After all that planning, Coachella came in and went and I’m having some serious withdrawals. I love going to concerts, but this was my first festival of 3 days of non stop concerts – a music lovers dream. It is however a lot of ground to cover, loads of people and can be a hassle, which is why I’ve put together a guide to Coachella. Whether you’re planning to go for the first time, go back for a return visit or just out of sheer curiosity, I’m putting together some tips so you can maximize and fully enjoy your Coachella experience.
Don’t just show up with your wristbands. Carefully read all the instructions before you put your wristband on. Otherwise, any issues related to wristbands will cost you $40 to fix when on the grounds! If you try fixing it yourself, you risk having your wristband voided.
The app includes the line up and schedule – what time each artist is performing. Gather your friends and plan your day out based on what everyone wants to see.
When you think of Coachella, you think of Palm Springs. The actual festival grounds however is in Indio, California. On any regular day, if you’re staying in Palm Springs or Rancho Mirage, you can get to the Empire Polo Club within 30 minutes, but during the festival, a 30 minute trip can take 2 hours plus! I recommend you stay either in Indio or La Quinta. Some places are also on a shuttle route, where a shuttle picks you up and takes you directly to the grounds. If possible, try finding a place that’s on a shuttle route.
Although I stayed in a fabulous Air Bnb, it wasn’t on a shuttle route. One of the girls who came with me is a Coachella veteran and has been now 6 times and she definitely prefers the shuttle experience over taking Ubers. When taking an uber or driving, many streets are closed off and some drivers can get lost trying to find the entrance. Shuttles have access to closed routes and are doing this the entire day, so chances of them getting lost is slim. In hindsight, I think we should have used an Uber to perhaps drop off us off at on a shuttle route, but with some good tunes and good company, the ride itself is a party.
Let’s face it, I’m not 21 years old anymore and don’t have the energy I once had. I really wanted a place to sit, some shade and easy access to washrooms, drinks and food. VIP passes will run you double the price of regular passes, but for me, it was well worth it. The real advantages of VIP versus regular are access to other VIP areas on the field, no line ups for washrooms, places to sit, shade and easy access to the various stages. It just depends on you if you value a $500 premium on those aforementioned items.
There’s art installations all around the field like the one above. VIP passholders also get access to VIP areas all around the field, with my favourite being the Rose Garden. It was literally filled with rose bushes, beautiful white tents and fountains, with a view of the gorgeous festival grounds.
If you aren’t using a shuttle and have VIP passes, some drivers have purchased a VIP pass for their car. This means they can drop you off at the VIP entrance. I know, so extra! However, this VIP entrance takes you right to the entrance. Otherwise, you’re dropped off at the Uber entrance which is about a mile to the grounds. We wanted to save our feet, so we chose to pay $10 per person to take the rikshaw ride over to the entrance.
The first day we got lucky with a driver who had a VIP pass and we took down his number, but we didn’t take advantage of it the rest of the weekend. Again, in hindsight, we probably should have.
As this was my first time, I can’t personally say which weekend is better, but I can highlight the differences for you based on what others have said.
Weekend 1 is when all the celebrities go, all the parties happen, it’s busier and the surprise performances are truly a surprise. By weekend 2, you’ve already heard of the surprises, so I suppose if you like to plan better, weekend 2 you’ll know if you want to stick around for the not so “surprise” guest or not.
Weekend 2 is known to be more laid back, and reserved for real music lovers, where as weekend 1, alot of people are there just to be there amongst the “elite”.
Another thing to note about weekend 2 is that it’s a lot dustier, as it’s been raided by weekend 1. So do remember to bring a bandana, as you’ll need it to cover your face!
I can’t stress this enough! Wear closed toe shoes you’ve already broken in and can walk around in for hours. I saw some girls in flip flops, but with all that dust, you feet will get dirty. Not to mention the risk of people trampling on your feet. Runners these days are super stylish, but for other non runner stylish options, opt for cowboy boots, military boots, or flat booties.
