I have been in love with music since I can remember. My first cassette tape was Mariah Carey’s “Daydream,” and “Always Be My Baby” was my third-grade anthem. In fifth grade, I went to my first concert – Hanson (thanks to my very kind and patient father for sitting through that concert), and I was hooked on live music. I’ve been to over a hundred concerts since, and multiple music festivals.
When I attended Coachella a few years ago, it was a dream come true. Next to travel, music festivals are one of my favorite events in the world to attend. It was by far the largest music festival I’ve attended, and while I had an amazing time, I made a few mistakes. Here are a few tips to learn from my experience to better enhance yours!
Bring a collapsible water bottle.
I know it’s a party atmosphere and you’ll want to indulge in a few drinks, but water is extremely importance if you want to survive for the entire day. It’s hot there – really hot, as you’re in the desert. Not only will booze dehydrate you, but you’ll be sweating all day until the sun goes down so a ton of water will be depleted from your body. Coachella has multiple water filling stations well marked on the map they give you, so pay attention to those. There’s nothing worse than being too sick to miss the main act you’ve been waiting for all day.
Coachella has multiple water filling stations well marked on the map they give you, so pay attention to those. There’s nothing worse than being too sick to miss the main act you’ve been waiting for all day. I use this water bottle because it’s easy to fill up and fold when you’re not using.
Plan your weekend in advance.
That schedule they give you when you first walk in is something you’ll want to pay close attention to. I even brought a pen to circle who I wanted to see to make it stand out. The advantage of Coachella is they cram as many bands as possible into the schedule, but this is also a disadvantage. All the bands will be overlapping, so my advice is first circle all the bands you absolutely must see, followed by your second choice bands.
If you’re an ultra music nerd like me, you can research set lists ahead of time to see when they typically play your favorite songs (at the beginning or end of the set, for example) to better gauge what part of the set you’d want to see them.
With how many hundreds of people are working behind the scenes combined with the thousands of attendees, your schedule will get thrown off. Bands will start late, might get cut off early, or in the worst case scenario might get canceled completely (that only happened once in the three days I was there though due to the artist being sick). It’s three very long days, so the more you go with the flow, the more you’ll enjoy yourself.
Wear sensible clothing.
I know, I know, Coachella is the place to see and be seen. I’m sure you’ve all seen pictures of all the extremely fashionable celebrities that attend. Here’s a secret, though – the majority of them aren’t actually on the grounds with the rest of us, but hanging out in the air-conditioned VIP rooms sitting on plush couches until it’s time to move to the VIP section of the stage. For those of us who are standing for 12+ hours in the sun, heels/wedges and short, tight clothing are highly discouraged. Wear a large hat to protect yourself from the sun, loose clothing or a long, maxi dress, and supportive shoes. Your feet will thank you when you’re waiting around for band #10 to come on halfway through the day.
For those of us who are standing for 12+ hours in the sun, heels/wedges and short, tight clothing are highly discouraged. Wear a large hat to protect yourself from the sun, loose clothing or a comfortable dress, and supportive shoes. Your feet will thank you when you’re waiting around for band #10 to come on halfway through the day.
Plan meeting spots with friends.
The chance that you’ll all want to see the exact same bands is slim, and cell phone service is very spotty there. Pick an easy spot to meet at and a general time so you don’t waste time sending texts that don’t go through and looking for your friends. Tip – don’t pick something that moves either. The first time my friends and I picked a caterpillar, which I had no idea moved around the entire festival.
Don’t try to sneak in alcohol.
You go through not one, but two very thorough checkpoints, so you will get caught. Alcohol is quite expensive inside, so the most cost efficient method would be to put a few beers in your backpack right before you get to the first checkpoint. If you’re 21, they won’t have a problem with you drinking them before you enter the gate, as long as you toss them before you enter.
Bring a sweatshirt for the evening.
Since you are in a desert, once the sun goes down it gets chilly fast. Bring something light you can pack in your backpack and easily pull over your outfit to watch the main acts of the night. Depending on where you’re camping or parked your car, it’s most likely a really long walk back to, so being warm is essential.
What tips do you have for attending a music festival?
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