New Year’s Eve Music Festivals to Ring in 2018

New Year’s Eve Music Festivals to Ring in 2018

Picture this: it’s the final countdown to 2018, you are in a sea of 20,000 people, with lasers beaming all around you and an intangible energy pulsating through the crowd. 10…9…8…7. The countdown begins. 6…5…4. You wrap your arms around your friends as the adrenaline continues to build. 3…2…1. Fireworks explode on stage, streamers fall from the sky, and the DJ pauses just long enough for the crowd to echo in unison “Happy New Year!” before the bass drops.

There’s nothing quite like ringing in the new year at a music festival. Being outside in the fresh air, surrounded by a crowd of like-minded people, listening to music — the experience lights a spark inside you that will last all year long. This NYE, skip the club scene and start the new year with a bang at these festivals!

#1 SlowGlobe Music Festival in Lake Tahoe, California

Snowboard all day, then thaw out at the biggest NYE party on the west coast. Nestled among Northern California’s world-class ski resorts, this snowy 3-day fest is a winter wonderland, foodie haven and music festival all wrapped into one. Besides world-class music (there’s plenty of that), you will find big air snowboard demonstrations, fire dancers and an amazing selection of local food vendors offering everything from fresh seafood to decadent desserts. While you can expect sub-freezing temps, there’s something magical about the winter atmosphere, majestic mountain panoramas and lights reflecting off the falling snow – and there’s always spiked hot chocolate to warm you up.

Get the VIP treatment: Escape the crowds and book a private cabana with all your friends, where you can ring in the new year with a bottle of Dom Perignon.

#2 Countdown NYE in San Bernardino, California

Dance into the new year at the “it” festival of the LA area. The party happens at one of our fave festival venues, the NOS Events Center, which has a gorgeous lake perfect for staging your romantic midnight kiss – we even saw someone pop the question here last year. For 2 nights, prolific festival promoter Insomniac Events transforms the grounds into a LED-infused sonic playground, an immersive experience that goes beyond the music. There’s 3D art installations, photo booths, an ice skating rink, and three stages of unreal production to give you all the feels this NYE. The countdown is ON. 

Get the VIP treatment: Upgrade to VIP tickets for access to exclusive viewing decks, gourmet food options, luxury bathrooms and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

#3 Decadence NYE in Denver, Colorado

For all that glitters, indulge in the mile high city’s most lavish new years celebration. Hosted inside the Colorado Convention Center – which is the size of a small city – this massive event is the epitome of glamour, with a lineup that seems to outdo itself every year. True to its name, Decadence comes to life with exquisite decor, over-the-top production and all the little touches that memories are made of. Take a ride on the on the carousel, jam out at the silent disco and sip on bubbly as the clock strikes 12. This year’s theme is “The City Beyond Tomorrow”, so we’re expecting a futuristic twist on America’s biggest NYE festival.

Get the VIP treatment: Elevate your experience to an ultra-posh VIP cabana, where you’ll have champagne, a personal server and the best view in the house.

The Best Nightclubs in Los Angeles

The Best Nightclubs in Los Angeles

You can’t go to Los Angeles without experiencing the nightlife. While I love bar hopping in Santa Monica or trying out a new restaurant in West Hollywood, sometimes a girls gotta dance. There are countless nightclubs in Los Angeles, so I put together this list of tried-and-true clubs where you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable night.

The first time I went to the adult playground that is Exchange LA, I felt like I had travelled through time. Housed in a 1930s building that was once the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, the cavernous 4-story mega-club pays homage to its rich and opulent past with a gorgeous marble staircase and restored Art Deco. The old trading floor has even been transformed into the main dance area surrounded by towering LED screens and a booming Funktion-One sound system. It’s like Wolf of Wall Street meets Berghain.

What was once the famed Hollywood Playhouse, Avalon has historically hosted the likes of the Beatles and the Grammy’s, sitting opposite the iconic Capital Records building steps from Hollywood Boulevard. Best known for its wild bass-centric Friday nights, the club has one of the best sound systems in Hollywood thanks to its 40-inch subwoofers – the largest in the world. Unlike most bottle service Hollywood nightclubs where you got to “see and be seen”, Avalon is entirely about the music, so expect to sweat it out on the dance floor.

One of LA’s more intimate nightclubs, Sound has made a name for itself among deep house and techno devotees, regularly pulling elusive DJs like Claude VonStroke and Christian Martin to satisfy the most discerning ear. The club’s industrial decor includes refurbished wood panelling from Frank Sinatra’s old home, stairway railings salvaged from an old railroad and a sunken dance floor with custom 3D-mapping visuals. But the best part of Sound is the hammerhead shark disco ball I first saw in Coachella’s Yuma tent.

