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The Stage­coach Music Fes­ti­val is com­ing April 2/24–4/26 and it will be the per­fect girl’s get­away. Sure, you could take your hus­band or your kids, but why would you want to do that on a girl’s weekend?

The last five years I’ve attend­ed Stage­coach with my best friend (this year will be six!) so I will share with you how to make your Stage­coach expe­ri­ence the absolute best it can be.

Stage­coach Sun­set pho­to by Char­lene Ross

1. First and most impor­tant­ly, Stage­coach is a three-day music fes­ti­val (Fri­day — Sun­day), but plan on com­ing home Mon­day, because Garth Brooks will be singing his last note at eleven o’clock on Sun­day night and you don’t want to dri­ve home after that. Even if you live near­by, Stage­coach is going to make you feel like you need a vaca­tion from your vaca­tion. So if you’re stay­ing in a hotel or AirBnB, sleep in, spend a few hours by the pool, head home in the after­noon and order piz­za for din­ner (because you ain’t cook­ing). If you live local­ly: sleep in, go have some brunch, take a nap, and then order that piz­za for din­ner (because you ain’t cook­ing either). Just what­ev­er you do — do not go back to work on Monday.

2. What to wear. Stage­coach isn’t Coachel­la, but it can still be a bit of a fash­ion show. Here’s my advice: wear some­thing you like that makes you feel good about your­self, but don’t wear your favorite out­fit because it’s super dusty (more on that below), and while dust prob­a­bly won’t ruin your clothes, they will def­i­nite­ly not look as fresh at the end of the night. Espe­cial­ly if you wear some­thing white. (For the love of all that is holy do not wear white!) Check the weath­er before you go, but odds are it’s going to be hot, so shorts and a tank top or a sun­dress are both good choic­es. It does get windy and some­times rather chilly at night so be sure to bring a light sweater or flan­nel shirt and maybe even stuff a pair of jeans in your back­pack. And, keep in mind that you’ll be using an out­house, so maybe keep that cute romper at home. Cow­boy hats and base­ball hats are not only prac­ti­cal for keep­ing that sun off your head, but also super cute.

Sundresses, tank tops and cowboy hats photo by Charlene Ross

Sun­dress­es, tank tops and cow­boy hats pho­to by Char­lene Ross

3. Cow­boy boots (AKA what not to wear). Yes, your cow­boy boots are cute and where bet­ter to show them off than at a coun­try music fes­ti­val? I remem­ber how excit­ed I was to wear my boots to Stage­coach the first time. And they have Dr. Schol­l’s inserts, so they’re super com­fy. For the first two hours. And then OMG — ouch! I can­not tell you how many girls you will see at Stage­coach walk­ing around in sock feet, car­ry­ing their boots. (I’ve been that girl.) Do your­self a favor and skip the boots and wear some cute Con­verse (with inserts) or some sort of cute walk­ing shoes or san­dals instead. (Hell, even flip flops are bet­ter than boots, because trust me you are going to have to show­er as soon as you get back to your hotel, so just ignore your dirty feet.) But if you absolute­ly must wear the boots, bring an extra pair of shoes with you to walk to and from the fes­ti­val. Park­ing is far. The shut­tle stop is far. Uber/Lyft pick-up is far. Every­thing is far and you will be walk­ing. A lot. You came to Stage­coach to have fun, not to be mis­er­able. Here are some maps to show you just how much walk­ing you’ll be doing.

4. It’s dusty. Remem­ber the dust I men­tioned? It’s real. One of the most impor­tant things you can bring is a ban­dana. You’ll want to wear it over your nose and mouth when you’re walk­ing to and from the fes­ti­val, and at var­i­ous times when walk­ing around the fair­grounds. Don’t wor­ry about look­ing fool­ish — every­one who is smart wears them. (Trust me, it’s the peo­ple eat­ing dust as they walk who are the fools.)

We may look silly, but we can breathe photo by Charlene Ross

We may look sil­ly, but we can breathe pho­to by Char­lene Ross

5. Hydra­tion is key! Be smart and up your water intake about a week before the fes­ti­val. If you nor­mal­ly drink your rec­om­mend­ed six — eight glass­es of water a day, try to bump it up to ten — twelve (for reals). And if you drink a lot less, please try to drink at least eight glass­es a day the week before the fes­ti­val. And def­i­nite­ly dur­ing the fes­ti­val. Remem­ber, it’s hot. You’ll like­ly be doing some day drink­ing. And will def­i­nite­ly be doing some night drink­ing. (And heck, prob­a­bly even some morn­ing drink­ing — isn’t that what Bloody Mary’s are for?) My sug­ges­tion is to bring a bot­tle of Gatorade or coconut water and drink it on that long walk to the entrance (got­ta get those elec­trolytes up) and bring the emp­ty bot­tle inside with you to refill at the water sta­tion and avoid pay five dol­lars plus for a bot­tle of water.

