Let me preface this post by saying I have always wanted to go to Coachella. Always. Since it’s infancy my friends and I dreamed, planned and plotted to get ourselves down to Indio, California, to dance in the desert to our favourite bands. I even threw two No-chella parties (before they were a thing) providing guests with all of the hippie paraphernalia and all of the music and all of the drinks, when we didn’t get it together to get there. Life jumped in between any and every attempt I made to go to Coachella over the last eight years, but this year, there was no stopping me. Beyonce, Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar were the headliners and it seemed like there couldn’t be a more perfect scenario.
But then Beyonce cancelled. And then my family booked a trip not even two weeks before. And we had some major pitches out on the table. And work was begging me not to go…. Though I almost went the way of Beyonce, promising to make my debut next year, I decided, well, YOLO.
Set in the desert of California, nestled in the Coachella Valley, this musical oasis takes place once a year over two weekends. Though as much as I’d like to think that I’m a hippie at heart, I’m not the biggest fan of things like mud and camping and porto-potties, but the thing about Coachella is that I think it would be safe to say that it’s one of the ‘fancier’ festivals. Set on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club, there are actually some functioning washrooms and even an incredibly beautiful rose garden – though reserved for VIP ticket holders. Hence the reason this particular festival gets dubbed things like this.
Because I had never been to this part of California I decided to stay at a hotel I’ve been lusting after for a while, The Parker. With it’s storied history (see HERE) it was everything it promised and more.
Day one of Coachella, we showed up mid afternoon after driving in traffic all morning from LA. Local hack: if driving from LA leave at midnight on Thursday night for a cool traffic free ride.
It was hot. Hotter than hot. Being that it is the desert, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but alas, I was out there sweating. Sweating but in absolute awe. After figuring out how to get through the numerous gates to arrive onto the actual festival grounds we hopped on an electric rickshaw and were dropped off right in front of the massive and magical ferris wheel. Through one more bag check – in which the security guard told me “I ain’t looking for no drugs, I’m just looking for guns, Miss, don’t want no one killing nobody.” We were in.
I had to stop and take the obligatory ferris snap – as everyone else – and then it was off to explore.
Coachella is impressive. When I say impressive I mean, it’s like an ecosystem all on it’s own. There is so much going on and it is so damn big. To walk the entire grounds, all 9 stages or tents, with over 100 food vendors, massively impressive art, plus pop ups, beer tents and bars on bars on bars, it takes some time and some actual planning.
From 12-12 bands play on various stages throughout the festival grounds and if you want to see the bands you like it takes a bit of planning. Thankfully, Coachella made an incredibly useful app that helps you do just that, including maps and alerts to keep you on track.
After day one of melting and exploring we made the adult decision to chill poolside at the Parker until the sun was just threatening to go down. Being that I am no longer 21, the mixture of sun and sand and drinks for 12 hours does not make for a happy ME, so going to the festival for the evening portion (when most of the bands I wanted to see were playing) was perfect.
The reason why I loved this festival so much is because it was executed so well. The sound quality, from main stage to small stage was incredible. To watch Radiohead perform from quite a distance (because, crowds) was perfectly enjoyable. The screens enabled everyone to see and I could hear everything crystal clear. The same goes for Majid Jordan who played on a much smaller stage but still sounded incredible. Being someone who throws events, it is beyond inspiring to see execution at such a high level. Coachella hosts over 100,000 per day, the logistical nightmare behind that would give most people hives.
From my first experience at Coachella here are 5 must haves for a great time:
- Sunscreen – it’s the desert, enough said.
- Bandana: I thought this was just one of those weird hipster trends, until the wind picked up on my first day and a mixture of sand and dust became lodged everywhere. I quickly picked one up at a vendor who just happened to be able to customize!
- Apple pay with your Amex – you can literally leave your wallet at home as Coachella is digital and you can tap to pay with your phone everywhere!
- Wipes and toilet paper: though the washrooms and porto-potties are relatively well maintained, they can sometimes run out of toilet paper and who wants to get caught out there. Wipes, to keep you cool and clean for your hands and face.
- Not a lot of clothing: when I saw the photos of girls walking around in see-thru dresses and bathing suits I thought it was another shameless cry for attention and then I got there, melted, and wished I was naked.
Would I go again? I’m already planning for next year!