When it comes to enjoying live music, there are concerts, there are festivals and then there is the Nocturnal Festival, a twice-a-year event that combines music, theater and circus performances with transformative lighting that "breaks the fourth wall" to involve the audience. Nocturnal Festival is the brainchild of Insomniac Events and takes place in Texas in the spring and California in early fall. Both Nocturnal Festivals attract thousands upon thousands of fans annually. Don't go expecting a Top 40 countdown though—the artists at the Nocturnal Festival demonstrate the breadth and depth of the US music scene.
Origins The first Nocturnal Festival was held in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, drawing an estimated 3,000 fans. Popularity has grown steadily and after fifteen years; the L.A. festival is drawing more than 40,000 fans each year. In 2010, Insomniac expanded the festival by launching a second event, held each April in Texas. Both Nocturnal Festivals have also added a second day to their events.
Purpose Nocturnal Festival is designed to showcase many different types of music, including independently produced rock and electronic tunes, performing on multiple stages throughout the two-day events. Yet Nocturnal has actually grown to become something much more—an experience that includes art displays, live performance such as stilt walkers and fire twirlers, carnival rides and more. Insomniac has taken to calling Nocturnal its "wonderland" festival.
Locations Nocturnal Festival is held twice a year in spring and fall. Music fans first gather in late April at the Apache Pass amphitheater complex outside of Rockdale, Texas, about 40 miles from Austin. The scene shifts to the outskirts of Los Angeles in September, where the fall Nocturnal Festival is held at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino.
Tickets With all the activities at Nocturnal, you might expect a gold-plated price tag. Not so. For the 2011 California festival, one-day passes start at $45; the second day goes up to $85. Those are available only for fans who are older than eighteen. The festival also offers VIP single and two-day passes for fans 21 and over; those are $100 and $175 respectively. VIP passes come with admission to an open bar, complimentary snacks, a separate entrance and other benefits. You might want to check out the rules before you go at NocturnalWonderland.com.
The music Without this, of course, the festival wouldn't exist. But don't go looking for pop stars with lots of radio play. The 2011 Texas festival launched with artists known as Toast, Le Furz, DJ Red and Nate B and closed in the wee hours of the morning with Galactic, Kaskade, Pendulum and Christian B. If you don't know much about the diversity of musical styles before you attend Nocturnal, you will once you leave!