By Julia McAlonan/Arizona Sonora News
April is that time of year again when many college students had scraped up their spare change and cut back on their daily Starbucks runs in order to afford the festival of the year: Coachella, which ended its second weekend Sunday.
Since it began as an annual event in 1999, Coachella has become known as one of the most popular music festivals in the United States. It draws around 125,000 people each year to Indio in the desert east of Palm Springs, California. Some of the biggest artists perform over the two separate weekends.
If you headed that way, it was expensive.
Just a single three-day general admission pass cost $429. However, these pass options tend to sell out the day they are released, leaving a package deal of a three-day general admission ticket, plus a shuttle pass, for purchase: $509. That does not include the prices of travel, food, outfits, and accommodations.
Another option: the VIP ticket for $999, which allows you into a private section where the drink lines are shorter and the bathrooms are cleaner, among other perks. One of the strongest appeals of the VIP section is the opportunity to hang out among celebrities who tend to occupy it.
Some save up all year in order to buy the general admission ticket and get there and back. Some, looking at the costs, give Coachella a pass, as it were.
Carly Hayes, a senior at the University of Arizona, said that she could have handled the cost of the ticket, but all of the other costs that come with the weekend made it unattainable.
“I could get the ticket if I really want to. It’s the travel costs and the hotel/Airbnb costs that come with attending the festival that are too much for me,” Hayes said.
Flights into Palm Springs during Coachella weekends could be sky high. For example, a round-trip flight from Phoenix to Palm Springs, flying there on Thursday and back on Monday, ranged last week from about $450 to over $2,000.
The demand was there, however.
“I use my Southwest credit card all year in order to gain points to use towards a flight to Coachella. I wouldn’t be able to swing the trip if I didn’t get a discount on a flight from using my Southwest points,” said Luis Morales, a 24-year-old annual attendee.
Airbnb is a common short-term rental site Coachella-goers use. Depending on how many people stay, the common average per person for four nights can be in the $300 range.
Hotels in the area varied in price from about $250 a night to more than $600. A cheaper accommodation for Coachella-goers: camping on site. You could book one 30-x-10-foot campsite for $125. The Coachella website advised that unlimited people can stay at one site — so long as they all stay within their perimeters.
Then there is food. No food or drink of your own is allowed in the festival grounds, so you must purchase food inside if you want to eat. Over 100 vendors gather at the festival, providing a large range of meals. However, you rarely find a plate under $10. And watch out for the lemonade — coming in at $12.
It can be desert-hot out there as well. The high temperatures on Thursday and Friday nudged 100, but dropped down to the mid- 90s on Saturday and the high 80s on Sunday. Bottled water, a necessity to combat dehydration, is always a bargain: $2.
One last financial consideration: the cost of fashion. Fashion is taken seriously at Coachella, where “festival fashion” has become very popular. The festival has become an opportunity for many who seek the perfect outfit.
In fact, many clothing brands recognize the emphasis on Coachella fashion, and come out with festival lines in the weeks leading up to the event.
Some young women spend weeks, if not months, planning perfect festival ‘fits. We asked about 20 college women how much they spent on Coachella outfits this year. The average: about $200.
So all told, even a modest Coachella weekend can cost $1,000 top $1,500.
Fashion trends have changed over the years from flower crowns and bell-bottom jeans to today’s animal prints, and all things neon.
While the festival began small in 1999 as a space for rock bands like Tool and Rage Against The Machine, it quickly gained fame as one of the biggest and most anticipated music festivals in America.