Coachella's Best Parties

A road map to the best festival parties, and how to get in (or not)!


The Sistine Chapel of glowing, thumping, desert debauchery. Sporting a Ferris wheel as iconic as the one we're used to seeing at Coachella itself, the Neon Carnival is part street fair, part ultra lounge, part circus and part modeling runway—one of those parties celebrities are falling over themselves to get into. Created by famed LA party producer Brent Bolthouse, the event—sponsored by Armani Exchange—turns a giant, humdrum airplane hangar in the town of Thermal into a place that lures plenty of trendsetters and jetsetters from all over the world. A pastel, illuminated entryway reveals a world of big-name DJs; glowing dance floors; and beautiful people dancing on tables and taking over the stages with their hands up as roller coasters slingshot their bodies through twists and turns—which could be either really scary or really awesome for the stoners on board. If you're a somebody who wants to be seen by others in your social station, you'll stop by and stay awhile. At Tradition Aviation, 86400 Lightning St., Thermal; April 13. Invite only.


At the Ace Hotel
At the Ace Hotel
At the Ace Hotel
Iggy Gonzalez
At the Ace Hotel

PHOTOS: Lacoste Live Pool Party 2012

It's nice to know that if you're a reasonably well-connected festival-goer looking to embrace your inner preppie, the love will be returned at the Lacoste L!VE Desert Pool Party, as the brand behind that cute li'l gator logo is now a full-blown presence at Coachella for the fourth year in a row. Pitted on a sprawling mansion property within walking distance of the festival's grounds, the sea of flowing, white cabanas and olive-skinned models wearing Abercrombie & Fitch are as plentiful as the alligator-shaped inflatable rafts floating in the pool. And if you're looking for an excuse to combine your two great loves—shopping and swimming—there is always the ultra-swanky Lacoste pop-up shop with all the pastel polos and high-end threads you can buy. Last year, guests were treated to DJ performances from Elijah Wood (the Hobbit himself!), Myles Hendrik and Busy P of Ed Banger Records. Arrive early, as the event is very likely to hit capacity. And, of course, being so close to the festival means artists playing the festival are more than likely to wander over and hang out. Unknown location—try to divine where it is at April 13-14. Invite only.


The KROQ Party House at Coachella is the day party that definitely has the avid live-music fan in mind, with a nonstop barrage of bands and artists delivering sets to a crowded (but not insanely packed) legion of partiers. Last year, the Hives, Awol Nation, War Paint, Group Love and more stopped by to jam out for a live broadcast, which you can listen to if you don't happen to make it past the three security gates. It's quite a change from the radio station's first Coachella party, which was on the main drag before you reach the festival—they've definitely wisened up since then. The private party is available to ticket winners who enter the ongoing, online contest at Not only will you be winning access to a sweet pad, but you can get plastered by the pool alongside Kat Corbett, Stryker and Kevin from The Kevin and Bean Show. Best of all, this ranch-style house delivers a party that runs on all cylinders until they kick you out at dark to go enjoy the festival. After all, that's why we're all here! At a private location in La Quinta—look for Dave the King of Mexico; April 12-14 & 19-21. Ticket winners only.


PHOTOS: Filter Yacht Club 2012

Few things sound quite as novel as a nautical-themed party in the middle of a desert. And for the past 11 years, posh Coachella crowds have embraced Filter's love of the high seas with its annual Yacht Club party, sponsored by Aerie. Running during both weekends of the festival, this Coachella tradition is known for its buzz bands and free-flowing booze. Catering to indie-loving mag readers and boat shoe-wearing scenesters means plenty of the best baby bands coming through, ones that just might pop up at Coachella soon after, such as the LA-based, gritty, rock-girl duo Deap Valley. If you want to get a jump on a lot of the cool acts everyone will be talking about next year, you'll definitely want to set sail for this soiree. And don't forget your favorite Captain and Tennile hat—better yet, you should go as Admiral Nelson. At an unknown location—comb for scraps of info. April 11-18. Invite only.


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