The Lonely Planet Guide to Coachella

After two years, the music festival hiatus is finally over. California’s Coachella music festival is kicking off its triumphant comeback with a star-studded lineup, including Billie Eilish (the youngest performer to ever headline), Harry Styles and Ye (formerly known as Kanye West).

This year’s event will take place over two weekends, April 15-17 and April 22-24, drawing crowds to the Coachella Valley. With nearly 100,000 daily attendees, all-day music, immersive art installations, pop-ups from LA’s top restaurants, and surprise guest appearances, the festival can be overwhelming to say the least. Here’s our guide to doing Coachella right.

You haven’t done Coachella unless you….

Dance like no one is watching as the sun sets on the main stage. There is a moment each afternoon of the festival when the energy shifts and the golden hour descends on the pitch. The music gets a little louder, the palm trees light up, the temperature cools, and the excitement builds for the nighttime performances and the headliner. It’s an indescribable moment ⁠—until you experience it yourself.

Where is Coachella and how do I get there?

The festival takes place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California in the Coachella Valley. The closest airport is Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) a 2.5 hour drive away.

what to pack

No matter how much the temperatures rise during the day, they always drop at night in the desert. Bring a light sweater or sweatshirt.

Comfortable closed-toe shoes are your best friend at the festival, especially when you’re stomping through the grounds and strolling to the front of the stage.

A hands-free bag is also essential. Opt for a fanny pack or small backpack with a bottle of water, electrolyte tablets, sunscreen, sunglasses and a spare battery. (There’s nothing that kills your buzz more than a phone in low power mode after an hour at the festival).

Coachella is the incubator of festival fashion © Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Coachella

what to wear

Coachella was the incubator of traditional “festival fashion” as we know it today: fringe and cutouts, flower crowns, body sequins and bucket hats. Although many trends circulate each year, anything goes. Have fun, but above all be comfortable.

Do’s and Don’ts

Drink water like there’s no tomorrow. Dancing in the scorching sun and desert heat all day is super dehydrating. Take water breaks between acts.

Explore large-scale art installations. After the music, the art of Coachella sets the stage for the weekend and brings the polo field to life. Each year, local and international artists create massive art and design installations, many of which are interactive and take on new shapes at night.

Don’t rely on cell service. Trust us on this one. Send your final texts before entering the festival.

Don’t underestimate traffic. It’s wild. Allow two hours to arrive at the festival, including security checkpoints, parking, or shuttle drop-off.

Set a meeting point with friends. With over 100,000 festival-goers, you risk losing your friends. Choose a common meeting ground in case you get lost or separate for different acts.

Plan your day. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see all the acts during the festival. Plan out your must-see shows, noting which stages they are in and how long it takes to walk in between.

Don’t expect to be front and center at every show. Choose one or two of your favorite bands or DJs to blend in with the crowd. Otherwise, find a great place to lay down on the grass and create your own dance floor.

Eat. It’s easy to get distracted by the non-stop queue, but you’ll never make it to day three unless you fill up. Head to the Indio Central Market, a shaded food court with more than 15 LA restaurant pop-ups and vendors, including a sushi bar this year.

Be spontaneous. Follow the beat and see a band or DJ you’ve never heard of or seen play. Some of the best numbers are the ones you land on (or dance to).

Don’t stay in a tent. It’s easy to lose track of time in the Sahara tent – the huge on-site arena for EDM concerts filled with lasers and light shows – but be sure to check out the other tents and explore the variety of musical genres.

Ride the Ferris wheel. Everyone’s iconic Instagram backdrop is also the festival’s top attraction. Ride it while an act performs on the main stage and take in the 360 ​​degree views.

People dance inside a yellow and blue tent at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival.
Escape the heat in the DoLaB © Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella

What should I do if I want to come back with a story?

