It starts with a drive through the picturesque Coachella Valley, and you’re not alone.

Almost every other car you pass (or who passes you) will be headed in the same direction. This annual pilgrimage has been happening every year since 1999, when the inaugural Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival promised to be something entirely different – and it delivered.

The behemoth 3-day, two weekend, world-renowned festival that is Coachella has without question solidified it’s place in American cultural history. The headliner acts are musical royalty, and the smaller supporting acts are cherry-picked from the most promising up-and-coming talent. This enviable combination makes Coachella the veritable who’s-who (or who’s about to be) of the American music scene. In 2015, the festival sold 198,000 tickets and grossed $84.3 million (USD), breaking 2 world records in the process.

After 16 years of putting on the festival, the organizers have got things down-pat. The atmosphere is light and magical, with art installations complimenting the live music and California vibes. The stunning natural beauty of the Coachella Valley itself is adorned with the whimsical touches of some of the world’s most sought-after installation artists. The bad rep that Americans endlessly cop abroad for being rude and unfriendly is overwhelmingly challenged, with everyone from the parking staff to the food vendors going out of their way to be helpful. In 2015, I lost my drivers license in the middle of the crowd, only to go to the lost and found to see it had been returned and filed, awaiting my collection.

One standout was the Do Lab Stage (as seen in video), a colorful treehouse dreamed up by the pioneering Los Angeles based event producers. This is where things get wet, and weird. The Do LaB masterminds ensure that the experience is immersive and memorable, with dancers, props, and art to keep everyone smiling (and dancing, of course).

Attendees are spoilt for choice of music, with the 2016 lineup including Guns N’Roses, Maceo Plex, Flume, and LCD Soundsystem (just to name a few).

So does Coachella live up to the hype? Resoundingly, yes.

Who’s going in 2016?