To Coachella or not to Coachella? For many, this is the question - especially come January when Coachella announces their lineup. If you are debating going to Coachella you have come to the right place. This article goes over the major pros and cons of Coachella. After going through this list hopefully you can decide for yourself if Coachella is worth it for you. Let’s get the negatives out of the way and start with the cons of Coachella.
Coachella is an expensive affair, there is simply no way around that. In fact of the 50+ events we track on Event Track Coachella is the most expensive for accommodations. However, what makes Coachella isn’t just that the hotel is expensive, it’s that everything with Coachella is expensive. Coachella passes are $399 for general admission and $899 for VIP passes, both of which are among the most expensive of any music festival. The hotel prices are the most expensive of any music festival. The figure above shows the average price of hotels for Coachella, which have absolutely skyrocketed since the Coachella 2017 lineup came out. If you are flying into Coachella you will also need to rent a car or book a fairly expensive ticket package that includes transportation. I could go on, but you get the point – there are a ton of expensive with Coachella. If you are going to go, expect to pay a lot of money unless you are a camper.
My biggest tip for trying to mitigate the hotel expenses are to book early. The hotel or house is always going to be expensive, but if you book early you can get a deal. The chart above shows the prices only go up, so the earlier the better. For example, I booked a hotel in June and got a nice place in Palm Springs for about $210 a night. Expensive? Yes, but still better than the prices I saw a couple months later. Just book a refundable hotel in case something changes in your Coachella plans and you will be all set. AirBNB is another nice option for Coachella as a lot of people have houses in the area that they rent out. Again, book early!
Even though Coachella occurs in the springtime every year, it’s still in the desert and deserts are hot. Indio, CA, where Coachella is held annually, is about 2.5 hours east of the coast. This puts Coachella deep in the desert, just east of Palm Springs. Coachella is routinely 90+ degrees over the weekend, so fully expect to sweat over the weekend. Making things worse, there’s limited shade throughout the festival grounds. If you are at a tented stage like Sahara or Mojave you will be in the shade, but if you spend a lot of time at the Outdoor or Coachella Main Stage (likely) you are going to get a ton of shade. It should also be noted that even if you are in the stage it’s still hot. All of this is a long-winded way of saying you are going to sweat your ass off.
I’m surprised I never see anyone discussing this issue. Coachella, unlike many festivals, has only a couple of designated alcohol zones. You can only enter these areas if you are 21+ and you cannot take alcohol out of these areas. These are the only areas you can enjoy an adult beverage at Coachella. The problem is none of these areas provide a good view of any of the stages. You basically go to these areas to relax and get a drink, but when you are there you won’t be able to really see any of the stages. There is one beer garden where you can see the Coachella Stage jumbotron’s, but that’s about it. The other alcohol areas do not provide any views. So if you are the type of guy or gal who enjoys a good cold brew while you enjoy a show you are out of luck – not at Coachella.
Coachella has over 100,000 people every day, so you can expect to experience some lines. If you go to Coachella around 3 or 4 p.m. when its getting busy you can expect a 45+ minute line to get into Coachella. There’s always a line to go to the bathroom. There’s always a line to refill your water bottle or Camelbak. There’s always a line to get a beer. I think you get the point – if you go to Coachella you can expect to stand in lines. In general I’ve always been impressed with the overall efficiency of Coachella, but lines are inevitable.
I feel like I’ve gone on long enough about all the negative things with Coachella – let’s get to the good stuff. I have been to a lot of bucket list type events in my day, including many music festivals, and Coachella is my favorite event I have gone to. If you are expect a biased view of Coachella’s glory you have come to the wrong place – I love Coachella and believe it is fully worth the costs. Let’s go over the glory that is Coachella.
As someone who still primarily attends Coachella for the music, I have to start there. Year in and year out Coachella delivers an amazing music lineup with something for everyone. Yes, every year people bitch about how awful the Coachella lineup is and how the festival is going downhill, and every year the festival still sells out. Coachella still does a great job of diversifying its lineup and finding a great balance of well known artists and emerging artists. Generally Coachella has 150+ bands so surely you will be able to find something you like.
Not necessarily a big deal for me, but undoubtedly Coachella attracts more celebrities annually than any other festival. Sometimes these celebrities are there to make a guest appearance on stage and sometimes they are there to just enjoy the festival like you are. Regardless, you are likely to see someone famous in some capacity at Coachella. Coachella sort of becomes the center of the pop culture universe for the weekend so it is pretty cool to be a part of it and be there for what all the major news outlets are reporting on.
Everyone at Coachella is there to have a good time, and Coachella is definitely a party. If you are looking for good vibes then Coachella is perfect. No matter how stressful your life may be on the outside, when you get to Coachella you will relax and have a good time. One of my favorite times of the year is when we first get to Coachella and I see the famous Coachella Ferris wheel for the first time.
Coachella may be out in the middle of nowhere but I really love the location. We always stay in Palm Springs, CA, which is about 35 minutes west of Coachella, and it’s a great place to relax and get away from life. This is sort of the vibe for Coachella whether you stay in Palm Springs, Indian Wells, or Palm Desert. The area has a lot of resorts and cool little towns to check out and relax. If you can afford to go for an extra day or two outside of just the dates of Coachella it’s well worth it.
A lot of music festivals let you re-enter the festival one time max. Coachella is awesome in that they let you come and go as you please. If you camp this is great as you can make a run to your camp site if the booze is wearing off and you are trying to save some money. The same goes for food. It’s a simple thing, but a lot of festivals don’t do it so it’s nice that Coachella allows this.
If you think festivals are about generic food or light beer you are in for a pleasant surprise at Coachella. Coachella annually brings in some of the best food from throughout Southern California to provide festivalgoers with some delectable treats. Every year Coachella attendees look forward to the restaurant list to see what treats the festival will bring in for this year – it never disappoints. Even the beer, despite Coachella being heavily sponsored by Heineken, has stepped up its game lately and features a ton of popular craft beers in the beer gardens. You will have a lot of great options for both food and drinks at Coachella.
I am by no means an art expert but I do love looking at the different art exhibits each year. Some years are cooler than others but they are always worth checking out. Of course you always need to get your picture taken with the main art piece at Coachella every year so you can Instagram it and make all of your friends jealous.
If the hotel situation at Coachella has you down because of the costs there is always a cheap camping option. You can get a camping pass for $100, which saves you a ton of money over the weekend. The camping environment is electric and one giant party. You are sure to make a bunch of friends and have a good time at the camping sites. Plus, with camping you are right there so you can get to Coachella right when it opens, which is difficult if you stay in any other area.
Yes, the Coachella passes are expensive at $399 for general admission or $899 for VIP. However, Coachella does offer an awesome payment plan to help mitigate these costs. If you buy your pass in June for the presale Coachella allows you to take advantage of the payment plan, which splits your Coachella pass into 6 payments. Most festival payment plans split it into 3, so splitting Coachella into 6 is quite reasonable and makes it seem much cheaper. Appearances are everything!
There you have it, all the pros and cons of Coachella. Hopefully this helps you decide if Coachella is the right festival for you. As I said, I absolutely love Coachella and have never felt like it wasn’t worth it in all the years I have gone. If you have any other pros and cons to add to the article I would love to here them; let me know at Shawn@EventTrk.com.