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What is Coachella? Everything To Know About The Popular Festival

It’s just about impossible to not hear about Coachella at some point in the year. Most people know it’s a big music festival, but not everyone knows the ins and outs of the event and why it ended up being such a big deal each year. In this article, we’ll talk about exactly what Coachella is, why it matters, and tell you everything you need to know about the festival. 

What Is Coachella Anyways?

Coachella is a music festival that happens every year in Indio, California. It started out as a two-day music festival in 1999 and evolved over the years to become the premier US music festival. 

Zendaya Gives SURPRISE Coachella Performance!

Structured across two weekends in April, the festival runs for two sets of three days and features both some of the biggest musical artists in the world and some up-and-coming artists who are on their way to the top. The lineups for each weekend are usually the same, though there are some huge differences between the two weekends. Different celebrities will be in attendance and surprise music appearances will likely only happen on one of the weekends. 

Each year, the festival sees over 250,000 guests in attendance and brings in well over $100 million in revenue. 

Which Weekend Should You Go To Coachella?

April 17, 2010 – Skeritt Bwoy of Major Lazer crowd surfing at Coachella. Image source: Jared eberhardt, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you do happen to be one of the lucky people heading to the next Coachella, you’re probably going to have to choose which weekend you want to attend. Thankfully, the lineups remain the same for both weekends, so you won’t have to choose between two of your favorite artists who, of course, have to perform on different weekends. 

Generally, you’ll see the most influencers and celebrities in the first week. They want to get the first look at everything, and for some, their social media depends on it. If you want to try to rub shoulders with as many celebs as possible, you should definitely go to Coachella for weekend number one. 

April 16, 2011 – Arcade Fire performing at Coachella in Indio, California. Image source: Fred von Lohmann from san francisco, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The opposite is true for the second weekend though. Fewer celebs and influencers might be just the right kind of festival for you. Things tend to go smoother on the second weekend, both from the perspective of having fewer crews of celebs and security running around and a performance perspective. The concerts mostly remain the same between weekends, but if there’s going to be a problem, it’ll happen the first week. By week two, the logistics are figured out and everything runs a lot smoother. 

Can you go for both weekends? Sure. But you’ll hear the same concerts twice and be shelling out an ungodly—like double what is already a lot of cash—for the honor. It’s usually better to just pick one weekend that you want to attend. 

Who Plays At Coachella?

Coachella concerts run across several different genres, from EDM and pop to rock and hip hop. You can expect some of the biggest names in the business and up-and-coming artists to take the stage each and every day of the festival.

The Weeknd - Coachella 2022 (Full Set)

In recent years, you could listen to artists like Harry Styles, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Diplo, 21 Savage, The Weeknd, Doja Cat, Frank Ocean, Blink-182, Gorillaz, Kid Laroi, Swedish House Mafia, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Eminem, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, and Guns N’ Roses. 

Radiohead - Live from Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 2017)

How Much Does A Coachella Ticket Cost?

Coachella is often thought of as a partially exclusive event, but any music festival worth its salt with as many big names as this one isn’t going to be particularly cheap. Breaking down the cost of the event isn’t as simple as listing ticket prices though as they’re sold in packages. 

2004 – Main stage at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival, prior to a performance by The Pixies. Image source: Phil Ejercito from Madison, WI, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A general admission ticket starts at $499 but can run as much as $599 if you buy a higher-level ticket. It gives access to all of the venues and the day parking lots for all three days of the festival and allows visitors to go to the camping areas of the event. 

You can also get a general admission ticket with a shuttle pass. This costs exactly one hundred dollars more and gives the exact same entrance options as the general admission ticket. It does also include a shuttle pass though, so getting from a local hotel or the airport is a lot easier. 

You then can lock down a VIP Pass for the festival, giving you access to all of the VIP areas of the event and access to everything the general admission tickets allow. These run between $1,000 and $1,300 per person. 

Coachella 2017 - Camper Awards

If you plan on camping at Coachella, you’re also going to have to pay for a camping pass. The most popular option, car camping, runs about $150 for the weekend. It lets you park your car in a lot and sleep there overnight. A preferred spot closer to everything will cost you $375. 

A tent camping pass costs the same as a car camping pass at $150. For a modest upgrade, you can get additional time in the camping area for $200. 

Other lodging options on-site are luxurious. From furnished tents and yurts to staying at the Lake Eldorado Lodge in a private room, these will generally cost between $3,000 and $9,000. 

Is There Anything Other Than Music At Coachella?

There’s always plenty to do at Coachella in spite of the focus being on the music. Camping, celebrity spotting, food and drinks, and taking pictures are all common activities. You’ll also be able to find quite a few games and activities to get into while you’re there. And that’s just the things organized by the event. Who knows what else will be going on that gets started by festival-goers? 

Be sure to download the Coachella app before going. It’ll have the full concert lineup and schedule, setlists, games, and activities going on for the festival, and where they’re all located.

April 21, 2012 – The sun sets over the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival during the second day of the second weekend. Image source: Jason Persse from Brooklyn, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Famous restaurants from around the country are set up during the festival, and there is always a Ferris wheel you could take a ride on. 

Is There an Age Limit For Coachella?

Technically, there is no age limit for attending Coachella. If you want to bring the kids or have the funds to get there as a teen, you totally can. However, that doesn’t mean everything is going to be available to you.

