Festival season is upon us. With SXSW having just wrapped up in Austin, things are shifting over to SoCal with Coachella just around the corner. If you don’t have your tickets by now... well, you can troll Facebook or there’s always next year. For those lucky ones that managed to get in the queue and survived the spinning wheel of death (you know what I mean), then yay you made it! We’ve created a quick and dirty guide to help you navigate the weekend, from how to get there, where to eat, and who to see. For the rest of us, we’ll be right here suffering from FOMO as we scroll through our Insta feed.
How to Get There
From private jets to shuttles, you can arrive to Coachella in style or roll deep on a bus. The easiest option, of course, is skipping the drive altogether and flying directly into Palm Springs International Airport (PSP). For those planning on driving, we probably don’t need to remind you of that little thing called traffic... but when you’re driving through the desert with thousands of other festival goers, you almost forget about how bad it is because you’re all in the madness together. And on the flip side, you can always stop at In-N-Out and make festival friends over a double-double burger.
If you need to rent a car, go with Avis and take advantage of their Coachella discount (don’t forget to also enter the Carpoolchella giveaway for a chance to get upgraded to VIP status for life). But for those that don’t feel like getting behind the wheel, shuttles are operated by Valley Music Travel, which goes from LAX to the camping grounds and will cost you $70 each way. And if you’re really trying to save a few bucks, ride the good ol’ Greyhound bus from LA for about $49 round trip, but you’ll have to act fast because seats are limited.
Money ain’t a thing? Fly private with one of the charter services like JetSuite or JetSmarter that will fly you directly into Bermuda Dunes or Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport. You fancy thing, you.
Where to Stay
Day parking on the grounds is free but you have to move your car after 2AM or it’ll be towed. The hardest part is remembering where you parked in the sea of shiny metal, so snap a pic or make a note in your phone. The advantage of on-site camping is meeting new people, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of leaving and re-entering the festival grounds. Choose your accommodations (car or tent), set up shop in your designated space, and boom, you wake up and walk to the festival grounds. Easy, right?
If glamping is more your style, your best option is the Lake Eldorado campsite (read: showers) or go wild and get the exclusive experience in a fully furnished Safari tent, equipped with private restrooms and showers, check-in, A/C (!!) and more. Also worth mentioning, the Marriott Hotel is flipping 8 of these tents into decked-out hotel rooms that resemble lifestyle brands in their portfolio including AC Hotels, Moxy, Westin, and Le Méridien (Marriott tents are only available on the second week of Coachella for Marriott Rewards and SPG members). Other luxury camping options include Basecamp: the pop-up RV and tent site spanning 40 acres with amenities like furnished lodging, charging stations, coffee and cocktail bars, hot air balloon rides, styling lounges (yes, please!), and a pool to cool off in because it’s hot AF.
And if you’re all, “tent schment!” Palm Springs and the surrounding areas is a mecca of architectural genius with stunning retro villas that look like they belong in an episode of Mad Men. Check out AirBnb or VRBO and pray to the rental gods that you won’t have to sell your left kidney to get a home (houses can get booked months, if not a year, in advance) or check yourself into one of the hotels in Palm Springs. That is, if there are any left.
Which Artists to Catch
Even though Queen B is out of the picture *sigh* there are still some solid acts in this year’s lineup. It goes without saying that the headliners (Radiohead, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar) shouldn’t be missed, but don’t overlook the small-print bands, either. Notable acts to catch are Travis Scott, Lorde, The XX, Glass Animals, Bon Iver, DJ Snake, and Porter Robinson & Madeon for dance beats. And yes, Hans Zimmer made it to the Coachella lineup, as in the German composer best known for his work in The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean. You know, if that's your thing.
What to Eat
Music lovers aren't the only ones hitting the desert — some of LA’s best chefs are packing their knives and bringing their culinary creations to Coachella. Expect to see husband-and-wife duo, Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts (Playa Provisions), Plan Check, and Chef Louis Tikaram of EP & LP who will be participating in this year’s Outstanding in the Field Dinner. As for the regular food vendors, you can get the full list by downloading the Coachella mobile app.
What to Pack
Coachella fashion may be just as big as the music itself, so bust out your best boho chic attire and start planning your outfits because everyone is dressed to impress. We recommend checking out J.D. Luxe Fashion, Revolve, or UK brand Boohoo for festival inspo, if you need it. And whether you’re a Coachella newbie or a long-time veteran, pack these essentials now and thank us later because there’s nothing worse than finding out there’s no toilet paper in the porta potty — though you wouldn’t be the first. Get yourself a cute festival backpack and toss in: sunscreen/chapstick, a reusable water bottle, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, portable phone charger, a bandana/hat, cheap sunglasses (leave your Ray Bans at home), comfortable shoes, Advil, cash, gum, and most importantly, good vibes.
What VIP Gets You
So, what’s it really like to be a VIP at Coachella? For starters, you’re not rubbing sweaty shoulders with the guy who’s plastered next to you to get shade (which is considered a luxury in the field). You also get access to closer parking, the VIP tents which include a full cash bar, extra (cleaner) bathrooms, food vendors, a view of the rose garden, and all the celebs that are floating around (Leo, is that you?). If you value time and space and don’t want to be amongst the “common folk”, then it’s definitely worth dishing out the extra bucks for VIP status.
Being a VIP (or just knowing the right people) also gets you invited to really cool brand activations and parties like the annual see-and-be-seen Neon Carnival or this year’s Bumble party with Kendall and Kylie Jenner. And if “you’re with the band” then you get an extra special wristband that grants you parking, golf-cart service around the grounds, backstage access and bragging rights.