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Coachella 2016 Party Preview: Brands Keep Focus on Wellness Events

Soho House is out and Racked is in during the festival's first weekend, where parties double down on health-mindedness and pampering.

The Neon Carnival drew a thick late-night crowd last year—and expects to do so again on April 16.
The Neon Carnival drew a thick late-night crowd last year—and expects to do so again on April 16.
Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Neon Carnival

Now that it’s April, marketers all over the country shift their focus to festival-pegged promotions and events, meant to piggyback on the wild success of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The festival—which this year brings acts like Ice Cube with a rumored N.W.A. reunion, plus a Guns N' Roses reunion topping the bill—runs two consecutive weekends at the Empire Polo Club, April 15 to 17 and April 22 to 24.

Although there are no official parties associated with Goldenvoice’s festival in the Southern California desert of Indio, brands blanket the region with unofficial pool parties, lounges, promotions, and late-night blowouts—primarily during the event’s much buzzier first weekend. Of note this year, several longtime entities will be sitting out of the party scene. The posh Soho House pop-up will not return, nor will H&M, which shifted its effort to official sponsorship within the festival grounds prior to last year’s iteration.

Wellness Trend
Those brands will be replaced with a few newcomers: Racked, for instance, is hosting a private “Wellness Oasis” in Palm Springs produced by its editor, Natalie Alcala. In keeping with what is one of the biggest festival party trends to explode last year—wellness—the event will have cold-pressed juice by Clover, a detox stretch session hosted by How You Glow, organic makeup touch-ups by Gwyneth Paltrow's Juice Beauty, and other health-minded angles.

The wellness-focused hotel takeover known as the Retreat will return for the festival’s first weekend at a new venue, the insidery B&B Korakia Pensione. The FareTrade will oversee the food and provide guests opportunities to engage with progressive chefs. Each day, a different chef will create a seasonal brunch menu that highlights local farms and high-end communal dining. Indie food creators will also be showcased, introducing attendees to emerging brands. Vanity Fair will bring its portrait studio on site, where photographer Brantley Gutierrez will take photos of invited Coachella performers and V.I.P. guests.

Also returning will be PopSugar, which will host a weekend-long event series at the Avalon Palm Springs. Actress Emily Ratajkowski will host a kickoff party on Friday, with Hannah Bronfman as DJ. The Council of Fashion Designers of America will host a brunch at the space on Saturday. PopSugar’s pop-up will also include poolside villas with hair and beauty styling, fashion D.I.Y. stations, and gifting. As a reminder that these events are as much personal brand-building sessions as carefree fun, all eventgoers will be greeted by a so-called “social media video director” who will bring them through the various setups and experiences to create video for their social media accounts.

Nightclub Pop-Ups and Hotel Takeovers
For the fourth year in a row, the nightclub Bootsy Bellows will return with its pool party, hosted by John Terzian and the H.wood Group, again presented by McDonald’s. The party, which has become massive in scope, will offer food from the McDonald’s All Day Breakfast menu. The L.A. club 1Oak will also import a pop-up nightclub to the desert.

Las Vegas will take over the Ingleside Inn throughout the weekend at an exclusive party produced by BMF.

Pandora will host its “Indio Invasion” at the Cree Estate in Cathedral City, open to the public with an R.S.V.P. Other free parties include the returning “Desert Gold” event series at the Ace Hotel.

A Heavy-Hitting Returnee
One of the biggest—and oldest—unofficial parties on the Coachella scene will also be back: the Saturday-night bash known as Neon Carnival. Brent Bolthouse’s long-running party has had a rotating array of sponsors over the years; this time denim brands Re/Done and Levi’s have the title sponsorship, with additional sponsors such as Tequila Don Julio.

Fashion and Media Brands Dominate
Fashion brands are among the biggest categories represented with Coachella parties: Wildfox will host an event at the Merv Griffin Estate in La Quinta, Jeremy Scott will return with a coveted-ticket bash, and the Zoe Report will return with its second-annual retreat known as ZOEasis. 

On the media side, Nylon stakes its claim on Friday night with its returning “Midnight Garden” party at a private estate for about 500 guests. During last year’s party, singers Justin Bieber and Katy Perry made appearances. Nylon will also host a pool party and brunch for 350.

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