What to Expect at This Weekend’s Vortex, Meow Wolf’s Trippy Music Festival

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Eight years after Meow Wolf transformed the art world by opening the House of Eternal Return, their permanent immersive installation in Santa Fe, the collective spawned Vortex: a three-day experiential music festival in 2018 that wowed guests with a performance by Cashmere Cat, llama rides and electronic dance-infused glamping in Taos, New Mexico. Mexico. The 2019 iteration of the outdoor party featured aerial acrobats, improv actors, and performers like Zhu, Chet Faker, and GoldLink. It’s impossible to say what kaleidoscopic diversions the 2020 and 2021 Vortex music festivals would have provided if the pandemic hadn’t brought the party to a halt. Fortunately, this year art lovers from all over the world can once again participate in Vortex—and this time, the event will be held in the Mile High City. In anticipation of the mind-blowing festivities, which start this Friday and run through Sunday, with tickets still available. online—here’s the breakdown of what should be one of the most electrifying events of the summer.

What to Expect at This Weekend's Vortex, Meow Wolf's Trippy Music Festival Image by Jess Bernstein. TaosVortex2019 JBPhoto 1585
Vortex in Taos in 2019. Photo Jess Bernstein

The Denver Connection

In 2021, Meow Wolf expanded from Santa Fe to Las Vegas and Denver, with the long-awaited convergence station facility in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood that opened last fall after four years in construction. While Sin City might have seemed like the obvious choice for the 2022 version of the Vortex music festival, the brains behind the festival felt that Denver’s artistic energy provided an ideal setting. “We’ve found there’s so much expression here…” says Marsi Gray, Senior Creative Producer at Meow Wolf, “and we’ve found so many amazing artists who want to play with us. Collaborating and providing space for artists to participate is our commitment, and this makes Denver an incredible place for us to celebrate Vortex.”

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However, relocating a number of established festivals is a risky move. The undertaking might have been easier if the Vortex team had packed in their Taos team to handle the new opportunity. Instead, Meow Wolf recycled the playbook from its permanent exhibits: Employ local talent. For Vortex, the collective committed to hiring 30 percent of the artists and 50 percent of the vendors locally. Additionally, the Meow Wolf social impact team set clear diversity, equity, and inclusion goals: 40% of artists and performers and 30% of festival vendors will be women and/or minorities. “For Vortex, we wanted to make sure we stayed true to our Meow Wolf roots,” says Gray, “and provide whatever opportunities we could to our local community members and groups.”

As such, the Vortex Music Festival is expected to provide hundreds of paying jobs and exposure opportunities to dozens of Coloradans, from security officers to food and beverage vendors (such as Kitchen WeChef Y mumbai station), and from ASL interpreters to interdisciplinary artisans (including Astral Rings Y Color Hyphy). Although Meow Wolf is famous for its vague descriptions of its facilities, Vortex festival goers should expect a murder mystery dinner–motorized scavenger hunt, a mischievous circus parade through lazerpantzY expressive comedyThe funniest show ever.

The place

In June 2022, Meow Wolf announced that Vortex would bypass typical Denver hot spots like Levitt Pavilion for a revamped salvage yard located between the Lincoln Park and Sun Valley neighborhoods of Denver. The brand new outdoor venue, nicknamed the Junk Yard, will be operated by Live Nation. “We love that Junk Yard is in the heart of Denver,” says Gray, “close to convergence station, and easily accessible by public transportation and rideshare services.” That’s the company line anyway. It’s unclear how “easy” it will be for hundreds, possibly thousands, of partygoers to come and go from the area, which has almost no parking and very little infrastructure for events. (See more transportation tips below.) However, if festival goers make it to the Junk Yard, they’ll find two stages, a craft vendor’s market, food and drink stalls, and seating.

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The five unmissable acts

Even though there is 38 musical acts scheduled throughout the weekend, and probably as many offstage performances by artists like Jenny Ollikainen mythical times space goats and cloud bois – there are some not to be missed. On Friday, Barry can’t swim. will grace the stage with poppy-808 tunes as one of five opening acts before the Brazilian icon Paul Vitar sing political pop 100 geckos will keep the bops coming with its sonic collage of trap, death metal and EDM on Day 2. On Sunday, the festival will provide a completely different listening landscape with French music. DJ jobs‘Melodic Techno. Finally, electronic duo bob mosesknown for its smooth summer house music, will close out the weekend festivities.

What to Expect at This Weekend's Vortex, Meow Wolf's Trippy Music Festival Image by Jess Bernstein. TaosVortex2019 JBPhoto 2488
Vortex in 2019. Photo by Jess Bernstein

The details

one day Tickets they are $69.50 or $198.75 for a three-day pass (VIP admission is $129.50 for one day or $339 for the weekend). The Vortex music festival is a rain or shine event, so pack for convenience: bring a bottle of water (not a glass), an umbrella, and sunscreen. Alcohol, weapons, food and professional cameras are prohibited. Unsurprisingly, hula-hoops are allowed. Public transportation is your best bet as parking is limited and, bonus!RTD has free bus rides throughout the month of August. Doors open at 4 pm on Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays the doors open at 1 pm.

(Read more: Does Colorado have a mega music festival curse?)