First held in 2002, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is now one of the most popular music festivals in the US. More than 80,000 people attend this unique gathering annually. Though primarily known for its diverse musical performances, there is so much more to Bonnaroo than meets the eye!
Aside from the stellar concerts, you can find parties, parades, markets, and more here. Whether you're traveling solo or with a group, there's something fun and exciting for you to enjoy. Are you thinking about becoming a Bonnaroovian?
My guide covers all the basics for attending. Plus, you'll learn insider tips for getting the most out of this legendary festival!
What is Bonnaroo?
Bonnaroo is a four-day music and camping festival held every summer in Tennessee. The word Bonnaroo means a really good time in Creole slang. As festivalgoers unanimously agree, The Roo is a party and experience you won't easily forget!
Among other things, Bonnaroo is a music lover's paradise. The festival features performances from hundreds of artists across various popular genres like indie rock, hip hop, country, pop, and more.
Multiple stages, plazas, and party barns are located all around the festival grounds. Shows take place throughout the day and continue all night long.
If you love to party in a location with a relaxed and positive vibe, the Bonnaroo Music Festival is for you. One of the best things about this event is its sense of community. You'll meet diverse groups of people who share a common goal of living life to the fullest.
The Bonnaroovian code is summed up in one cherished mantra, "radiate positivity." Bonnaroo is more than a music festival. The Roo is a joyous celebration, reminding attendees to share the spirit of the festival and make the world a happier place.
When is Bonnaroo?
Bonnaroo takes place every year for four days in June. Bonnaroo 2023 will be held from Thursday, June 15, to Sunday, June 18. Although Bonnaroo officially starts on Thursday, gates to enter the festival will open Wednesday night at 8 pm.
So you have time to get set up before the festivities start. There are even activities and events for those arriving early. Mark your calendar because the sooner you arrive, the easier it will be to get the party started!
Where is Bonnaroo?
Bonnaroo is held at the 700-acre Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennessee. From camping to concerts and everything in between, all the action takes place on-site. Centeroo is the main concert area and home to most festival activities, concerts, and vendors.
However, each camping area has a nearby plaza with amenities like charging stations, showers, food, and other necessities. Each plaza also features shopping, activities, music, parties, and events. No matter where you are in the park, there's an adventure waiting around the corner!
How do I get to Bonnaroo?
Manchester, Tennesse, is roughly an hour from Nashville. If you live outside Tennessee, you'll need to fly into Nashville International Airport. Learn how to find cheap flights before you book!
If you want to go from the airport straight to the festival, you can take the Bonnaroo airport shuttle. It will bring you directly to and from the festival on the first and last days.
If you're a local or decide to stay in Nashville before the festival, you can also catch a shuttle to the event. Festival shuttles usually depart from downtown, where there is plenty of free parking. They run twice from Nashville during the day and depart twice from Bonnaroo at night. So you can get there and back home in time.
Even though you can arrive at Bonnaroo via shuttle, the best way to get there is to drive. Having your own vehicle makes camping easier and allows you to immerse yourself in the festival experience and community. Other than bicycles and scooters, all types of vehicles are allowed at Bonnaroo.
Many festivalgoers live it up instead of camping. For the most comfortable experience, consider renting an RV. If you've never rented an RV before, this RVshare review will help you get started! Just remember, you need to buy a special Bonaroo RV pass to enter.
Where to Stay for Bonnaroo
Because Bonnaroo is also a camping festival, most festivalgoers opt to stay in the park. There are various camping options available, ranging from General Admission to Platinum camping spots. The main differences between campsite options are the size of the space and the proximity to Centeroo.
That said, camping and parking spaces at Bonnaroo are first-come-first-served within the major camp areas.
Unless you spring for the VIP or Platinum packages, securing a campsite near Centeroo depends on how fast you get there. The Bonnaroo 2023 festival map has yet to be released. But you can check out the 2022 festival map to get an idea of what to expect.
Even if you have to camp further from Centeroo, you'll never be far from a party plaza! Plus, Bonnaroo provides a "JamTrack" tram service to help you get around more easily.
If you're traveling car and camping-equipment-free, you're also catered for. You can rent a tent when you purchase your tickets. Tent rentals (basic to glamping) in both the GA and VIP sections start at around $1400 and require a deposit.
You're not required to stay in the park and camp, but seasoned Bonnaroovians know it's the best way to experience Bonnaroo! For travelers who prefer not to camp, the best option is to stay at a hotel in downtown Nashville.
My favorite budget-friendly hotels with convenient locations are Aloft Nashville, Placemakr Music Row, and the Hayes Street Hotel. If you stay in Nashville, remember to reserve a daily parking pass for the festival. Or, plan to take the daily shuttle to and from The Roo!
How do I get Bonnaroo Tickets?
You can purchase Bonnaroo tickets online on its official website. You can choose between two General Admission options (GA and GA+) and VIP or Platinum packages. All you have to do is decide which best fits your budget and offers the amenities most important to you. You can also add tent rental and other extras, like a parking pass, when you book your tickets.
