Last weekend I dared to step foot in Palm Springs to attend the fabulous and famous Coachella Music Festival in sunny California. I did quite a bit of research prior to leaving by reading other bloggers experiences at the festival, checked out Pinterest for outfit inspiration, followed a few instagram Palm Springs sites like Palm Springs Style and of course shopped a little! But mostly I was curious to see how true other reviews would pair with my actual experience! So here is my own take on this event and all the good – the bad – the beautiful!
We purchased weekend 1 tickets well in advance. And I mean advance! I am talking about May of 2013 here! Weekend 1 for Coachella is notorious for selling out within hours of the tickets going on pre-sale, so we secured ours early and pretty much on a whim. This was a big commitment considering we had no idea what the next year would hold for our calenders, but it all worked out beautifully! It is hard to get 8 adults/4 couples all on the same schedule.
My Advice: Buy early – plan early!
After visiting Palm Springs quite frequently and now knowing what I do know about the festival, I would have definitely opted to stay as close to the festival as I possibly could. The Polo Fields (where Coachella takes place), are approx a 45 min drive – located in the middle of the hot desert – which is fine by this Texan! But every hotel in town or within a 30 mile radius knows that Coachella is happening for two weekends in row, so due to the very high demand for accommodations they can easily ask 3-4 x’s what a typical hotel room would normally run you in Palm Springs and surrounding areas. We stayed at the Riviera, and it was most importantly clean, had decent drink options, and in the end – well it got the job done which was a cool and dry place to rest our heads at the end of a long day. This weekend brings the noise, the crowds, and the party to all hotels. So prepare yourself for the djs at the pools around 10 AM! But it is a really fun and energetic environment.
My Advice: Book a hotel early – (we called to change a reservation and the room usually going for about $150 was being booked for $557 – I sweet talked them down to 420!)
The buses… Oh I dread buses. I think in the back of my mind I wasn’t really focusing on this one aspect of our travel plans to get to the festival, but once I was in the line to board the big coach i was immediately dreading it. If there was any other way to get to and from the festival I would have opted for it but the other options leave your wallet empty and long excruciating lines. The bus passes are quite cost effective at $60 per person and pick up at a dozen or so hotels, they call it any line any time.There are literally 100’s of buses that pick up and drop you off. It is a smooth operation and the fastest to get you to and from one place to another. the process is very simple – you purchase in advance, you register your hotel and when you are ready to go to the festival you simply wait in line flash the pass and you are off to the Polo Fields. Depending on the time of day, the hotel, the crowd I would say average wait time to board was about 30-45 minutes, and the ride to the fields takes about another 45 minutes. The buses are rowdy because people are amped up and ready to have a good time. Staying positive and just getting through the ride was my goal. You are going to have a great time once you get there so staying focused on that is the best! The funny part is day time its loud and noisy but the night ride on the buses from the festival back to the hotels were so quiet – you could have heard a pin drop! Some people even fell asleep and missed their hotels! Have at least one person in your group stay on watch! Uber was also available but the surcharges were astronomical and left you feeling like you were taken to the cleaners!
My Advice: I do feel the bus pass is the best option for time and cost!
Oh the fashion is totally worth just going to Coachella! To be honest this was pretty much why I wanted to go. Is that terrible? Ha! They are saying that Coachella is becoming quite the fashionable local and with the celebrity crowd it is sure to please. The festival delivers over any other I have been to in terms of the outfit selections. You could literally sit in the middle of the field and only people watch and see a little bit of everything And overall you would not be disappointed! There was so much beautifulness I could barely contain myself. I would be listening to music and then find myself distracted just looking around and taking in all the inspiration. Bloggers, fashion websites, pretty much anyone that is reporting on clothing and fashion is at this festival documenting (my girlfriends and I were featured here at threadedvibes.com) I had a few people stop me to take photos of my outfits which was so much fun! The tricky part about knowing what to wear is that you are literally in the middle of the desert on a Polo Field with crazy heat during the day and then dropping into the high 50’s at night! I was most concerned about items being ruined but surprisingly everything came back home just fine! We were in the middle of a pretty rad wind storm on Saturday night that was really beautiful to watch. It did leave a little red residue all over everything we wore and all over us but it was manageable. You are sitting on the ground in the middle of a field so I was more concerned about being flexible to do that and wore shorts the whole time which made for easy up and down and also ease in using those beautiful port-a-potty! So not glamorous but it is what it is! Hands down the best tip i received was to wear boots/booties – due to all the dust in the desert. I rocked my Minnetonka Moccasin Booties and they were perfect. Also a hat is a good idea to protect you from the wind and the sun beating down all day – I wore a hat from Velvet Moon the Vera Felt Black Fedora by Janessa Leone and I adored having it with me! It was perfect for when the wind picked up!
My Advice: Look fabulous, wear boots, bring a kimono/sweater, know that nothing is too over the top in terms of your style, bring a hat.
Festival – !!!
The music is worth every minute and the price tag of the ticket. The overall vibe is just electric. Coachella goes above and beyond with the lights, decor, the food vendors, shopping areas, cool art installations. Anything you want they probably have it. The stages are close enough that you can make multiple shows through out the day. Due to scheduling we ended up missing a few bands that I wanted to see but overall the line up was awesome. From Pharell, Gwen, Ellie Golding, MGMT, Foster the People, Calvin Harris, Arcade Fire, ZZ Ward, to Bastille, there were so many amazing artists present. One negative – I was a bit frustrated with the alcohol situation. Overall they had everything you could want available for purchase, but you had to go to a tent get a wrist band, then wait in line, enter the tent, then wait in line to get a drink then completely drink the drink before you could leave the tent. I wouldn’t have minded being able to walk around with a little wine at the end of the night and not feel like I was in a holding tent. But I did get to dive into the hippy food and had a fantastic all veg/quinoa/plantain deliciousness that I was so happy to experience vs the pizza the other two nights. Also sampled the fresh coconuts and some of the raspberry sherbet = YUM! But overall the music, atmosphere, crowd were all worth it. Bring sunscreen and definitely bring cash, along with lots of tissue. The port a potty’s run out quick and this will be your saving grace. Also leave the water bottle at home – it is big and bulky and really the refill stations were pretty much empty at almost every stop so we just purchased bottled water – it was $2 a bottle but cold and readily available and worth it. Video below to give you a little taste of the view – Gwen Stefani surprised everyone with Pharell on stage!!!
My Advice: Bring sunscreen, Cash, & arrive in a great mood & ready for great music!
Palm Springs – I am in LOVE!
Overall – A big thumbs up! I would attend Coachella again in a heartbeat! I will be back to Palm Springs most likely before year end and I can’t wait to plan another trip to Coachella again in the future! Feel free to share your Coachella experience or tips for next year!