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Posted by on Dec 13, 2008 in blog | 0 comments

“Bonnaroo Music Festival”

Bonnaroo Music Festival is a four day music festival held every summer on hundreds of acres of farmland in Manchester, TN, about an hour or two from the state’s capital, Nashville. “Bonnaroo” is actually a Cajun slang word meaning, “A really good time”, inspired by the rich musical culture of New Orleans. With its fairly recent tradition, beginning in 2002, Bonnaroo ranks at the top of music festivals because of the extremely diverse array of musical talent and multiple stages.

The best advice for any four day long music festival in the middle of the summer: Be smart! You have passed under those arches and officially entered “The ‘Roo”. You are now a part of small society of people, all wanting to expand their minds by experiencing musical performances and communing with others, so remember to keep an open mind. Because Bonnaroo can be a fairly intense experience, be prepared with this complete Bonnaroo survival guide:

Getting in:

bonnaroo welcome by rocknroll_guitar

Getting into Bonnaroo may mean spending quite a few hours stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, but it is well worth it. Remember, there are about 80,000 people all fighting to get to same place, so arrive as early as possible on Thursday. Filling up on gas beforehand would be wise. While in the car, a good way to kill time is to prioritize all the must-see shows to prevent missing out on any of the good ones, because the final lineup of acts will not be official until right before the festival. It is also a good idea to familiarize one’s self with the stages. The main stage is called What Stage, and the second main stage is called Which Stage. Centeroo, as one could guess, is the central area of the festival, which includes three music tents called This Tent, That Tent, and The Other Tent. There are also other types of entertainment in air conditioned tents. The Bonnaroo Market offers some amazing artisan and craftsmen works, along with vendors selling official Bonnaroo merchandise. There is also a twenty four hour convenience store for toiletry emergencies.


Campsites at Bonnaroo are equal to the area in front of wherever the car is parked. Finding a good spot is crucial, and people will rush to claim theirs. Having a good, solid tent is perhaps the most important survival tool for Bonnaroo. In the summer, there are often rainstorms that could literally destroy a makeshift tent, so it is important to make sure the tent that will be home for the next few days can withstand the wear and tear. Speaking from experience, knowing how to set up the tent before arrival will save an hour or two of stumbling about it aimlessly, holding rods and stakes. While there are ATM’s, they will likely run out after a few days, and having cash will be extremely helpful. Keep it locked up in the trunk of the car for safekeeping. A brightly colored flag or glow-stick attached to the tent can be a life saver when walking back to camp from a show in the middle of the night, in a sea of seemingly identical tents.

Bonnaroo panorama by philgarlic

Food and Water:

Besides the tent, water may actually be the most critical survival tool. The hot sun of a Tennessee summer can take its toll. The medical tents will be full of people mostly suffering from dehydration or heat stroke from being in the heat. Unless you think re-hydrating with an IV sounds like a good time, drink up! If you want to avoid the free well water, bring plenty of bottle water. As far as food, there is a wide selection of food vendors, at moderate prices, but many choose to bring a small grill or camper’s stove for cooking, perfect for the late night munchies.


Oh, sunscreen, so easily forgotten, yet so infinitely necessary to well being. The last thing on one’s mind should be a painful sunburn. The sun can get very strong in the afternoon in Tennessee.

bonnaroo panarama 2 by philgarlic

Drugs and alcohol:

While I certainly do not advocate recreational drug use, it has an undeniable presence at Bonnaroo. The police do not seem to discourage it either. They tend to be impartial towards drug use; however, the police do monitor the selling of drugs in large quantities. In addition, there are checkpoints when entering Bonnaroo, where police may ask to look inside the car. Basically, wait until you have entered to being partying, and be smart about it! Alcohol is allowed to be brought in, minus the glass bottles. Domestic and some quality microbrews are sold inside at the normal bar prices. Whenever enjoying alcohol or using drugs, be responsible and drink plenty of water to try to counteract the dehydration effects!

“Roo” Apparel:

The weather during the festival is generally very hot and humid, so the lighter the clothing, the better. With the occasional rainstorms, a raincoat and shoes or sandals that will not be destroyed in the mud are practical.

bonnaroo panorama 3 by philgarlic

Other survival supplies:

As far as other miscellaneous supplies, SEVERAL rolls of toilet paper are at the top of the list. Do not depend on the port-a-potties to have fresh toilet paper at all times of the day and night. Another reason cash is extra valuable is that showers are available for seven dollars. Between the late night shows and consistent partying, ear plugs will help to catch up on sleep. Flashlights and extra batteries are a must-have for the middle of the night bathroom runs. Bring some shades, and don’t forget the tickets!

Getting out

Exiting Bonnaroo can be even trickier than entering, especially when driving through the mud. This goes without saying but it is very important to remember to quit partying well before making the drive home!

By Carrie McCloud

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