Downtown to Host Neon City Festival During F1 Grand Prix Weekend

It’s a bold move, but downtown is creating a new music festival for those who have zero interest in the polarizing F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The inaugural Neon City Festival will be held Nov. 22-24, 2024, pretty much directly on top of the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, Nov. 21-23, 2024.

The Neon City Festival is being backed by all the downtown casinos hit so hard financially by last year’s F1 race.

The Neon City Festival will be free.

Fingers crossed for the Thompson Twins.

Word of the festival was first shared by us, of course. We are not, as rumored, omniscient. Some information about the event was shared in an agenda for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

The LVCVA will approve $1 million in sponsorship of the Neon City Festival at its meeting on July 9, 2024.

Details about the festival are a smidge scant at this point, but the LVCVA agenda says, “The inaugural Neon City Festival will take place over the 2024 Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend, November 22-24, 2024, to drive incremental visitation to Downtown Las Vegas. The Neon City Festival will include programming across Fremont Street Experience, Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, and the surrounding downtown area. The Neon City Festival will incorporate an eclectic mix of A-list musical talent, local vendors, art installations and exhibits, and a variety of food and beverage outlets from famed Las Vegas venues. The Neon City Festival will be free and open to the public of all ages.”

That million bucks from the LVCVA should assure the promise of “A-list musical talent” actually is.

The Neon City Festival will be unique in that it will see all the casinos downtown collaborating on the event. Such events are usually one-offs at specific venues, and casinos not part of the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) are not included or featured (such as with FSE’s free concert series).

The Strat, El Cortez, Plaza and Downtown Grand aren’t part of the Fremont Street Experience, but they’ll be included in the Neon City Festival, we hear.

This unprecedented partnership is the result of an unprecedented debacle: F1’s first Las Vegas Grand Prix.

F1’s first race not only caused months of disruption due to roadwork and construction of grandstands, it financially negatively impacted the vast majority of Las Vegas casinos and innumerable other businesses.

As criticism of F1 and the LVCVA has grown, downtown leaders had to choose between openly criticizing F1, or creating counter-programming to ensure their hotel rooms weren’t empty again.

The Neon City Festival is an ingenius solution to a complicated problem. (It’s complicated because four casinos actually made a lot of money during F1, which is the mandate of the LVCVA, to drive business.)

The fact is, F1 isn’t popular enough to fill Las Vegas on its own, as painful as that might be for F1 to hear.

The Neon City Festival will be touted as being “additive” to F1, building on the weekend, rather than competition. If you’re into F1 for whatever reason, have at it. If you’re not, there’s a free festival downtown. The Raiders play the Denver Broncos on Nov. 24, 2024, too, so there’s that.

There’s more to come, and an announcement of the line-up is sure to make a splash.

The Neon City Festival should make inroads into quelling some of the F1 hate. Not ours, of course, as we’re still going to be stuck in traffic on The Strip for three months, but possibly for other people.

We love downtown, and with the creation of the Neon City Festival, now there will be even more to love.

Update (7/9/24): As expected, the LVCVA approved its sponsorship of the Neon City Festival. The following statement was issued by the festival: “Today, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority approved to sponsor the Neon City Festival, a new free music and culinary event in Downtown Las Vegas taking place November 22-24, 2024. The festival will feature a large sprawling footprint, headliner talent, diverse food and beverage offerings and more. Created by Derek Stevens, the Neon City Festival will be a new corporate entity overseen by appointed CEO Jeff Victor with the involvement of its co-founders Circa Resort & Casino, the D Las Vegas, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, Fremont Street Experience, Binion’s Gambling Hall, California Hotel Casino, Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, El Cortez Hotel & Casino, 4 Queens Hotel & Casino, Fremont Hotel & Casino, Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Main Street Station, Plaza Hotel & Casino and The Strat Hotel, Casino & Tower. The Neon City Festival looks forward to revealing additional details in the coming weeks.”

We used to work with Jeff Victor when he was president of Fremont Street Experience (he ran the show for nearly a decade), and he is the bomb. Victor has extensive experience in entertainment, including concerts, festivals, special events, stage shows, amusement parks and attractions, so he’s the perfect guy to spearhead this new festival.