Ultimate guide to Coachella: Festival guide, lineup, tickets


Forget spring — America’s music festival season is about to kick off in Southern California. Coachella 2023 jumps off in mid-April and social media feeds will be ablaze with who’s performing, who’s attending, what surprises shook us, whose sets slapped hardest, whose was trash, whose festival fit was fire and, if we’re all lucky, who broke the internet.

It’s undeniable and inescapable: Coachella’s a big deal. And even if music, celebrities and festival fashion aren’t your jam, it can’t hurt to bone up on Coachella so you don’t totally miss the discourse. Read on for what this infamous festival is all about, how you might still score access and how to experience it even if trekking to SoCal isn’t in your plans.

What is Coachella?

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — often called the Coachella Music Festival, simply Coachella or sometimes just Chella — is an annual music festival that plays out over the course of two April weekends in the expanses of Indio’s Empire Polo Club, just east of Palm Springs. The lineup that plays over weekend one, from Friday through Sunday, returns to play weekend two, essentially giving fans two chances to see an identical festival. The first weekend is usually the one that gets most press because nobody is totally sure what to expect at that point, especially from the headlining acts.

The crowd watches as DJ Khaled performs at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.

The crowd watches as DJ Khaled performs at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

For those six days, the club’s fields become a playground for music lovers of all kinds. Unlike many festivals, Coachella doesn’t cater to a specific genre or even era of music, instead spoiling its visitors with tough choices of which stage to visit at each turn. The genre-defying array of artists at Coachella is often so packed with notable talent that dependable, hit-making artists are relegated to the lower lines of the lineup posters.

In the YouTube documentary, “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert,” Beck referred to Coachella as “the state of music.” “It’s pretty much everything that’s happening in music at the moment,” the Grammy-winning icon said.

Coachella has worked to establish a reputation for serving up one of the most eclectic lineups of the music festival circuit, with headlining artists representing genres as wide ranging as rock, hip-hop, pop, electronic, R&B, indie, punk and more, as well as acts coming from every corner of the globe. Think of your top five recording artists from the past 30 years and chances are strong that most have played Coachella at some point.

How did Coachella get its name?

It’s a weird name, right? Coachella gets its quirky title from the desert valley in which the festival takes place. The Coachella Valley sprawls to the southeast of Palm Springs, flanked north and south by scenic mountain ranges, and includes the desert cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella. The city of Coachella says the origin of that name comes from a typo at the turn of the 20th century. The city’s founders wanted to name it “Conchilla,” which means “little shells” in Spanish, but the printer who prepared their prospectus misspelled it as “Coachella,” which the founders ended up liking and keeping.

Where does Coachella take place?

Coachella always happens in the same place, Indio, California, a city of roughly 90,000 in the Colorado Desert. Indio sits 130 miles east of Los Angeles, 180 miles northeast of San Diego and about 25 miles southeast of Palm Springs. Indio calls itself the City of Festivals, as its busy calendar of special events brings an estimated 1.4 million visitors to town each year. The city estimates that 250,000 of those visitors flock there for the Coachella experience, while Indio’s biggest yearly draw is the 10-day Riverside County Fair, which pulls in an estimated 315,000 visitors.

Crowds of people at Coachella's 2022 music festival in Indio, California. 

Crowds of people at Coachella’s 2022 music festival in Indio, California. 

Courtesy of Coachella/Calder

The festival takes place at the Empire Polo Club, which has 78 palm-fringed acres that have been home to the festival since it launched in 1999. Empire Polo Club hosts events year round, ranging from actual polo tournaments and lacrosse festivals to dog shows and music festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach. During Coachella, Empire Polo Club’s grounds swell to encompass nearly 650 acres, much of that used for camping and parking.

When is Coachella 2023?

Coachella 2023 weekend one is April 14-16, while weekend two is April 21-23.

Bad Bunny performs at the Grammy Awards at Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 5, 2023 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Bad Bunny performs at the Grammy Awards at Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 5, 2023 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Who is on the Coachella 2023 lineup?

Coachella’s two-weekend run will be headlined by Puerto Rican reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny on Fridays, global K-pop sensations Blackpink on Saturdays and rare performances by the silky voiced critical darling Frank Ocean both Sundays.

While the headliners dominate much of the discourse, other can’t-miss performers on deck include Rosalía, Björk, Burna Boy, Wet Leg, Becky G, Calvin Harris, Gorillaz, Boygenius, Charli XCX and A Boogie wit da Hoodie, among literally dozens more. NorCal folks will want to keep an eye out on Saturday for Remi Wolf, AG Club, Scowl and Destroy Boys, four acts representing the Bay Area at Coachella this year.

As far as set times go, that has yet to be released. The details for Coachella’s exact performance schedules are often guarded secrets until mere days before the festival opens. Coachella’s website assures us that set times will be available in the Coachella mobile app “a couple of days before the festival.”

How much are Coachella 2023 tickets?

A weekend at Coachella doesn’t come cheap, but the good news is that every pass sold is good for all three days of either weekend one or weekend two (no single-day passes are available for purchase). These weekend-long festival passes begin at $549, before fees, for general admission and $1,069 for VIP access, which offers better vantage points. Permits for car camping and tent camping — both popular ways to do Coachella — are $149 each before fees, with a Preferred Car Camping option for $375 that plants you closer to the festival grounds.

Passes for the first weekend of Coachella are currently sold out, but, as of this writing, passes at both pricing tiers are still available for weekend two. Car camping and tent camping is sold out this year, but some spendier glamping options (i.e., tiny homes and yurts) remain up for grabs.

Fatboy Slim performs at the 2022 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 24, 2022 in Indio, Calif.

Fatboy Slim performs at the 2022 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 24, 2022 in Indio, Calif.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Coachella

Can I livestream Coachella 2023?

If FOMO’s got the best of you, you’re in luck. Coachella 2023 marks a major first for the festival, as livestreams of all six of the largest stages will be broadcast on Coachella’s YouTube channel. The all-stages-all-weekend stream launches at 4 p.m. Pacific on Friday, April 14, and runs through the evening of Sunday, April 16. The stream will resume for weekend two, again spanning Friday through Sunday’s performances. The last performances usually wrap around 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 12 a.m. on Sunday, according to Coachella’s website.

This story was edited by Hearst Newspapers Managing Editor Kristina Moy; you can contact her at kristina.moy@hearst.com.

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