Lights all year

Lights All Night.jpg
The main stage at Lights All Night at the Dallas Convention Center in 2011.


When B.o.B came to perform at SMU last month, most students only experienced the show that night and then went home.

For members of the Program Council, they spent months planning the show and spent countless hours in the weeks leading up to it to make sure that it went off without a hitch.

Now imagine planning a multi-day, multi-performance music festival for an entire year.

This is what the staff at Highland Concerts endures every year to put on Lights All Night, an EDM music festival that has become the latest New Year’s Eve tradition here in Dallas and this year will be held on December 27 and 28.

“Lights All Night takes a full year of planning in order to execute properly and professionally,” Mackenzie Murray, the marketing director of Highland Concerts, said.“It’s a very tedious process that calls for intense communication with a large team. Every detail is important; most people do not understand the amount of planning that goes into a show, let alone a multi-day event.”

Highland Concerts’ small staff is in charge of setting the lineup, artist relations, setting up the venue, social media accounts, promotions, and the tiniest of details, such as stocking the Porta-Potties.

Alli Schloeman, an SMU student who has been working at Highland Concerts as a marketing assistant since August, 2012, never gave thought to the minute details that went into planning a festival the size of Lights All Night.

Honestly, what surprised me the most is -everything- you have to think about and handle personally,” Schloeman said.“We’re a small office—four actually regularly in office— so we handle everything. For example, for Mad Decent Block Party we had to order the toilet paper that goes in the Porta-Potties; I had to make that phone call to order it in bulk.”

Setting up for the actual event is just one half of Murray and Schloeman’s responibilities.Marketing is one of the biggest challenges for any festival, but Lights All Nights benefits from what Murray described as a ‘grassroots’ campaign.

Schoelman’s diverse responsibilities proves it takes a Renaissance person to work in festival planning.

“This year I’m mainly working on marketing stuff with Mackenzie with a little bit of (site operations).Organizing contests, managing Facebook pages and Instagram, etc.,” Schloeman said. “As we get closer I’m working more with credentials and artist relations though.”

Scott Collins, a former employee of Highland Concerts, agrees that most common fans do not realize how much work goes into putting together a performance of that scale.

“I learned a lot about the planning and set up of festivals that I wouldn’t have thought too much about as just a fan,” Collins said.“From ticket sales to on-site vending, concessions, and sanitation, the producers of the festival have been working hard all year to bring one of the biggest New Year’s parties in the country to Dallas.”

Since its inception in 2009, Lights All Night has grown bigger and bigger every year.This year the event will be hosted in the Dallas Convention Center for the first time, which has led Highland Concerts to promise a bigger and more elaborate show than ever.This year there will be aerial performances to compliment a lineup that includes big names like Deadmau5, Major Lazer, and Kaskade.On top of all that, this year will be the first time that Lights All Night takes place in a second city, Mexico City.

Collins is one of the co-founders and writers for EDM blog Funkadelphia and frequently flies around the country attending EDM festivals.As far as he is concerned, Lights All Night earns its popularity both in Dallas and around the country.

Lights All Night is always at the top of the game when it comes to lineup and stage production. They consistently bring in the biggest names in EDM from all genres and each year they upgrade their stage production,” Collins said.“As far as New Year’s festivals go, it really stands at the top.”

In the end, it is up to the fans whether or not Lights All Night will be a success.One past fan is excited to see what they will do next.

Last year it was outsides with several areas with different DJs. The year before it was at the convention center and was indoors, which was a little bit different.Better set up.Big light show is the best part,” Harrison Boyd, who has gone to Lights All Night twice, said.“It’s a good time especially if you enjoy electronic or dub step music.I heard that it’s at the convention center again and that’s good news.I hope they actually do (the aerial performance).It’s an interesting idea and is effective because I’ve seen it been done before (at UME in South Padre in 2012). If they do it right, it’ll be something to see.”

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