For this Irish music lover, accustomed to mud and warm cans of beer, my first turn at the Coachella was a fish-out-of-water experience that involved dodging sunburn and dehydration, and adjusting to the laissez-faire Californian way of life.
The concept of a festival is very interesting. The premise is to essentially pack a diverse community of people into a confined space with limited amenities, trusting that their combined love of music and hedonism will see them exist in harmony for a weekend.
As a nation, Irish people "do" festivals really well - with our trusty wellingtons and rain coats, and ability to have great banter no matter the weather.
But what happens when you take a seasoned festival goer and put her in a 90 degree desert climate for the world's most infamous three day music extravaganza?
A supermarket sweep of a Target store in Los Angeles to stock up on camp chairs, air mattresses, insect repellent, battery-powered fans, and provisions set my four friends and I back an eye-watering $700. Naturally, we still ran out of the most essential supplies - beer, water, and sun cream.
Of course our American counterparts were professionals. They had it all; "penthouse" tents to attach to car roofs, masks to counteract sandstorms, beer pong tables, memory foam ear plugs, colossal speakers, and mosquito nets.
You could have knocked me down with a feather after witnessing a man sitting in a camping chair with a bucket hoisted over his head. Said bucket had holes drilled into the bottom of it, and his wife poured in a gallon of water which cascaded over him in the most efficient homemade shower scenario I’ve ever seen.
There's something about the serene West Coast atmosphere and attitude that is infectious and a good mood permeated the weekend. What I wasn’t expecting was for everything to stop come 1am.
As people rush off to private Palm Springs villas or tents to get a solid night's sleep, you will likely find them in the line for blowouts or yoga class at 7am the next morning. In Ireland, you’d be lucky to retire from a night of revelry before 7am.
Between flights, car rental, supplies, $10 smoothies and $12 beers, it was a huge expense for a mere three days. But I'm a firm believer that your money is always best spent on the moments that take your breath away - and singing along to your favorite artists while the sun sets behind palm trees is one experience you couldn't put a price tag on.
Music wise, the festival is known for its all-encompassing lineup. We raved in the Sahara tent, whistled along to Indie bands at the Outdoor Theater, lost our minds with excitement at the Main Stage, and had sneaky nightcaps at the silent disco.
My big highlight of attending Coachella in 2016 was tucked away in the Yuma tent. Despacio is a concept from the innovative minds of DJs James Murphy, Stephen and David Dewaele, and audio engineer John Klett.
Once you step inside and your eyes adjust to the darkness, you're transported to a bygone era with 50,000 watt speakers blasting out a vintage all-vinyl set. It was hard to leave, thanks to interactive performances such as a troupe of actors dressed like cabin crew who would appear with neon glow sticks carrying out a coordinated in-flight safety routine.
The Coachella that we see depicted in the media is apt; a haven in the desert where the free spirited can retreat and immerse themselves in music, culture, and dress the part in peasant skirts, feathers and tie-dye.
Like a modern day Woodstock for the Instagram generation, Coachella could certainly be described as the festival ideal - good weather, good manners and good vibrations.
*This article was originally written in 2016*