Advertisement

Bonnaroo Survival Guide: Sweatin’ on the Farm

by Adulting 101, Tips and Tricks

Music Festival Tips and Tricks: Bonnaroo Survival Guide

JUMP TO BONNAROO PACKING LIST

These days, it seems as if there’s a gigantic music festival every single weekend. Music lovers are spoiled for choices – camping festivals, city festivals, and even all-inclusive resort festivals. It’s hard to imagine that just 15 years ago, these large musical gatherings were few and far between.

One event that deserves a ton of credit for the massive growth of the festival industry in recent years is Bonnaroo.

The ‘Roo is one of the premier music festivals in the world, and it is definitely a standard-bearer for those in the US. With 80,000+ people gathered on a sweaty Tennessee farm for four days of music, it can also be quite intense.

We’re here to help you survive (and enjoy) your Bonnaroo experience, with our Bonnaroo Survival Guide.

First up, let’s learn a bit about this legendary festival.

History of Bonnaroo

 

Bonnaroo Survival Guide

Bonnaroo in the early years, from a disposable camera.

 

JUMP TO BONNAROO PACKING LIST

Back in 2002, Superfly Productions put on the very first Bonnaroo. They got the name from a Creole word meaning “a really good time” that was popularized by the one and only Dr. John.

The first incarnation was very jam-heavy, with Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band, String Cheese Incident, Gov’t Mule, moe., and many others. It has grown and evolved over the years into an epic melting pot of music and culture. You’ll find classic rock heroes on one stage while an up and coming R&B artist plays in a tent and a rowdy EDM show goes on in another. There’s also comedy acts, a cinema, art installations, and so much more.

Bonnaroo has been called the “Festival of the Decade” by Consequence of Sound and was also honored as one of the “50 Moments that Changed Rock & Roll” by Rolling Stone. The organizers even purchased most of the land used for the festival, giving them more creative freedom moving forward to continue to improve Bonnaroo.

JUMP TO BONNAROO PACKING LIST

 

Bonnaroo in a nutshell:

 

Bonnaroo Survival Guide - Tennessee music festival

Tennessee, Tennessee, there ain’t no place I’d rather be!

Bonnaroo takes place at Great Stage Park in Manchester, TN. It’s a 4-day camping festival that typically occurs in early-mid June. In 2017, the festival is taking place from June 8-11.

Attendance typically ranges from 70-90,000, making it one of the biggest festivals in the US.  There are over ten stages and more than 150 artists at the ‘Roo these days.

Past year’s headliners include U2, Beastie Boys, The Police, My Morning Jacket, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Weekend, Chance the Rapper, Phish, Lorde, and just about anyone else you can imagine.

Tickets have gone for $350 plus fees for the weekend, and you’ll also need a pass for each vehicle that’s entering the festival grounds. There are quite a few options for upgraded experiences, including their VIP package for two for around $1,650. For those who can’t make it for the whole weekend, day passes are also an option.

If money is tight, there are quite a few options for volunteering at Bonnaroo.  (Read about the Grateful Gypsies’ experience volunteering at a music festival)

Bonnaroo Survival Guide

 

Bonnaroo Survival Guide

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have an awesome time at ‘Roo.

For the uninitiated, Bonnaroo can be an overwhelming experience. At such a massive festival, it’s important to be prepared before diving into the belly of the beast.

Having survived numerous Bonnaroos and had our fair share of festy fails, we’re happy to impart some ‘Roo wisdom with this Bonnaroo Survival Guide, to make sure you don’t repeat any of our mistakes!

What to Pack for Bonnaroo

 

Bonnaroo Survival Guide -packing tips

Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.

No Bonnaroo Survival Guide would be complete without a packing list!

Packing for a festival is always tough. No matter how hard you try, there’s always something important you forget – tent poles, sunscreen, or even food entirely (this actually happened to us once).

Aside from the obvious items, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure to have before Bonnaroo:

  • Boots – When it rains here, it gets super muddy.
  • Shoes and Socks – You might have long walks to Centeroo. It doesn’t hurt to have choices when it comes to footwear.
  • Hat, Sunglasses, and Bandana – Your defense against the sun and dust.
  • Flag, Balloon, Rage Stick – This festival is a city. It’s easy to lose your people.
  • Lantern/Flashlight – Great for the campsite and might come in handy in the festival.
  • Plastic Booze Bottles – No glass allowed here, so either buy plastic bottles or dump it into one. You don’t want to show up with a handle and have no way to get it into the festival. Ditto for beers – skip the glass and load up on cans. 
  • Sleeping Bag – Sure, you want to party all night, but eventually you’ll crash!  Make sure you have a good sleeping bag when you do.   Here’s a good list from OUTDOORISH.com

JUMP TO BONNAROO PACKING LIST ESSENTIALS

 

Put your booze in a bag!

