I’m going to start off by saying that Coachella takes security very seriously.
With daily attendance of well-known A-list celebrities and 125,000 regular old boring people, it’s no wonder the minds behind Coachella are on their toes making sure everyone has a safe time partying it up out there.
There are several times you should be aware of when it comes to security searches: in the security line for car camping, when going into the festival grounds, oh, and literally everywhere else. Security has every right to search you when they’re supposed to be searching you, but also randomly, which is exciting because it keeps us on our toes.
Security Check Getting into Camping
This is one of those parts where you honestly get lucky. You can either get a line with chill kiddos that glance into the car to make sure there isn’t an illicit elephant hiding in the trunk or you can get a guy that’s shining his flashlight into the wheel wells of your 2005 Honda Civic.
They at least take a cursory glance into the main cabin of each car and the trunk. At their most annoying, they will pull everything out of the car and actually dig through everything you packed.
Here are some tips and hacks people have shared about their experience with car checks at Coachella:
- Probable cause is enough of a reason for them to launch into a full car search… like if you have rolling papers, you’re probably trying to sneak weed into Coachella. If your car smells like marijuana when you pull up to the check, you’re toast.
- As soon as your roll up, unlock the car, pop the trunk, and step back to get your pat down. Be friendly and polite to security - offering them bottled water and snacks or asking them a simple “hey, how’s it going” can soften them up a bit.
- They are known to have K9 units during car checks. Those dogs in vests can make any person get a little sweaty, but be assured they are probably bomb dogs. I mean, who’s pushing it though, ya know? I’d get nervous about a dog that’s trained to sniff out tequila. Because no one needs to know how much tequila I squirrel away when I go to camping festivals.
- You are only allowed a certain amount of alcohol per people in the car. How much alcohol can you bring into Coachella camping? 1 case of beer or box of wine per 21+ person. Beware if there are underage people in the car - they can decide on a case-by-case (pun intended) basis on whether the booze ratio is too high.
- You can also ride the shuttle to the store to get more booze, so like don’t be scared that you’ll spend the whole festival sober if you’re a heavyweight.
- THERE IS NO GLASS ALLOWED IN CAMPING. So don’t even waste your time. They will confiscate your pickle jars, mirrors, and fancy glass-bottled beers.
- No kegs, frat stars.
- Have a prescription from your doctor for any necessary medications. Don’t be afraid to call over a supervisor if someone is giving you trouble about medications that keep your heart beating or keep you from getting preggo. Now’s not the time to put up with someone who doesn’t believe in blood pressure meds.
- Make your cooler and tent bag easily accessible. They like to search those. Typical car searches include middle console, glove compartment, sides of door, trunk, coolers, accessible bags.
- There are surveillance cameras watching the car searches - this protects you from security stealing your shit but also means they can’t find something and let it slide
- Pack your car tight so it’ll be a bitch to unload
- You can’t have metal tent stakes (they could seriously fuck up a campers footsie), so good luck keeping your tent down with plastic ones. Finding metal stakes can lead to a much heavier car search. Try keeping a heavy cooler inside to weigh your tent down or sneaking them in and being careful to pick them all up when you’re leaving. There have seriously been tents that have Wizard-of-Ozed away because of heavy winds.
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Security Check Getting into Festival
The next hurdle is getting checked on your way into festival grounds. These are thorough searches of you and everything on your person. Here are some notes from Chella pros:
- Coachella cuts bands if you get in trouble, so don’t get in trouble and cause a scene because festival weekend will be over for you
- If you’re wearing a hat, put everything from your pockets into your hat for the search
- These checkpoints are known to be inconsistently tight. Don’t let your guard down when Friday was easy, because you know they’ll be looking through every pocket in your wallet on Saturday.
- Look ahead and choose your line wisely. If the line is longer, they’re probably taking their time looking through everyone’s backpacks.
- If there’s a security supervisor standing near your security check, expect those checkers to be thorough because their jobs are kind of on the line
- VIP Security is lax
- Who knows, but some people swear women security guards are much tougher
Security Patrols Camping
So you made it in and set up your “home sweet home,” but don’t let your guard down. They have an army of security that patrols the camping area on golf carts and on foot, in full costumes and undercover.
- Weed isn’t allowed in, but people are smoking it - I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s a pretty easy scent to follow.
- Keep all of your valuables locked in your car while you’re away or on your person.
Inside the Festival
Don’t think for a second you got away with anything once you stepped past the guy that felt up your kibbles and bits.
- There are known and undercover cops walking around. They’ll ask you about drugs and your answer is to STFU and walk away because they’re annoying and you don’t have time for questions from strangers when you’re jamming to Beyonce.
- They’re constantly checking for wristbands, so good luck sneaking into Coachella and staying there without one
- Do Lab is extra crawling with security
- Several people who have gotten in trouble report that they’ve paid a small bribe in cash to get off the hook.
- You CAN get thoroughly searched once you’re in the event
- Pickpocketers are all around Coachella and honestly any festival you go to, so keep your valuables close.
- Coachella has security drones (checking the perimeter) and low profile observation posts with rifles in the case of active shooters
Have fun. Be safe. Stay hydrated.
Our Festivaults Fam had an easy and fun time last year at Coachella, so check out our Snea-Key Fob if you’re needing ideas on how to sneak your festival essentials into Coachella: