“Life is Beautiful”: Going Strong After 10 Years

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Freemont Stage at the "Life is Beautiful" festival in Downtown Las Vegas, Nev. on Sept. 23, 2023. Photo by Kalin Sipes.

Under tangerine orange and pink skies, excited festival goers strolled through Downtown Las Vegas on the opening night of “Life is Beautiful.” Flashing lights, blaring beats and art exhibitions lined the streets.

This year is the 10th annual “Life is Beautiful” festival held in Downtown Las Vegas. The 3-day festival was held Sept. 22 to Sept. 24, 2023. The festival was founded in 2013 by Zappos’ former CEO, Tony Hsieh. Hsieh hoped to help bring life to many businesses downtown.

The festival consists of musical performers, art displays, culinary experiences and shows done by Las Vegas performers from Cirque Du Soleil and the Blue Man Group. This year, festival headliners included The Killers, Kendrick Lamar and Odesza. 

This festival has been endorsed by the City of Las Vegas and praised by locals for supporting the community, and this year — Life is Beautiful’s 10th year — is no different. 

To honor the festival turning 10 years old and to give back to the community, an art gallery in the Las Vegas arts district held a 10 year commemorative charity exhibition titled “Recycled Propaganda” for nearly two months leading up to the festival. The exhibition has been coined as “Giving is Beautiful” on social media.

Stepping into the backroom at “Recycled Propaganda,” spectators see a large banner hanging. It reads, “10 years of Life is Beautiful.” The art exhibition features art pieces from previous festival years. Entrance to the gallery is free, but proceeds from purchased artwork will benefit several local charities.

“Art really has the power to bring everyone together. Just like music, just like food, Life is Beautiful does a lot for the local art community” expressed Craig Dennis, the manager at “Recycled Propaganda.” The art gallery also participated in the festival with a spot on festival grounds in the Market in the Alley. Several local businesses are represented here and make up a functional marketplace similar to what one may see at “First Friday.”

Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT), the oldest autism nonprofit in Nevada, has also partnered with “Life is Beautiful.” Artwork done by kids on the spectrum was displayed at the 3-day festival. The mural took about two weeks in total to finish, with finishing touches being added two days before the festival began.

Board member Allan Glatts shares, “We have art displayed from 15 different kids. They range in age from 6 to 23. It means a lot we were able to do this. We’re even able to come into the festival early on Saturday with the kids so they can see their artwork. Many have sensory issues, so the folks here have worked with us.”

While the festival involves non-profits and boosts business downtown, one does not have to be a Las Vegas local to enjoy the “Life is Beautiful.”

Headliners perform different genres of music: rock, hip hop and electronic music. There are five different stages, one commonly referred to as the “rave cave” and a silent disco. There’s several food options and art installations. With the variety the festival offers, there’s a wide variety of people in attendance, including college students. 

UNLV student Kevin Kelly shares, “I thought it was a really cool experience and impressively organized. The atmosphere was fun, and all the businesses and pop-ups were great. I’m definitely looking forward to going again next year.”

“Life is Beautiful” sprawls across 18 city blocks. If trekking from one end of the festival to another, it is quite the journey. However, this does not deter festival goers from traveling from stage to stage, even if it means sore feet at the end of the night.

With nonstop performances from 3:30 p.m. to nearly 1:00 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, many would consider the 10th year of “Life is Beautiful” as spectacular as the sunset on opening night.

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