A Vancouverite's guide to Coachella

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Image: Stephanie Trimble

Written for Vancity Buzz by Stephanie Trimble


Music festivals are a rite of passage for all music lovers, and Coachella is the festival of all festivals to experience. The warm air saturated with electric musical performances and elaborate art installations scattered around the lush polo fields is the perfect combination that makes Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival so unique. There is a reason why music festivals have exploded in popularity in the past few years – Coachella in particular. It’s a perfected escape from reality.

In order to fully enjoy your time at Coachella, a little bit of preparation is needed. Forethought before arriving ensures the extended amount of time spent outdoors and on your feet is not painful or uncomfortable. Here are a few tips for Vancouverites heading south to California this weekend to have the best Coachella experience:

Wear something comfortable on your feet

It’s tempting to wear something über trendy, but you will regret your decision come day three of extended periods of walking, dancing, jumping, standing around, etc. Even at trendy Coachella, festival attendees avoid flip flops and wear something with more support. If you plan to get up close to any of the stages, consider wearing close toed shoes to avoid painful toe stompers in the crowds. You will walk more than you think over the three days; if you get blisters on the first day you will be in trouble by the end of the weekend. That said, have fun with your outfits! Fashion trends are set at Coachella – wear your best trendy, Bohemian gear that lets your personality shine through.

Apply durable sport sunscreen before you head into the festival grounds

This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people I have seen with nasty burns wandering around Coachella. Ouch! When you have a break between sets, seek out some shade to find reprieve from the intense desert sun. You will have more energy to dance once the sun sets if you haven’t spend the whole day baking in the sun.

Check the weather forecast

If there is any chance of wind, bring a scarf (ladies) or bandana (guys). This comes in handy if a dust storm picks up, you will have something to filter your breathing.

Bring a collapsable water bottle

One that you can clip to your bag/shorts when it is filled up, but can be packed away into a tiny space when not in use. As Coachella becomes more and more environmentally conscious, additional water refill stations are becoming readily available; encouraging attendees to bring their own bottles for reuse.

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Be sure to drink lots of water

Between the hot desert sun and losing yourself in the music while dancing, it is very easy to become dehydrated. And pace yourself if you are drinking alcohol. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the nighttime concerts (usually the headliners) because you over indulged too much during the day.

Consider packing a small compact point and shoot camera

While the smart phone cameras are ok, their zoom capabilities often leave much to be desired. If you want to get some close-up shots of your favourite artists without having to claw all the way to the front of the crowds, bring a camera with a decent zoom. Let the professional photographers lug around heavy gear.

Remember everyday items

Remember small personal effects such as identification (even if you are well into your 40s, they check ID, every day) and bring cash as some vendors do not accept credit or debit cards (hopefully the use of debit and credit cards will be more readily accepted this year). Be sure to get money out prior to arriving at the festival as there are often long lineups at ATMs on the polo fields. Bring some chewing gum as it is an easy way to make instant friends in concert crowds and it alleviates nasty beer breath.

Pack light

Forget the big backpack and stick with a small convenient bag that is secure in large crowds; make sure it is not easily opened. Take advantage of onsite lockers to hold a sweater for the cooler evenings and other items that you don’t need to carry around with you the whole day.

The most important thing to bring? A positive attitude!

Your experience is a direct reflection of your frame of mind. Long lines waiting for a cold beer or a salty snack are annoying when you are thirsty, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to make a few new friends. Everyone is there for the same reason — to have a good time! You already know you have something in common – music. So strike up a conversation and make some new friends. Don’t be tempted to pull out your phone and check social media. Put your phone away, take a deep breath and immerse yourself in the atmosphere!


Are you attending Coachella this weekend? Tweet me at @strimby. If not, be sure to check out the live stream of some select Coachella sets on YouTube. Have fun!

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