Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49
PHOENIX (AP) — The desert is great for stargazing, and that will certainly be the case as the Super Bowl takes over Phoenix and its suburbs.
Comedians Joel McHale and Kevin Hart will crack jokes for partygoers, newcomer Charli XCX will perform for troops and then revelers at ESPN's party, and Jamie Foxx and Drake will hold court at a pair of lounges at a swanky Scottsdale hotel.
The events range from private, invite-only festivities to fan-friendly events that are open to anyone who buys a ticket.
Here's a look at some of the places where stars from the sports and entertainment worlds will mix and mingle:
GAMES BEFORE THE BIG GAME
Participants in this year's Madden Bowl better bring their A game — or expect to be the brunt of jokes from Kevin Hart. "The Wedding Ringer" star will host and zero in on the action on the digital gridiron.
Electronic Arts is taking over a block of downtown Scottsdale for a party that will include performances by Nelly and Florida Georgia Line, and Hart hosting Madden matches between NFL players. Last year's winner, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, will return to defend his title.
"This year typifies the peak of what Madden Bowl has been," said Randy Chase, EA's senior director of North American marketing.
Not all the games are for people — Animal Planet will also open its Puppy Bowl Cafe, which features puppies taking the field and canines available for adoptions.
BUSY WEEKEND FOR CHARLI XCX
Grammy-nominated singer Charli XCX is one of Super Bowl week's most sought-after acts, with at least three performances scheduled.
The pop singer is singing for troops Friday night at Luke Air Force base and performing a set at ESPN's bash later that night. On Saturday, she'll perform for partygoers at Rolling Stone's bash.
The ESPN party on Friday will be a hub for some of the weekend's biggest names in pro sports and entertainment. Also scheduled to make appearances at the show are "Frozen" star Idina Menzel, who will sing the national anthem at Sunday's game and John Legend, who will sing "America the Beautiful" before kickoff.
GOOD TIMES FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Not all of the pre-game parties are simply for fun and games.
McHale will host a roast of NFL great Terry Bradshaw, a charity event that will benefit a program that brings entertainment to wounded veterans.
The Friars Club roast of Bradshaw is one of several charity events planned for this week, including the Big Game Big Give charity event. The gala is being hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg, director Michael Bay and Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams. The beneficiaries will be three charities, including Wahlberg's foundation for inner city youth.
Gladys Knight headlines the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, which donates some of its proceeds to charity.
The evening, one of a handful of NFL-sanctioned events, will be hosted by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, retired NFL player Rodney Peete. The event will feature tributes to gospel performer Andrae Crouch and broadcaster Stuart Scott, who died earlier this month.
MUSIC FOR THE MASSES
Performances by top artists aren't just for invitees of a gala or party — several paid concerts are scheduled for the days before the game.
DirecTV hosts a three-day music festival that culminates with a Friday night show featuring Snoop Dogg and Imagine Dragons. Performers on other days include the Zac Brown Band, Calvin Harris and Jason Derulo.
Twelve blocks of downtown Phoenix are being transformed into the Verizon Super Bowl Central, a free area with NFL-themed attractions and nightly fireworks shows. Pepsi has set up its "Hyped for Halftime Stage" which will feature performances by The Roots, Walk the Moon and other acts daily.
For many Super Bowl parties, you've got to know someone to get inside.
Rihanna headlines one of the weekend's biggest private concerts, DirecTV's Super Saturday Night, which has previously featured performances by Jay-Z and Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and this year's halftime performer, Katy Perry.
Rolling Stone, Maxim and Playboy magazines are among the invite-only parties this week.
Some celebrities and athletes will also get to indulge their inner-child at Neon Carnival, a star-friendly event that features rides, games and dance music — and a stringent guest list.