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2019 Culture Guide: Festivals & Family

Family & Festivals | Music | Theater & Dance | Literature and Ideas | Visual Arts

September 15

But It’s a Happy Cry

Cinco de Mayo is an important Mexican holiday, but it isn’t Mexican Independence Day; that’s September 16. That day in 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bells to let Spain know it was time to go. The call to arms became known as “El Grito,” or “the cry,” and today it’s celebrated a day before Día de la Independencia with an epic party. Take that, Spain! Lorenzi Park, 720 Twin Lakes Drive, 1-8p, free,

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September 20-22

Life is Festi-ful

Chance the Rapper. The Black Keys. Post Malone. Billie Eilish. Life Is Beautiful, the bash that turned the streets of Downtown into a festival is back with more festival stuff, including but not limited to: good music, art (some of which you can touch/ride/crawl into for an Instagram photo), way better food than you’d expect, and an impressive speaker lineup that includes Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye and the hosts of Pod Save America. I don’t know how to spell the word Jonathan uses to describe pumping up hair volume, but this festival has done that. Single-day tickets start at $145,


September 27-29

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A Staycation of Sorts

The food is good, the wine is good, the desserts are good, but, honestly, my favorite part of the Greek Food Festival is strolling the grounds of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, pretending I’m on vacation in the Mediterranean. It’s lush and green, with a jaw-dropping cathedral, and somehow having a glass of wine in the courtyard feels like being transported elsewhere. What’s that? Sorry, I was daydreaming. Of course I’d like more baklava. 5300 El Camino Road, hours vary, $8-12,


September 28

Beer and Wine: Why Choose?

Courtesy Springs Preserve

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You often drink “just ’cause,” so why not drink for a good cause? The 10th annual Grapes & Hops raises money for local charity Par for the Cure, which raises funds for breast cancer research. The drinks are chosen by Southern Wine & Spirits, and food is provided by Stripburger, El Segundo Sol, Mon Ami Gabi, and, for VIPs, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. Springs Preserve, 5-9p, tickets start at $50,


October 4-6

Let It Go, Let It Goooo

Rise Festival photo courtesy of Leon Contreras

Here’s the idea behind the Rise Festival: You drive out to the desert, hang out with your friends, have some snacks, share some laughs, and then write something on a paper lantern and let it float away. The inscription? Up to you. Maybe it’s a wish, or a letter to someone, or a weird, dark part of your psyche you’ve been ready to dump for a while. It’s totally up to you! Jean Dry Lake Bed, tickets start at $79,


October 5

Summerlin Gets Seasonal

As if we needed more reason to visit, the Summerlin Library will put on a Fall Festival and Craft Fair with face painting, pumpkin decorating, balloon artists, magic, and, last but not least, books. Between live jazz bands, learn how to make a garden pot or a fall leaf mason jar. Karma bonus: Bring canned goods or a new toy for the Salvation Army holiday drive. Oh, yeah, and buy a book. Summerlin Library, 10a, free,


October 19

Beer Me

Some booze math: What do you get when you add 200 craft beers from 65 breweries, great food, and lots of bands, all under the stars? You get the frothy, fun Downtown Brew Festival, now in its eighth year. Cheers! Clark County Amphitheatre, 5p, $35-80,


November 2

Nothing Wrong with Picture Books

Look, Time’s list of 100 best novels includes The Watchmen, which goes to show how far graphic novels have come. In these stories, illustrations are an element as essential and nuanced as the words that accompany them, and, in some cases, words aren’t even needed. The Las Vegas Comic Book Festival, a beloved annual event, brings together writers, artists, publishers, and vendors for screenings, panels, and meet-and-greets. Now in its 12th year, it’s pretty much an institution. Go and geek out. Clark County Library, 9:30a-4:30p, free, 702-507-3459


November 2

Respect Your Elders

Dia de los Muertos is not just an aesthetic. Sure, the ornate sugar skulls, meticulously arranged altars, and glowing marigolds are beautiful, but they’re beautiful for a reason: to honor loved ones lost. Celebrate their lives among spectacular displays of life, including live music, dance, food, crafts, and children’s activities. And go ahead, get your face painted while you’re at it. Lorenzi Park, 720 Twin Lakes Drive, 4-10p, free,


November 21

Green Up

Ever wonder what you can grow in Las Vegas in autumn? It’s time to find out at this fam garden fair. Celebrating the Fruits of Our Labor’s garden lectures will cover growing, harvesting, and planning for established gardeners and newbies alike. And black-thumbs, fear not, organic produce will be on sale. Summerlin Library, 11 a.m., free,


November 30

The Perfect Package

One word for you: tamales. Lots of them. Enough to constitute a festival. With music, dancing, tequila, and beer. If you’re not sold, you may never be, but here’s a final attempt: The Las Vegas Tamale & Mariachi Festival creates a reason to celebrate with handmade tamales, Mexican street food, festive folklorico dancing, and adult beverages. Honestly, this should be a holiday. Centennial Plaza, 401 S. Fourth St., 10a-4p, free,


December 22

Share the Light

We know. The Fremont Street Experience isn’t exactly where you’d expect to have a religious experience, but you might. Celebrate the first day of Hanukkah with Rabbi Shea Harlig from Chabad of Southern Nevada, where he’ll light the first candle on a 20-foot Grand Menorah to welcome the holiday season. That’s right, a 20-foot Menorah. We hope the lighted canopy doesn’t get a complex. Fremont Street Experience, time TBD, free,