Disappointing photos show what Coachella is like in real life

  • Coachella in Indio, California, is one of the most famous music festivals.

  • Insider's music team found the reality was not exactly how it appeared on social media.

  • It's dusty, the food is expensive, and much of the day is spent sitting or weaving through crowds.

The first taste of the festival is not very picturesque.

coachella parking lot
Day parking at Coachella is free.Callie Ahlgrim

The walk from the parking lot is long, tedious, and extremely dusty.

coachella parking lot
Preferred parking costs $140 plus fees.Callie Ahlgrim

Festival workers try to reduce dust with water, but that often creates mud puddles.

coachella mud parking lot
It can take 20 to 30 minutes to reach the festival grounds from single-day parking lots.Callie Ahlgrim

The walk back is even worse.

coachella walking back to parking lot
Most headline performances end well past midnight.Callie Ahlgrim

Many people got lost trying to find their cars and were forced to cut through unmarked areas.

On the first day, there wasn't enough signage to help patrons find their way.Callie Ahlgrim

Some people took off their shoes because their feet had become so sore.

Cowboy boots were a popular footwear option at Coachella this year.Callie Ahlgrim

Lines at the festival are always long.

coachella id check line
People who are over 21 receive a special wristband that must be renewed each day.Callie Ahlgrim

The line to buy merchandise is especially grueling.

coachella merch tent
Some people waited for more than two hours to buy merch.Callie Ahlgrim

You could wait 40 minutes or more to buy overpriced food.

coachella food prices
There is classic fast food available, as well as vegan options.Callie Ahlgrim

This slice of cheese pizza cost $11.

coachella pizza
It was OK.Callie Ahlgrim

This order of fries and onion rings cost $26.

coachella food
The dipping sauces were free.Callie Ahlgrim

There are very few tables and seating areas, so people typically end up eating on the ground.

coachella food
It's hard to find proper seating at Coachella if you don't have access to VIP areas.Callie Ahlgrim

In fact, people spend far more time sitting on the ground than you might expect.

coachella 2022
People sat on the grass to watch Finneas perform.Callie Ahlgrim

The sun is so strong that people skip shows and activities just to sit in the shade.

coachella 2022 people sitting in shade
There are art installations and structures that provide some relief from the sun.Callie Ahlgrim

It's so hot that some people can't bear to go near the stage, even if they want to watch the performance.

coachella 2022 people sitting in the shade
Coachella's Outdoor Theatre stage.Callie Ahlgrim

It can also be difficult to get close to the stage thanks to massive VIP sections, which are closed to regular patrons.

coachella mojave stage VIP area
Waiting to watch Arcade Fire perform.Callie Ahlgrim

Much of the day is spent weaving through crowds.

coachella 2022
Coachella's Mojave stage.Callie Ahlgrim

Those crowds leave trash everywhere.

coachella 2022
Throughout the day, workers can be seen picking up discarded bottles and food items.Callie Ahlgrim

The experience can be overwhelming and exhausting.

coachella 2022 person sleeping
Some people just sleep on the ground.Callie Ahlgrim

Follow along with Insider's Coachella coverage here.

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