Carrying 9 Beer Boxes into Coachella

Most of the on-site lodging options require attendees to be at least 18 or stay with a parent or guardian. You can also stay at a nearby hotel, but they require a check-in age of either 18 or 21. You also have to remember that the drinking age is 21, so if you’re younger, you won’t be able to purchase or consume alcohol. 

Where To Stay At Coachella?

As Coachella is a three-day festival, you’re going to need somewhere to stay to attend the entire event. Thankfully, there are quite a few options, including the ones we just discussed briefly. 

Camping is one of the easiest—and cheapest—options for your Coachella lodging plans. Camping in your car is the most common option for attendees. You can park your car in a lot for the entire weekend and sleep in or on it. You have a space and can set it up however you like. 

Cribs: Coachella Camping Edition

Alternatively, you can bring a tent and set it all up in their field for camping. There’s a big grass field that will have a sea of tents, allowing you a place to sleep and plenty of socializing opportunities. 

If you don’t need to save the dough, you can book accommodations with the festival itself. The organizers set up a few different options for people, from furnished tents to lodges that are on-site. It’s definitely the most comfortable option if you want to stay on the festival grounds, though you’ll mostly still be dealing with a difficult bathroom situation. 

May 14, 2017 – Pumping fuel at a gas filling station. Image source: Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you don’t want to stay on-site, you can always book a nearby hotel and commute to the festival each day. This isn’t the most expensive option, but it’ll cost you parking, gas, and accommodations each night. If you choose a hotel, expect a premium price for the festival weekends. But, you can save a bit by looking up nearby camping options as well. 

Additional Tips For Coachella

April 20, 2014 – Sahara Tent during Coachella on the second weekend, day two. Image source: Shawn Ahmed, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In this section, we’ll give you a long list of tips to help improve your Coachella experience, outside of the things we’ve already gone over in explaining what exactly goes on during the festival.

Bring Your Own Food and Drinks For Campers

Look, it’s a music festival, and it’s massive. But nothing is cheap at music festivals, and at Coachella, you can expect to be paying even more of a premium than anywhere else you might be going. You can pack in your own food and drinks though, if you’re camping. Doing so is an awesome way to save money. 

Carpool

Parking is not going to be cheap at Coachella, and it’s going to be a mess trying to get in and out of the entire area when the festival is going on. Try leaving your car at home and carpooling with someone else. You can save quite a bit of money, avoid headaches, and even include it as an option on your ticket package in most cases. 

Don’t Forget Sunscreen

April 16, 2006 – Sunburn. Image source: Kelly Sue DeConnick from Kansas City, MO, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Coachella is outdoors, and while you can enjoy the warm—and usually nice—weather during the festival, you should still wear sunscreen. In fact, it’s a must. You’ll be outside in the sun all day, shade is going to be hard to come by. Don’t let your festival weekend be ruined because you were too proud to wear sunscreen on day one and ended up with an agonizing sunburn

Buy All Your Merch Early

Everyone is going to buy stuff as they leave, it’s just the way people are. Try buying all of the stuff you want to grab early on your first day. Not only can you avoid the longest lines, but you can also ensure that the items you want won’t be sold out before you get your hands on them. 

Manage Your Phone Carefully

June 12, 2019 – Man using a cell phone. Image source: Kene88, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cell phone coverage at Coachella is often spotty, thanks in part to how many people get clumped into one area. Because of that, your texts might not go through for hours. Make sure you text statements rather than questions, especially if you’re separated from your friends. Speaking of, pick a meeting spot in case you do get separated. 

Save a photo of your contact information on your phone as well. If you happen to lose your phone during the festivities, you have to make sure someone can bring it back to you. This is the best way to ensure your phone can be identified and returned to you. 

November 7, 2019 – Cell phone. Image source: Nickispeaki, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also, be sure to use it sparingly. You won’t have great service, so there’s no reason to run down your battery. It would suck to whip out a dead phone when you need to contact a friend or get a video of the stage. 

Wear Ear Protection

Speaking of being near the stage, the music is deafening. Yes, I know, that’s obvious. But being right up front can also mean you’re risking permanent hearing damage. While the festival is great, it’s not worth not being able to listen to music later in life. Plus, even with earplugs, you’ll still be able to hear everything, so there’s no reason to not be safe. 

Bring Comfy Clothes and Shoes

2010 – Sea of feet at a show at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California. Image source: Dmgultekin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You might want to look your best at the festival, but you need to make sure you’re comfortable. During the day, you’re going to spend close to 13 hours on your feet. That can be killer if you’re not wearing shoes made for walking and some comfortable clothes. Also, being sore the next day can really put a downer on the festival overall. Be sure to bring something warm, as the desert might be over 100 during the day, but it gets cold at night. 

Get There Early

This goes for each day of the festival and getting there before it even starts. Your best bet is to arrive on Thursday, as the campground opens at 9 AM. the day before the festival begins. You’ll get first dibs on the best spots to camp out and can locate yourself close to everything you’re going to need for the weekend. It also gives you time to settle into the festival and check out the venue before it’s crawling with people. 

April 17, 2009 – The crowd on day one, Coachella. Image source: musicisentropy, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Arriving early each day also ensures you won’t miss any of the awesome early concerts and don’t have too long a line to get in.

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