If you’re looking for an over-the-top Hollywood nightclub experience, head to Create. The brainchild of legendary EDM promoter Insomniac Events, this is the place to catch high-profile DJs that headline the world’s biggest festivals – Armin van Buuren and Dash Berlin regularly play here. The space is designed to be a “testing ground for developing technologies in sound and lighting systems”, so you might just get a sneak peek of some innovative new production before it goes mainstream.

An LA legend in its own right, you may have seen The Standard Hotel on an episode of Entourage. With an enviable address on Sunset Strip, the Rooftop offers a chilled-out but an undeniably swanky environment with ultra-mod decor and a birds-eye view of LA. It’s not exactly a nightclub, but it’s party-central during the summer with an open-air dance floor and eclectic DJs playing music day or night. Head here for afternoon mojitos and you’ll likely find yourself staying long after the sun sets.

Get Crafty at the Top Breweries in San Diego

Get Crafty at the Top Breweries in San Diego

While Munich or Prague might be the beer capitals of the world, the USA is arguably the craft beer capital of the world, with more microbreweries in the country than the Europe and Asia combined.

There is a lot of debate over which city is the epicentre of the American craft beer craze, but I’m here to tell you that it’s San Diego, not Portland or Denver, that takes the cake. San Diego boasts more than 125 microbreweries and is the undisputed leader of the west-coast style Indian Pale Ale (IPA), which flows like water throughout the entire county. What’s an IPA? This distinct style of beer is brewed with an abundance of hops that gives it an intense bitter taste, often with strong fruity aromas and a higher-than-average alcohol content of around 7%.

Here are my 5 picks for the top breweries in San Diego you don’t want to miss, as well as which IPAs to try at each!

With humble micro-brew beginnings that date back to 1996, Stone is now one of the country’s most loved craft beer brands, known for its robustly hopped beers and the iconic Stone IPA. Dedicate a whole afternoon to chilling at Stone’s beer garden in Escondido, the perfect place for a Sunday Funday spent sippin’ on pints and playing a few rounds of corn hole.

IPA to try: IPAs are Stone’s bread and butter, and they even offer an IPA tasting flight to explore a full spectrum of flavours. Our new fave is the Delicious IPA, a hoppy yet smooth ale that definitely lives up to its name.

Another mainstay in the SD craft beer scene, Ballast Point gets a bit adventurous in their brewing, with interesting flavours such as the Thai Chili Wahoo and Red Velvet Oatmeal Stout. Stop by the Little Italy location, a restaurant-meets-tasting room with a sprawling outdoor patio overlooking one of the trendiest areas in town.

IPA to try: Ballast Point’s signature Sculpin IPA, which has won a bevvy of awards of worldwide, plus all its unique spinoffs: Grapefruit Sculpin, Pineapple Sculpin, and Habanero Sculpin, which is packed with just the right amount of spice.

A San Diego craft beer legend, Karl Strauss first opened their doors back in 1989 as the county’s first post-Prohibition Era brewery, leading the charge for the local micro-brew industry that had yet to explode. Since then, they have opened a number of restaurants and tasting rooms, expanding all the way up to LA. Go for brunch or happy hour at the Sorrento Valley location where you’ll find a gorgeous koi pond and delicious food.

IPA to try: Karl Strauss is best known for their Red Trolly Irish ale, but I love the dry and hoppy Tower 10 IPA, named about the lifeguard tower where the brewery’s first plans were drafted.

Established in 2002, Green Flash is a relatively young player in the San Diego craft beer scene, but these guys have already made huge waves with their fresh approach to the age-old art of brewing, characterized by unapologetically hoppy, “in your face” IPAs. Their laid-back, standing-room-only tasting room in Sorrento Valley is great for happy hour, and they offer free brewery tours if you want a look inside how beer is made.

IPA to try: Order the West Coast IPA, an intensively bitter beer regarded as a game-changer and loaded with extravagant, palette-crushing hops.

One of San Diego’s lesser-known craft beer companies, Culture was the first brewery to claim a stake in the creative art district of Solana Beach. Known for their simple and classic menu, Culture has since opened additional tasting rooms in Ocean Beach and Encinitas, but the flagship brewery remains our fave due to their intimate outdoor area and local artist showcases.

IPA to try: I’m a huge fan of Culture’s Mosaic IPA, the perfect balance between bitter hops and fresh aromatics. It’s not always on the menu, which makes it that much more special!

California, Here We Come: 5 Fall Music Festivals To Catch This Fall

California, Here We Come: 5 Fall Music Festivals To Catch This Fall

Summer festival season may be over for now, but California has plenty of fall music festivals worth traveling for! Hop on a plane with your festie bestie, and get ready for cooler weather, laid-back vibes, and seriously killer lineups.

