Coachella is considered by many as the holy grail of festivals, the place to be of the year. With an outstanding mixture of music genres, striking art installations – including four towering yellow bee-hives – and a positive, open-minded crowd, Coachella has everything to be amazing!
Coachella – My Guide : All you need to know
Couple days ago, someone asked me what was my favorite thing in my 2month trip to the USA and the first that came up was: Coachella.
When I think back to the wonderful weekend I had, I have chills. I really had a wonderful time and we even bought already our tickets for 2017.
I’ve had a lot of people asking me more details about this festival, that is why I decided to write this article and answer all your questions.
- When to buy tickets?
- How to buy tickets?
- The price
- How to pick up your tickets/Delivery
- Accommodation/Where to stay?
- What to take with you?
- My personal tips:
So let’s start:
First, when to buy tickets?
The official sale is in early January (around 5, 6 or 7, depending on the year). This sale is usually made right after the official lineup has been released.
The other option is to buy tickets earlier than the normal sale. Usually, this pre-sale starts a month after the previous festival (Between the end of May/beginning of June). Although remember when you buy tickets during the pre-sale, you do not know yet the lineup. It can sound a bit risky (because you might not like all the artists) however, Coachella is a festival where you can discover new artists, and every year the lineup is really good so nothing to worry about.
April 2016: Coachella Weekend 1/2
June 2016: Pre-sale
January 2017: Normal sale
April 2017: Coachella Weekend 1/2
How to buy tickets?
The process of buying tickets is really simple. When the sale starts, you have to go on Coachella.com. A page will appear and, automatically you will be placed in a queue.
After that, you will wait until you get through the page and have the chance to buy your tickets.
In my case, my boyfriend Maxime and I opened the page at the same time. However, Maxime got through the page 15 minutes after the sale and mine opened 45 minutes after. It is really random and it can cause lots of stress since you can end up not having tickets.
My advice is to be patient and open the page on more than one device (computers, phones, tablets, your parent’s phone, your friend’s phone, your grandma’s phone..etc) so you can increase your chances.
The festival lasts 3 days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and it happen not once but twice in April! They call it the “Weekend 1” and the “Weekend 2” (which takes place one week after the first one)
The two weekends are exactly the same when it comes to the lineup. However, the main change between is during the 2nd week the “surprises” (artists coming up on stage which no one knew about it) might not be same. Last year, we saw Rihanna singing with Calvin Harris but she didn’t come back for the Weekend 2…… and it happens with a lot of others artists.
That is probably the main reason why the weekend 1 is sold out much more quickly than the weekend 2.
The price :
Two types of tickets:
- General Admission (GA) approx. price 399$ Price includes: access the festival during the 3 days + parking
- VIP (as the name suggests): Approx price 999$. Price includes access to the festival, a VIP Parking spot. In addition, you will have access to the VIP areas of the festival (quite small, and it can get very crowded from what I’ve seen) as well as two private spaces near the two main stages (which is really nice), private bathrooms, extra seating and couches.
Shipping of the bracelet cost 25$. You might have some taxes too.
Extras: You can add extras. Examples: Shuttle pass from Palm Springs to the festival (cost around 60$), camping with your car (99$) or rent a tent (99$)
There are also packages which include hotels but then the price goes up very quickly, between 1 500$ to 5 500$
How to pick up your tickets/Delivery:
You have two options to choose:
– You can either have your bracelets delivered to you for 25$ (everywhere in the world) – Or you can pick them up at a “Will Call” (near Palm Springs)
If you are traveling from very far, I will recommend picking your tickets at the “Will Call” o, because the bracelets are only sent one to two weeks before the festival, which means you can miss out the delivery. You can pick up the tickets either a day before or during on the first day of the festival.
Accommodation: where to stay? :
You have multiples options to choose from:
For 99$ you get a spot in the camping site of the festival. The atmosphere is really nice, perfect for partying 3 days straight so expect not to sleep a lot. The camping space is right next to the festival so no worries regarding on how to get to and from the festival
However, you have to share the showers and toilets. (You can wait a long time before getting a shower. My friend who camped there last year waited 2 hours to have a shower in the morning)
It is the cheapest option.
If you pick this option, you need to be extremely fast because most of the hotels around Coachella are sold out very quickly. It is the biggest weekends in Palm Springs (the city near the festival) so they don’t feel shy when it comes to the prices. Count a minimum of 250$ a night for a double room (and again you will be lucky to find that). So it means if you stay 4 nights you will probably have to pay a minimum of 500 $ (+ taxes)
Again the faster, the better. Try not to book it at the last minute as many people choose this one.
We picked this option last year and we found a large and authentic caravan/mobile home located in the north of Palm Springs. We paid around 600$ for 4 people, so 150$ each for 4 nights (definitely more interesting than staying in the hotel, plus you have your own kitchen so you save a bit on food)
The most important part and the most annoying things for us Europeans is the flight ticket.