Arrive Early

Bonnaroo Survival Guide

These people are ready to ‘Roo.

Even with many years under their belts, it is still a bit chaotic getting so many people into the festival. Those who are able to do so are highly recommended to arrive on Wednesday. Campgrounds open up at 8PM, and getting in that night allows you to get set up (probably in a better spot) and be ready to go on Thursday. Watch the line of cars grow longer and longer while grilling, drinking, and jamming at your campsite and you’ll be glad you decided to show up early. At least try to get in relatively early on Thursday. After all, you’re paying all that money for a 4-day festival, so why not enjoy every single one?

Dealing With the Heat at Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo Survival Guide - beat the heat!

Water balloons help, but those costumes have got to be hot.

You’re on what used to be a farm in the middle of Tennessee in June. It’s hot as hell.

There isn’t very much shade anywhere, so you’ll have to make your own at camp. Be sure to have an easy-up and some tarps/tapestries to create a little shaded area around your tents. Chances are you’ll be gasping for air at around 6AM, so it’s nice to just roll out and nap a bit more in the cool shade of your camp’s living room. 

Bring some little spray bottles, water guns, or anything you can use to cool off from time to time. Make sure to have a good hat or even carry an umbrella around.

Pick your battles during the day – standing up front at the main stage for six hours will wear you out and probably ensure you miss the late-night fun.

Most importantly, be sure to stay hydrated. Carry a good water bottle or wear a Camelbak and make sure it’s always full. That Tennessee sun can and will kick your ass, so do everything you can to not let it take you down.

For more on dealing with the heat at a music festival, check out It’s Getting Hot in Here from Adulting 101!

Choosing What to See at Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo Survival Guide - choosing music

It’s a massive festival with lots of options. Choose wisely.

Once again, this is a 4-day festival with well over 100 acts. You won’t be able to see it all.

On any given day, it’s best to just make a top ten or so of acts you want to see. Don’t get your hopes up thinking you’re going to spend the entire day running from stage to stage. Music goes from noon until the wee hours of the morning, so you’ll need some downtime. Plus, unless you want to spend all your money, you’ll want to head back to camp at least once to eat, drink, and relax. Depending on where you end up camping, that could be an hour-long walk there and another one back, plus waiting in the security line. If there’s a band you really want to see starting at 2, you might want to run back to camp before the headliner. If you plan to be at the late-night until the sun comes up, then you’re probably going to miss those noon sets the next day.

Make sure you catch your favorites, but don’t fret too much if you miss a few shows you were excited about.

More than Music

 

Bonnaroo Survival Guide - more than just music

Dive deeper and explore all that Bonnaroo Music Festival has to offer.

With so many incredible acts, it’s easy to fill your entire weekend with live music.

Bonnaroo is so much more than just tunes, though.

Don’t come to this festival and miss out on some of the other experiences on offer. From yoga classes, to interactive art installations, to workshops on sustainability, to human foosball, there’s no shortage of choices. Find a spot in the schedule where there’s nothing you’re dying to see on the stages, and go take part in some of the other areas of the fest that make Bonnaroo such a magical place. 

Pace Yourself

Bonnaroo Survival Guide - pace yourself!

Don’t be a passed out w00k.

We’ve all seen that guy at a festival – the one who went super hard on Thursday night and blew his festy load way too soon. By Saturday afternoon, he’s sunburnt, barefoot, and passed out in a lawn chair back at camp.  (Looks like he didn’t read the Bonnaroo Survival Guide!)

As the smart dudes in Greensky Bluegrass proclaimed to a festival crowd last year – “It’s a sprinting marathon!”

Of course, you want to rage and have a good time, but don’t ruin your festival weekend by going nuts the first day or two. There’s still music on Sunday, and you know what they say: Never miss a Sunday show!

Make sure you finish a bottle of water for every beer/cocktail you have during the day, put on sunscreen multiple times, take breaks, and don’t forget to eat. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment at a festival, but Bonnaroo is unforgiving to those who choose not to pace themselves. 

