INDIO (CNS) - The second weekend of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival's begins today, with more than 150 acts looking to outdo Weekend One's festivities, guest performances, celebrity sightings, and more in the City of Festivals.
Gates at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio are set to open at 11 a.m. today, with The Weeknd slated to headline. The Canadian singer, who recently released his new EP, ``My Dear Melancholy,'' didn't hold back last Friday with an emotional performance that had him visibly tearing up on stage.
Weekend Two set times will remain largely the same, with a few opening acts shuffled to different stages, but fans should keep their eyes open to see what surprises are in store to top Weekend One's bevy of standout performances and guest cameos, which included 2017 Coachella headliner and recent Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar, who made appearances on both SZA and Vince Staples' Friday sets.
Beyonce, who headlined Saturday, orchestrated a Destiny's Child reunion among other feats, while Sunday headliner Eminem brought out Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and Skylar Grey.
Of course, famous faces appeared as much onstage as they did among the more than 119,000 people in attendance each day of Weekend One. Celebrity sightings in the crowds or surrounding desert parties included Leonardo Dicaprio, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Nicki Minaj, Shania Twain and Paris Hilton, just to name a few.
The usual influx of visitors, numbering in the tens of thousands, were expected to clog up local roadways today, especially with the opening of on- site camping delayed until 3 this morning.
Visitors usually begin setting up on Thursday, but severe windy conditions led festival organizers to delay on-site camping for a day until the wind subsides. Campers who were left stranded by the last minute setback took refuge Thursday in several temporary sites in Indio and surrounding cities.
The move was taken in the interests of safety but could exacerbate the already brutal traffic that accompanies each opening day of a Coachella fest weekend.
Police say the following roads will be designated as ``primary access routes'' for the festivals, and will be ``severely impacted'' this weekend:
-- Jefferson Street, from Interstate 10 to Avenue 52;
-- Washington Street, from Interstate 10 to Avenue 52;
-- Monroe Street, from Interstate 10 to Avenue 52;
-- Highway 111 at Jefferson Street;
-- Highway 111 at Monroe Street;
-- eastbound Interstate 10 exit at Jefferson Street;
-- eastbound Interstate 10 exit at Monroe Street; and
-- eastbound Interstate 10 exit at Washington Street.
Road closures include:
-- Avenue 49, between Hjorth Street and Monroe Street;
-- Avenue 50, between Madison Street and Jackson Street;
-- Hjorth Street, between Avenue 49 and Avenue 50; and
-- Madison Street, between Avenue 49 and Avenue 52.
Those looking to avoid driving altogether can be dropped off by ride- hauling services and taxis at the southwest corner of Avenue 49 and Monroe Street, or dropped off and picked up by friends and family at the northeast corner of Avenue 52 and Madison Street.
Heavy traffic delays are also expected on eastbound Interstate 10 between Banning and Indio starting today.
Drivers are also advised to be prepared for heavy traffic on Sunday evening and Monday after each festival weekend, with tens of thousands of campers expected to depart from the Empire Polo Grounds, filling up surface streets and westbound Interstate 10.
To help make traffic smoother within the city, a yearlong road project widening Highway 111 in Indio has been suspended until the festival season wraps up April 30.
In addition to music and its usual collection of massive art displays, Coachella will feature a full slate of food options, including a brand-new ``Indio Central Market'' patterned after the iconic Grand Central Market in Los Angeles and featuring more than 15 restaurants from across the country. Festival attendees can also opt for fare from three ``pop-up'' restaurants and more than 100 food vendors, amply covering a wide variety of palettes and dietary restrictions.
The ``Outstanding in the Field'' outdoor dining experience will return, featuring a four-course family style meal for $225.
New enhanced security measures are in effect this year, with the Indio Police Department unleashing drones to monitor crowds and traffic and making tourniquets available to be carried by officers posted at the festival.
The new security measures come after a spate of cell phone thefts during last year's festival, which led to the arrests of around 10 suspects. Some have also questioned whether recent mass shootings like the Route 91 Harvest music festival tragedy in Las Vegas have impacted local law enforcement's approach to festival security.
Indio police Sgt. Daniel Marshall said the department engages in preparations for ``major incidents'' each year prior to the festival, and that recent major shootings have not drastically affected the department's response to the annual event.
``We always train for those situations. We have to prepare,'' Marshall said.
It's too early to say whether or not the new security measures are to thank for a dip in arrests during the first festival weekend.
More than 100 people were arrested or cited for various minor drug and alcohol violations. The 106 arrests represented a 15 percent drop from last year's initial weekend, according to the Indio Police Department.
The weather will be mostly sunny and get progressively warmer and less windy throughout the three-day second weekend. Highs in the Coachella Valley are expected to be around 88 on Friday, with winds between 15 and 25 mph. On Saturday, high temperatures will be 89 to 94 degrees with light winds, and highs will be around 94 to 99 on Sunday.
Visit www.coachella.com for festival maps, set times, and more.
Photo: Getty Images