Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Escape Halloween 2023

Scott Hutchinson for Insomniac Events

Halloween, one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for many, brings in some of the craziest parties,, and the biggest party of them all is Insomniac’s Escape Halloween festival.

Two wild nights of incredible music, costumes, dancing, and haunting happenings bring in ravers and non-ravers for a spooky celebration at the NOS Event Center. Here’s what we have to say about our experience at this year’s Escape Weekend:

Ivan Meneses for Insomniac Events


In previous years, people have shared that Escape is one of those festivals that can have iffy PLUR vibes because it tends to bring in ravers celebrating the spooky holiday and non-ravers just looking for a place to party. Yet we found the vibes to be great this year. None of the stages felt overcrowded, and with all the incredible costumes, how could the energy not be amazing? 

Festivals that fall on a holiday almost always have heightened energy compared to other festivals, and Halloween is no joke. Day one felt lighter than day two as far as crowds go, which kept the energy friendly. Day two went off in the best way possible. With so many unique things happening to occupy everyone, it kept the crowds well-balanced. 

We saw people trading Kandi, admiring each other’s costumes, and spreading positive vibes throughout the event. Although we heard a few reports of pushing and shoving during busier sets, it didn’t seem as prominent as in previous years. 


The production at Escape is always scary good, and this year did not disappoint. Walking between stages proved to be an adventure every time due to so many mini experiences throughout the festival, with creepy characters floating around, circus performances, many photo-ops, activations, and all the happenings inside Crazy Town. 

Insomniac went all out on stage design and production, with tons of pyro, cryo, and an obscene amount of lasers. The Grimm stage had an enormous skeleton behind the DJ booth, which brought forth the Halloween vibes.

Whether you were in the very back of the crowd or in the very front, each stage was designed so all attendees had a complete experience. Feeding grounds had “cobwebs” lining the entire show to the back of the tent and a massive spider hanging from the front. The VIP areas were spacious, especially at the main stage and the shared VIP area between the Feeding Grounds and the Sewer District. 

Jake West for Insomniac Events


Everything about this year’s lineup was stellar. If you were looking for some bass in your face, ATLiens, Deathpact, & Zomboy had you covered. If you were looking for techno, the sewer district was the place to be, hosting big names such as Lilly Palmer and Reinier Zonneveld. Both of them had killer performances.

Escape had you covered with Jamie Jones, B2B Loco Dice, Max Styler, Wade, Ship Wrek, and more if you wanted to groove to some house music. Matroda and San Pacho came together for their first-ever b2b at Escape, and it was spicy and fun.

The Grimm main stage hosted some big names over the weekend, like Slander, Above & Beyond, Armin Van Burren, Zedd, and more. Stages such as Feeding Grounds and Sewer District were stacked over the weekend, and the two stages being right next to each other made it easy to go between some of our favorites like Rezz and Reinier Zonneveld.


Inside the venue, it was crowded at times, but there were fewer instances of overcrowding than we’ve begun to expect at this festival. The bathroom situation would get overcrowded at certain times, but other bathrooms would have almost no wait times. It depended on where you were and the time you were there. The placement of Crazy Town, activations, and all the other production elements seemed to be strategic and give a place away from the stages where people could wander, explore, take photos, or make a quick halt. 

Do you know who we wish took a hiatus this year but did not? The phone thieves! Unfortunately, we heard multiple reports of phone theft and numerous accounts of cars being broken into. Sadly, this is pretty normal for the NOS Event Center area. Not only has this become a safety issue for attendees walking to and from the venue, but it’s also worth mentioning the distance many of us have to travel to attend these events. San Bernardino is quite remote, making it a challenge to travel back and forth for multiple-day events and find accommodations.

Many of us who have frequented the NOS Event Center have a love-hate relationship with the venue. We love it for all the beautiful memories it holds, but as festivals grow in popularity and ticket sales increase, the crowds and safety of attendees are of the utmost importance.

Marlene Sanchez For Insomniac Events


Overall, the vibes at Escape were tremendous, and the lineup was stellar, with incredible production to match. We saw a slight decrease in crowds this year, which led to a more positive experience for all attendees. 

Although there were issues, such as phone calls, car break-ins, and some reports of non-PLUR behavior, Escape still proved to be an exceptional festival. The NOS Event Center has a history within the community, but we would like to see these more popular festivals, such as Escape, explore alternative venues.

All in all, it was a freakishly fun weekend.


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