Festival season is upon us as Coachella kicks off this weekend in the dusty desert of Indio, California. I’ve been lucky enough to go for the last few years and in doing so I’ve learned a thing or two about surviving and thriving among 80,000 of your closest friends. It is an incredible experience, but it’s not without it’s challenges. So here’s my Been There, Done That, Coachella Tips Extravaganza!
Perhaps this is a lame one to start with, but I’m not going to sugar coat this for you — Coachella operates like a well-oiled machine and that’s because they love rules. They are very specific about what you can, and cannot bring into the festival grounds. Do yourself a favour and take a peek at their site so you don’t end up getting your selfie stick confiscated at the gate. Another aspect to plan for is communication. Your cellphone will not work properly at the festival. Be sure to pick a physical meeting point with friends because you will inevitably lose one another.
First of all, water is your best friend at Coachella. Between the scorching heat, and constant dust in the air, you will be parched all the time. Resist the urge to reach for alcoholic beverages too early in the day since you’ll risk crashing too soon. Secondly, remember that heat I mentioned? Shelter from the sun is minimal so sunscreen is a must! Apply it early, and often, and you’ll be made in the shade! Get it? Classic sunscreen humour. Lastly, hand sanitizer has saved my life more than once at Coachella. Trust me, you want it.
Anytime you’re dealing with crowds you’re going to have idiots. Lots of idiots. While they can be adorable in their own way, they can also harsh your buzz big time. Patience will get you a long way at all music festivals — whether it’s waiting in line with security, or wading through crowds, just let everyone and their silliness roll off your back. Now, flexibility is key since there’s no way to see every act. Some of the best Coachella performances are from up-and-coming artists that you might stumble upon by accident, so keep your plans loose. Also, bank some extra time since the stages are fairly widespread and it takes you longer than you think to get around. Last but not least, be kind. That’s just a general life rule, but it’s always served me well at Coachella, especially with bartenders.
Coachella is a marathon, not a sprint. Pushing yourself too far on Day 1 means you’ll feel shattered for the rest of the festival. Pace yourself. Also, it’s sometimes easy to forget to eat — since your hunger is curbed in the heat — but it would be a shame not to try the food vendors. There is a huge array of options that cater to every palette known to man. (And this is California, so you even have healthy food choices.)
Coachella is a truly fantastic festival, and I’ve loved every second of it. Follow the above tips, and you will too. Be safe, have fun, and, seriously, don’t forget your hand sanitizer.
All photographs by Nora Artinian