Photo by Roxanne Ready via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

First Friday Las Vegas: Where Local Art and Culture Meet

Just a few minutes away from the Strip lies a very different side of Las Vegas.

Every first Friday of the month, the Las Vegas Arts District — an 18-block area between the Strip and downtown — hosts an arts and cultural event called First Friday Las Vegas.

Part street carnival, part civic arts celebration, this Vegas tradition is more than a decade old. The event runs from 5 to 11 p.m. and admission is free. First Friday features local artists, vendors and food trucks, and attracts about 20,000 people every month.

Attendees can enjoy a variety of indoor and outdoor performances from local bands, dance troupes and street performers. Some months there are film festivals featuring indoor and outdoor screenings. You can buy artists’ works, including paintings, ceramics, craft items, mixed-media works, jewelry, textiles and sculptures.

Family Offerings

In addition to those interested in the local arts scene, First Friday events feature family-oriented offerings such as Kids Zone, which has offered hands-on activities to teach children about outer space. The family events start and end earlier than the other offerings. Check the First Friday Las Vegas website for more detailed schedules.

Each month, many booths are dedicated to a particular theme, often coinciding with the season or upcoming holiday. For example, the event has included a  zombie walk in conjunction with Halloween and “green events” such as working to reduce noise pollution.

Get Involved

Local artists interested in showcasing and selling their works should first register and apply at the First Friday website. If approved, they will be notified by the second week following the last First Friday.

The organizers provide the selected artists and food vendors free use of First Friday facilities in their assigned spaces.

First Friday also accepts local volunteers, who get perks like easy access to various events before and after their shifts.

Parking and Shuttle

Attendees can take advantage of free parking at the Government Center Parking Lot along Grand Central Parkway. A “First Friday” sign directs people to the free shuttles that can bring them to the event.

The City Hall Garage along Stewart Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard located a mile away offers ample parking for attendees and there’s a Fremont shuttle along the route.

Visitors can also park along the side streets from the Stratosphere down to Fremont (just make sure to check the parking signs to avoid getting towed).

Shuttles run from 4:30 to 11:30 p.m. The Government Center route has stops at the Government Center Parking Lot by the entrance to Rotunda Gallery and the event area along Colorado and Main streets. The Fremont route has stops at El Cortez, Sixth Street and the event area along Colorado and Main streets. Handicapped transportation is available by calling (702) 739-7990 or (702) 736-6491.

It’s always best to check the First Friday website and official Facebook page for updated shuttle and parking information for any changes.

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