Get Ready for Meow Wolf's 3-Day Vortex Festival

The festival is returning to Denver for the second year.

Courtesy of Atlas Media
Courtesy of Atlas Media

Meow Wolf can’t seem to help itself when it comes to providing immersive, mind-bending experiences blending sight, sound, and vibe. Vortex, the knockout three-day event that also debuted Denver’s newest music venue, The Junkyard, in 2022 is back again this year on August 25, 26, and 27. Expect a killer lineup, all the creativity and experiential art, decor, and concert accompaniments that Meow Wolf is known for, plus an array of food, booze, merch, and craft vendors to check out in-between sets.

The festival is brought to you by the unstoppable partnership of Meow Wolf and Live Nation, which initially held the EDM festival in Taos, New Mexico. (Which makes sense, considering nearby Santa Fe is the OG Meow Wolf location.) But due to a rapidly growing audience and Denver’s Meow Wolf opening in late 2022, the team behind the event made the switch from Taos to Denver last year. Now, The Junkyard is in the mix, aiming to bring concertgoers not just an incredible music experience, but a “halcyon multi-stage dreamland.”

Guests can expect an experience like no other, combining ethereal sensation with The Junkyard’s edgy, industrial atmosphere. Even cooler is the fact that the production team behind the blood, sweat, and magic of Vortex is female-run, and your joy will make a positive impact by supporting local hires and supporting Meow Wolf’s sustainability initiatives.

So grab your tickets before they’re gone and let yourself be transformed and transported to a plane of euphoria, exploration, and enchantment while dancing your little heart out. Here’s everything you need to know about Vortex 2023.

Courtesy of Atlas Media

Where is Vortex happening?

The Junkyard, one of Denver’s newest, grittiest, and coolest music venues sits on the west end of Lincoln Park amid an industrial area (it did actually used to be a junkyard, after all), away from the hustle, bustle, and traffic of other popular venues in the city. While The Junkyard is only a four-minute drive from Convergence Station, be sure not to head there by mistake, unless you’re planning to try and hear a beat here and a note there over the roar of I-25.

There’s no on-site parking, so your best bet is a ride-share or hopping on the RTD to 10th and Osage, and trekking the 20-minute walk or 6-minute scooter ride to and from the venue. For those using a ride-share app, plug in: 1098 Yuma Street, Denver, CO 80204.

As for arrival, doors open at 4:30 pm on Friday and 1:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

What are the ticket options (and how can I get them)?

Depending on your preferred level of commitment, you can opt for a single-day pass or full weekend access with a three-day pass. Single-day passes are currently selling for $110, and three-day passes are going for $250, which is quite the deal if you’re interested in seeing acts each day of the fest.

Ready to buy? Purchase tickets here.

What are the must-see acts?

The big name here is GRiZ. The internationally-known DJ and producer actually played the first-ever (and completely sold-out) show at Meow Wolf’s Denver venue, The Perplexiplex, so it’s safe to say he’ll be a huge hit (again).

Also sneakily on the lineup is Two Feet, who has definitely gained some trend traction in the last year thanks to the spicier side of TikTok. The alternative singer/songwriter will bless the stage with provocative electric guitar and sultry lyrics.

What’s the lineup?

There’s no official list of set times (yet), but there is a lineup list for each day of the fest. Heavy hitters like GRiZ and Remi Wolf will headline on certain days, while acts like Pneuhaus, Andrea Fischer, and Shrine will play every day of the event. Here’s who’s playing on which days:

Remi Wolf; Claude VonStroke; Dennis Ferrer; Jadu Heart; Jean Dawson; KILTRO; Nikki Nair; NotMeghan; QRTR; Underscores; Pneuhaus; La Adorna; Jon Medina; Victor Rivera; Andrea Fischer; Gigi Douglas; LUMENATI; Rainbow Dome; Shrine

GRiZ; Armani White; BLOND:ISH; Brownies & Lemonade All-Stars; CATZ ‘N DOGZ; CJ; Erez; ESCPE; Ford.; Jacques Green; Jerro; Two Feet; TF Marz; Zingara; Pneuhaus; La Adorna; Jon Medina; Victor Rivera; Andrea Fischer; Gigi Douglas; LUMENATI; Rainbow Dome; Shrine

GRiZ (Chasing the Golden Era); Chase West; Dusky; The Funk Hunters; Justin Martin; MINDCHATTER; DJ Minx; Parra For Cuva; Parkbreezy; Rossi.; Shady Jones; TOKiMONSTA; Thought Process; Pneuhaus; La Adorna; Jon Medina; Victor Rivera; Andrea Fischer; Gigi Douglas; LUMENATI; Rainbow Dome; Shrine

What’s allowed (and what’s definitely not)?

The event is happening rain or shine, so dress—or pack—accordingly. Remember: it’s an all-ages event, so the occasional kid will be around.

Each guest can bring in one small bag that’ll be subject to search. The cross-body bags that sent LuluLemon into a supply-demand tailspin this past year are totally allowed. But beware: No bags with chain straps are permitted in the venue. Vortex gets pretty specific about its additional bag regulations, so it’s advised that you read the full list here.

Reusable water bottles are A-OK as long as they’re empty when you enter, and service animals that are in accordance with ADA guidelines are allowed.

The things that are definitely not okay to bring include the usual list: outside alcohol, drinks, or food; drugs or weapons of any kind; and a decent-sized list of potentially unsafe or environmentally harmful (or both) items—like single-use plastics, glow sticks, or spike jewelry—that you should also familiarize yourself with.

What are the food options?

Several food vendors, concession booths, and water refill stations will be available. All bars are entirely cashless, and food trucks and vendors take credit with cash optional. There won’t be ATMs inside the venue, so get what you need before you enter.

Will there be bathrooms?

A bank of restrooms (portable toilets) will be available, with accessible restrooms too. Close by will be a hand-washing station and a medical tent.

What should you listen to to get hyped?

If you’re itching to dance and the thought of waiting another week and a half is killing you, check out the official Vortex playlist featuring songs by every artist on the lineup on Spotify.

What are Vortex's sustainability efforts?

In an effort to bring immersive entertainment to Denver in a more sustainable way, Vortex has put a few initiatives in place, primarily to address waste reduction, climate action, and community engagement. In addition to art installations made from upcycled material to banning single-use plastics upon entry, there are a few noteworthy features of Vortex 2023.

The push for reusable water bottles and recycling is huge this year, as is the limiting of plastics and other disposable products, and leftover food waste will be collected for composting. There will also be an increased effort to reduce energy usage (since live music events can take up an unnecessary amount of power) and carbon emissions by tracking usage as it relates to staging.

Additionally, vegetarian and vegan meal options will be plentiful, and waste management teams will be on the hunt for dance floor trash throughout the event. The goal is a cleaner, safer, more sustainable Vortex from this year forward; read more about the event’s efforts here.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.