I had an amazing time at Coachella — but I probably still wouldn't go back because of the effort it takes to get there

Janelle Monae, Main Stage

  • The Coachella
    Music & Arts Festival
     takes place over two weekends in
    April at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.
  • I decided to go to Coachella for the first time this year.
  • While I loved the musical performances and felt that the event
    was well-organized, I probably won’t be attending again as it is
    too much of a pain and too much money to arrange all of the
    logistics necessary to attend the festival.
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    or check out
    more of our coverage
    on this year’s edition of Coachella.

Let’s get this out of the way: The folks over at Goldenvoice,
the organizers behind the
Coachella Music and Arts Festival
, know how to put on a great

I attended the festival for the first time this year and found
it, in many ways, to be as good as or better than advertised. The
performances, from
Janelle Monae
Kacey Musgraves
, were out of this world.

While great artists usually put on great shows wherever and
whenever they perform, the atmosphere at Coachella definitely
influences artists to take their performances to the next level. I
got the sense that each performer took the responsibility of being
on the Coachella bill very seriously. They want to blow the fest’s
50,000 attendees — and the celebs, influencers, and industry
bigwigs in the VIP section — away.

The production value, from Childish Gambino
having a runway that stretched deep into the crowd
to Ariana
bringing out NSYNC
, was unmatched by any other festival I’ve
attended. Coachella is really in a class of its own for sheer star
power and A-list talent.

All that said, I probably won’t be attending again. My decision
has nothing to do with how the event is organized or the quality of
the art and music. It all comes down to how much of a production it
is to get there.

Lots of what I’m going to say doesn’t really apply to the
car-owning people of Los Angeles. As someone coming from out of
state, however, getting to the festival is a major pain.

I had to fly in from New York on a Wednesday two days before the
festival and fly out two days after the festival. Flights any
closer to the event were prohibitively expensive. That left me
sleeping on a friend’s couch to save a few bucks.

Then, on the day of the festival, I had to drive three hours
(including traffic) to get to Indian Wells to pick up my wristband
and drive 45 minutes back the other way to Palm Springs to check
into my hotel (which was conveniently double or triple its usual
price for the weekend). The only hotels closer to the festival at a
reasonable price (i.e. $300-$400) looked like they’d seen better


To get to the festival from Palm Springs, I bought an $80 pass
for the Coachella-approved shuttle. The shuttle itself is
well-organized and fairly priced, but there’s no getting around the
fact that it takes an hour for the shuttle to drive from Palm
Springs to the festival grounds.

Taking the shuttle on the way home once the music ends was a
more trying experience. There’s simply no good way to manage 50,000
people exiting an event at once, but the result is that it takes an
hour or more to walk with the milling crowd to get on the line for
the shuttle home. On the first night of the festival, I started to
leave the grounds around 1:00 a.m. and didn’t get home until after
3:00 a.m.

Skipping the shuttle in favor of Uber or Lyft is an easy way to
unnecessarily empty out your bank account. It’s not much faster,
with wait times exceeding one hour when the festival ends each


The best way to mitigate all this driving back and forth (and
spending lots of money on overpriced hotels) is to camp onsite. But
as someone traveling to the festival with only my partner and no
local friends attending, it would be an even more exhausting effort
to try to cobble together the camping equipment necessary to make
the festival a comfortable experience.

I could be one of the few to feel this way. Most of the
attendees I met had traveled long distances to attend the festival,
from Denver to the U.K. to Australia. One of the first things I
noticed while attending was how many different languages I heard
attendees speaking. Many of the attendees I met were at Coachella
for the third, fifth, or even tenth time.

Due to its far-out location in the desert — an admittedly
beautiful canvas for a music festival — Coachella tests how much
nonsense you are willing to suffer to experience some of the best
performances the music industry has to offer. Add
in the $2,000
that I had to pay for lodging, car rental,
flights, and other logistical extras, and it simply feels like too
much effort for me to do again.

Next year, I’ll probably check out a festival within driving
distance of New York City, like Firefly Festival or Bonnaroo, to
see how it compares.

got a free, last-minute ticket to Coachella, and it still cost
$2,000 to go. Here’s exactly what I spent for a weekend at the
notoriously expensive festival.

spent a weekend at Coachella, and my favorite part of the festival
is a rule most people over 21 would probably hate

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I had an amazing time at Coachella — but I probably still wouldn't go back because of the effort it takes to get there