#1 KAABOO – Del Mar, CA

When: September 15 – 17

For three days in September, the upscale Del Mar Racetrack transforms into an immersive sonic playground for KAABOO, a music festival that replaces the normal grit and grime of festivals with posh experiences curated for an older, more refined audience. Think spa indulgences, contemporary art installations, Vegas-style pool cabanas, and gourmet food! KAABOO is also the place where you can catch rare acts you won’t find on other festival lineups. If you’ve ever wanted to see Pink, Tom Petty or the Red Hot Chili Peppers live, this year definitely won’t disappoint!

#2 Nocturnal Wonderland – San Bernardino, CA

When: September 15 – 16

Fall down the rabbit hole and enter a neon-lit, fully-themed world of Wonderland. The longest running festival from EDM powerhouse Insomniac Events (the same guys behind EDC Las Vegas), Nocturnal Wonderland is a nod to LA’s 1990s warehouse rave days, best described with two words: sensory overload. In addition to five Alice in Wonderland-themed stages of music, the 2-day camping festival features whimsical performers romping the festival grounds, kaleidoscopic decor, glow-in-the-dark environments and three-dimensional art installations.

#3 CRSSD Festival – San Diego, CA

When: September 30 – October 1st

It might be autumn, but CRSSD is all about hanging onto those tropical summer vibes. The bi-annual festival is set against the Pacific Ocean at San Diego’s Waterfront Park, creating a sun-kissed atmosphere where you can get your groove on at 3 different stages. Since its inception three years ago, CRSSD has become California’s shining beacon of the underground music scene. With an almost entirely deep house lineup including Cut Copy, Hot Since 82 and techno legend Richie Hawtin, you can expect nothing but chilled out beats while the sun sets over the San Diego harbor.

#4 Dirtybird Campout – Bradley, CA

When: October 6 – 8

When Dirtybird record label bossman DJ Claude VonStroke joins forces with The Do Lab, you know it’s going to be a good time. Not your usual festival scene, Dirtybird Campout is basically summer camp for adults, but with a really great soundtrack. When you’re not getting down to booty dancing deep house from all the usual Dirtybird suspects (including our fave Justin Martin!), you can fulfill your childhood nostalgia with games and activities you’d find at summer camp. There’s capture-the-flag, dodgeball, face-painting, guided nature hikes and archery, to name a few!

#5 Desert Daze – Joshua Tree, CA

When: October 12 – 15

There are festivals, then there’s Desert Daze. Designed to be a “profound experience” nestled in the otherworldly landscape of Joshua Tree National Park (about a 4-hour drive from LAX), this intimate 4-day festival takes place at the largest spiritual retreat center in western USA. Surrounded by captivating architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, you can feel the palpable energy of an on-site magnetic field. Camp under the twinkling desert sky and get down to one of the funkiest line-ups we’ve ever seen, including old school rock legends Iggy Pop and Ty Segall!

Get a Taste of America’s Food and Drink Festivals This Fall

Get a Taste of America’s Food and Drink Festivals This Fall

I rounded up some of the USA‘s most mouth-watering food and drink festivals this fall, to help satisfy cravings you probably didn’t even know you had. #TravelForFood — enough said!

Where and when: Anaheim, California – August 19-20

Spicy food and Sriracha addicts, this one is for you. Tickle your taste buds with hot sauce samples that range from mildly sizzling to masochistically hot. If you have the cajones, you can even try the Carolina Reaper pepper which holds the record for the world’s hottest chilli — our mouths are numb just thinking about it. Of course, it wouldn’t be America without a taco and pizza eating contest.

Where and when: Portland, Oregon – September 10

Whether you like your bloody with bacon, cheddar cheese, or extra Worcestershire sauce, you’ll find something to love at Portland’s Bloody Mary Festival, an entire day dedicated to America’s favourite hangover cure. Think of it as the ultimate brunch, with samples of the best bloodies in Portland, local food, and live music. You can also expect to see lots of hipsters (welcome to Portland).

Where and when: Denver, Colorado – October 5-7

The mecca of craft beer and the happiest place on earth, there’s a reason why the Great American Beer Festival sells out in minutes every year. Go with a game plan because there are over 3,000 beers to try from microbreweries around the country — from stouts and sours, to IPAs and blondes. Pro tip: wear a pretzelace (necklace made from pretzels) to satisfy those drunk munchies throughout the day.

Where and when: Carpinteria, California – October 6-8

Southern California’s Avocado Festival takes our guacamole and avocado toast obsession to new levels. Seriously, Avofest is home to the world’s largest vat of guac, in case you were wondering. Rock out to bands while you mow down on avocado in all kinds of innovative (and delicious) forms – avocado garlic fries, avocado gelato, and even avocado beer, to name a few.

