Just a week after the dust has settled from Coachella, Indio comes to life with Stagecoach – a festival that proves California does country music just as well as downtown Nashville. This year, the eleventh annual event takes places from Friday April 28 through Sunday April 30, 2017.
Whether you’re a diehard Dierks Bentley fan, a crooner for Anderson East’s soulful vocals, or feel called by the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis, this year’s Stagecoach line up offers a sampling of the country’s best singer songwriters, old and new. Live music by mainstream headline artists as well as up-and-coming performers with folk, bluegrass, rock, roots, mainstream country and alternative country music are all well represented.
But let’s be real. If you’re traveling to Indio for your first Stagecoach experience, it’s not just the prolific musicianship and artistry that has you in a frenzy of anticipation. While country music aficionados bought their passes months in advance, others travel to Indio for streams of beer beneath the desert’s endless sun and hours of dancing with friends. That’s okay too.
If you’re headed to Stagecoach for the first time, you may be grateful for a few tips on what to expect and how to save money/time/hassle. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you out before you arrive in Indio, so you can spend your weekend enjoying California’s leading country musical festival worry-free.
Once you’ve bought your Stagecoach ticket (it’s usually a sell-out), your high-security RFID wristband will be mailed to you. This is your golden ticket into a weekend of endless parties and live entertainment, so make sure to have it on before you arrive. Activate it on the Stagecoach website or mobile app before fastening it loosely around your right wrist. This ensures that you can pass quickly through security and head straight to the nearest beer booth before catching the day’s acts.
Tip! Activate and put on your wristband before getting to the festival grounds - you can’t get in without it.
What to Expect at Stagecoach
Stagecoach passes were capped at 75,000 attendees in 2016, so expect packed crowds at this year’s festival. And while it’s California’s most coveted country music festival, three days in Indio’s Empire Polo Club promise much more than Grammy-award wining artists and a spectacular line up.
Half country music, half carnival atmosphere – first timers can expect food and beverage concession stands interspersed with music paraphernalia and country gear. Left your cowboy boots at home? No problem. Don’t worry. At Stagecoach you’ll find everything from string ties and belt buckles to your favorite artist’s latest CD. Take a break from the main stage mayhem and concession indulgence to enjoy other Stagecoach staples, including live DJs and line dancing. Expect music, food, booze, and crowds.
Tip! Save time by bringing cash in advance. No one likes wasting time on ATM lines.
Getting to Stagecoach
Nearest airports to Indio are Palm Springs (PSP) International Airport 20 miles away, Desert Resorts (TRM) (Jacqueline Cochran) Regional Airport 8 miles away, and Bermuda Dunes (UDD) Private Airport just 4 miles from the Stagecoach Festival venue. Los Angeles (LAX) International Airport is 143 miles away.
With so many festival-goers heading to Indio, transport and parking can be a headache. Festival parking is free and it fills up fast. Parking lots open at 9am, but no RVs are allowed in general day parking areas. Ways to beat the lines include:
Tip! Carpool to Stage Coach and arrive before 9am to get a spot in the parking lot.
What to Bring and What to Leave at Home
Probably the most important Stagecoach survivor’s tip we can impart: Drinking beer beneath the desert sun is a dangerous – albeit enticing – combination.We’re not saying to skip the weekend of debauchery. But prepare accordingly.
Indio temperatures can skyrocket past 100°F in late April and shade is a precious commodity at Stagecoach. Pack a brimmed cowboy hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses (cheap, in case you lose them).
Worried about what to wear? Today’s country scene incorporates notes of old and new, from shiny belt buckles and cowboy boots to boho-chic sundresses and trendy denim options. Think practically about the heat; loose and comfortable clothing should rank high on your packing list.
Tip! Pair a boho sundress with a pair of Cowboy boots. You may be mistaken for Nashville’s newest beloved songwriter.
And don’t forget the three T’s: towels, tissues, and toilet paper. You just never know when you may need all three.
Flags are a no-no at Stagecoach but if you’re feeling patriotic, wear stars and stripes T-shirts, shorts or even bikinis! Stagecoach also says no to balls, Frisbees, bicycles, coolers, fireworks, glass containers, musical instruments, pets, selfie sticks, umbrellas, weapons and wheeled carts. Leave these behind and save yourself the impending hassle.
Tip! Pack for the heat and check the list of taboos.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs Policy at Stagecoach
This is a country music festival. Which means booze and music go hand in hand. Alcohol and coolers are banned from being brought into the festival grounds but there are plenty of bars and concession stands selling all types of beverages including beer, wine and spirits.
Smokers can relax - tobacco, e-cigs and vapes are all permitted.
But keep in mind; even though you’re in California, drugs and drug paraphernalia are not permitted at the festival. There will be an “amnesty box” at the entrance for those who forgot to empty their pockets beforehand.
Tip! Stagecoach policy says smoking’s OK; drugs are not.
Stagecoach Accommodation Options
Stagecoach is an RV-friendly music festival, with an official RV resort and hook-up options adjoining the grounds. However, it always books up well ahead of the festival, leaving many people wondering where to stay. No sleep tents are allowed on the RV campground and other RV sites aren’t as close to the action.
Stage Coach goers looking for the ultimate experience can book a luxury vacation rental in Palm Springs – a practical choice if you’re sharing accommodations with family, festival-goers, or friends. You get more space, a comfy bed, air-conditioning, somewhere to recharge your phone battery, plenty of bathrooms with showers, BBQ, a full-equipped kitchen and possibly even a private pool! Palm Springs is just twenty-four miles away, and is a great place to rent private vacation homes for the weekend. That way you’re enjoying – not just enduring – a sun-drenched Stagecoach weekend.
Plan to stay an extra day, or make an entire vacation out of it. In fact, why not stay for a week and make a vacation out of it? The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes place the following weekend at the same site, so you can enjoy a two-fer!
Tip! Book a vacation rental near Indio for next year’s Stagecoach event!
I am a traveler and a writer. I love music, traveling, and discovering new things.