The Getaway
Tips to Make the Most of the Stagecoach Music Festival

The Stagecoach Music Festival is the highest-grossing country music festival in the world. But here's the thing—it's not in Nashville. Nope, you'll find Miranda Lambert, Willie Nelson, and Morgan Wallen doing their thing right in California. In fact, the Stagecoach Music Festival is held in the exact same venue as Coachella, the Empire Polo Club in Indio, and it takes place a week before its more well-known counterpart and sister event. Stagecoach is all about comfy cowboy-style, gorgeous sunsets, and hollering in appreciation when a musician brings their A-game. All ages are welcome, and with a little preparation, you're guaranteed a good time.

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01 How to pack for Stagecoach

packing toiletries

Let's start with the basics you need for this epic spring event. Sun protection and lip balm are a must, as is a reusable, approved water bottle, so you can stay hydrated (alcohol doesn't count). Energy supplements will pull you through inevitable dips, tissues are essential when toilet paper runs out, and wet wipes can take care of sticky fingers and help you freshen up. A koozie could be useful if you like your beverages to stay nice and cold. Don't forget low-back lawn chairs and something compact to sit on to protect your behind from sun-baked surfaces and itchy hay. You'll find a full list of suggestions on the festival website.

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02 Choosing the right attire

person packing suitcase

Temperatures in the desert can fluctuate, but it's best to check the weather forecast. Pack shorts and comfy boots for the day and add extra layers for the nippy evenings. You'll need a hat, spare socks, a compliant backpack, and sunglasses. Although it's expensive, it's a good idea to rent a locker to store your chairs, beach towels, and other items, rather than hauling them to and from a car every day. You're going to be doing a fair amount of walking, so carry b in case you get blisters. A dust mask or bandana will do you a solid when it gets windy. Sadly, no umbrellas are allowed.

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03 Navigating the festival grounds

Knowledge is power, people. Avail yourself of the user-friendly resources at your disposal. The Stagecoach mobile app will give you the lowdown on set times and wristband registration. It also includes easy-to-read maps to orient yourself, find a bathroom, and get from the intimate Palomino stage to the Backyard Village. You'll be able to locate the HonkyTonk Dance Hall without too much head-scratching.

04 Understanding the 'Running of the Humans'

The Running of the Humans refers to that hilarious moment when festival-goers rush to claim a spot near Mane Stage. The "stampede" lasts mere moments but is fascinating to witness and participate in. You may spot a lot of barefoot people who realize that flip-flops aren't cut out for sprinting.

05 Maximizing musical enjoyment

Build anticipation with playlists. Get more acquainted with the lyrics of a song from weeks before the festival so that when it arrives, you can sing along to your favorites. Check the lineup to see who'll be performing and give unfamiliar artists a listen—a new fav could be a stream away. Once you know which artists you're interested in seeing live, you can build your personal schedule around the festival's schedule. Set times are posted on the festival's website and app before the event so you can plan and figure out where you want to compromise on simultaneous shows. Arrive early if you're a major fan.

06 Food and beverage options

You've got lots of options, and spots like the Beer Barn allow you to juice up your phone, too. At Guy Fieri's Stagecoach Smokehouse, you may lock eyes with the man himself as he shows the crowd and various performers how to barbecue. The demos are amusing, and if you're lucky, you'll get to taste samples. At Wet Yer Whistle, you'll find an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks like lemonade, coffee, and smoothies. Pizza is always a treat. It helps to mentally prepare for overpriced food and drinks, and you'll be fine.

07 Accommodation choices

rvs

Accommodation runs the gamut from RV and car campgrounds and rentable furnished tents onsite to motels and luxurious Greater Palm Springs resorts. Consider bundle packages with partner hotels, shuttle services, and festival passes. Shuttles moves between the festival and accommodation in places like Indian Wells, La Quinta, and Rancho Mirage. Check out the map on the website for the full list.

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08 Transportation and parking

parking

General parking is free. VIP parking is not. You'll need to get a special pass for overnight parking, or your vehicle will be towed, and if you lose your keys, a locksmith can be arranged. Day parking opens at 9 am, but the venue gates only open at noon. The festival encourages carpooling to reduce delays at busy times, like between 4 pm and 7 pm. Drop-off points are posted before the event. Bike racks are available, too, and a shuttle service.

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09 Safety and security

The organizers follow local public health guidelines to ensure the event is safe. If capacity and attendance requirements change, all festival-goers are notified. In a post-pandemic world, COVID continues to be a risk and one that ticketholders assume. Dog sweeps, bag checks, and metal detectors keep the festival secure, but individuals also need to keep an eye on personal items to prevent theft. Medical tents administer first aid.

10 Environmental responsibility

trash cans

Stagecoach recognizes that transportation to the event significantly contributes to its carbon footprint and rewards attendees for carpooling. There's a greater focus on selling beverages in aluminum than before, and vendors are required to use compostable utensils and plates. Attendees may be able to drop off recyclable items in exchange for a prize.

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11 Staying connected

mobile phone being charged

WiFi is limited to certain areas. You'll be able to find battery recharging stations, but they can be difficult to access during busy periods. A slim, pre-charged power bank will keep your phone alive so you can take photos and videos to your heart's content. Be proactive with your group and arrange central meeting points in case y'all get separated.

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12 Relax and enjoy

people dancing at music festival

Beyond the music and dancing, you'll find whimsical attractions like a Ferris wheel for a bird's eye view of proceedings. The Compton Cowboys may be in town. They're Black riders from a small ranch in Compton, and you can admire their horses and hear their story. Half-Pint Hootenanny is a fantastic airconditioned kids' area with crafts and instruments.

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13 Post-festival recovery

sports drinks

Forget the talk about "clean living." The reality is that copious amounts of alcohol are consumed at this event. First and foremost—If you happen to have imbibed, don't drive. When the festival is done and quite literally dusted, grab coconut water or sports drinks to beat hangovers and rest up to avoid feeling depleted.

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14 Planning for next year

filadendron / Getty Images

Loved your Stagecoach Music Festival experience? You can do it all over again next year but with the wisdom of experience. Buy tickets early because, as you know by now, they sell out quickly, and the RV camps fill up fast, too. Or rent an Airbnb with your buddies, preferably one with a pool.

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15 More tips for first-time attendees

friends singing in car

Take a picture of where you've set up your group's chairs with a distinctive landmark to help you find your home base later on. At the end of the day, try to leave before the last act ends to beat the traffic congestion. Lastly, go super early for the smaller artists—it can end up being a highlight. Also, it can take up to an hour to get from the parking lot to your destination, so punctuality ensures you won't miss out on all the action.

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