On April 15, 2016, the most sought after festival opens its gates again. Thousands of music enthusiasts, fashionistas and celebrities will be en route to the Californian desert to celebrate music, art, life and love at Coachella for the next two weekends. The annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attracts the who is who with its summer carnival atmosphere and unique live performance lineup.
LAX Airport will be welcoming stylish visitors from all around the world in the next two weeks, and the Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice will become a catwalk for the bohemian fashion crowd. You will see artists, models and surfers strolling around or drinking green smoothies and enjoying the Californian lifestyle in some of the boulevard’s small cafes and restaurants, before they take off to Palm Springs by helicopter or go on a fun road trip with their friends.
Every festival has its different categories. So does Coachella. And when you like to enjoy a certain lifestyle, be surrounded by a select crowd and take advantage of “one-of-a-kind” services – like celebrities do – then you must be very well connected and willing to pay a certain amount to ensure a memorable VIP experience.
I spoke to Ronnie Madra, the “one-of-a-kind” event expert and co-founder of Butter Group, who lives the dream of a truly extraordinary lifestyle. His network not only includes the bosses and founders of global luxury brands, but he also counts A-list actors, artists and top-models among his circle of friends. This could be another reason for the New York based Butter Group’s success, which owns the famous nightclub brands 1 OAK and Up & Down, and produces the world’s most prestigious parties. Ronnie Madra, who’s been visiting Coachella for almost 10 years, gives some insights into how VIPs celebrate the festival.
1. How to get to Coachella
After landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) some spend a few days in Los Angeles before taking a helicopter or car to Palm Springs. Either way, it is a great experience. Some prefer the fun of driving through the desert, and having an occasional pit stop at In-N-Out Burger, while others prefer a fast arrival by chopper. This year, Uber collaborates with Blade and offers the UberChopper service to Coachellafor the first time.
2. Where to stay
You can rent stunning villas with pools around the festival grounds. Indio, CA CA -0.75% is the best location to stay at houses with friends. It’s close to Coachella and ensures fast accessibility. For individual travelers, Madra recommends the legendary Ace Hotel & Swim Club Palm Springsor The Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage luxury resort.
3. VIP Areas
The officially purchased VIP wristbands offer access to two VIP areas on the Coachella grounds: the large VIP area next to the main stage, with organic food trucks, seating opportunities, tents, bathrooms, phone plug-in stations and ATMs within a relaxed and uncrowded atmosphere. From there you have a view of the main stage. The other VIP area, called “Rose Garden”, is smaller and on the other side of the festival grounds. It is a beautiful bohemian rose (beer) garden that is perfect for chilling-out during the day.
4. The “Super VIP” Access aka Artist Pass
The real VIP services at Coachella go beyond the official VIP areas. The access for celebrities and super VIPs is guaranteed by artists and backstage wristbands only. The owners of these are the very few who enjoy the benefits of services which are usually only offered to performing artists and their crews. They, for example, are the ones who can avoid the long 20-30 minute walk from the official Coachella drop-off locations to the actual entrance: “VVIPs” are offered artists parking spaces closer to the grounds, including golf cart pick-up service. They are also the ones who have backstage access and can see the concert from right next to the stage. And how to get this special access? “You must know a performing artist. It’s all about having the right connections.” says Madra.
5. VIP Parties & Side Events
1 OAK and Up & Down will be hosting their annual pop-up event, co-sponsored by Bumble app, Budweiser and the Wine’N’Dine app, at a private estate in the Bermuda Dunes. “The day-time event expects a beautiful, fun and affluent crowd this Friday.” Ronnie Madra explains and adds, “We have spent many years and a lot of resources in building our brand and pop-up business so we have the reputation for throwing great parties during high profile events around the world. 1 OAK and Up & Down are all about quality not quantity. This sets us apart from our competitors.”
Ronnie Madra’s Coachella tip: “Don’t miss the reunion show of Guns N’ Roses at the main stage of Coachella Valley on Saturday night. This will be the highlight of the festival.”
Another legendary side event that takes place in the desert this weekend is Brent Bolthouse’s Neon Carnival. The Saturday night party includes a spectacular DJ lineup, entertaining animations and amazing acts. This event has been the celebrity hotspot for many years. A strict door is guaranteed. Guest list only, of course.
6. What to wear
Coachella is all about bohemian chic, being comfortable and easy, yet beautiful. Light, transparent materials and floating cuts are the key to a fashionable festival experience for her. Also, flats, a sunhat and sunglasses are a must during the day and a light cardigan is recommended for when it gets chilly at night.
A pair of comfortable and light chinos, the same goes for the sneakers, a cool t-shirt, sunglasses and a hat is recommended for him.
Artsy sculptures and magnificent sunsets create a picturesque atmosphere for your perfect Instagram snapshots.