6. What to bring to the fes­ti­val. Medi­um size back­packs are allowed (and essen­tial), but they can get hot, so I like to bring those light­weight string back­packs that they often give away for free as pro­mo items. Inside be sure to have sun­screen (what­ev­er you do, don’t for­get sun­screen!), your ban­dana (so impor­tant I list­ed it twice), lip balm (chapped lips are no fun), an emp­ty water bot­tle (see tip #6), your cell phone (duh), a pre-charged portable phone charg­er (and your best Insta­gram smile), and cash/credit/debit card (because food and drinks are expen­sive). Speak­ing of drinks being expen­sive, I would nev­er sug­gest that you sneak in a flask like this, because it’s against the rules, but I’ve heard that some peo­ple do. But you did not hear that from me. And because I know you do want to fol­low the rules, here is a com­plete list of what you can and can­not bring into the festival.

Setting up camp at Stagecoach

Set­ting up camp at Stage­coach pho­to by Char­lene Ross

7. Should you bring a chair? Every year I pack a chair to bring to Stage­coach, but always seem to end up leav­ing it in my car. I’m not real­ly sure why. I think it’s because I like to be as close to the front as pos­si­ble. (Which if you have a GA tick­et, isn’t very close.) Against the stage there is the Cor­ral Stand­ing Pit ($1,200), then the Cor­ral Seat­ing ($900 — $1200), then a lit­tle walk­way, then the GA Stand­ing Pit (where you’ll find me, in what I like to call: the front of the back), then, areas to put your chair and blan­ket. If you like to sit (I told you not to wear those cow­boy boots) or have a place to meet up with your group, it might be a good idea to bring a chair so you can set up camp every day. You can’t leave your chair overnight (they do clean the grounds thank good­ness), so you might want to bring one of those beach chairs that you can strap on like a back­pack or one of those camp­ing chairs that scrunch up like an accor­dion and have a car­ry­ing bag. (I actu­al­ly heard that four of those camp­ing chairs will fit in an XL lock­er – yes — you can rent lock­ers!- but I’d check here to make sure.)

Stagecoach Front of the Back

Here we are at the front of the back! Pho­to by Char­lene Ross

8. How to get to the fes­ti­val. Per­son­al­ly, I always dri­ve to the fes­ti­val. Last year we splurged for VIP park­ing ($100), but did not find it very VIP. It was still one very long walk and I will not be doing that again. To park at the lot adja­cent to VIP, park­ing is free (again, here’s that map). The down­side to dri­ving, is you have to have a des­ig­nat­ed dri­ver (it helps if you take turns for this task). If your hotel has a shut­tle stop, the shut­tle is prob­a­bly your best bet. You can drink all you want and don’t have to wor­ry about sober­ing up halfway through the show like me. I’ve heard that Uber/Lyfting to the show is great. Uber/Lyfting from the show — not so much. But if you go in with the mind­set that leav­ing the show is going to be a total clus­ter, maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe.

9. Down­load the Stage­coach app on your phone and plan your day. Show times and stages are list­ed for all of the artists. You can click on the star next to the artist that you absolute­ly must see and you will get a noti­fi­ca­tion before they go on stage. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there will be con­flicts. You want to see Broth­ers Osborne (Yes!) and Dwight Yoakam (OMG, Yes!)? Sor­ry. Dwight plays from 7:40 — 8:40 on the Palomi­no Stage and Broth­ers Osborne play from 7:20 — 8:10 on the Mane Stage. You can watch Broth­ers Osborne and then rush on over to the Palomi­no to catch the end of Dwight or skip Broth­ers Osborne this time and rev­el in the glo­ry that is Dwight LIVE for the entire­ty of his set. It’s up to you. And trust me, this won’t be your only con­flict. But at least with the app, you’ll be able to have a plan.

Stagecoach stage

You Won’t Miss A Thing pho­to by Char­lene Ross

10. Relax and have fun. Whether you want to walk around and see the ven­dors (did I for­get to men­tion? — there are tons of awe­some ven­dors), enjoy the fair­grounds and eat all kinds of yum­my food, or just sim­ply focus on the music, there is no right or wrong way to do Stage­coach. Maybe one day you want to get there at 5:00 and just see the big artists. Or maybe you want to get there at noon to check out the ris­ing stars. Or maybe you want to mix it up. There’s plen­ty to do, but you can’t do every­thing and that’s okay. Just remem­ber to pace your­self, hydrate (hydrate, hydrate), and have fun.


Char­lene Ross is a Los Ange­les mom, die-hard con­cert-going music lover, free­lance writer, and author of the chick lit nov­el, FROSTED COWBOY. She can also be found at https://charleneaross.com