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Sources: Life is Beautiful wants to bring festival to downtown casino in ‘24

Updated April 16, 2024 - 11:39 am

Life is Beautiful might have a future downtown after all.

Sources familiar with the festival’s plans indicate LiB owner Rolling Stone intends to stage the event at the Plaza this fall.

Yet to be formally confirmed, tentative and plans would be for a two- or three-day event as early as the last weekend in September, though the festival’s dates and duration are to be announced.

Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel declined comment Sunday morning. Life is Beautiful’s website has announced only that it would return to downtown this September.

The new Life is Beautiful would take over all of the Plaza’s outdoor property. The hotel covers about 20 acres, including its surface parking and adjacent garage, Core Arena and the parcel formerly home to the Greyhound bus station.

Reportedly, the annex could handle a festival crowd of 30,000. The fesival drew about 150,000 just two years ago.

The Plaza is also home to a classically appointed showroom. LiB has staged comedy shows and discussion events in small venues during previous festivals. Extensive food programming has also been a signature LiB experience.

It is not certain the next LiB event will feature culinary or even a significant art exhibit program this year. But a big outdoor concert festival is doable.

The Plaza has established an art identity downtown with mural work by contemporary artist Shepard Fairey. The iconic, 53-year-old, hotel-casino has reshaped its image over the past several years, by commissioning Fairey’s work, establishing the swiftly familiar Carousal Bar and partnership with Pinkbox Doughnuts, and advancing its dozen outdoor pickle-ball courts.

The hotel was even the backdrop for the U2 “Atomic City” video shoot in September.

The event has annually been staged on 18 blocks in downtown Las Vegas, though that staging plan is not announced for ‘24. Sources indicate the move to the Plaza is the last chance for LiB to perform downtown.

Other sites, such as Las Vegas Festival Grounds, have been mentioned (for many years, actually) as a staging area for the event.

Life is Beautiful was founded in 2013. The founders were Rehan Choudhry and Joey Vanas, with lead investor Tony Hsieh. San Francisco promoter Another Planet was signed on as primary booker. In recent years, Vegas entertainment vet Craig Asher Nyman has headed up the festival’s music and programming strategy.

Rolling Stone, a subsidiary of Penske Media, purchased controlling interest in the festival in February 2022. The ‘24 event is the first in which Rolling Stone is the sole owner.

LiB celebrated its 10th anniversary this past September. Fittingly, Vegas rockers The Killers were among the headliners, alongside Kendrick Lamar, ODESZA and Flume. Khalid, The 1975, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Omar Apollo and Kim Petras were among the top acts playing over three days and nights.

Artists from Cirque du Soleil; the casts of Blue Man Group, Jabbawockeez and Magic Mike Live; and headliners Piff the Magic Dragon and Tape Face were also featured.

LiB is keeping to its original vision from a decade ago. Its manifesto: “We exist to build a more beautiful world. A name like ‘Life is Beautiful’ comes with great responsibility, becuase Life is Beautiful’ is moe than just a festival. It’s a mantra — a way of moving through the world.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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