Coachella might be clean, compact and relatively sober in comparison to British festivals like Glastonbury, but a trip into the desert still requires some forward planning. If you’re heading to Indio this weekend or planning to snap up tickets for next year, take heed of a few words of advice from someone who learnt the hard way…
Go With The Flow
The festival line-up is well-curated and fairly eclectic, so stay open-minded about what you want to see - you might just discover your new favourite band. Also, bear in mind that Coachella is as much the sights as it is about the sounds, so don’t stress too hard if you miss an act. Just chill on the grass and watch the sun set behind the illuminated ferris wheel: it’s an experience that’s almost as memorable.
Get Snap Happy
Framed by the epic San Bernadino mountains and fringed by swaying palm trees, Coachella is undoubtedly the most beautiful festival site I’ve ever seen. Charge up your iPhone and pack your camera: you’ll want to take lots (and lots) of photos.
You won’t be walking miles to get around site, but you still need to leave the Loubs at home. Lots of girls opt for flat sandals but I reckon a mid-heeled boot is your best option. Grimy, dusty feet are never a good look.
Wear a hat. And sunglasses. And sunscreen. Although the festival doesn’t really get into full flow until early evening, that desert heat is not a joke at any time of day. Don’t be fooled by the balmy breeze gently swaying through the palm tress: it is still hot as all hell. Also – bring a bandanna (yes, really!). On the last evening of the festival, Coachella was hit by an almighty desert storm that had us all eating mouthfuls of the dust and sand that were swirling everywhere. Oh, how I envied that stewards in their paisley print face armor.
When you leave your hotel/campsite/rented house in the mid-afternoon heat, the thought of putting on a warm jacket will seem ridiculous, maybe even repulsive. But TRUST ME – when the sun goes down and the temperature plummets with it, you will be oh-so-glad that you brought one.
Rent a House
Many people choose to camp at Coachella but if you’re rolling in a big group then a house rental is a better option – and almost as economical. Search Air BnB far in advance and you might just find yourself a midcentury bargain, complete with turquoise pool.
By this I mean water, not alcohol (although you should probably have some of that too - in the carefully contained drinking zones, of course). If you take a bottle into the festival with you, you can refill it free all over the site. This is advisable.
Assign a designated driver
Getting on and off site in a car is a bit of a hassle, but there isn’t really any other way to do it (unless you buy a shuttle pass with your ticket, but that will only take you to Indian Wells Tennis Garden Line and back). Take turns to play responsible driver each evening and remember that attempting to get home straight after the headline act WILL leave you stuck in traffic. Leave before the end of the final act or about an hour afterwards – any time in between will just be spent staring at the back of the car jammed in front of you.
Pre-Party, Not After-Party
By day, pretty much every hotel in Palm Springs (around 30 mins from Indio) hosts parties poolside, with music provided by some of the best DJs in the world. Lots of these are free to enter; just turn up and buy a drink. Post-festival parties, on the other hand, are harder to access and usually completely oversubscribed even if you are on the guestlist. After a day of sun and skanking you’ll probably be too exhausted to hit them up anyway, so ignore your inner ‘FOMO’ and head back to your room/tent/house for a nightcap instead.