Opened in 2000, the Isleta Amphitheater has kept the community of Albuquerque and its visitors well entertained with New Mexico’s biggest concerts — not to mention some spectacular sunsets, too. While it’s gone through a few name changes over the years — from the Mesa del Sol Amphitheater to the ABQ Journal Pavilion to the Hard Rock Albuquerque presents: The Pavilion — the Isleta Amphitheater (its official name since 2013) has hosted an impressive array of summer music events and festivals, including headliners like Janet Jackson, Brad Paisley, Neil Young and the Foo Fighters. It is the largest venue in the state of New Mexico, and, situated just a quick drive from the center of Albuquerque is the place to be in the warmer months.
Isleta Amphitheater History
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The name of the amphitheater refers to the historic Pueblo of Isleta, situated 15 miles south of Albuquerque. The pueblo was established way back in the 1300s and is home to the Southern Tiwa indigenous community, who are native to the area.
The Isleta Amphitheater is located not far from the pueblo, on a 12,900-acre plot of land, six miles outside downtown Albuquerque. It’s part of the Mesa del Sol community, an ongoing project with an eventual goal to build a safe, walkable and sustainable community. The whole area encompasses about 12 percent of the city and includes Albuquerque Studios, the largest media-production facility in the Southwest, better known as the location for the 2012 film The Avengers and many of Breaking Bad’s most memorable scenes.
Still, the amphitheater remains the vast area’s entertainment centerpiece, and is the ideal spot to catch the sun going down in a scenic setting at the base of the Sandia Mountains. Realizing its greater potential, the venue expanded its lawn area in 2009, adding space for 3,000 more people, for a total capacity of 15,000. Check the weather before you go: There is no covered seating, so come prepared for intense sun or rain — ponchos are available for sale if you need one.
Isleta Amphitheater Concerts & Events
Some of the biggest names in rock, country, Christian, metal and pop have graced the stage of the Isleta Amphitheater. In its first year, as the Mesa del Sol Amphitheater, headliners included a little something for everyone: Steely Dan, Britney Spears, Bob Dylan, The Who and beyond. And every year since, the calendar has boasted a prime selection of top acts and longtime favorites, such as Korn, Florida Georgia Line, Dead & Company and Kendrick Lamar.
The amphitheater also has an excellent setup for major festivals and has hosted sold-out touring events like Ozzfest, Mayhem Festival, Vans Warped Tour and DISRUPT Festival. And if you’re a country music fan, snatching a Country Megaticket (on sale early in the calendar year) is the best way to catch all of the season’s big country shows.
Aside from music, the Isleta Amphitheater has also been the location for big events like the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk and other fundraising activities.
Isleta Amphitheater Food and Concessions
Fill up on good tunes and delicious food at Isleta Amphitheater with its wide range of dining options. Questlove’s Cheesesteak is the place to indulge with a vegetarian spin on the Philly classic. Other favorites include rotating food trucks like Nomad’s BBQ, The Supper Truck and Conchita’s Creation. You can balance all that delectable savoriness with some sweetness at Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt.
Wash it all down with a specialty beer, a glass of wine or a refreshing cocktail, like the Casamigos Margarita using Rande Gerber and George Clooney’s premium-label tequila. Also, be on the lookout for events like the Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival — the best marriage of exceptional bites and beats — all in a breathtaking setting at the edge of Albuquerque.