For only its second year running, the live music FORMAT Festival has generated a lot of buzz well beyond its home in Northwest Arkansas. It’s been covered by Billboard and Variety, and it’s been described by the Arkansas Times as “completely novel, psychically unmoored from any known reality.”
Run by the minds behind Lollapalooza and Austin Country Limits, FORMAT — an abbreviation of for music art and technology — is backed by the Walton family, the heirs of the Walmart corporation. Arkansas might not be the first place you think of when you ponder the convergence of culture and tech, but the Waltons have famously had success with Arkansas ventures in the past (again, Walmart). Despite being one of the birthplaces of cavernous corporate sprawl, Arkansas has its own kind of art scene “where middle-of-the-road curatorial tastes meet Mariana Trench-deep pockets,” according to the Arkansas Times.
The fest has six “unconventional” stages that merge food, music and art. You can check out The Cube with neon visual art and audio programming spanning all four walls. Or, swing by the disco barn for a psychedelic transportation back to your Hannah Montana days. A place so outlandish will lure at least a few people from society’s artistic edges. W Magazine labeled the festival’s attendees as a “spirited crowd of creatives and local festival-goers.”
For festival purists, FORMAT also has two traditional stages where headliners LCD Soundsystem, Alanis Morissette and Leon Bridges will perform throughout the three days, joining past performers Elle King and Fatboy Slim. The stages cater to the impatient listener with overlapping sets that never stop.
If you need a break from the music, there is a lineup of visual artists, art experiences and technology installations to explore. At the Bizarre Bazaar, spend all your money on mood-changing mocktails or have a stranger relay their first impression of you. Pose in a photo booth for French artist JR’s Inside Out project or rest your legs — which will almost certainly be sore after trekking through the festival ground’s 250 acres — in Esrawe + Cadena’s woven seating installation.
Other participating artists include Guerrilla Girls, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Ragnar Kjartansson, Jeremy Deller, Serpentwithfeet and Wu Tsang.
- 10,000 people attended in 2022.
- Both 3-day and 1-day tickets are available, starting from $100. FORMAT offers four tiers of tickets: GA, GA+, VIP and Platinum. The biggest difference between each tier is access to front-of-stage viewing and varying degrees of luxury lounges.
- Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to Arkansas here.
Should I bring cash or card to the FORMAT Festival?
Card. This event is cashless.
What airport is closest to the festival grounds?
The Bentonville Municipal Airport/Louise M. Thaden Field is closest airport to the festival grounds. It’s just 9.2 miles away.
Where are the festival grounds exactly?
Organizers said FORMAT Festival 2023 has been moved to the Momentary in downtown Bentonville. It was previously held at Sugar Creek Airstrip.
What artists are playing FORMAT Festival 2023?
The music festival’s full lineup includes: LCD Soundsystem, Jamie XX, Little Simz, Digable Planets, Poolside, LP Giobbi, Madeline Edwards, Kari Faux, Theon Cross, Myron Elkins, Ouri, Sparkle City Disco, Thebrosfresh, Dombrance, Fort Knox Five, Francois K, Honey Montana, Hot Club of Cowtown, Playtronica Berlin Station, Johnny Nicholas & The Hidden Charms, Amos Cochran, Alanis Morissette, Modest Mouse, Big Wild, Paul Cauthen, Green Velvet, The Pharcyde, Nikki Lane, Hermanos Guiterrez, Classixx, Sudan Archives, Sir Woman, Sofia Kourtesis, Faux Real, Museum of Love, Angel White, Isaac Ferry, Ambrosi, Mandrake, Tiempo de Maldad, Leon Bridges, Tash Sultana, Bob Moses, Channel Tres, Franc Moody, Serpentwithfeet, Digitalism, Blond-ish, Pedrito Martinez, Arushi Jain, Beyond the Struttosphere, Flying Mojito Bros, The Past Lives.