You’re all set: you’ve got your ticket. You’ve made a list of must-see acts. You’ve rounded up a solid group of friends to join you in making this one of the best weekends ever. But EDC at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is more than just the music; it’s about the experience, right? So here’s a list of things you need to check out at North America’s largest music festival. Some are old, some are new—but one thing’s for sure: You won’t see most of these at any other fest. And you don’t have to rush to see them all, because this carnival is open for three nights. Grab some coffee and prepare yourself, because there’s a bunch to see—and even more to experience.
With so much on the docket, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. You need a game plan. Thankfully, there’s an Insomniac app to minimize the stress through the three-day extravaganza. Download the app to your smartphone and you’ll be able to register your wristband, access an interactive map of the festival grounds, view set times, create a schedule and receive event messages in real time. You can even drop a pin to mark where you parked your car.
Drop a few Benjamins, and you can dodge the headache of traffic and arrive to the festival in style. Book with Maverick Helicopters for a 15-minute flight to the Speedway on an EC130 ECO-Star aircraft. Performers such as Tiësto and Hardwell have used the service in the past, so don’t be surprised if a DJ boards your flight.
Let’s talk about the stages. This year, there are eight of them. The owls return to kineticFIELD—the festival’s main stage, but last year’s kineticCATHEDRAL has been revamped to form the Crystal Village. The new setup dives deeper into the owl motif established in previous years; between each set, the mayor of the owl community will release crystals into the audience containing the powers of earth, fire, water and air. We know, we know … but trust us—it’ll definitely be pretty.
Say hello to the Funk House! The all-new 360-degree structure, which is built entirely out of reclaimed and recycled materials, will boast a soundtrack of classic funk, soul, disco and old-school hip-hop tunes. Given the selection of genres, it might be the elephant in the festival grounds, but think of this blast from the past as an oasis in the festival landscape.
Not much about the other stages has changed. The bassPOD will still provide a sort of triangular mecca for low-end enthusiasts. The massive metal arches of the circuitGROUNDS will return, as will the captivating colors of the neonGARDEN. You can still commune on the lush grass of the cosmicMEADOW and groove to harder styles of dance at wasteLAND. However, be aware: Live music will be happening nonstop at each of the stages. Choose wisely the artists you want to see most, and make sure you allot time for visiting other attractions.
Speaking of attractions, one of the biggest this year is Palace Blue, a 20-ton structure made from bamboo poles, steel, wood and fabric. California artist Gerard Minakawa created the installation, and the main source of inspiration was the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Istanbul. Talk about building character—the attraction adds even more oomph to the festival’s landscape.
Insomniac also announced an all-new cultural hub, Carnival Square. The ideal meetup spot is in the center of the festival blueprint, and it’s a one-stop-shop for everything you need. This is where you’ll find the lost-and-found, food and beverage vendors, artist meet-and-greet areas and merchandise booths. It’s the best place to rendezvous with friends and take it all in.
What’s a carnival without rides? Full-size carnival rides—think revolving coasters and spinning swings—will be dotted throughout the speedway. And, as always, you can hop on the Ferris wheel to get a breathtaking view of the whole thing. Your festival pass includes access to all of the rides, so you can feel like a kid again at no additional cost.
If you decided to splurge on a VIP pass, you’ll have exclusive access to optimal viewing areas for cosmicMEADOW, kineticFIELD and circuitGROUNDS. In addition, you can have body paint applied by makeup artists and jump in the ball pits, as well as exclusive Wi-Fi hot spots and phone-charging stations. Come thirsty and hungry, because VIP ticket holders get complimentary drinks and free appetizers passed nightly from 7-9 p.m. And to top it all off, VIPs have their own Ferris wheel.
Oh, yeah, there happen to be a few DJs playing at EDC—more than 200 of dance music’s top artists, in fact. As expected, beloved Strip residents, including Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix and Chuckie, are all slated to man the decks. However, many DJs are from across the pond and rarely make appearances in America, let alone Las Vegas, so now’s the perfect time to check them out.
