The Coachella Guide for Families Traveling with Kids

Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.

Southern California’s epic outdoor music festival, the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival, is a great way to show those teens just how relevant you can be while heading off the assumption that you’re just coming to spy on them. Read up on the musical acts and be prepared to rock – just don’t forget the earplugs!

Tickets, Timing, and Trouble Spots

Hold your finger just over the trigger and get tickets the moment they go on sale. The advance sale starts in June, with extra tickets coming out when the lineup is announced in the winter. Coachella’s two April weekends usually sell out within a week, so don’t miss out.

Create an account  before tickets go on sale to streamline your purchase process when the time comes around. And remember: you can only purchase two passes with a single email address and credit card.

Splurge on the VIP experience. The extra cool-off tent with water, couches, food, restrooms, and picnic tables have shorter lines and will minimize the very real possibility of heat stroke or dehydration while making your teen feel extra-special, too.

Skip the camping (it’s allowed for under-18’s accompanied by parents, but full of noise and debauchery) and find a hotel in Indio, Palm Desert, or Indian Wells. Palm Springs hotel rooms usually sell out well in advance and prices are steep for Coachella weekends. Look into AirBnb or short-term house rentals as an alternative to hotels, too. Having a good night’s sleep between fest days will keep you both feeling more human anyway.

Once you’ve planned the weekend, it’s time to surprise your kid, maybe for Christmas or a birthday. Once the schedule is released, consult with your teen about favorite bands and indulge in some together-time while planning your experience.

How to Fest

Pack plenty of sunscreen and clothes that protect from the sun. Hats, lightweight scarves, and wraps come in handy for those 95-plus-degree days. Have a bottle of water on you at all times and keep track of the VIP tents, for well-deserved breaks.

Ear plugs are also a must, and sometimes included in the festival gift bags. If your teen is unconvinced, remind him or her that all musicians wear them to preserve their own eardrums amidst unnecessarily loud concert volumes. You might even run into a musician who your kid can ask – they’ll definitely give you the answer you want to hear.

Arrive about a half hour before the gates open at 11am. On-site parking is free and you’ll be sure to find a spot, as well as shorter lines, if you start the morning early. Once inside, take a lap around the grounds to see the mostly interactive artwork and project venues featured at the festival. You might decide on a favorite venue to meet at if you get separated.

This will also give you an idea, before things get too crowded, of the areas to avoid. Drinking and drugs will be found all around the festival, but you’ll quickly become aware of tents and art venues that encourage debauchery more rather than less.

Highlight Reel

Coachella features three stages – Coachella (the main stage), Outdoor, and Gobi – and three performance tents – Mohave, Sahara, and Yuma – for which those ear plugs are even more essential. Morning and early afternoon sets last 30 - 40 minutes, while the headliners and late-night acts can last up to 50 minutes. Beware the mosh pits and the crowding and forgo the front row.

If your teen isn’t embarrassed by your dancing, head to the DJ-only Do Lab to bust a move in the lobby area at the head of the festival. You can also take a break by riding the ferris wheel, shopping the curated selection of artisan craft yurts, and perusing the music at the record store.

Take time to talk to some of the artists and explore their interactive venues. Encourage your kid to think about the rationale behind the artwork, and maybe even come up with an idea for an installation in the future.

Fest for Fun

In spite of the heat, the sun, and the crowds, music lovers of all ages enjoy Coachella Music Festival year after year, and you can too. Instead of leaving your teens with their irresponsible peers to experience the fest, embrace the culture of young festival-goers and be the cool mom or dad.

Besides, the festival usually has a good variety of “retro” acts from back in your day – AC/DC even played last year!

Will you be attending the Coachella Arts and Music Festival this year? What are some special events your city has to offer? Share with us!

Tags : hip happenings   music festivals   coachella   bonding   

Nilou Farnetti
The thought of it sounds really cool, but no way!