Stagecoach Festival
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Stagecoach Festival 2023 Guide: 10 Things Not to Miss

April 21, 2023 2:10 pm GMT

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This year marks the 15th running of Stagecoach, the world’s largest country music festival, in Indio, California. With more than 75 performers — including superstars Chris Stapleton, Kane Brown and Luke Bryan, on-the-rise artists Morgan Wade, Sierra Ferrell and Bailey Zimmerman and everyone in between — Stagecoach is known for showcasing musical forbears as much as fostering the next generation of talent.

Featuring music across the full country music spectrum and beyond, there is truly something for every age and taste. Last year, Motown showman Smokey Robinson stretched the bounds of country anew with an indelible performance, and this year’s diverse, carefully curated roster promises even more memorable moments.

This year organizers have expanded the festival site in anticipation of upwards of 80,000 music fans. Stagecoach is as much an all-ages country music theme park as it is a concert, full of star-studded cooking demos, honky tonks, urban cowboys, instrument ‘petting zoos’, multiple watering holes as well asa place for sober attendees, in addition to the nonstop musical entertainment.

Notoriously friendly and laid-back, extended families camp out together, new couples and lifelong friendships are forged, while others get engaged on the iconic ferris wheel. Meanwhile, with its makeshift dance floors, temporary bars (in some circles, Stagecoach is referred to as “Ragecoach”) and pick-up corn-hole games, the Resort RV & Campsite is a temporary village with a life and culture all its own.

Whether you go for the music, the scene or all of the above, the key is to stay open and enjoy the ride…and try not to miss the following:

1. Preparation

Stagecoach is located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Be prepared for heat, dust, wind and, when the sun goes down, dropping temperatures. Pack a refillable (plastic!) water bottle, dress for comfort as much as fashion, lavish on the sunscreen and be aware of your own limits. Download the Stagecoach App both to build your schedule, study the FAQ and check for updates.

2. The Palomino Stage

With its emphasis on presenting alternative, outlaw and legacy acts, The Palomino Stage has grown so popular, it spawned its own namesake festival (returning in 2024). This year, Jaime Wyatt, Sierra Ferrell, Ryan Bingham and Tyler Childers are among the many rising stars and legendary acts who will grace the renowned stage.

3. The Legacy Acts

This year’s deep bench of iconic talent includes multiple-Grammy winner Keb Mo, pioneering rock band The Flamin Groovies and trailblazing songwriter Melissa Etheridge, who plays right before blues-rockers ZZ Top on Friday. Saturday’s highlights include Canadian hit-maker Brian Adams, who follows Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives after an already smoking afternoon of music.

Holler Country Music

4. Nikki Lane’s Stage Stop Marketplace

Stage Stop is the perfect marriage of Nikki Lane’s outlaw country/Denim and Diamonds aesthetic (Lane worked as a fashion designer before she began writing country songs). With its Desert Hot Spot margaritas, expertly selected vintage and artisan vendors along with performances by up-and-coming regional acts on the intimate Horseshoe Stage, the Stage Stop is a one-stop shop for clothing, curios and new music discovery.

5. BBQ Guy's Stagecoach Smokehouse

The Mayor of Flavortown Guy Fieri returns for his fourth festival to preside over his veritable temple to BBQ, a 40,000-square foot tent outfitted with pits, spits and its own bar. The popular Food Network host will do three food demonstrations each day aided by some of the country’s top pitmasters and Stagecoach performers including ZZ Top, Old Dominion and Lainey Wilson.

6. Compton Cowboys

Providing a dose of real-deal cowboy culture amid the rhinestone cowgirls and weekend warriors, the Compton Cowboys —nine urban cowboys and one cowgirl from the heart of LA — bring their hearts, horses and stories to Stagecoach as part of their mission to preserve the legacy of African-Americans in the West.

Holler Country Music

7. Yellowstone Comes to the Desert

New this year, Dutton Ranch from Paramount Network’s western series Yellowstone is being transported to the Stagecoach grounds. Fans of the popular show can enjoy Yellowstone photo opps, a merch-filled Airstream pop-up shop, a corn-hole competition as well as some welcome shade a la the fictional Dutton Family.

8. Honky Tonk Dance Hall

Diplo’s Honky Tonk is the not-so-secret after-party country music festival goers didn’t know they needed. Spinning well-known country records alongside DJ edits of classic country tunes during the day withlate-night sets by dance music artists Girl Talk, Dillon Francis and Lost Frequencies at night, one can heel toe, do si do and shake their money maker long after the sun goes down.

Holler Country Music

9. Catching some shade

With midday temperatures expected to reach into the 90s, attendees are advised to regularly rest and recharge. Choose your own tent-lounge adventure between the 1 Million Strong Wellness Retreat (for those in search of a sober festival experience); T-Mobile’s immersive Club Magenta (with excellent views of the Mane Stage) or The Toyota Music Den and the Amazon Music Live lounges where you can catch the livestream or pop-up performances.

10. Leaning into the Look

While you may want to forgo the new cowboy boots for your most comfortable shoes, festival fashion is a thing. Bandanas, fringe, floral dresses abound and are encouraged. The first day of the festival is the third annual Themed Friday and Denim Tuxedo Night. Dress up for a chance to win a pass upgrade.

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For more on Stagecoach Festival 2023, see below:

Written by Deborah Crooks
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