1 For The Money, 2 For The Show
Close-up of someone wearing a large VIP pass on a lanyard.

I Finessed My Way Into Free VIP Coachella Tickets & Saved Over $1,000

Content creator Natalie Abatemarco explains how she did it.

Interview by Hannah Kerns

Natalie Abatemarco is a New York City-based influencer who focuses on lifestyle content, documenting her daily routine, outfits, and travel tips for her 75,000 TikTok followers. Last year, the 25-year-old was invited to attend Revolve Fest, an influencer-filled party on the outskirts of Coachella, which turned into her securing free VIP tickets to the festival itself. In this as-told-to below, the content creator shares how she got Coachella wristbands for her and her friend, saving them each over $1,000.

Going to Coachella was never the plan. A week before the festival in 2023, I was invited (with a plus one) to attend Revolve Fest as a content creator. It was last-minute, so I wasn’t sure if I should go, but the benefits outweighed the cost — plus, my friend travels a lot for work, so we used her miles to get there from New York.

Neither of us had ever been to Coachella or even Palm Springs before, so I initially felt like I was on a different planet. On the first day, we were really just getting the lay of the land. But by the second day, we found our footing. So, when Revolve Fest ended a little after 7 p.m. on Sunday, my friend said to me, “What are we going to do? Just go home now? Why don't we just go to Coachella and see if anyone's selling tickets.” There were about five hours left of the festival, including Frank Ocean’s headlining set.

Revolve Fest is a five-minute drive from Coachella, but the vibe is pretty different. At Revolve Fest, there are a lot of reality TV stars and influencers. (I actually met Pookie — of Pookie and Jett — in line for the bathroom.)

Revolve also has a bunch of activations with brands, but their party doesn’t have as many performers. I hadn’t really gotten my music fix there, which is partially why I was down to try to go to Coachella. What’s the worst that could happen?

Courtesy of Natalie Abatemarco

Earlier that day, our Uber driver who lives in the area had told us he gets into Coachella for free every year by getting wristbands from people leaving the venue. He gave us a lot of hope, and before the end of our ride, we got his phone number. I texted him later to ask for advice for finding people selling tickets. He told us to go to this exact location (one of the festival’s exit points) — and he was right.

We went into it with zero expectations.

Once we got there, I started asking people, “Are you leaving for the night? Are you done with your ticket? Can I buy it from you?” Since there were only a few hours left of the festival and it was Sunday (the last day of Weekend 1), there were a lot of people leaving.

Some people were rude — I remember a group of older guys said “no” really angrily — and others just ignored us. My guess is they were afraid we were scamming them.

After the third “no,” my friend and I looked at each other and were like, "Should we pivot, or go to a different exit?" But then we spotted this maybe-couple around our age, Paige and Ryder, and asked them.

Immediately, they started taking off their wristbands and putting them on our wrists. I kept asking, "Oh my God, what's your Venmo? Can I pay for the ticket?” But they wouldn’t accept any money for the wristbands. It turns out, they worked in the music industry and got VIP tickets through work. So, we just got really lucky.

Courtesy of Natalie Abatemarco

The whole thing took under 15 minutes. I left Revolve 7:40 p.m., and I got into Coachella by 7:53 p.m. (This year, I went to Coachella again but with GA tickets, and it took way longer to get in. Plus, you have to walk for 30 minutes to get to the performances once you’re inside the grounds.)

Beforehand, I didn’t really look at the Coachella lineup. I didn't want to see that someone I really loved was playing and get disappointed about not going. But it worked out pretty perfectly. We were just in time to see Chris Lake and FISHER — the DJs I would have wanted to see if I had bought tickets myself.

It felt like we had nothing to lose.

It was also kind of kismet. We were giddy and literally squealing walking in, and right away, we bumped into a group of our friends who had been egging us on to find tickets. We hung out with them for a bit, and then we checked out the VIP area before going to Frank Ocean. He was really delayed, so we didn’t end up staying for his whole set.

We left Coachella around midnight after four hours — we were honestly exhausted. We had a really full day at Revolve Fest, and my flight was at 6 a.m. the next morning, too. That was part of the reason I was so on board with trying to get a wristband. If it didn’t work out, the plan was to go home and have a good night’s sleep, which sounded pretty good to me with a long travel day ahead. It was a win-win.

Courtesy of Natalie Abatemarco

I will say, I think this worked out so well because we went into it with zero expectations. It was all completely on a whim. I’m not sure I would have this as plan A, especially for people traveling to get to Palm Springs. I personally wouldn’t fly there just with the hope of finding something. For us, we were already so close, it felt like we had nothing to lose.

Our Uber driver did say that he manages to get in for free every year without fail, but he's one person. A big group would have a much harder time finding tickets. Even when it was just me and my friend, that was something that came up — one person would be willing to give us their ticket, but we couldn’t both get in with the same wristband.

The circumstances just really worked out for us — it took 13 minutes total and we somehow managed to get VIP bracelets. A couple weeks after I posted a TikTok explaining how we got in for free, Paige (one of the people who gave us her wristband) actually saw my video. She commented, “Holy sh*t the internet works in crazy ways… happy we ran into y’all” and signed it from both her and Ryder. Such a nice full-circle moment.

This as-told-to has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Editor's note: Per Coachella rules, wristbands are non-transferrable once applied.