Come for the Music at Life is Beautiful, Stay for the Food

Tastes and sounds converge at the annual Life is Beautiful Music and Art Festival downtown Las Vegas.

by Rachael Crawley Sigsbee
Life is Beautifulphoto by Rachael Crawley Sigsbee

The biggest names in music were set to preform (The Killers, Kings of Leon, Alabama Shakes), and the biggest names in food (Rick Moonen, Todd English, Cat Cora) were set to cook. Over the course of the first-ever, three-day Life is Beautiful Festival downtown Las Vegas in the fall of 2013, both the musicians and the chefs delivered spectacularly.

At the newest event on the festival circuit, 75 world-renowned chefs set up shop in Culinary Village, an empty parking lot surrounded by abandoned buildings adorned with graffiti from local artists. (If you’ve ever visited the Freemont East area of downtown Las Vegas you know that the once rundown, deserted area has been transformed into a lively community for food and arts.)

I arrived early in the evening to Life is Beautiful to map out a plan to hear my favorite bands play and to explore the impressive lineup of food vendors. In between acts I headed to the beer garden to sample local brews and then made my way to restaurant row where chefs prepared their best offerings from small food stalls lined up like booths at a street fair.

I perused the stalls and immersed myself in a plethora of flavors, including the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño from Nobu, the crispiest fried pickles from Park on Freemont, now a Freemont East staples for drinks, bar bites and people watching, and the best taco in the valley from Nacho Daddy (a ground beef taco topped with queso, cilantro and onions).

By the end of the night I had abandoned my spot in the sea of swaying festivalgoers and camped out at a communal picnic table under café lights strung across the once dilapidated parking lot turned culinary promise land.

Life is Beautiful returns at the end of September with 10 celebrity chefs, including Duff Goldman from “Ace of Cakes,” 34 food vendors, 12 food trucks, including Cousins Maine Lobster who was featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and 11 master mixologists. Three of the four stage areas will host their own Culinary Village, with food trucks and craft beer and cocktail lounges located throughout the festival grounds.

September 25-27, 2015, downtown Las Vegas; tickets starting at $115

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