The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, better known simply as Coachella, kicked off Friday for its usual two-weekend splash in the Southern California desert, with Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar headlining. What’s become arguably the country’s marquee music festival now also inaugurates the spring/summer festival season. Luckily for Californians, the state hosts some of the most exciting ones around.
Coachella, of course, is the trendsetter here, and tickets sell out within hours. For those of you lucky enough to grab a spot in the Empire Polo Club grounds (81800 Ave. 51, Indio, 760-342-2762), staying cool will be the challenge. Temperatures were forecast to hit the low 90s on the first Saturday and Sunday of the festival, and with tens of thousands of people crowded into the venue, shade will be at a premium. Parasols, but not umbrellas, will be allowed in. You’ll have to acquire all your hydrating liquids, however, once you’re inside; no outside food or drinks are permitted.
When you’re ready for an escape from the crowds, there are plenty of oases in the surrounding city. Near the polo grounds is the TKB Bakery & Deli (44911 Golf Center Parkway, Indio, 760-775-8330), ranked as one of the best bakeries and sandwich spots in the nation on Yelp. People can also cool their heels taking in another art form, the midcentury modern architecture that Palm Springs is known for. In particular, Frank Sinatra’s “Twin Palms” home (1148 E. Alejo Road, Palm Springs) and the old Coachella Valley Savings & Loan building (499 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) are worth a look.
Later in the year, San Francisco hosts Outside Lands, which reliably presents top acts (Radiohead was last year’s Outside Lands headliner) without quite the cachet or stratospheric ticket prices of Coachella. Outside Lands comes to Golden Gate Park Friday-Sunday, Aug. 11-13, with Metallica, the Who and Gorillaz headlining this year. Tickets may still be available in mid-April, so check it out.
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To the east, the High Sierra Music Festival brings a stonier sensibility to the festival concept, with a decided bent toward the the sandal set. This year’s Thursday-Sunday, June 29-July 2, gathering in the Sierra town of Quincy brings together Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, the brothers-led band Ween and the ubiquitous Andrew Bird along with other bands at the Plumas County Fairgrounds (204 Fairground Road, Quincy, 530-283-6272).
Finally, you can’t beat the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles) when it comes to taking in the tunes under the stars on a warm summer night. The season unofficially gets started with the Saturday-Sunday, June 10-11, Playboy Jazz Festival and rolls on with shows by Blondie, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Diana Krall, among others.
What: Giant pizza-eating competitions, pizza vendors, pony rides and a rock climbing wall will fill the Lemoore Pizza Festival.
When: 5-10 p.m. Friday, April 21; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, April 22; noon-5 p.m. Sunday, April 23
Where: Lemoore City Park, 350 W. Bush St., Lemoore
Mac & Cheese
What: Tickets to the Mac & Cheese Fest include gourmet food samplings, a decorative wine glass and access to more than 20 wineries and breweries.
When: 10 a.m Saturday, April 22
Where: California State University, Bakersfield, Alumni Park and Field off Don Hart Drive and Don Hart Drive East
Cost: $45 and up
What: Enjoy a 4-mile guided hike along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River and then upriver to a waterfall.
When: 9 a.m- 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 19
Where: Wuksachi Lodge, 64740 Wuksachi Way, Sequoia National Park