LAS VEGAS — Up to 115,000 partiers are expected each night this weekend for a dusk-to-dawn sensory salad of electronic dance music, lights, partying and mingling at a sprawling speedway complex outside Las Vegas.
Electric Daisy Carnival officials said Wednesday that all 345,000 available tickets had been sold for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday night event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The festival founder, Insomniac Events CEO Pasquale Rotella, likes to call the fans and the revelry the headline attraction at his nocturnal gatherings, which drew criticism in Los Angeles before moving to Las Vegas in 2011.
"That's one of the biggest spectacles of the entire event, 115,000 like-minded people all dressed up and having a good time," said Simon Rust Lamb, Insomniac chief operating officer and general counsel. "We want to create moments and memories that are full of joy and that help people create and connect with the people around them."
Hundreds of artists and theatrical performers like fire-twirlers and stilt-walkers are slated to roam the nearly 2-square-mile festival grounds, along with "art cars" blasting music from rolling mock-ups like a pirate ship or a boom box.
Fireworks are planned. Twenty art displays and three graffiti walls are being erected, along with a brightly-lit amusement park featuring several Ferris wheels. Performers include the collaborative fire art group Flaming Lotus Girls and a Rotella creation, Night Owl Experience.
Don't call it a concert. It's a carnival. And don't call it a rave, Lamb said, because that connotes an illegal underground warehouse party.
"The common thread is electronic music," he said. "There's nothing illegal, underground or warehouse about what we do."
The nonstop lineup on seven stages features more than 200 music producers and deejays, including Afrojack, Tiesto, Above & Beyond, Calvin Harris, Madeon, Armin van Buuren, Bloody Beetroots and former Swedish House Mafia member Steve Angelo.
Pat Christenson, whose role as Las Vegas Events president is to attract events to the city and tourists to the hotels, called Las Vegas uniquely able to handle the festival because it has years of experience hosting large events and a remote venue with parking for hundreds of thousands of fans.
"The footprint is big. The music is loud. But it's miles from downtown," Christenson said, "and the way the grandstand is, it's hard to hear the sound outside the speedway."
Insomniac Events has tried to expand the event – and the number of people booking hotel stays – by promoting pool parties, nightclub events and EDMbiz, a $500-per-ticket two-day conference on the business of dance music and culture. It began Wednesday.
"What I love about this festival is that it's new every year," Christenson said.
Lamb wouldn't disclose planned eye-poppers. But there will be a wedding chapel for ceremonies both legal and for fun.
Lamb said he hoped ticket-holders, whom he called "headliners," would be surprised and inspired by the scale of the event.
The festival moved to Las Vegas three years ago from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after the 2010 death of a 15-year-old girl who was treated for drug intoxication, and the arrest of 114 people on misconduct, drug and other charges.
Rotella and four other defendants face criminal charges in Los Angeles stemming from a 29-count indictment handed up in February 2012 alleging bribery, conspiracy, embezzlement and other charges relating to work contracts at the Coliseum. A trial date has not been set.
In Las Vegas, police have reported few major problems while festival crowds have swelled. One festival-goer died last year when he was hit by a vehicle at a speedway exit.
Insomniac estimated nightly crowds at 75,000 to 85,000 in 2011, while police reported 29 felony arrests, mostly on drug charges. Hundreds of people received medical attention, including at least 17 who were hospitalized on the first two nights.
Crowds topped out at more than 106,000 last year, and police reported 54 drug arrests while paramedics treated 485 people, including 16 who were hospitalized.
Lamb said traffic patterns have been revamped this year to incorporate lessons from high-attendance NASCAR racing events at the speedway. The goal is to smoothly move the equivalent of the population of Ann Arbor, Mich., in and out each night.
Meanwhile, Bill Cassell, a Las Vegas police officer and department spokesman, said hundreds of officers will be assigned to the event at Insomniac expense.
"We look for people who are disorderly or fighting or using narcotics," Cassell said, "people who are disturbing the good, safe time that other people are having."
Attendance isn't cheap, but demand is high. A first batch of 30,000 tickets – at $199 for one night or $450 for all three nights – sold out last November in an hour. Later, tickets sold for $289; passes, $500.
Shuttle coach bus service some 15 miles from Las Vegas Strip hotels to the speedway gate costs $80, plus about $15 in fees. Lamb said 35,000 shuttle passes had been sold.
Buses and taxis will have dedicated access lanes, Lamb said, and more parking attendants have been added.
Organizers are asking people to carpool to and from the event.
"We're encouraging people to come early and leave when they feel comfortable and recognize that parking for 115,000 people will take a little time," Lamb said.