Where and when: Austin, Texas – October 21

With a modest 31 food trucks, Texas Trucklandia is certainly not the country’s biggest food truck festival, but we dare say it’s the most fun. Not only is the food fantastic, but the festival also gives you a taste (pun intended) of the vibrant culture of Austin, the Lone Star State’s most beloved city. This year’s can’t miss food truck fare includes T-Loc’s sonoran hot dogs – a hot dog wrapped in bacon and served on a bolillo-style bun. Keep Austin weird full.

Where and when: San Diego, California – October 28

San Diego, ‘America’s Finest City’ and home to Ron Burgundy, plays host to the annual Mac n’ Cheese Festival which really is as awesome as it sounds. Devour unlimited samples of gourmet mac ’n cheese created by the region’s top culinary talents, paired with local craft beers from San Diego’s legendary breweries. It all happens at an oceanfront park with a knockout view of the San Diego harbour!

A Guide to Los Angeles Beaches

A Guide to Los Angeles Beaches

Planning a sun-drenched LA getaway? We rounded up the best beaches along the coast to help you escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Best of the West Side:

Venice Beach

No trip to lala land is complete without a stroll down Venice Beach’s infamous Ocean Front Walk, where a host of colorful characters upstage the Pacific Ocean. The circus-like boardwalk is jam-packed with eccentric artists, bohemian palm readers, indie shopping, and Lords of Dogtown-ish skateboarders, all to the backdrop of some of the city’s most vibrant street art. If you’re craving vegan eats or farm to table fare, you’ll find that and more in Venice’s thriving restaurant scene. And the people watching? It doesn’t get better than Venice Beach, where anything goes (we once saw a guy walking around in a Tarzan outfit carrying a boa constrictor).

Santa Monica Beach

Just a few minutes north of Venice (but a world away from its quirkiness), Santa Monica is where you might just spot a celebrity shopping or grabbing a cup of coffee. Offering a seemingly endless strip of sand, this pristine beach is perfect for a game of beach volleyball or soaking up that Cali sun. You’ll also love the landmark Santa Monica Pier, where you can go for a ride on a roller coaster, check out the aquarium’s resident sharks, or enjoy sunset views from atop the solar-powered ferris wheel. When the sun goes down, head over to Rusty’s for live music and tasty bites.

Best of the South Bay:

Manhattan Beach

With a picturesque pier, a wide stretch of sand, and surfers up with the sun, Manhattan is your quintessential SoCal beach town that has appeared in countless Hollywood films, including the cult classic “Point Break” in the scene where Keanu Reeves buys his surfboard. Manhattan is dotted with volleyball nets, and if you’re lucky you might even catch a professional tournament such as the Manhattan Beach Open, where winners are honored with a spot on the “Volleyball Walk of Fame”. Take some time to go for a stroll on the beachside sidewalk nicknamed The Strand, where you can gawk at the ultra-luxe oceanfront homes.

Hermosa Beach

From Manhattan, keep walking south on The Strand and you’ll eventually get to Hermosa Beach, the epitome of the laid-back, coastal California lifestyle. Hermosa has a young, causal vibe that revolves around Pier Plaza, an European-style pedestrian courtyard with tons of hipster cafes, dive bars, and locally-owned boutiques. The town comes to life for Fiesta Hermosa during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, when the streets are blocked off for an arts and crafts festival that inevitably turns into a town-wide party. Speaking of parties, Hermosa is home to some fab bars such as Sharkeez in Pier Plaza and the rooftop bar Abigail’s (formerly known as Oceanbar).

Best of Malibu:

Malibu Surfrider Beach

A Malibu icon and the birthplace of California surf culture, Surfrider Beach is exactly what you might picture when you think of Malibu. As its name suggests, Surfrider is an world-class surf spot popularized by 1950’s and 60’s surf movies, and is especially known for its long right hand break. The lineup can be a bit too crowded for beginners, but you don’t have to be Kelly Slater to enjoy this slice of Malibu heaven. The beach is nearly a mile of clean, sandy coastline, with some of the best views in Malibu, making it our go-to spot for a perfect day at the beach. Plus, if you work up an appetite in the sun, it’s only minutes away from Nobu Malibu.

El Matador Beach

We saved the best for last. Malibu’s most romantic beach, El Matador is where to bring a date you’re trying to impress. A rugged flight of stairs is the only access, but we promise the view is worth the trek. Stunning cliffs, interesting rock formations, and robust waves make it a popular site for professional photoshoots (and Instagrammers). The rocky coastline is full of dreamy nooks and coves, and at low tide you can even set up a picnic lunch or sunset dinner inside a hidden cave. Parking here is limited so you have to luck out, but on the plus side it keeps the crowds away!