One such rarity is Australian producer Flume. The 23-year-old electronic music wunderkind was propelled to stardom with his 2012 hit, “Holdin’ On,” and his self-titled full-length LP gave us 15 cuts of stellar electronica with a hip-hop backbone. It’s been nearly a year since he blessed Las Vegas with a stellar performance at Brooklyn Bowl, so he’s sure to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
Speaking of Australia, Alison Wonderland just happens to be from there, too. She’s known for creating anthems that feature the contrast between her soft vocals and huge drops, which can be heard in her single, “I Want U.” If giving your ears an ass kickin’ is on your EDC checklist, don’t miss her set.
If you prefer shuffling hi-hats to big drops, be sure to check out English producer Eats Everything. Last time he was in Las Vegas, he performed as part of Disclosure’s Wild Life residency at Light nightclub. Now he’ll take his signature house sounds from the club to the festival grounds. If his latest mini-mix, “Fries With That,” is any indication of what to expect, we’re excited. And hungry.
That doesn’t mean big names won’t be bringing their A-game, of course. Since EDC is one of the largest festivals in North America, expect some top-notch sets from the biggest names in EDM.
This includes Afrojack and Hardwell, who, according to YourEDM.com, are collaborating for the first time since 2008’s “Let the Attack Begin.” Considering the magnitude of this festival, perhaps they’ll treat fans to a preview.
Swedish progressive-house DJ Alesso just played, arguably, the most important show of his career: the release party for his debut album, Forever. The show in his hometown of Stockholm brought 10,000 people to Ericsson Globe. Since EDC attendance is expected to exceed 400,000 this year, he’ll probably play to even more.
Touring hot off the rails of their latest single, “Peace of Mind” featuring Zoë Johnston, English trance giants Above & Beyond make their return to the festival. Last year, the trio gave fans a heartwarming acoustic rendition of their hit “Sun & Moon.” They’re bound to provide similar moments this time around.
On the more aggressive side, don’t miss trio-turned-sister-duo Krewella. Since they’re now backed by a full band, the pair will give their classic EDM bangers some depth and variety. Expect an energetic set full of classics such as “Alive” and “Somewhere to Run,” but don’t be surprised if they drop some exciting new material.
Maybe you’re at the festival to check out some fresh new talent in the ever-changing electronic music world. Thanks to the Discovery Project, you can watch eight up-and-coming acts from around the country perform on various stages throughout the weekend. Each act had to submit one original song and a 30-minute mix, and Insomniac handpicked each winner from a pile of dozens. The eight acts are all worth checking out if you’ve got a gap in your schedule, because who knows? You might just see the next Avicii!
Chances are, you’ll have your phone out to snap dozens of pics during this momentous event. Festival organizers took note of that and installed iBeacons throughout the venue. If you have a smartphone, you’ll receive location-based notifications with information about nearby attractions. Think of it as having your own EDC tour guide in the palm of your hand.
Sometimes a selfie with your friends in front of the main stage just isn’t enough. Leave the selfie stick at home and make use of the photo booths scattered throughout the venue. You’ll get a nice little keepsake, so you can reflect on it in the future if you were way too drunk—er, busy experiencing the festival.
The wedding chapel is back! For the third consecutive year, festivalgoers can tie the knot “under the electric sky.” Insomniac will offer legal unions (including same-sex marriages) for $320, in addition to free commitment ceremonies and vow renewals. Choose a themed EDC minister and make use of the Electric Daisy Bouquet. And if you don’t want to commit, you can at least watch, because love is a beautiful thing, especially in the Wedding Capital of the World.
You’re going to dance up an appetite all three days, and if you didn’t opt for the elusive new VIP Café Terrace, you can indulge in offerings from several food trucks. But don’t expect to eat the same things you did at the festival last year, because a new slew of trucks is rolling into the speedway this year. This time, the festival boasts offerings from local and not-so-local food trucks, such as Cousins Maine Lobster, 50 Shades of Green, Señor Blues, Baby’s Badass Burgers, Oming’s Kitchen, Bowl of Heaven and Urban Pie. You can grab classic festival concessions, such as pizza and burgers, but if you’ve got a hankering for Vietnamese or healthy, organic options, you’re covered—much like with everything else at this annual party.