The name Coachella, although it is also the name of a city in Riverside County, California, usually refers to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The Coachella festival is held once a year in the city of Indio, also in Riverside County. Coachella is held during the last weekend of April. Since the first official Coachella festival in 1999, the event has grown in popularity to the point that the original two days designated for the festival have been extended to three days.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is held on the lawn of the Empire Polo Fields in Indio. At this location on 5 November 1993, the alternative rock bands Tool and Pearl Jam had performed for nearly 25,000 fans. The Empire Polo Fields proved to be an appropriate location for a large-scale concert, despite Indio’s harsh desert heat and distance from major cities in California, Arizona and Nevada. Finally, on 9 and 10 October 1999, the first official Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was held. The line-up included artists such as Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Tool, Morrissey, Rage Against the Machine, Jurassic 5 and DJ Shadow.
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In the year 2000, Coachella was not held, supposedly due to lack of funding. However, in 2001 the festival was reorganized. This time, organizers decided to hold Coachella in April, avoiding the height of the California desert summer, and the recently reunited band Jane’s Addiction headlined the festival. In the years that followed, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival continued to gain popularity and interest worldwide.
In addition to live music, Coachella also features a strong artistic presence. Sculpture and installation art are a part of each year’s festivities. Many of the art installations are interactive, and are strategically placed around the lawns of the Empire Polo Fields in places where festival attendees are likely to walk among them. Visual artists that show at Coachella often show for more than one year, whereas to date, only a handful of musical artists have performed at Coachella more than once.
Camping is also common at Coachella, and began at the 2002 festival. Guests who decide to camp stay at a nearby polo field, next to the lawn used for the festival grounds. Camping at Coachella is confined to tents, and there are a number of rules in place to prevent damage and pollution of the grounds. For example, glass, alcohol, open fires, and cooking devices are not allowed on the campgrounds. Also, on the lawn where the music and art takes place, guests are prohibited from bringing blankets, chairs, outside food and beverage, audio recording equipment, professional cameras, and of course drugs and alcohol. Organizers at Coachella have also set up a recycling system for water bottles. Guests who bring 10 empty plastic water bottles to be recycled receive a fresh bottle of water for free.