The Killers and chef Tom Colicchio are among the participants of Las Vegas’s Life is Beautiful Festival October 26–27.
The Las Vegas Strip doesn’t need a festival. It is a festival. It is the epicenter of that city’s excesses. It is Disneyland with slot machines. But ignore downtown Vegas at your own risk. It has history, character, gaming, and booze. And on the weekend of October 26, it will also have the much-hyped inaugural Life is Beautiful Festival, which will combine a bevy of A-list musical acts with a cornucopia of sumptuous foodie pleasures in a part of town finally ready for its close-up.
“We’re not picking cues from downtown as of five years ago, but rather cues as of 50 years ago,” says Rehan Choudhry, cofounder and CEO of the Life is Beautiful Festival. “That’s the Las Vegas where Frank Sinatra got booed offstage during his first two-week residency. It’s where Sammy Davis Jr. had to fight his way into hotels because of segregation. There’s a huge amount of music and entertainment history here that we’re trying to embrace.”
Taking place across 15 blocks of downtown, Life is Beautiful will be comprised of four components: music, food, art, and learning.
Musical headliners include The Killers, Kings of Leon, Beck, Imagine Dragons, and Pretty Lights. The fancy apron brigade will feature Michael Mina, Jet Tila, David Myers, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Tom Colicchio, Jonathan Waxman, and more.
Bruce Bromberg, who along with brother Eric owns and cofounded Blue Ribbon Restaurants, which includes the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, is cochair of the Festival’s culinary advisory board. He says there is a mutual admiration society among many of the musicians and chefs, and that is what influenced the selection of groups for the event’s lineup. Choudhry agrees, pointing out that Kings of Leon, for example, happen to be huge devotees of Waxman’s cooking and eat at his restaurant when they’re in NY.
“We did want to get bands we felt would resonate and have significant meaning,” says Bromberg, who promises “cool stuff making its way over from Japan” among the eclectic food selections. “There were certain genres we were interested in, and also the fan base we wanted at the festival. We wanted a strong crossover.”
photography by Eric weiss (the killers); bettencourt Studio (colicchio)