Saddle up for Stagecoach, the country cousin held in the same venue—the Indio Polo Grounds south of Palm Springs—as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. From the impressive inaugural event in 2007, when George Strait headlined while Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris played on the Palomino Stage, Stagecoach ballooned into one of the world’s biggest events of its kind. For 2017, the headliners include Dierks Bentley, Shania Twain, and Kenny Chesney.
No doubt, each year’s lineup—spread out over three days in late April or early May—offers a balance of big contemporary stars, classic-country legends, and a few genre-transcending crowd-pleasers. The 2017 festivities also include Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wynonna Judd, and not-so-traditional-country acts such as Son Volt, Los Lobos, and even ’80s royalty Cyndi Lauper, who released a well-received country album in 2016.
Passes typically go on sale in the fall each year, and range from basic general admission to reserved seating and premium “Standing Corral,” right in front of the stage. A range of Palm Springs-area resorts—like La Quinta Resort & Club and JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa—participate in hotel-plus-pass packages, or you can camp at the festival’s RV Resort (keep in mind that this option sells out fast). A nice touch: all ages are welcome, and there’s even a kid-friendly play area at the festival called the Half-Pint Hootenanny.
No matter where you stay, be sure to two-step at the festival’s Honky Tonk Dance Hall, dig into authentic barbecue, and enjoy a cold beer—it tastes better in the desert than anyplace on the planet.