The Getaway
Socks, Shelter, and Sociability: Tips For Having a Great Time at Bonnaroo

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a legendary four-day-long, multi-genre annual music festival in Manchester, Tennessee. The lineup fuses mainstream sound and jam band vibes, and it’s a high priority visit for fans of all sorts of genres and styles. These fans flock to Bonnaroo from around the world, and thousands of them camp on the site to enjoy as much time at the festival as possible. If you know what to expect and plan accordingly, you’ll cherish your memories of Bonnaroo for your whole life.


01 Don't Delay Getting Tickets

2019 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Gary Miller / Getty Images

The first step in planning your Bonnaroo trip is getting your tickets as soon as possible. They can get more expensive as the deadline approaches, not to mention that they’ll sell out eventually. Buying your Bonnaroo tickets via the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival website should be your top priority.


02 How to Get To Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo overflowing with visitors on the final day Gary Miller / Getty Images

If you’re getting to Bonnaroo from somewhere across the country or the world, Nashville is an excellent flight destination. Once you reach Nashville, you can rent a car from a popular vendor such as Budget Car Rentals. There’s also an option for mass transit, namely the Bonnaroo Airport Shuttle. It’s a 75-minute ride that takes you directly from the Nashville Airport to Bonnaroo and back.


03 When to Arrive at Bonnaroo

2019 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Gary Miller / Getty Images

Bonnaroo is an extremely popular festival that can draw as many as 80,000 visitors. As a result, it’s smart to arrive at Bonnaroo as early as you can and beat the crowds. The roads heading there always experience high traffic towards the start of the festival, so you’ll have a much more pleasant time if you arrive early. Not to mention that if you arrive early, you might be able to claim a nice, comfortable camping spot at Centeroo, the main festival area.


04 Pack the Essentials

A friendly group of festival-goers Douglas Mason / Getty Images

Food and water are essential for a long festival like Bonnaroo, especially given the hot, Tennessee weather. Cool water is a lifesaver, and there’s a neat trick to keep your food and water cool. If you wrap dry ice in a towel and cover it with frozen water bottles, you can turn a nice Camelback into a portable refrigerator. It’s highly important to bring nutritious food so you’ll have plenty of energy to enjoy the festival. It’s also a good idea to bring a grill, some meat, and vegetables, but you should round out your packing with fruit and satisfying non-perishables like oat bars. If you don’t feel like cooking or run out of food, the ‘Jesus Tents’ have your back; they sell food, water, and provide free phone chargers.


05 Dress Comfortably for the Weather

2018 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festiva Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Always bring proper footwear for a festival like this. Do not wear flip flops and remember to bring a reliable pair of shoes or boots that are comfortable and supportive for spending hours on your feet. The harsh glare of the Tennessee sun makes sunscreen, sunglasses and a nice hat absolutely necessary. It goes without saying, but you should also dress lightly in loose, baggy clothing. However, the weather gets much cooler at night; don’t forget to bring a hoodie or a sweater and a nice pair of jeans.


06 Keep Clean and Comfortable

2019 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

Keeping clean on a long, hot excursion is almost an art form. If you bring a reasonably large bucket and fill it with water, the sun will heat it up until it’s perfect for washing away grime and sweat. Baby wipes are must-haves, and you should bring more towels and pairs of socks than you think you’ll need. Generously apply baby powder to your socks and areas at risk of chafing to stave off athlete’s foot and other unpleasant results of baking in the hot, summer weather.


07 Be a Happy Camper

Atmosphere during the 2019 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

Even if you’ve never gone camping before, setting up a tent is easy. There are tents made to set themselves up, and you can learn from Youtube tutorials if you want to get a traditional tent. Many Bonnaroo veterans at the festival every year would be happy to help you set camp if you need to. However, if you haven’t gone camping in such a hot place before, you will need to prepare your tent for the heat.


08 Keep Cool

VIP camping at Bonnaroo Douglas Mason / Getty Images

You can keep your tent cool by draping it with a silver tarp, which offers heat-retardant qualities. You can also set up your tent with permanent shade by buying some PVC pipes and a blanket to form a protective canopy above your tent. Whatever you want to do, make sure that you bring the proper equipment, such as a mallet, an air mattress, a camping pad, and a fold-up chair. If you don’t like the rugged outdoors-y life, then you can skip all of that by going for VIP tickets. That way, you can stay in the main venue and enjoy a mattress and AC.


09 Enjoy Some Downtime

2019 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Gary Miller / Getty Images

Festivals are nothing if not lively and fun, but there are slower periods and many people will need to take a break now and then. You should have a plan to keep yourself entertained during periods like this. Simple board games like checkers or a magnetic travel Chess set are good to have, as are frisbees and playing cards. You can also head to the air-conditioned Bonnaroo Cinema Tent, or go explore the local area.


10 Practice Good Festival Etiquette

Gorgeous Bonnaroo graffiti Gary Miller / Getty Images

Bonnaroo isn’t just a festival, but something of a temporary commune. It’s important that everyone treats one another kindly, and that you treat your neighbors with consideration. While you can take all the space you need for your camping spot, you shouldn’t take more than that, as there are dozens of others who also want a good spot. Be ready to share with others who forgot something, because it’s likely you’ll forget something and need a bit of help, too. Follow proper festival etiquette, and you’ll have a great time; you might just make a lifelong friend or two.


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