You can even buy a pass for a themed campsite. For example, SoloROO is a campsite catering to solo travelers who want to make new friends. Other options include gender-neutral and female-friendly The Beyond, SobeROO for clean campers, and FamilyROO. No matter what you choose, Bonnaroo will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Bonnaroo is a music festival at heart, and you can expect tons of incredible performances. But would you believe me if I said you could have an amazing time without attending a single concert? Yes, there are so many fun things to do at Bonnaroo besides jamming in the middle of a crowd!
The following list includes some Bonnaroovian faves:
- Yoga-Roo - free yoga classes for varying ability levels are held during the festival.
- Parades - be on the lookout for a Centeroo parade to join.
- Village market - check out one of many unique booths along Shakedown Street for arts, crafts, clothes, and more.
- Roo Run - join the 5K run in your athletic gear or a wild and crazy costume.
- Broo'ers Festival - who doesn't love a festival within a festival? Try as many new brews as you want from more than 20 breweries nationwide!
- Workshops - take a break from the wild parties to learn about sustainability.
- Ferris wheel - a longstanding tradition at The Roo. Hop on and enjoy the ride!
- Splash-a-Roo - Tennessee summers are hot! Grab your swimsuit and sunscreen and cool off in the fountain or on a water slide.
Aside from numerous planned activities and entertainment, you can expect tons of spontaneous fun at Bonnaroo. Whether it's a makeshift volleyball game with a giant beach ball or an impromptu costume party at your campsite, there's never a dull moment!
Watch out for SuperJam events, especially. SuperJam is a once-off late-night concert featuring artists playing an unplanned, unrehearsed show. You'll only know which are headlining once they walk out on the stage. The Bonnaroo SuperJam is arguably one of the most anticipated surprises of the event.
How to Thrive at Bonnaroo
Like any four-day festival or event, the more you plan, the better prepared you'll be. As fabulous as this festival is, there are still things you need to think about and prepare for before attending. The following tips will help you get the most out of this wild and crazy festival.
What to Bring to Bonnaroo
Assuming you plan to camp at the festival, you'll need a little bit of everything. From shelter, food, water, and clothes to medication, electronics, and hygiene items, the list goes on and on! Remember, you'll be camping in a field for four days, so try to make Bonnaroo your home away from home.
Think through all the things you might need to lounge and relax, sleep well, shower, and, most importantly, party! Coordinate with your crew and make a list of items that might make your life more comfortable. For example, baby wipes, trash bags, a headlamp, a multitool, and car repair or maintenance tools can come in handy.
150+ delicious food vendors are expected to cater to festivalgoers, suiting a variety of dietary needs. But you may feel lazy or just need a quick and small snack. So, do bring a variety of pick-me-ups to keep your energy up! Also, remember to bring cash, as some vendors don't accept cards.
Even if you remember the trail mix, cooler, earplugs, and paper towels, you'll probably forget at least one thing. But that's the beauty of Bonnaroo.
Be prepared to go with the flow and ask fellow Bonnaroovians for help if you need it. The Roo is a generous community, and most festivalgoers will help their neighbor so everyone can enjoy the good times.
What to Wear at Bonnaroo
Tennessee summers are hot, and you'll be outside for the majority of the festival. Plan to bring comfortable and lightweight clothes to stay cool. Pack a couple of pairs of comfortable walking shoes, too. The festival grounds are massive, and you'll be on your feet a lot. Getting blisters as a result of wearing impractical footwear should be avoided.
Plan for a variety of weather conditions when you pack. Hats and bandanas are good for beating the sun and dust. It's not unusual for it to rain during Bonnaroo, so ponchos and waterproof boots will help on a wet and muddy day. Of course, do remember to bring something for sleeping in and your swimsuit for water activities, too.
Aside from practical and comfortable clothes, Bonnaroo is well-known for its costume-clad crowd. Dressing-up is both accepted and very welcome here. So, if you're feeling funky, feel free to bring your craziest outfit and wear it with pride! There is no such thing as weird at Bonnaroo.
Insider Bonnaroo Tips
Sometimes, you only know when you go. Everyone's experience is different at Bonnaroo. How you plan and prepare will be unique to your needs and preferences.
However, here's a list of some tried and true advice to keep in mind:
- Be prepared for long lines, especially getting into the festival. Your patience will pay off once the party gets started!
- Bring a flag, totem, or another identifying item to help you locate your campsite and your friends when walking around.
- Pace yourself. FOMO can zap all your energy. Remember to drink plenty of water and try to get enough sleep. Four days of nonstop fun can take a toll on anyone!
- Be spontaneous and embrace your whims! Go where the music and party take you, and try not to stick to a rigid schedule.
- Leave your valuables at home. A prized possession getting lost or broken can ruin The Roo for you!
- Good vibes only! Bonnaroo will be one of the best experiences of your life if you let it. Stay positive and avoid sweating any minor inconveniences.
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