Dress however you want! Coachella is a time to have fun with your style. Just be mindful that it is very hot in the day, so breathable options are best.
For my trip, I collaborated with Off The Shoulder for a Coachella collection. Chic Made Consciously also hooked me up with some accessories to help bring my whole look together. Check out my looks from all three days below! From now until June 15th, use code BEAUTYC20 at check out to get 20% off your entire order at Off The Shoulder.
Not everyone will want to see the same artists, especially if you’re going in a large group. Establish a meet up point on the first day, so that when you do part ways, there’s a pre determined spot everyone knows to meet up at.
Reception isn’t the best on the grounds, so if you are sending each other messages, do time stamp them. That means, if you send your message at 7pm, your friends may only receive it at 7:45pm. So when sending, always put the time at which you are sending it (ex. At the meet up spot – 7pm).
Coachella is in the desert and the heat is no joke. Temperatures can go up to 40 degrees Celsius in the day. The festival kicks off at 1pm daily, but unless there’s an artist you really want to see, I recommend going later in the day. The sun sets around 7pm at which point it becomes cooler and more pleasant. We’d usually head out around 4-5pm, so we’d get there just before the sun would set.
One thing to be mindful of however is that most people are heading to the grounds later, so the later you go, the more traffic you will encounter.
If you are a US American Express cardholder (note, this isn’t valid for AMEX card holders outside of the US – ugh, really American Express?), there are several perks you can take advantage of. In order to do so, you have to register your wrist band. You get credits in free food, a free ferris wheel ride for two, however the most key perk is priority lane access for Uber. The line up at the end of the night waiting for an Uber can be very long, where the AMEX priority line is about half the size. So if you can, do take advantage of this perk!
Remember when I said wear comfortable shoes? Well at the end of the night, if your feet are killing, be prepared to wait at least an additional 1-2 hours to catch an Uber. If you plan on staying till the very end and leaving right after the headlining act, that’s when everyone is leaving – hundreds of thousands of people are leaving, so line ups getting out can get out of hand.
To save your feet and avoid waits, dipping out a bit early before the main act finishes up can save you a lot of time.
There’s a lot of debate on this one, but as per Coachella’s rules, no professional cameras are allowed. What they consider a professional camera is debatable. It’s possible that they would’ve let my mirror-less camera (which is less bulky than your DSLR cameras) slide, but I didn’t want to risk it. Unless you have a media pass, they will not allow professional cameras.
We ended up renting a locker but never used it. I recommend you bring a small backpack to store everything you’ll need and a jacket or light shirt to wrap around your waist for when it gets chilly at night.
I recommend you bring a bandana (for when it gets really dusty at night), a reusable water bottle, cash, credit, ID (they check your ID before going into the grounds) and some lip stuff and powder to retouch your make up.
If you plan on heading over earlier in the day, be sure to bring sunscreen for both your face and body so you can reapply throughout the day. Do note, they don’t allow aerosol cans onto the ground for safety reasons.
This is perhaps a personal preference, but I didn’t find the need for a jacket at all. The weather does drop at night, but it remains pleasant. I’d advise checking the weather before hand and seeing what it drops down to. The weekend I was there, at night it was around 20 degrees Celcius and with dancing and some drinks in me, I was perfectly comfortable. To be safe, I brought a jacket with me the first day to see if I’d need it. I didn’t end up bringing it with me day 2 or 3.
Bring a reusable clear plastic water bottle with you. For security reasons, stainless steel isn’t allowed. They have water stations around where you can refill your water bottle. It’s hot out there, so stay hydrated!
With all the dust in the air, your allergies can act up. If you’re prone to dust allergies, pack some Reactine and eye drops so it doesn’t interfere with your weekend.
I went with a group of 6 girls and it’s always fun to travel in a group, but with a festival of this magnitude and several concerts all going on at once, not everyone will want to see the same act. It’s totally okay to split up and go with the flow to really enjoy your time.