Bonnaroo Survival Guide

You might have blurred vision by the end, but that’s fine!

If you get in nice and early, have a solid set up at camp, bring all the essentials for battling the sun, time your days right, and pace yourself, Bonnaroo will be exactly what it’s supposed to be – a really good time.

While it may get a lot of hate for being “too big,” “too expensive,” and “too mainstream” these days, it’s still an unbelievable 4-day party full of world-class musicians and comedians, plus movies, sports, art, food, games, and an all-around amazing community of people that makes this the 7th largest city in Tennessee once a year.

Bonnaroo is one of the pioneers of modern-day festivals, and it continues to outdo itself on a yearly basis.

Thanks for reading the Grateful Gypsies‘ Bonnaroo Survival Guide!  See you out there!

Bonnaroo Survival Guide: Packing Essentials for Bonnaroo

When getting ready to pack for a music festival like Bonnaroo, it is important to include all of the important essentials.  Here are a few of the items that will help you to survive Bonnaroo:

Western Chief Women's Mid-Height Waterproof Boot

Western Chief Mid-Height Waterproof Rain Boot

Potential rain is to be expected at the ‘Roo, and is a welcome change to the heat, as long as you’re prepared.  There’s no reason you can’t continue to look your fest self, though, with lots of funky styles from Western Chief.

VIEW ON AMAZON

Coleman Duck Harbor Cool Weather Sleeping Bag

Coleman Duck Harbor Cool Weather Sleeping Bag

For those hot Bonnaroo nights, you’ll need a cool weather sleeping bag.  For the price, you won’t do much better than this Coleman, known for its high-quality camping gear.

VIEW ON AMAZON

Pop-up canopy tent with sidewalls

COOSHADE Pop Up Canopy Tent 8x8Ft with sidewalls

Shade is key at any music festival, especially one like Bonnaroo, where camping can be in the middle of an open field.  This pop-up canopy comes with a pair of sidewalls, and, trust us, you’ll be glad you have them!

VIEW ON AMAZON

Waterproof Beach Blanket Tarp with stakes and pockets

Waterproof beach blanket tarp with pockets and stakes

You’ll want some sort of tarp or blanket to bring along.  While you may spend most of the time dancing, at some point you’ll need to taka a load off! This waterproof beach tarp will do just the trick.

VIEW ON AMAZON

YUANBAI portable folding camping chair

YUANBAI Ultralight Portable Folding Camping Chairs

A nice, lightweight camping chair is always a good idea to pack for Bonnaroo.  This one by Yuanbai comes in funky colors, and has a low profile, making it a great festival chair.

VIEW ON AMAZON

CAMP-ZERO 40 | 42.26 Quart Premium Cooler/Ice Chest

CAMP-ZERO 40 | 42.26 Quart Premium Cooler/Ice Chest

Do we really need to explain why cold drinks are important to pack for Bonnaroo? This cooler from Camp-Zero will do the trick, and it comes in lots of different fun colors, making it a Bonnaroo essential!

VIEW ON AMAZON

Dance Like EVERYONE’s Watching | Women’s Racerback Tank
“Free Range Hippie” | Women’s Jersey Short Sleeve V-Neck Tee
Nama-Swayze | Women’s Flowy Scoop Muscle Tank

Big Atomic "Body Politic"

BIG ATOMIC Announces New Album: BODY POLITIC, available June 25, 2021

Kentucky’s funky jam outfit Big Atomic has just released their brand new single “Justice Denied,” with the quintet’s EP “Body Politic” coming June 25.

Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs

Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs to Release 4th Studio Album: “Through The Smoke”

Montana’s bluegrass ensemble, Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs, to release 4th studio album, “Through The Smoke.

Park City Song Summit

Park City Song Summit Tickets Now On-Sale

Tickets on sale NOW: Park City Song Summit, the five-day music and culture gathering happening September 8-12 in Park City, UT. See details…

Suwannee Roots Revival: Oct 14-17 w/ Sam Bush, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters

The 5th Suwannee Roots Revival takes place October 14 – 17, 2021 at the renowned Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. Sam Bush Band, Leftover Salmon, Infamous Stringdusters and many more are slated to perform!

High Hawks Band

The High Hawks Release Debut Album

The High Hawks, comprised of members of Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, Hard Working Americans, and more, release their debut album on LoHi Records.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre: 2021 Red Rocks Schedule

Updated Red Rocks Amphitheatre Schedule 2021

The updated Red Rocks Amphitheatre 2021 Schedule with postponed and cancelled events.