The best price I’ve seen so far from Paris to Palm Springs is between 950 euros to 1050euros (and again if you booking it in advance).
In my opinion, however, it would make more sense to book something from X-destination to Los Angeles (and enjoying few days in Los Angeles).
From Los Angeles to Palm Springs you could rent a car, it is a nice two hours drive.
But of course, it all depends on whether you want to rent a car if you have a driver license..etc.
Food and drink:
It is strictly forbidden to access the festival with drinks and food (even cereal bars). Although you can bring plastic bottles with no caps on top (do not ask me why but that’s the rule)
So either you are very brave and you will go back and forth to your car/tent to take breaks and eat. At the beginning it was what I wanted to do, thinking it would be easier. However, I gave up very quickly once I saw the distance between the parking and the entrance of the festival. It takes at least 15 to 30 minutes walk (10 if you have a good place) so you are losing between 30/45 minutes plus the time to eat, go there and go back again.
Eating inside the festival 2/3 times a day cost around 20/25 dollars (without drinks). There is plenty of choices and many stands: burgers, hot-dogs, Chinese, vegan and fruits stand and price may vary between 10$ a plate.
Water is free and there are couple of spots when you can get it from. Tha’s why it’s good to bring an empty bottle with you.
If you drink alcohol (which is not my case so I cannot give you an exact budget), count around 8$ for a beer.
What to take with you?
As I said just above, take empty plastic bottles. It is very hot, the festival takes place in the middle of the Californian desert so it is very important to stay hydrated through the day.
Speaking of warmth and sunshine, take sunscreen lotion to protect yourself from the sun. The last thing you want is to get a sunburn or sunstroke.
Bring external batteries because even if there are stands with available plugs to charge your phone, it is usually crowded and you do not want to waste your time at the festival for that. I took 3 external batteries for me, but most of the time I used only one to two a day, it was enough.
If you take a camera it has to be very small, because professional (big) cameras are forbidden! And be careful with it because they can deny the access to the festival. So take a small camera, easy to carry if you want to take some pictures.
Take a cardigan or a small jacket for the evening, it might be hot all day but when the sun goes down it gets really chill outside.
My personal tips:
Book a locker:
We didn’t do it last year, but this year we will do it. The lockers are located near the entrance and it is much closer than going all the way to parking. So you can put what you want inside it (a spare outfit, a jacket, bottles, makeup, external batteries… etc).
This is very handy if you do not want to take a big bag or no bag at all with you.
I, for example, was forced to carry a small backpack for the three days of the festival, it wasn’t too annoying but I would have preferred to put it away whenever I wanted
The price of these lockers goes from $ 54 to $ 78 depending on the size
Coachella gets very busy after 4 pm, the time when everyone starts to arrive. The wifi works really badly, no connection if you want to make a call and it’s very easy to get lost so find a meeting point. That way if someone gets lost you can find each other again.
Plan the evening before
Do not hesitate to create a small schedule the day before the festival according to your preferences.
Indeed there are 7 scenes throughout the festival and more than 40 artists and groups. And sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you want to see have two artists playing at the same time (it happened to us, we decided to separate ourselves from the group for a while because our friends wanted to see something else.). So better to plan ahead.
And one small advice: go and see artists you’ve never heard before.
For example, I discovered ZEDD, I knew one or two of his songs and that’s it. But since Coachella where he played, he became one of my favorite artists. We loved it so much, a week after the festival we were in Las Vegas at the XS Club partying all night with him.
Take a ride on the Ferris wheel:
This Ferris wheel is very famous because it is part of the decor of Coachella itself. Take a ride and enjoy the view. I did it during the day and I loved it, however, I would have preferred doing it during the sunset.
It cost approx. 8$.
You probably know it and seen it in pictures but most of the people at Coachella is playing the game of having a bohemian, hippy, cool outfits.
I loved watching people’s outfits. It was awesome to see men, women, kids, elderly (yes there is no age to go to a festival) and even a few children dressing up.
However, be careful, try to wear something comfortable. If you arrive at the festival around noon you will have to keep the same outfit until ½ in the morning. Wear clothes and shoes in which you can dance for hours without any problems.
Also, do not forget to bring a scarf because it can get very windy and creates small sandstorms. With that scarf, you can cover your mouth/nose and breath normally through it.
And finally, just have fun! Enjoy fully these three days because it goes extremely fast! It is an experience to do at least once in you life and the memories you will make there are going to stay forever in your head.
PS: To everyone asking me how much in total it would be. I have taken all the previous prices and put it together.
Please note these prices may vary depending on you: the number of people you are traveling with, the accommodation, the amount of food and drink you consume, your flight ticket..etc
This is an approximation depending on what it cost me, planning in advance for a group of 4 people
- Staying at the campsite: approximately 1600 €
- Airbnb: approximately 1700 €
- Hotel: approximately and minimum 2000 €
I hope this article will be useful for whoever is going to Coachella or planning to go there.