Spend an afternoon cooling off from the heat in the DoLaB, a 60-foot geodesic dome that started as a community art project in 2005 and is now a space of discovery for up-and-coming artists and DJs. While Coachella has come a long way from its first independent music festival in 1999, becoming one of the biggest festivals in the world with mega music stars, DoLaB has continued its local environment, hosting artists rising in the ranks.

Performances in the dome – draped in kaleidoscope-colored banners for shade with giant water misters – are intimate and energetic with surprise guest appearances from the past including Skrillex, Major Lazer and Zhu. You never know what rising star you might discover.

What is a secret Coachella location should I know?

Are you hesitant to camp because you absolutely want to take a shower? Safari Campground is Coachella’s best-kept lodging secret. Tucked away behind the festival grounds, stylish, air-conditioned safari-style tents are fully furnished with plush beds and come with private golf cart transportation to the festival grounds and between stages. Plus free late night snacks.

What is definitely a bad idea?

Go barefoot. Forget sunscreen.

Fireworks light up over palm trees during the Coachella music festival.
Fireworks are seen during the 2016 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival © Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella

You can’t miss…

The fireworks at the end of the third day. It’s the grand finale of a memorable desert dance weekend.

What are the current restrictions related to COVID-19?

There will be no vaccination, testing or masking requirements at Coachella 2022.

Where should I stay? Can I camp? Book an Airbnb?

It’s a pick-your-own adventure when it comes to lodging. All require advanced planning (up to six months ahead is recommended), even roadside motels. Those wanting an all-day pool party scene should opt for Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, the hipster hideaway with a retro lobby or the Saguaro, a ’60s-inspired hotel painted in rainbow colors. rainbow with poolside DJ performances.

For larger groups, Airbnbs and house rentals are the way to go, although it’s worth finding one near a hotel that’s on the shuttle route as Uber prices soar. Houses are also generally located in quiet residential areas, so be mindful of neighbors and keep noise down when returning from the festival.

Camping on site, in your car or tent, is also a popular option and books up as soon as tickets are released. It’s ideal for those who want to mingle with fellow festival-goers, take a nap between shows, and forget the hassle of getting in and out of the festival each day.

Is it ok to bring children?

Yes, children are welcome on the festival stage, but don’t forget the earplugs. Campers must be over 18 years old.

What are sustainability efforts? How can I help?

This year, the festival is replacing all plastic drinks sold inside the site and campgrounds with aluminum bottles (reducing over 2 million plastic bottles) and requiring all food vendors to use utensils compostable serving pieces. Trash cans and recycling bins are easily spotted in the field and painted brightly with intricate designs by over 50 artists from around the world.

Leave your mark on the land, not the planet by bringing a reusable water bottle to refill at the several filtered water stations. Forgot a phone charger? Fuel up for free at the Energy Playground with Energy SeeSaws that boost your battery while scorching late night pizza slices.

You can also volunteer to be part of the Waste Gang team, patrolling the grounds while trading bottles and cans for food stamps and exclusive merchandise.

What can I do afterwards?

If you are camping, the party continues in the campsite with nightly silent discos until the wee hours of the morning. If you’re staying offsite and hunger sets in late at night, head to Teddy’s Donuts, the 24-hour staple in Indio. Those returning to Palm Springs can stop for tasty bites at Blackbook Bar, whose kitchen stays open until 1 a.m.

I missed this year ⁠— how do I start planning for next year?

The lineup is released each year in early January with tickets released soon after. To reserve a ticket, pre-register on the Coachella website to receive a text or email with a personal purchase code the morning of the presale. There are two options for passes, General Admission and VIP which has two separate lounges with several bars, food stalls and slightly nicer restrooms.

Pop Culture Readiness Work:

Coachella: 20 years in the desert

the documentary presents two decades of Coachella in the making with behind-the-scenes stories and interviews from the start of the legendary festival and never-before-seen footage of iconic performances from Daft Punk, Madonna, Radiohead, Swedish House Mafia and other big names.

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