Every first Friday of the month, gallery lamps and artsy music dominate the Las Vegas Arts District, the home of the monthly arts event First Friday Las Vegas. A Vegas tradition now running for more than a decade, First Friday helps integrate local artists and their works with the community. It generally caters to people of all ages and admission is free.
This underrated arts and culture gathering situated in between the Strip and the Downtown area is popular to local artists and art patrons — but it actually deserves more mileage from Las Vegas tourists and the larger Vegas population as well.
18b, The Las Vegas Arts District
As the hub of the city’s arts scene, the Las Vegas Arts District, which is technically referred to as “18b” because of the 18 blocks originally comprising the area, hosts a nightlong plethora of visual and performing arts, screenings, live music, food trucks, art installations, and product showcases every First Friday. The event draws about 20,000 visitors per month.
With an indie cinema and a variety of art galleries, antique shops, food stands, and eclectic bars around the area, First Friday’s art crawl aptly offers Vegas artists a convenient platform to share their works, sell their products, and connect with like-minded people.
The monthly First Friday happens from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. It features more than 100 participating artists every month. Attendees can enjoy a variety of indoor and outdoor performances from musicians, dancers, spoken word artists, and street performers. They can also directly purchase merchandise items from artists at reasonable prices. First Friday organizers don’t get a cut in the sales.
When buying artworks or food, it is best to have cash handy, as most First Friday vendors only accept cash payments. ATMs are located inside the event by the Casino Center.
Film buffs can take advantage of the film festival vibe of the indie theater screenings and outdoor movie showings of First Friday’s curated works.
Family-oriented offerings start and end earlier compared to the concerts, art performances, movie screenings, and artwork exhibitions.
For party animals, linking up with one of the many after-parties often means continuing the festivities well into the morning. Aside from the bars and clubs, some art galleries also stay open until the wee hours.
Although general arts and culture activities are always present every First Friday, many spaces are dedicated to a revolving theme. This often coincides with upcoming holidays and the city’s seasonal inclinations.
Parking and Shuttle Services
First Friday artists have dedicated parking areas in the fenced lot at the corner of Colorado Street and Casino Center Boulevard. These are available for free on a first come, first served basis.
Although requiring a bit of walk, some free parking spaces are also available at the Government Center Parking Lot along Grand Central Parkway and the City Hall Garage along Stewart Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. Attendees can take advantage of the shuttles that run from 4:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
If coming early, the expansive paved lot located in the heart of the First Friday happenings between Artifice and the Commerce Street galleries is a readily accessible space for free parking. However, this area fills up pretty fast. If planning to leave early, motorists should park strategically to avoid getting blocked in by the vehicles of those who just arrived.
Guests can also park along selected side streets from the Stratosphere down to Fremont. The vicinity hosts a couple of park-at-your-own-risk, unmanned dirt lots without gates where people can park with caution.
Uber, Lyft, and other similar services are also widely available for First Friday patrons.