The first of two weekends that make up the annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is almost here. Thousands of music fans are making their way out to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio ahead of the start on Friday.
Police estimated that 1,000 people were lined up at the gates at 4 a.m. Thursday. By 5:30 a.m., there were 10,000.
If you are going to the festival, here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your way there.
Driving on Interstate 10 could be a challenge. Beware of high winds that weather forecasters expect to sweep through Riverside County, putting high-profile vehicles and motorcycles at risk. Officials say visibility will be low on the freeway due to dust and sand being kicked up. Crosswinds and gusts of up to 60 mph could put a kibosh on your party before you have a chance to get there.
The event is going to be packed. The festival has capacity for 125,000 concertgoers, but police say up to 75,000 more come to Indio for the concert-related activities around town.
If you’ve been to the festival before, you might notice some changes. A new stage has been added and the layout has changed. The venue is “absolutely huge,” said Indio Police Sgt. Dan Marshall.
Marshall said police are stepping up enforcement of parking for disabled drivers. So don’t use Grandpa’s ADA placard, he warned.
Outside the venue, police will be on the lookout for drivers who are under the influence or violating traffic laws.
Your cellphone battery life and service might be inconsistent, so write down a friend's number so you have it when your phone dies.
Inside, police will be enforcing safety rules for the more than 300 golf carts zipping around the grounds. Don’t text and drive, Marshall advised.
You can expect typical Southern California weather with highs in the mid-90s. Lows will dip into the high 50s at night. Don’t forget sunscreen and water.