How To Survive the Bonnaroo Music Festival

Concert hall with spectators

Bonnaroo is an amazing time for fun-loving music fans, but four days of camping can be a little overwhelming for some people. Don't let it ruin your fun! This festival held on a huge campground in Manchester, Tennessee draws in nearly 100,000 people each year from all over the country.

  1. Decide how to get there. How far away do you live? Some people enjoy the road trip, but you also have to consider the drive back after 4 nights of concerts and partying. Flying is less tiring, but it is more difficult to bring all of the supplies that you need. Cheap flights are available through airlines like Jetblue (last year, I only spent $74 each way), and there is a shuttle from the Nashville airport to the campground -- about a 1 hour trip.
  2. Know what to bring with you. You have to be prepared for any situation. Bring camping gear, rain gear, sweatshirts, comfortable clothing and flip flops. In case you forget something, you will probably be able to purchase whatever it is somewhere on the campground or borrow it from a friendly neighbor. Lists of necessary items are available on the Bonnaroo website.
  3. Be prepared to spend money. Yes, it's camping, but don't be fooled. This trip will easily cost you close to $1000. Tickets are around $200. Then add transportation (flights or gas), and also consider the fact that you'll be staying for 4 days at a place where corn dogs cost $8 and waters costs $3. And you'll need a lot of water to stay hydrated.
  4. Figure out camping hygiene. If you're used to showering on a daily basis, it will come as a shock to live outside for 4 days, especially in such potentially hot weather. On your first day, you'll just need to come to terms with the fact that you simply won't be clean. With that said, you can still make yourself feel somewhat comfortable.

    There is an obscene amount of dirt/dust, so you may want to bring a hankerchief to shield your eyes and face while you are walking to the venue. Your feet will be caked with dirt by the end of the first afternoon. It costs about $7 to shower, and there is likely to be a very long wait. Find out what time the showers open in the morning and be there promptly; otherwise you're looking at a 1 hour wait. A refreshing alternative is the Bonnaroo fountain, right in the center of the venue.

  5. Find an oasis. It is June and Tennessee -- the heat will get to you. As much as you'd like to believe that you won't notice the heat while you're enjoying your favorite music, it is unfortunately not the case. Between shows, you need to find shade and refreshments so you stay energized. Drink plenty of water even if it costs a fortune. Lemonade is a good alternative if you need a sugar boost. In Centeroo, the middle of the venue, there are lots of tents with vendors and food. There is also a beer tent where you can buy tickets to sample different kinds of beers. If you're a smoker, there is a smoker's tent which is ventilated and... air conditioned! If you know the right places, you can beat the heat and stay comfortable.
  6. Make friends with the people around you. Everyone at the festival is there for the same reasons as you -- to enjoy great music and have fun. Making friends with your neighbors will come in handy if you ever need any sort of help. And of course, it's always nice to make new friends.
  7. Extend your trip. Feel like taking an extra day or two? Nashville is only an hour away from the festival, and it's a really fun city for partying. Check out the bar scene, live country music, and barbeque cuisine. Spend a night at a hotel -- you won't believe how nice it feels to take a real shower and sleep in a real bed, maybe even go for a swim.

Even if you're not used to camping or outdoor activities, don't be too intimidated. If you are prepared, Bonnaroo (or any other outdoor music festival) can be the time of your life.


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now I know what the Bonnaroo Music Festival is, I can survive it =)

By James Goetz

So glad to see yet another Manchester famous for music!

rik (near Manchester, England)

By Rik Whittaker