What Stage, Which Stage, Who Stage, This Tent, That Tent, The Other… trying to get your head around the Bonnaroo experience? While this guide can’t help you memorize the stage names and locations, it will help you prepare for the magical four-day music festival in Manchester. This Bonnaroo Guide includes tips, insider advice, what to expect, and what to wear. If you’re looking for what to pack, see our expansive What to Bring to Bonnaroo Guide.
Top 5 Bonnaroo Tips
Go with the Flow
Bonnaroo is one of those places where you live in the moment. It’s a true vacation from reality. Go with the flow, be spontaneous, and soak it all in.
Leave Technology Behind
Your phone probably won’t work that well anyway, so this is a prime opportunity (or excuse) to leave tech behind for a few days.
Hydrate + Avoid Sunburns
Don’t get sunburned on the first day — you’ll be miserable. Wear sunscreen and drink a lot of water. It’s really hot in Tennessee.
Discover New Music
Sure, catch the main acts, but your favorite show will most likely be the one that’s not already on your schedule of bands to see.
Check out all the other options Bonnaroo has to offer other than music, from yoga to art to volleyball to food to brews.
Arrive at an Odd Time
Odd hours are usually less congested, but you just never know. Some people wait hours in traffic and others are in within minutes. Usually the less convenient the time, the better (at least for traffic).
Rise and Shine to Avoid Bathroom Lines
The line for campground bathrooms are long at various points of the day, especially first thing in the morning. Most people wake up around 8:00am or 9:00am once the sun rises and it’s too hot to sleep. If you are an early riser, no worries here. For a more peaceful potty experience, head to Centeroo’s permanent bathrooms. Overall, don’t stress about the bathroom experience — it’s not as bad as you may anticipate.
Sleep Whenever Possible
The cool temperatures at night make it easy to sleep, but if you’re partying late, you’re out of luck. When the sun comes up around 6:00am, your tent rapidly turns into a sauna. Try to catch some additional z’s in Centeroo under the trees or skip a night of late-night acts. A sleeping mask and ear plugs are very helpful — you never know if you’ll be located by the late-night stage or karaoke lounge.
The Bonnaroo Experience
When you mention Bonnaroo to most people, they only think of music and camping — but there’s a whole other side of Bonnaroo, too, which is hard to explain if you’ve never been before. While music and camping make Bonnaroo’s heart beat, the other stuff is what makes Bonnaroo truly special. If you want to know what Bonnaroo is all about, here’s a snippet.
Bonnaroo always has a variety of popular acts, including massive names like Elton John and Chris Stapleton to more niche-audience bands like Glass Animals or Leon Bridges. Whether you want to stay up until the break of dawn or just enjoy the daytime shows, there’s something for everyone.
Camping might scare some people away, but it’s one of the best aspects of Bonnaroo. You’re just a short walk away from showers and food vendors, so it’s easier than your typical camping excursion. Having a fun crew to hang out with at your campsite is always a bonus, too.
The Little Things
What is often most memorable is the other stuff — the people, places, and things that come together to create a one-of-a-kind experience every year. From the breathtaking views on the ferris wheel to people wearing weird outfits, these little things bring life to the festival. Here are some of those other special things about Bonnaroo.
People Getting Weird
If you like people-watching, Bonnaroo has you covered. From Waldo to Santa Claus to men in thongs, it’s the one weekend out of the year where people seem to really let go.
The Ferris Wheel
Just do it. The ferris wheel is the best way to see just how many people are sharing in the experience.
Seek these things out. The Amish Baking Co. knows how to make a stellar donut.
Whether you want to cool off or just enjoy its radiance at night, the fountain is a popular Roo destination. Like most of the festival’s art, it gets a makeover every year, too.
Buy something unique from the funky vendors on Shakedown Street. You can get anything from clothes to souvenirs to jewelry.
Totems (aka Friend Finders)
The totems (aka friend finders) are the easiest way to find your friends in a sea of people. It’s fun to make one and see if you can come up with an eye-catching, easy-to-see friend finder. It seems like people are getting more and more creative with these each year. Security isn’t a fan, but they are fun and helpful if you can get them in.
Spicy Pie Pizza
Spicy Pie is a favorite among almost any festival goer. Ignore the price; it’s worth it.
These huge bobble heads are sprinkled throughout the festival. It’s a tradition.
Morning yoga is a good way to start your day and work out all the late-night kinks and miles of walking you did the day before.
What to Wear
Shorts, skirts, bathing suits, and dresses are usually part of a Roo lady’s wardrobe. If you have outgrown showing your midriff, just wear shorts and a tank top during the day. At night, it gets chilly, so you will want to pack a pair of jeans, sweatshirt, and long-sleeved shirt. As far as shoes, as long as it isn’t raining, you can wear comfortable flip flops or sandals. Just remember — you’ll probably walk miles per day and it may get muddy. Tennis shoes or boots are good to have back at camp. Warm pajamas are also recommended.
Guys are usually in tanks, t-shirts, and shorts, and many will just go shirtless. Jeans and a long-sleeved shirt may be more suitable at night, since it does get in the low 60s. Comfortable sandals and tennis shoes are the norm. Don’t forget your bandanas, sunglasses, and hats.
Where to Shop for Festival Attire in Nashville
If you’re in Nashville or plan to make a pitstop in Music City before the festival, here are some of the top local spots to check out for festival attire:
- Abednego – Women
- Elle Gray – Women
- The Mill – Women
- Imogene + Willie – Men & Women
- See more women’s boutiques
- See more men’s stores
What To Bring
If you’re looking for the ultimate packing list for Bonnaroo, check out Bonnaroo: What To Bring.