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The Travel File: A Guide To Coachella

The Travel File: A Guide To Coachella

Coachella, a music and arts festival that has garnered cult status since its inaugural event in 1999. Held beneath the beating sun of the Colorado Desert, Coachella kicks off festival season every spring and is an A-list favourite that attracts more VIPs than the Oscars and Met Ball combined. For all the thrills associated with celebrity spotting, it’s about much more than that – a plethora of stages cater to every kind of music fan, from psych-rock to grime, pop and rap. Split across two weekends, this year’s electrifying headliners include Beyoncé, Eminem, St. Vincent, Haim and Cardi B. Make the pilgrimage to California for a weekend of headline style, denim cut-offs, sequins and hedonistic, reckless abandon set against the backdrop of the Coachella Valley.

Aside from sipping on cold-pressed cocktails and looking fresh in a pair of Saint Laurent shades, Coachella holds the promise of desert awakenings and transcendental party experiences. We know – the tickets are like gold dust for a reason. Whilst having a rough idea of what you’d like to see is advisable, part of the joy of a festival is going with the flow. Huge crowds, overlapping performances and the call of the bar mean that carefully made plans easily fall by the wayside. You’ll have a much better time in the Sunshine State keeping things loose and laid-back. The battle of the headliners takes place between the two main stages – the Coachella Stage and the Outdoor Stage, and a great view of the Gobi Tent can be enjoyed from the shady adjacent beer garden. We’re big fans of the Do LaB stage – masterminded by American festival culture’s most imaginative pioneers, it’s where some of the more fantastical experiences at the festival are had. Stroll around, enjoy world-class art installations, nurse your hangover with an ice cold Bloody Mary and pose for the ‘gram.

The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs combines bohemian luxury with ultra-cool Californian living. Just a shuttle bus away from the festival, it’s a stylish desert oasis that offers welcome respite to weary festival-goers in need of a break from the buzz of the festival site. Throughout the Coachella fortnight, they throw collaborative parties with some of the festival’s biggest music stars and have a happening poolside DJ and live music scene. At the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains, unwind in boutique hotel rooms filled with vintage furniture and spend some time post-festival exploring the nearby Joshua Tree. For those who want to be closer to the event, stay on-site at the Lake Eldorado Tee Pee village or elite safari tents. Nestled amongst palms at the water’s edge, you can enjoy all of the comforts of home alongside some of the most exclusive access available to the festival.

More often than not, the after party is where the real fun is had. There’s something about late-night carousing and the cover of darkness that fuels wildly hedonistic behaviour amongst the Coachella revellers. Alongside secret locations (if you know, you know), a number of LA and Palm Springs’ more illustrious hotels play host to the most infamous post-festival after-and-pool-parties. Downtown near the fashion district, disco-chic is the Standard Hotel’s speciality, or decamp to Las Vegas for a trashy-but-decadent dose of classic rock ‘n’ roll glamour at the Hard Rock Hotel. Keep your ear to the ground for events closer to the time. Alternatively, wind down in the mountainous tranquillity of Palm Springs or head to Venice Beach for down-time, sunbathing and margaritas.

Photography: Gini May, @ginimay