All event planners are at least moderately familiar with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. As a refresher, the annual festival takes place in Indio, California at the Empire Polo Club. Although it was officially established in 1999, its roots date back to 1993 when Pearl Jam performed at the Club as a means of boycotting ticket fees from Ticketmaster. Presently, Coachella takes place over consecutive three-day weekends and attracts some of the best acts in music. It also attracts some huge crowds – in 2014, an estimated 570,000 people attended over the six days of the festival.
So just what can an event planner learn from a massive musical celebration like Coachella? A lot. Here’s a look at how to plan an event like Coachella:
How to Plan an Event Like Coachella
Choose a big venue: It’s appropriate to select a large enough venue for your event. The Coachella festival is hosted on a 78-acre outdoor property – the Empire Polo Club – and the total event covers over 600 acres. The lesson: whether you’re expecting 570,000 or 570 people, you need a venue that works.
Festival services: If your event is a public one, you need the likes of security, medical personnel, staff and fire protection. Coachella organizers partnered with the festival’s host city, Indio, for these services – something that you too may be able to do for the festival you’re planning.
Plan in advance: Coachella is normally held in April, but planning is done far in advance. In fact, organizers state that they begin booking acts for the next year’s festival as early as August. It’s a good lesson to all event planners to plan well in advance.
Plan for porta potties: A fact of any festival is that people need to use the restroom. But when it’s an outdoor one, like Coachella, logistics become a bit trickier. That’s where porta potties can be a savior – they’re affordable for event planners to bring in and convenient for festival-goers. Just make sure you have enough at your festival. For example, at an event like Coachella, where roughly 100,000 people attend each day, you’re looking at needing about 1,000 porta potties on site.
Know your budget: Coachella books some of the best music acts in the industry, which range in cost from $15,000 to high six-figure costs for appearance fees. It’s a good lesson to know the budget you’re working with in order for you to plan accordingly. Know what your sponsors are putting toward the event, what you can expect from ticket sales as well as your expenses are to give yourself a good idea.
Coachella is organized by Goldenvoice (an AEG Live subsidiary). Simply put, you’re unlikely to ever plan an event so massive. But that’s not to say that there aren’t things that can’t be learned from watching others plan an event of such immaculate size, not to mention an event that scores rave reviews year after year.