Festivals happen around the world and all year long to keep us happy and connected to that free spirit that lives inside every jaded commuter, but none are quite as popular- or Instagrammable- as the two-weekend Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that kicks off just outside Palm Springs in the Colorado Desert every spring.
It’s the one that all sun-seeking celebrities and music fest warriors flock to, and with headliners like J Balvin, Wiz Khalifa and Ariana Grande scheduled to appear this year, you should be on your way to Southern California right now…
It’s the first major event of the music festival calendar 2019, but that’s not the only reason to go. This time of year, sunny California is just the place to be for anyone looking for the ultimate time out or a wild weekend under clear blue skies. Think designer-hippie ensembles, unidentifiable street food and circus skills and a line-up of huge artists guaranteed to make teens of even the most jaded adults… What’s not to love?
Where to stay?
The thing to understand about going to the Coachella is that, after all the partying, you’ll need a break from the heat, pie-eating contests, and Ferris wheel. And the best way to ensure you have a place to recharge is picking a hotel a little out of the way where you can spend some time at the spa or just languishing in the pool.
Our recommendation is the Hotel Casa del Mar. Sitting just a two-hour drive out, this 1920s oceanside grand dame on the Santa Monica coast is everything you want after a day at the festival- light-filled spaces, lots of greenery, rooms with four-poster beds and Italian linens and a spa where treatments with Kerstin Florian products are just what the doctor ordered for tired and sun-kissed skin.
What to pack?
The Coachella might be a music festival, but it is one attended by perfectly bronzed and groomed celebrities so you want to make sure you hit all the right fashion notes. We would bring out the lace dresses, brightly-coloured bikinis and lots of tassels. Good head-gear is another fashion buy you don’t want to cheap out on. You want one that adds the right amount of bohemian vibe to your outfits, striking that elusive balance between fashionably put-together and relaxed hippie.
And finally, while you’re here…
Being this side of the world and not taking a Tesla to Palm Springs should be illegal. This desert city that was once a sleepy spa town built on hot springs sacred to the Cahuilla Indians is having a moment right now. Maybe it’s the booming hotel scene or maybe it’s the ghosts of Hollywood’s golden past, but Palm Springs, sheltered by mountain ranges and home to Elizabeth Taylor’s former abode and Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate, is an attraction in its own right during the Coachella.
Our favorite time of day in the city was settling at the Melvyn’s bar every evening. If the walls of this Rat Pack favourite could talk, you’d never leave with all the juicy stories of Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando and John Travolta walking through its doors. These days, the crowd is more regular, but it’s still the place to be for the best Martinis and Sidecars in town.
Then, of course, there is the “West Coast Camp David” designed by A. Quincy Jones. This 200-acre estate with its modernist design and 22-bedroom house is where political leaders from around the world bed down in Southern California, and tours of it are a lesson in history and diplomacy.