Written by Stephanie Rosa
All photos by Mitchell Aaron Gross of Festival Squad
In a crowd of colorful kandi kids, short shorts, bright lipstick and creative totems you can make out the tall downtown Phoenix buildings between the lasers that represent Phoenix Lights. With festival goers bouncing around between the two stages or climbing the giant cactus to get a good glimpse of the main stage, the vibe was lively, fun, and colorful. Hosted by Phoenix’s largest promotion company, Relentless Beats, this festival remained up-to-par with organization and diverse talent.
How To Get There
Located in Downtown Phoenix, this festival is relatively easy to get to, whether you’re coming from Old Town or Desert Ridge. Ubers will cost you around $25-$30 each way, or you can opt for the Light Rail which will take you straight downtown from various stops for much cheaper. Once in the downtown area, there are several pedicabs that will also take you from the downtown area to the festival, and vice versa. Its also a fun way to get around.
Where To Stay
There is no camping available at the two day event, but there are several hotels that are scattered all throughout Phoenix. Price will range depending on the neighborhood, but plan to spend around $150 if you’re staying downtown. No shuttles were available for this event, but Relentless Beats often has shuttle services running for other events that are further than a 30 minute drive.
This festival is located in Margaret T. Hance Park which is right downtown. While the park is relatively large, this festival was nearly sold out, and it definitely made it feel a bit crowded at times. However, due to having two stages as well as some areas to sit comfortably, the event was laid out nicely. There were likely upward of 30,000 people in attendance on night one alone.
The crowd was definitely a fun and rowdy one. There was lots of kandi, lots of fur, lots of neon and a ton of creative totems. Everyone was having a great time, dancing, and making new friends. Overall, the crowd felt younger with an average age being somewhere in the early to mid 20s.
Food was available at the festival but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Typical festival food including fries, burgers, and other greasy snacks were lined up near the back of the festival near the bathroom area. A line of other vendors welcomed patrons with festival wear and lights to rave with.
What VIP Has to offer (Why pay the extra for VIP? Is it worth it?)
For me personally, the best part about this festival was the VIP section. I utilized this at the end of the night when Kaskade was hitting the main stage. It was a packed house and there wasn’t much room to try and get a good spot (especially since we decided to stay on the second stage, to catch Jai Wolf for as long as possible). We were able to head right over to VIP and get close to the stage, as there was a private viewing area. There were also private bathrooms (trailer style), and a separate bar.
If you decide you want to splurge on Phoenix Lights, you can purchase a table. Table options range from $500 – $1500, include up to 8 tickets, various drink packages & the ability to enjoy the show from an elevated area. The elevated table area was roped off and allowed those with a table to overlook the crowd and the stage simultaneously. If you were looking to just get the private viewing access, bathrooms and private bar, the tickets were only an additional $50 for the weekend. My opinion? Worth it. Plus, the VIP area had an older crowd which was still a lot of fun.
Things To Do
If you needed a break from the festival there were a small handful of things to do including:
- Shopping through the local vendors
- Walk around and check out some cool (and large) art installations
- Watch live painters
- Head to an after-party including Kaskade’s Redux Afterparty held right in Downtown Phoenix and close to the festival
There was not a whole list of activities at the festival, but the festival was mindful of its space, making sure it was not over crowded but still offered other things to do.
What Makes the Festival Different?
- Creative Stages – The smaller stage at the festival had a gigantic blowup octopus that looked like it was oozing out of the stage. This was complete, of course, with screens to make the eyes and the mouth of this creature. The side stage, though smaller, was incredibly visually appealing and a great stage to dance near. Likewise, the main stage was complete with gorgeous lasers, lights, confetti blasters and fire. The stages kept the crowd going late into the evening.
- The Local Feel – Phoenix Lights stays true to its roots. Recognizing that its EDM scene is growing rapidly in a smaller city, it included local vendors and artists, making it unique in that aspect alone.
- The Lineup – Something I really liked about Phoenix Lights was the fact that the lineup was diverse and was separated appropriately each day. No matter if you could make one day or both days, no matter if you liked trap or future house, there was something available for you.
- If you’re going with a large group of friends, a totem is highly recommended at this festival. As the festival got later, it became more crowded, meaning it was difficult to navigate through a large sea of people. However, a totem would make this way easier.
- Bring a sweater! People forget that it can get chilly in Arizona, and that temperatures drop at night. Bringing something warm to throw on was helpful once it turned 9pm.
- Buy your afterparty tickets in advance! Phoenix Lights offered the sought after Kaskade Redux afterparty tickets to pass holders only and the tickets sold out quickly. Large groups of fans were pleading for tickets on FB but there were none available and ticket holders had no intention to sell.
Phoenix Lights was an awesome experience. The festival was well organized, had a great lineup, and was a great addition to the electronic scene that is growing in Phoenix. The festival was in a location that was easy to get to, and the lines moved incredibly quickly. My suggestions to the festival moving forward would be to incorporate more local food trucks, have a few more activities available & offer some type of seating structures (perhaps bean bags or hammocks) where there is open grass to sit. Other than that, the festival was well run and I would attend again next year.
Thank you, Phoenix Lights, for hosting Festival Squad!