The music! The art! The community! The flower crowns! Coachella is many festivalgoers’ favorite time of year, and it’s easy to see why. The “we’re all in this together” attitude, the majestic beauty of the desert, and the pervasive spirit of music, art and creativity can all add up to a positively magical experience, especially for first-timers. If you’re considering buying a ticket, or if you’ve already made the leap and want to know a little more about what to expect, read on!
Here’s how it goes: you head to the Coachella website and purchase a ticket. Coachella will send you a wristband, which you’re required to wear on your right wrist the entire weekend. They’ll also send you very specific instructions about what to bring. Now, it would be easy to throw caution to the wind in the boho spirit of Coachella, flying by the seat of your floral-patterned pants, but please read these instructions! They contain valuable information about what NOT to bring (i.e. glass bottles and drugs) and what to DEFINITELY bring (i.e. cozy socks and warm outerwear for chilly desert nights).
Here’s the deal with housing: some people choose to stay in hotels, AirBnBs, or local houses, while many set up camp on the on-site campground. If you choose to camp, you’ll need to pay for a camping spot and bring your own tent. The cool thing about camping is that you actually get a large enough spot so that there’s room for your car and your tent. This means that your items (like valuables and alcohol) can be stored inside your car when you’re not there. If you decide to stay off-site, an awesome, efficient shuttle system ($80 for the entire weekend) is available to take you to and from the fairground. No matter where you choose to lay your head at night, you’ll be in for an awesome festival experience.
Pro Tip: You pay for a camping spot in advance, but you don’t get to reserve which spot. For the best possible Coachella camping experience, get to the campground as early as possible on Thursday, the day before the festival starts. An ideal spot is far enough away from the fairground that you’ll be able to get some shut-eye at night (and won’t have to deal with loud chatters waiting for their shuttles), but close enough that you can head back to your tent easily if you want to have a drink or pick up forgotten items. Pre-purchased alcohol is allowed on the campground but NOT on the fairground, so pre-gaming to save money is common among campers.
The First Day
You made it! Set up your tent, familiarize yourself with your area, and get ready for an awesome week! Be sure to be super kind to your neighbors—they’re your family for the next few days, and you never know when you’ll need to borrow an air pump or some sunscreen.
Exploring the Fairground
Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to explore! When you arrive at the fairground, you’ll see a large tent with Coachella merchandise, an area for lockers (great for storing heavy jackets and scarves for when the temperature drops), and tons of vendors hocking everything from vintage clothing to acai bowls to greasy hamburgers. First thing’s first: ride the Ferris Wheel. Seriously. Not only is it super fun, but it’ll give you a birds’-eye view of the fairground so you can have a general idea of where you are at all times.
The stages are on the perimeter of the fairground, and there are performances going on all the time. There are a few ways to keep track of all your must-see sets. Probably the most efficient way is to download the Coachella app, which will alert you when a show you’ve flagged is about to start, and provides a map so you can figure out how to get there. There’s also a large board that posts set times, and you can take a screenshot of this and refer back to it if you prefer not to rely on the app.
Pro Tip: Don’t make a habit of charging your phone and other devices in your car. Many people have relied on their car chargers all week, only to find their car battery dead when it was time to start heading home. Not a fun way to end Coachella. Charging stations are everywhere at the festival, so bring a charger in your handbag or backpack and re-up on the fairground.
Nothing ruins a good time like feeling lousy, and it’s easy to feel sub-par when you’re outside in the desert all day. Here’s a great, simple health routine to implement so you can focus on the music, the vibes, and the selfies:
Wake up early, around 7 AM, to get to the bathrooms in time to shower and wash up before the mile-long lines start. The desert gets hot during the day, and while it may be tempting to skip the shower, rinsing off at least once a day will make things a whole lot more pleasant.
Head back to your tent for breakfast. If you don’t need a big breakfast, packing bananas, cereal and trail mix for the mornings is a great way to save money.
Now you’re ready to hit the main stage! Pack everything you’ll need for the day and head out. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and wear comfy shoes. Gladiator sandals may be fun for the first hour, but we guarantee you’ll be cursing your impeccable fashion sense by noon.
At the fairground, it’ll be tempting to wait until you’re absolutely starving to get in line for food. Rookie mistake. We highly recommend getting in line for food before regular mealtimes, and before those hunger pangs come on. Lines for food get longer as the day wears on, and Coachella is no place for the hangry. We know you’re on vacation, but try to eat healthy. Those chicken fingers might look tasty, but you’ll be wishing you opted for a salad after 4 hours in the hot sun.
There are water stations with free water if you bring your own bottle—another awesome money-saver. Even so, getting water can be a process. Bring along some Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier. One stick in 16 ounces of water can provide 2-3x the hydration of water alone. Why wait in line after line at the water tent? Fill up your bottle, pour in some LIV, and you’ll cut down on valuable festival time waiting in line.Plus, Hydration Multiplier is loaded with 11 vitamins and minerals to help boost your immune system when you need it most.
The wind picks up a lot at night, so be sure to bring warm outerwear. It’s a good idea to bring a scarf or bandanna to wrap around your mouth in case the wind starts throwing up dust and dirt. Set a meeting place with your friends in case one of you gets lost (one of the many massive art installations around the fairground will do).
When the night is over, making sure you sleep well is one of the best things you can do to ensure your Coachella experience is everything it can be. The electric atmosphere of the festival can make it difficult to fall asleep, so you’ll probably need all the help you can get. Earplugs and an eye mask are great options for light sleepers, but Liquid I.V. Sleep is the best option for a restful night on the campground- just watch your muscles relax and your eyelids get blissfully heavy against all odds! One stick in 8 ounces of water can drastically cut down on tossing and turning, allowing you to wake up early and do it all over again the next day.
Ultimately, prepping well for Coachella is an investment worth making. Taking care of your body will insure more time spent enjoying the music, meeting new friends, and allowing the magic of the festival to continually astound you…until it’s time to go home. Sadly, we don’t have any tips on how to prep for that.😢
Enjoy the festival, and stay safe, LIV fam!