What is Coachella REALLY like?

  • Coachella, located in Indio, California, is one of the most well-known music events.
  • Insider’s music team discovered that the truth was not as it looked on social media.
  • It’s dusty, the food is costly, and you spend much of the day sitting or navigating among people.

The first taste of the festival is not very picturesque.


Day parking at Coachella is free.
Callie Ahlgrim

The walk from the parking lot is long, tedious, and extremely dusty.


Preferred parking costs $140 plus fees.
Callie Ahlgrim

Festival workers try to reduce dust with water, but that often creates mud puddles.


From single-day parking lots, it might take 20 to 30 minutes to get to the festival grounds.
Callie Ahlgrim

The walk back is even worse.


Most headline performances end well past midnight.
Callie Ahlgrim

Many people got lost trying to find their cars and were forced to cut through unmarked areas.


On the first day, there wasn’t enough signage to guide customers.
Callie Ahlgrim

Some people took off their shoes because their feet had become so sore.


This year, cowboy boots were a popular footwear choice at Coachella.
Callie Ahlgrim

Lines at the festival are always long.


Over-21s are given a unique bracelet that must be renewed every day.
Callie Ahlgrim

The line to buy merchandise is especially grueling.


Several customers waited for more than two hours to purchase merchandise.
Callie Ahlgrim

You could wait 40 minutes or more to buy overpriced food.


There offers traditional fast food as well as vegan choices.
Callie Ahlgrim

This slice of cheese pizza cost $11.


It was OK.
Callie Ahlgrim

This order of fries and onion rings cost $26.


The dipping sauces were free.
Callie Ahlgrim

There are very few tables and seating areas, so people typically end up eating on the ground.


If you don’t have access to VIP sections, it’s difficult to get appropriate seats at Coachella.
Callie Ahlgrim

In fact, people spend far more time sitting on the ground than you might expect.


People sat on the grass to watch Finneas perform.
Callie Ahlgrim

The sun is so strong that people skip shows and activities just to sit in the shade.


Art installations and buildings give some shade from the sun.
Callie Ahlgrim

It’s so hot that some people can’t bear to go near the stage, even if they want to watch the performance.


Coachella’s Outdoor Theatre stage.
Callie Ahlgrim

It can also be difficult to get close to the stage thanks to massive VIP sections, which are closed to regular patrons.


Waiting to watch Arcade Fire perform.
Callie Ahlgrim

Much of the day is spent weaving through crowds.


Coachella’s Mojave stage.
Callie Ahlgrim

Those crowds leave trash everywhere.


Workers may be seen picking up abandoned bottles and food items throughout the day.
Callie Ahlgrim

The experience can be overwhelming and exhausting.


Some people just sleep on the ground.
Callie Ahlgrim

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