Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Las Vegas fall music festival guide

(Photo: Michael Billings)
Hilary Billings/USA TODAY

While the weather is finally cooling down, Las Vegas food and music festivals are heating up! We're revealing which upcoming concerts made our shortlist and how to navigate them like a boss.

iHeartRadio Music Festival and Village, September 19-20

The deets: The biggest event in radio returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena for two nights of mind-blowing performances, musical collaborations and special guest appearances from CW stars. This year attendees can shake it off with Taylor Swift, Usher, Lorde, Motley Crue, Iggy Azalea, 50 Cent and Ariana Grande. Oh, and in case that wasn't enough, the iHeartRadio Music Festival Village is back for its second annual outdoor event with a whole new lineup at the Lot (across from Luxor). If there were ever a concert to O.D. on music, this would be it. So go ahead and feed your addiction.

What to bring to the festival: You'll want your iPhone fully charged so you can snap Instagram pics and live tweet during the nightly concerts. Throughout the night tweets will be selected to appear on the big screens in the arena, so you may have a moment in the spotlight. Make sure you leave your camera gear at home, though. You won't be let in with any professional equipment.

What to bring to the village: The weather is still pretty hot this time of year, so you'll need water. But the Village will only allow patrons to bring factory sealed Aquafina water bottles in. We don't know why. But we know they'll toss your perfectly good Arrowhead, so beware.

Where to crash: If you can grab a room at the home base hotel, MGM Grand, you'll make your marathon weekend much easier. But if they're fully booked, the Tropicana, New York-New York, Hooters and Excalibur are all within walking distance.

Local insider insight: For your best celebrity sightings, hit up MGM's Hakkasan Nightclub. Typically bands will go there to party once they've wrapped their sets.

And remember: The evening concerts typically start at 7 p.m. and go until 1 a.m. You may be waiting all night to see your favorite singer or band perform, so go easy on the drinks. After all, you want to remember their set, right? Or maybe you don't. Total judgment call.

Must be 18 or older to attend. Children 17 or under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Only a limited number of iHeartRadio Music Festival tickets are available for resale, starting at $213.74. Tickets to the iHeart Radio Village are still available, starting at $58.60. Buy quickly on ticketmaster.

Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival, October 3-5

The deets: Cowboys are invading Vegas early this year, kicking off the season right at the Lot across from Luxor. The first-ever Route 91 Harvest Festival is packing three days of country powerhouses, guaranteeing a boot stompin' good time. Fans can enjoy the parking lot party with Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Randy Houser, Dwight Yoakam, Dustin Lynch and Lindsay Ell.

What to wear: The three-day outdoor event warns it will happen come rain or shine, so make sure you check the weather forecast before heading out. Otherwise, slap on your sunscreen, cowboy hat and comfy boots!

What to bring: They have yet to release their "do's and don'ts" for the concert weekend, but we know you'll need your ID for drinks and your wristband for admission.

Where to crash: Concert attendees can take advantage of easy booking access to MGM Resorts properties on the Route 91 website. As the lot is directly across fromMandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur, country enthusiasts can take advantage of the quick walk. But you can grab a cab from any locale to the Lot.

And remember: Your wristband is your golden ticket. If it gets lost, broken or cut off, they won't issue you another one.

The festival opens daily at 2 p.m. and expects to go past midnight. Three-day wristbands are $199. Single day passes are not available. Children 6 and under are free. Buy your passes online.

Wine Amplified Festival, October 10-11

The deets: This is the only place in Vegas you can listen to acoustic sets on sand, stomp grapes, stroll through a Munich-inspired Craft Beer Garden and taste all the wine you want. Oh, and there's a hidden speakeasy and a wine cave. Plus, Train, Blink-182, Better than Ezra, Magic!, The Violent Femmes and more musicians will be there to perform live. Oh yeah, the 9th annual Wine Amplified Festival will have you buzzing. (Like what we did there?)

What to wear: This is an all-day outdoor booze-filled weekend. So don your giant California sun hat, comfy shoes and favorite wine country outfit. October is typically one of the best months for outdoor events in Vegas -- during the day, temperatures will hit the mid-80s and cool down at night. (We call this sweater weather).

What to bring: Water stations will be available, so carry an empty water bottle with you. Also bring your phone charger so you can juice up at charging stations throughout the day. (We know you'll be taking lots of drunken selfies).

Where to crash: MGM Resorts is offering special deals for festival attendees at all of their hotels, including nearby properties Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur and New York-New York. Rooms start at just $25 per night at select properties. Make your reservation online now.

Special festival deals: All MGM Resorts properties are offering free shuttle service to and from the lot. #score

And remember: This year they are unveiling a cashless wristband payment system for food and drinks. Hurray for no more lost wallets in your drunken stupor! If you pre-order wristbands, they come loaded with some spending money.

Must be 21 or older to attend. Gates open at 4 p.m. and music goes until midnight. Single day passes are $69 and weekend passes are $129. VIP tickets are also available. Book your tickets online or call the MGM International Resorts call center: 877-274-6958.

Life Is Beautiful, October 24-26

The deets: Striving to inspire community through performers, chefs, motivational speakers and artwork, the Downtown Project is bringing Life is Beautiful back for a second year. Expanding to three days, attendees will enjoy performances by Kanye West, The Roots, Lionel Richie, Kacey Musgraves, Panic! at the Disco, Switchfoot, Neon Trees and more. This year's chefs — including Giada De Laurentiis, Cat Cora, Rick Moonen, Hubert Keller, and Bruce and Eric Bromberg — will showcase some of their best dishes while Ricki Lake, Tony Hsieh, Fred Mossler and others will speak.

What to bring: Only sealed bottled water is allowed inside the festival grounds, so come prepared to spend some bucks on food and drinks. If you have special dietary restrictions and try to bring in your own, you'll need to have a doctor's note.

What to wear: Life is Beautiful is double the fun, happening Downtown and right before Halloween weekend. This means that practically anything goes. Recycle your Electric Daisy Carnival outfit or give your friends a preview of your Halloween costume. Or be 'normal' and wear jeans. Whatever floats your boat.

Where to crash: If you want to stay in the heart of it all, book a room at the El Cortez (it literally lies along the perimeter of the festival). If you're looking for something a little more updated, the recently opened Downtown Grand around the corner is perfect for comfort and convenience, all while maintaining that vintage Vegas vibe.

Special festival deals: Besides the three days of awesome, Life is Beautiful also has a Grills & Guitars Festival Kick-Off Party on Thursday, October 23 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Goldspike. Attendees can preview the food and music of the festival while enjoying the glow of bonfires and twinkle lights. If the event schedule seems too overwhelming, or you're looking for an easy pre-game, get your all-inclusive tickets online now.

And remember: Your festival ticket will come in the form of an embedded barcode chip wristband and must be on your wrist for the duration of your time attending. If you lose it, you're SOL.

Gates open at 1 p.m. and close at midnight. Three-day general admission, single day and VIP tickets are currently available. Single day passes start at $105. Grills & Guitars Festival Kick-Off Party is $175. Buy your tickets online.

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