visitors with its gaming resorts, fine dining and vibrant nightclubs, but an increasingly robust schedule of music festivals adds a distinctive magnetism to the city.
By far the most powerful charge is from the Electric Daisy Carnival. "Kinetic Energy" is the theme of the 23rd edition May 17 to 19 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. More than 400,000 people are expected to ignite what event sponsors say is the world's largest dance music festival.
"Think of the potential," said Bill Nye the Science Guy, who announced the theme with Insomniac founder and CEO Pasquale Rotella. "Hundreds of thousands of people moving their bodies, freeing their minds and dancing to music under the glow of spectacular light. We'll convert all this potential to a carnival of kinetic energy."
Nye will help open the event. Among the stars set to appear are Alesso, Alison Wonderland, Armin Van Buuren, Dillon Francis, Diplo, Illenium, Kaskade, Martin Garrix and Tiesto. David Guetta will return to the festival for the first time since 2012. Actor and musician Idris Elba will play back to back with Solardo at the NeonGarden, one of eight stages.
Lights and music come together at the 2018 Electric Daisy Carnival. Photo Credit: Ivan Meneses
Hundreds of costumed performers, dozens of interactive art installations and spectacular fireworks will vibrate the grounds from dusk to dawn each of the three nights. The party will continue in the daytime with Camp EDC adjacent to the Speedway hosting special activities, food trucks, full-service bars, pool parties and exclusive DJ performances.
This will mark the ninth consecutive year Las Vegas has hosted the Electric Daisy Carnival. While "kinetic" properly describes the festival's kaleidoscope of color and movement, other events coming to Las Vegas have their own unmistakable energy.
• The Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival May 24 to 27 downtown will feature 48 bands on two stages, more than 50 bands playing late-night club shows, pool parties, a bowling tournament and a poker tournament. Among the bands scheduled to perform are Rancid, the Descendents, the Specials, the Hives and Refused.
• With far less history but an abundance of potential is Emerge May 31 and June 1 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. At "the intersection of social justice, art and music," Emerge will host live music, passionate storytelling, progressive art, crafted parties and immersive experiences. Among the speakers this year will be David Hogg, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and a gun-control advocate; Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter; and Talib Kweli, hip-hop artist and social activist.
• A drastically different vibe comes with Psycho Las Vegas Aug. 16 to 18 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Megadeth, Opeth, Electric Wizard Beach House, Clutch and Bad Religion will be among the 70 acts from around the world scheduled to perform on four stages at the newly renovated Mandalay Events Center. The event, its roots firmly metal, is more diverse than ever and is heralded as the vacation destination for those who worship all that is rock 'n' roll.
• T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip will be home to the ninth annual iHeartRadio Music Festival on Sept. 20 and 21. Iconic and emerging artists will fill two four-hour nights of chart-topping music, premieres and unique collaborations. Acts from a variety of genres will perform on the daytime stage, including country band Old Dominion, rapper Juice Wrld and South Korean boy group Monsta X.
• In its seventh year, Life Is Beautiful, Sept. 20 to 22, has left its mark on 18 downtown city blocks for far longer than one weekend a year. Many colorful, thought-provoking murals painted on buildings for the festival have endured. In addition to the vibrant art throughout the festival grounds, culinary arts are showcased: More than 70 food trucks and local and regional restaurants and bars, chefs and mixologists will be represented. Music headliners this year will include Chance the Rapper, Post Malone, the Black Keys, Billie Eilish, Vampire Weekend, Zedd, Lil Wayne and Janelle Monae.
• Later in the fall is Las Rageous, Oct. 18 and 19, at the Downtown Las Vegas Event Center. Last year, 20,000 saw performances from top rock and metal acts, including A Perfect Circle, Five Finger Death Punch, A Day to Remember, Judas Priest and In This Moment.