Red Rocks Amphitheater at Full Capacity June 21

Red Rocks Amphitheater has announced it will return to full capacity shows by June 21, 2021. Get the details and FULL SCHEDULE here:

Beech Mountain Resort Summer Concert Series Lineup 2021

Beech Mountain Resort (NC) Summer Concert Series: UMPHREY’S MCGEE, TEDESCHI TRUCKS & GREENSKY BLUEGRASS

Beech Mountain Resort (North Carolina) has announced their Summer Concert Series Lineup, with Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschki Trucks and Greensky Bluegrass.

Red Mountain Boys

Colorado’s Red Mountain Boys Releasing New Music Each Month as “Red Mountain Mondays”

Colorado’s Red Mountain Boys are releasing a new EP each month as part of “Red Mountain Mondays.” Listen and check them out here:

Tico Time Bluegrass Festival 2021 | Festy GoNuts

What Time Is It? TICO TIME! Tico Time Bluegrass Festival Review

For a first-year music festival, after a year without any, Tico Time Bluegrass Festival was absolutely perfect. What time is it? TICO TIME!

Grant Livingston | Grant and Friends Album Cover

SINGER/SONGWRITER GRANT LIVINGSTON TO RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM

Singer-songwriter, Grant Livingston, is thrilled to announce the release of his debut album, Grant & Friends, available everywhere on June 4, 2021.

Tenth Mountain Division "Sad Summer"

PREMIERE: Tenth Mountain Division Blend Surf-Rock and Synth-Pop on “Sad Summer” [LISTEN]

Listen to the Premiere of Tenth Mountain Division’s latest single, “Sad Summer,” off the forthcoming new album “Butte la Rose.”

Mark Pietrovito of GoodFolk

GoodFolk: Debut Album “Thanks For Being My Friend” Available May 25, 2021

The debut album of GoodFolk, AKA Mark Pietrovito, arrives on May 25th, and is quickly one of our new favorites! Check it out:

The Storytellers: Scott Diehl & Lance Frantzich

Interview With The Storytellers: Scott Diehl and Lance Frantzich

An interview with Scott Diehl and Lance Frantzich of The Storytellers, a Los Angeles-based progressive bluegrass band.

Strings & Sol 2021

Strings & Sol 2021 Announcement: Dec. 9 – 13, 2021

Strings & Sol has announced dates for 2021 in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, featuring Greensky Bluegrass, YMSB, Leftover Salmon, Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, and more!

Acoustic Syndicate - Sunny

Acoustic Syndicate Releases First Recording in 7 Years: “Sunny”

Acoustic Syndicate, long been heralded as one of the important influences on the modern roots-music revival, releases new recording, “Sunny.”

Wonderstruck Music Festival 2021

Wonderstruck Festival 2021 Lineup Announced

LINEUP ANNOUNCED: WonderStruck Music Festival in Cleveland (formerly LaureLive) in its new home at Lakeland Community College. INFO, TICKETS, MORE…

Peacock Park 'n Pick Header

Northwest String Summit Presents: Peacock Park ‘N Pick

Music returns to Horning’s Hideout! Northwest String Summit presents Park ‘n Pick, a socially-distanced drive-in concert series in July 2021.

Delfest 2021

DelFest 2021 Lineup Announcement

Delfest, which typically happens Memorial Day weekend, will make a one-time move to the fall in 2021 to ensure a COVID-safe gathering.

IMAGINE Festival | DV Photo Video

IMAGINE MUSIC FESTIVAL Announces 2021 Lineup

IMAGINE MUSIC FESTIVAL announces 7th Annual Event in Bouckaert Farm in Chattahoochee Hills, GA, Sept. 17 – 19, 2021. SEE THE FULL LINEUP!

About The Author

Grateful Gypsies

Sasha and Rachel – or the Grateful Gypsies as they’re collectively known – are a world traveling, adventure seeking, jamband following couple. They share stories of living abroad, gap year travel, and all their musical adventures on their website – gratefulgypsies.com.

What we’re listening to:

What we’re watching:

SUPPORT FESTY GONUTS!

Categories

Festy GoNuts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

FestyGoNuts logo

GoNuts with us!

 

GO NUTS WITH US!

Stay in the loop about all the best in fest.

WhooHoo! Check your email for our Festy Food Guide as thanks!