Lost Lake Festival Celebrates Phoenix Culture

Two weekends ago, the creators of major music festivals Bonnaroo and Outside Lands brought a new cultural experience to the Valley. Meant to celebrate the unique qualities of Phoenician lifestyle, the event spanned three days and combined music, art, food and interactive experiences from local Phoenix vendors. The Valley has no shortage of great events throughout the year, but this event was unlike others in several ways. As the first major music festival to come to Phoenix with a goal of incorporating all aspects of the Valley’s culture, Lost Lake exceeded expectations for many attendees.


Photo by Stevie Solomon

The Lost Lake lineup was noticeably diverse especially when compared to other music festivals and events in the Valley. Major names like The Killers, Odesza and Chance The Rapper were juxtaposed with slightly smaller acts such as Danny Brown and Crystal Castles, as well as local Phoenix bands like Playboy Mania. The lineup spanned several genres including electronic, hip-hop, alternative and even Latin, giving music-lovers of all types a reason to come together.


Phoenix artists filled the Lost Lake grounds with a variety of structures, sculptures and murals, creating a colorful, lively and psychedelic experience. Large 3D blocks could be found in one section of the festival where artists could be found painting murals each day. Another section housed large interactive structures, including a large bus and truck which lit up at night and were accessible for attendees to jump inside, climb on or simply admire from outside. The “Found” marketplace also gave home to a variety of local Phoenix vendors selling everything from stickers and buttons to henna tattoos and clothing.

Photo courtesy of Lost Lake

Food and Drink

The event brought an impressive lineup of the Valley’s top restaurants, breweries and other beverage vendors with a list of over 30 Phoenix culinary experiences. Dining ranged from simple food trucks to more elaborate restaurants, including local favorites Clever Koi, Casa Anejo, Island Noodles, Ocotillo, Stock & Stable, and Kaleidoscope Juice. Chris Bianco was also in attendance, offering his expertise as one of the Valley’s most well-known and celebrated chefs. Barbecue was a large part of the food experience with The Lava Pit, a volcanic structure used to grill various barbecue vendors’ dishes, and beer aficionados were satisfied with Phoenix breweries in attendance, including Four Peaks, Grand Canyon, Huss and Phoenix Ale.

Life-size croquet.  Photo by Alyssa Reyes


A variety of fun and entertaining experiences spanned the festival grounds, perfect for times when there were breaks between music performances. The Lost Playground was home to mega-size billiard games including pool, cornhole, croquet, Twister, table tennis and several others. Tequila lovers found paradise at Nectar of the Gods, an experience dedicated to agave. The area featured an agave-plant maze as well as a diverse cocktail selection of Anejo, reposado, blanco and mezcal tequila. As an all-ages event, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix presented Silly Slope, an area filled with activities designed for young kids and their families.


The festival’s stated goal was to support Phoenix nonprofits while emphasizing art and education. Lost Lake committed to making a philanthropic impact by setting aside a specific area for attendees to learn about local non-profits. The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Phoenix Center for the Arts and Sonoran Prevention Works are just a few that set up camp in the area and educated passersby on their causes and ways to get involved. The festival also prioritized sustainability efforts by encouraging guests to recycle and take care of the festival grounds and lake.


Agave maze. Photo by Alyssa Reyes

Taking place at Indian Steele Park in the heart of Phoenix could have easily been a logistical nightmare, but transportation to and from the festival was as smooth as possible. A festival ticket granted attendees free access to the Light Rail, while Lyft was an official partner of the event with a hub strategically set up across the street. The venue itself was an ideal location for this type of event, with plenty of grassy areas and a lake at the center. Pyrotechnic shows took place upon the lake after sunset, set to music and illuminating the surrounding area. The only complaint there seemed to be about the venue was the amount of dust flying around, but as Arizonans know, there’s sometimes no escaping the desert elements. Overall, the event was well designed and easily accessible.

The beauty of this festival was in the details. Stages named after mountains around the Valley, Southwestern-inspired decor, and the sunset-colored information packets are just a few examples of how the creators incorporated many subtle nods to Phoenix life. Lost Lake has a lot of potential to be an annual unique cultural experience that both celebrates and enriches the Valley. The event reportedly brought 45,000 attendees, and most are hopeful that Lost Lake will return in 2018.

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