I’ll be heading to Europe pretty soon, so today I’ve arranged for a guest post from Marissa of Postcards from Seattle. As part of a Focus on Festivals series Marissa will be sharing her experience at the famous Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. All photos in this post are courtesy of Marissa.
Ever since I can remember, I have been an avid music lover. I used to use all my allowance money on cassette tapes when I was younger (I have since advanced to mp3s), and concert tickets when I was old enough to have a job. I have been to over a hundred concerts and multiple music festivals. When I found out about Coachella years ago, it had been my ultimate dream to go. Hundreds of bands, including very well known ones, all playing at one festival? I couldn’t think of anything better!
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an annual festival held the second and third weekends in April at the Empire Polo Club just outside of Palm Springs in Indio, California. Last year, it boasted over 96,000 attendees per day. It’s known for all sorts of bohemian-inspired fashion, celebrity sightings, and surprise guests.
That dream to attend finally came true this past April. Before I knew it, I had flown down to California and it was the first day of the festival. There I was waiting in the 90-degree heat with hundreds of others in our bohemian, Coachella inspired outfits for those magical gates to open. After passing through two security checkpoints, I was finally in. The first thing I saw was the famous Ferris wheel, an icon of the festival. The next thing I noticed as how massive the grounds were in comparison to any other festival I’ve been to. All the food stands were in the middle, surrounded by multiple indoor and outdoor stages.
Before I get to the music, I have to say the food selection was one thing that was much better than expected. I have a hard time eating at most festivals due to food allergies, but I had no problem here. They had everything from vegan streets tacos to gluten-free falafels to accommodate a wide range of allergies concertgoers might have. What was lacking was the selection of typical fair food like corndogs and other fried foods. They had everything from wood-fired pizza (whose stand was so popular it was almost 45 minutes just to get your food after you ordered!) to make-your-own mini s’mores (Nutella and marshmallow was delicious!). There was also a large beer garden with a wide selection of draft beers. It would be tough to find someone who wasn’t satisfied with the variety of options.
The main thing I didn’t like about Coachella was how crowded it was. This was of course to be expected, but for someone who liked to see multiple bands back to back, it could take over 20 minutes just to wade through all the people to get from one stage to another on the opposite site of the grounds. My advice to anyone in the future is take the free schedule they give you when you enter, and spend a good 10 minutes circling everyone you want to see so you don’t miss anyone. Due to how many bands there are and 6 stages total, there are constantly multiple bands playing at the same time. It’s easy to get wrapped up on a new band you may have discovered and not even realize a band you wanted to see has already started.
The music was the real reason I went. I counted 47 bands/artists total that I was able to see over the 3-day period. To me, that is well worth the cost of the festival. The main stage is outdoors and has a huge area so thousands can watch the headliners. There is a second stage outdoors next to it where smaller bands play, and the other 4 stages are covered (which is highly needed from taking breaks from the scorching heat). I won’t name everyone I saw, but a highlight was seeing AC/DC’s first show after a 6 year hiatus. They had an amazing amount of energy and played well over a two-hour set. I have never seen such a wide variety of ages rocking out and knowing the lyrics to every song.
Drake (a rapper) was the last act of the night on the last day, and I knew he would be bringing out someone as a surprise, although I had no idea how big. About an hour into his set, “Hung Up” by Madonna started playing, which I assumed he would be doing some sort of remix to. A blonde woman immediately came out and started singing, and after the initial minute of shock all of us realized we were seeing the actual Madonna in person. She sang one more song, and then just as quickly as she appeared, left, leaving everyone speechless. This was a great way to end an already amazing weekend!
Coachella left me exhausted, sunburnt, and completely satisfied. It’s safe to say this was my favourite festival yet with such a wide variety of bands and great location. While I will continue to explore new festivals, I plan on returning to Coachella in the near future. For any music lovers out there, this is a must for your bucket list!
Marissa is a travel blogger from Seattle who has a passion for traveling the world. When she’s not traveling, she can be found exploring the outdoors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Follow Marissa on her travel blog Postcards to Seattle and on Instagram and Twitter.
Have you been to Coachella