Coachella A to Z

Navigating the rock fest for your teen.

“All I want for my birthday is a ticket to Coachella.” Sounds easy enough, but as many of us have discovered, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival can be a bank-buster. 

The $375, three-day ticket is just the beginning. Add a shuttle pass ($60), over-priced food and jacked-up hotel costs, and your teen’s desert getaway can look like a mortgage payment. 

There’s not much you can do about the cost. But you can ease logistical snafus by planning smartly. 

Tickets

Coachella, held the weekends of April 11-13 and April 18-20 (yep, that’s Easter weekend), is expected to attract more than 80,000 people. Tickets are already sold out. Go to an after-market outlet like Craigslist, eBay or StubHub, and pay a premium.

For next year: Tickets typically become available in January at coachella.com.  Read the multi-step sale instructions in advance. Confirm with your kid which weekend they want tickets for. Have your fingertips on the keyboard the moment the sale starts—usually at 10 a.m. Do all of this and you still might see “sold out.”

Another option: Coachella also has an online sale the May before each event (nearly a year in advance). For this spring’s event, that’s how I purchased my ticket. However, I waited to book a hotel until November and almost missed getting one of the last rooms available on a shuttle route. Lesson: Book room immediately after getting ticket. 

Shuttles 

There are eight shuttle routes that service 14 local hotels. Getting near the venue in a vehicle is challenging. Book a room at one of the hotels serviced by shuttles (around $400 per night).

There are also two “park and ride” locations—Agua Caliente Casino and Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Last year we booked a room in the slightly less expensive Palm Springs and used the casino shuttle. For us, though, it wasn’t worth the extra commute time. 

Packages

There’s another way to get a ticket now. Buy a package on the Coachella website that includes a three-night stay, shuttle passes and tickets. Minimum of two people (starting at $1,985). 

Teen Advice 

Avoid long food vendor lines: Eat beforehand. Stay hydrated. Queue up once to purchase water bottle and refill it at one of the free water filling stations. Bring a jacket to ward off dramatic evening drop in temperatures. Familiarize yourself with the grounds (see website map) and pre-determine meeting points. Head out with cell phones fully charged to stay connected with friends.

Worth Noting

Alcohol is sold at the event, and many attendees openly smoke marijuana. l

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