Coachella 2018 Preview: What to Expect From the Biggest Parties and Activations

The music festival's buzzy first weekend will see a slew of high-profile parties and activations from American Express, Rachel Zoe, HP, Republic Records, and more.

The Neon Carnival, an all-night dance party created by nightlife maven Brent Boathouse, will take over a larger venue this year.
The Neon Carnival, an all-night dance party created by nightlife maven Brent Boathouse, will take over a larger venue this year.
Photo: Jonathan Leibson/WireImage

Some 250,000 people are expected at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which runs two consecutive weekends at the Empire Polo Club, April 13 to 15 and April 20 to 22. The sold-out festival from Goldenvoice will see headliners Beyoncé, Eminem, and the Weeknd—as well as more armed security and police drones in response to the Las Vegas festival shooting in October.

The two weekends also will offer stronger food options than years past, with a new covered food hall called Indio Central Market. Also new this year: Shake Shack’s first appearance at the festival, with a full-scale replica of the burger chain’s original stand in New York’s Madison Park. And in keeping with year’s past, three restaurants will build pop-up locations on the festival grounds, including musician Moby’s vegan restaurant, Little Pine.

Also returning is the Antarctic, powered by HP. The eight-minute, 360-degree show, centrally located in an immersive air-conditioned dome on Coachella grounds, is a reimagining of the novella Flatland: A Romance in Many Directions. The show features a musical score from St. Vincent; art direction from Dev Harlan, Sougwen, and VolvoxLabs; and direction from

And although there are no official parties associated with Coachella, fashion, media, and tech brands blanket the region with unofficial pool parties, lounges, promotions, and late-night blowouts—primarily during the festival's buzzier first weekend. 

Arguably the most coveted after-party on the lineup is the ninth consecutive Neon Carnival on April 14. The outdoor dance party, created by nightlife maven Brent Boathouse, will take over HITS Desert Horse Park for the first time and feature carnival-style games and amusement-park rides. Levi’s Brand is sponsoring; additional sponsors will create interactive activations, such as Tequila Don Julio served from an Airstream speakeasy and hairstyling stations from Batiste Dry Shampoo.

Online clothing retailer Revolve will also continue to expand its festival presence, this year hosting an impressive roster of musical acts including A$AP Rocky, Snoop Dogg, 21 Savage, and more. The invite-only Revolve Festival will take place on April 14 and 15 at a private estate in La Quinta, and will also include a brunch hosted by Nicole Richie, a pool party hosted by Shay Mitchell, and other influencer-friendly events.

In the evenings after the Revolve Festival, the brand will team up with Tao Group, Puma, and Palms Casino Resort to host Desert Nights, a three-day party that promises interactive activations and surprise performances.

One of the main Coachella staples, especially during a weekend where temperatures are expected to exceed 90 degrees, is the pool party. Several brands are offering all-day respites from the sun, including the returning American Express Platinum House, exclusive to cardmembers. Held at the Parker Palm Springs, the self-described “desert oasis” will offer food, drinks, swag, live performances, and art installations by Snarkitecture. The Platinum House will also debut the SoulAnnex pop-up from SoulCycle for morning workouts.

Rachel Zoe and the Zoe Report will also return for the fourth annual ZOEasis style retreat on April 13. The invite-only event will offer a fashion marketplace, beauty and wellness services, and custom cocktails from Belvedere Vodka. Meanwhile, Lucky Brand will host its second annual pool party, dubbed Dessert Jam, on April 14 at Arrive Hotel; Harry Hudson and Charli XCX are scheduled to perform.

Other buzzworthy—and ultra-exclusive—events include Republic Records and Dream Hotels’ “The Estate” on April 14. The lavish daytime party, held at a private location close to festival grounds, will feature performances by Republic artists Phantoms, Martin Solveig, and Alma. Harley Davidson will showcase its hottest products and Batiste Dry Shampoo will host hairstyling stations.

The Create & Cultivate Desert Pop-Up returns to the Commune at the Ace Hotel on April 14. In addition to beauty treatments and shopping, there will be panels on women’s empowerment in the fashion, art, and beauty industries.

Over both weekends, Style Artist Lounge will host a day-to-night activation appropriately named Dusk Till Dawn. During the day, the activation will feature yoga, guided meditation, and sound baths, as well as beauty bars, vegan cuisine and cannabis products, and physic readings. At 10 p.m., the space will switch into an all-night party featuring live music and full-service food and drink.

Other parties through the weekend will come from Playboy, Adult Swim, McDonald's, PacSun, T-Mobile, and other big-name brands. New this year is an increase in Thursday-night parties, with brands such as NYCult and the XX Project kicking off the weekend.

Finally, Uber Eats be host a “recharging” brunch on April 15 at the Rowan Hotel. Food will come from celebrity chef Eric Greenspan.

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