It’s almost here. Coachella, one of the world’s greatest music and arts festivals, is back for 2023: Friday, April 14 to Sunday, April 23.
After the festival took two years off (2020 and 2021) due to the Covid pandemic, it came roaring back last year, and for this year, expectations are just as high. The lineup has been announced and thousands of fans are about to come pouring into the Southern California desert. It’s time to get hyped and look ahead to some of the festival’s exciting builds and brand activations.
The Coachella 2023 headliners are Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Frank Ocean. Ocean’s appearance is notable since he was set to headline the 2020 festival before its abrupt cancellation. His return suggests that, as festival co-founder Paul Tollett emphasized, Coachella is “just trying to be as fair as [it] can to artists and to the fans,” and make good on its promises from years past.
Organizers and fans alike are probably hoping that this year’s festival will lack the last-minute drama of 2022, when scheduled headliner Kanye West abruptly quit less than 10 days before the show. After Ye’s subsequent public meltdowns, it’s unlikely that he’ll be gracing the Coachella stage again any time soon.
In addition to the headliners, other notable acts will include Gorillaz, Rosalía, Björk, Charli XCX, Alex G, Burna Boy, Jai Paul, and Glorilla. Each act performs twice over two weekends, ensuring plenty of exposure and increasing the chances of unforgettable viral moments.
Coachella’s hottest party and most exclusive invite list is returning for its 12th year: the Neon Carnival. Though not officially affiliated with Coachella, this legendary event always coincides with the festival’s schedule. It’s timed to begin only after Coachella’s closing acts have ended, so invitees can check out both.
This year’s Neon Carnival will take place at Desert International Horse Park and span the length of three football fields. The venue will be transformed into a fun fair with music, games, food, and a Ferris wheel sponsored by Levi’s.
If you’re wondering how to attend, you’re probably out of luck. The carnival is invite-only, with tickets going out to top influencers, Hollywood A-listers, and other celebrities. Last year, the star-studded guest list included Timothée Chalamet, Megan Thee Stallion, Jared Leto, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
But if you’re hoping to attend someday, keep smashing those socials! Highly-followed Instagram accounts get priority. Plus, the Neon Carnival has been gradually expanding, from just a few hundred guests in its first years to 10,000 attendees this year. Enough likes, shares, and follows, and you may earn your ticket someday.
One of Coachella’s most popular sponsored installations is returning: the Heineken House. Festival attendees have an opportunity to win VIP tickets on the Heineken website.
This special venue will feature iconic hip-hop artists and genre-adjacent acts. Among the most anticipated acts will be Method Man & Redman, DJ Pee .Wee (Anderson .Paak), NGHTMRE, SG Lewis, and Austin Millz. Heineken is also using the opportunity to launch a new kind of beer: Heineken Silver.
Heineken has a long relationship with Coachella stretching back over two decades, and their involvement in the festival has grown over time. Last year’s Heineken house debuted a new design: a house without walls. Before Covid, festivalgoers who were walking by the house couldn’t see what was going on inside. But with the acclaimed new open design, even passerby could hear the music and see the acts, helping even more people to connect with the exhibit’s experience.
At FG|PG, we’re always looking for brand activations and custom themed environments that set the curve, and the Heineken House qualifies as one of the best. It benefits from its long history, which creates buzz and a sense of anticipation around the event. It’s also right at home as part of the larger festival, since its mini-lineup of artists complements the larger Coachella lineup, with its diversity of genres and musical styles.
One of Coachella’s most stunning immersive environments and most successful brand activations is HP’s Antarctic Dome. Visitors enter an 11,000 square foot geodesic dome with stunning projected imagery on the walls. In previous years, HP created a lounge space where visitors could design and print custom art projects using only HP products. Last year, EDM artist ODESZA previewed an entire album inside the dome, accompanied by a trippy visual display.
The Dome will be used for many different purposes depending on the time of day: “yoga, fitness, and sound baths” in the morning, a dance party at night, and a Silent Disco after midnight. This incredible environment has been described as “a living, breathing piece of art.” With over 50,000 visitors per year, The Dome promises to be a vital part of the Coachella experience for many years to come.
Sunscreen maker Neutrogena will also have a strong presence at Coachella. The festival’s desert location makes it a perfect place for Neutrogena to plug its products. One particularly smart experiential marketing choice is the provision of complimentary Neutrogena Sunscreen stations around the festival. This is a win-win-win situation. It’s a win for Neutrogena, who gets ample product exposure for their sunscreen. It’s a win for the festival, who can credibly say that they’re taking care of attendees and providing them with basic amenities. And it’s a win for festivalgoers, who get to protect their skin from the desert sun for free.
Neutrogena will also have a tent set up where festival attendees will get to experience “an immersive journey” into how their skin reacts to exposure to “strong UV rays, low humidity, and that infamous desert dirt.” It’s a branding experience that makes sense, fits seamlessly into Coachella, and even provides a public good.
Coachella has announced a long list of activities and special venues that will keep attendees happy and entertained. Attendees will be able to camp on site, either in their vehicles or tents, so as usual, the festival grounds will be transformed into a miniature city, springing spontaneously out of the desert like a miracle oasis.
Some of these special activities include:
- Activities Tent: The Activities tent will include party games like giant Connect Four, cornhole, and more, plus video games and dance competitions. It’ll be a great place to hang out between sets.
- Camp Lounge: So will the Camp Lounge, where people are known to string up hammocks or even take a nap. The Lounge will also feature free Wifi.
- Coachella Art Studios: Another masterstroke of event planning, the Art Studio provides all the arts and crafts materials that festivalgoers need, absolutely free. People are known to make paintings, drawings, collages, and more as mementoes of their unforgettable Coachella experience.
- Energy Playground: This quirky feature enables festivalgoers to play on metal seesaws while also charging their phones.
Coachella continues to set the bar for innovative and buzz-worthy event planning. Few festival venues can boast of hosting multiple mini-events that become their own traditions to be celebrated and improved upon year after year, like The Dome and Heineken House.
Just as much as any trade show booth or exhibit, these custom themed environments showcase the power of live experience to produce real, human-to-human connections. Coachella will undoubtedly be a smash success this year, and for many years to come.
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FG|PG was founded nearly 21 years ago. Today we’re one of the largest woman-owned, WBENC Certified, live, hybrid and virtual experiential agencies in the US. That trajectory isn’t accidental. It’s the result of a commitment to continually evolve, to never stop learning, and to always listen to our clients’ needs.