The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of America's most popular annual music festivals. The three-day event, usually scheduled for the third or fourth weekend in April, is held at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California—about 130 miles east of Los Angeles. Hundreds of thousands of music fans flock to the festival every year to hear an eclectic mix of great music. Major acts that have performed at Coachella include Paul McCartney, Prince, Rogers Waters, Jay-Z, Arcade Fire, The Cure, Kings of Leon, Kanye West, Weezer, and Wilco.
While headliners take to Coachella's main stage there are several other performance venues on the grounds that host around-the-clock live music. To keep the event fresh, organizers tend to invite artists that have not previously appeared at the festival. Despite booking over one hundred music acts every year, there are only a few dozen bands/performers that have actually played Coachella more than once.
Besides the music, Coachella also features an array of installation art and sculptures—many of which are interactive. These pieces can be enjoyed while walking through the venue grounds. While organizers avoid booking music artists more than once, they have no such druthers when it comes to visual artists.
The Coachella Festival began in 1999, was not held in 2000, returned in 2001, and has been an annual event ever since. The first time the Polo Fields ever hosted a large scale concert was in 1993 when Pearl Jam played in front of 25,000 fans.
The site was only used by the band because they were boycotting Ticketmaster and all of its venues. That one Pearl Jam show proved that the grounds were a viable venue for large music concerts. This is in spite of the fact that Indio is far away from major population centers and is located in one of the hottest and driest regions in the United States. Incidentally, that's why the festival is held in April, to avoid the summer's intense heat.
Due to the festival's length, and Indio's remoteness, many attendees tent camp at a site adjacent to the venue grounds. The so-called "Coachella Campgrounds" are used by thousands of concert-goers and feature several amenities including bathrooms, showers, and food vendors.
Since space is limited some attendees camp at nearby Lake Eldorado or at any of the other campgrounds in the immediate area. There are a few hotels in and around Indio but rooms are usually booked well in-advanced of the festival. Additional hotels can be found in neighboring towns although most are several miles away. Nonetheless, these hotels offer frequent shuttle trips to and from the venue. Coachella visitors should also be aware that parking is relatively limited and getting into the venue can take several hours.