Photos by: Lauren Simpson
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has been over for two weeks now but I can’t seem to get it out of my head! Everything about Bonnaroo was special. The people, music, food, and energy were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at a festival. There were so many different opportunities here to catch musicians and artists in various settings throughout the weekend. The food was diverse and delicious and the beer was cold and refreshing. Everyone welcome returning Bonnaroovians and newcomers back to the farm with open arms. I enjoyed every minute of my first experience at Bonnaroo and can’t wait to go back next year!
Music Genre: Everything! Seriously though, there’s rock, rap, country, bluegrass, EDM, indie, jam bands, funk, and even some comedians!
Camping: YES! There are plenty of options for camping. You can either go with group camping or RV camping, but I preferred the car camping.
Capacity: Large (65k or more)
Crowd Type: Genuinely friendly people. Everyone welcomes you into Roo with open arms. The energy here is amazing!
Water Stations: YES! There are plenty of water stations spread out across the farm as well as bathrooms with running water.
For The First Timers:
There are three main things that I learned from my first time attending Bonnaroo:
One, it’s HOT! There’s not a lot of shade either so make sure you bring sunscreen and drink plenty of water throughout the weekend. One of my biggest regrets this year was not bringing a popup canopy to make some shade for our campsite. All weekend long it was in the 80’s with clear blue skies, which is perfect weather, but it’s nice to be able to escape the sun if you need to. Thankfully our neighbors let us hang out under their canopy with them!
Two, even though it gets hot during the day it will still gets chilly at night. Make sure you bring a hoodie or a blanket. I talked to multiple people that said they underestimated how cold it can get once the sun goes down and that they wish they had brought a hoodie. A blanket is always nice to have to if you want to sit down in the grass somewhere to take a break from all of the walking.
Three, make sure you bring a good pair of shoes! The farm is massive and you do a lot of walking there whether it’s commuting back and forth between the festival grounds and camp or walking from set to set. You don’t want to ruin your experience at Roo from getting massive blisters on your feet the first day!
There were so many great food stands available throughout Roo. There were more options here than I’ve seen at most festivals. They had the basics like hot dogs, pizza, burgers, slushies, and coffee stands just to name a few. Other than the basics, Bonnaroo got a little creative with their food stands! My personal favorite was a cajun stand close to the Which Stage where I got some amazing jambalaya and fried gator tail. There were also stands offering Philly cheesesteaks, gyros, tacos, ice cream, homemade doughnuts, Asian food, Mexican food, Greek food, and so much more.
The thing I loved most about Bonnaroo was the variety of musical acts and the different venue sizes that you could catch them at. There was a little bit of everything here. Large main stages, medium tent stages, and smaller private venues hosted every style of music from rock to rap, bluegrass, jam, funk, country, indie, EDM, and the trademarked super jam that combines them all. This helps make sure that there’s something here for everyone and gives Bonnaroovian’s the opportunity to stumble upon something they might not have listened to at home, but end up falling in love with. That’s exactly what happened to me!
Throughout my weekend at Roo I was able to watch a couple of my favorite bands perform and I discovered so many more new ones that I fell in love with. One of those bands was Joseph. I was lucky enough to catch them twice during the weekend at two completely different stages. The first time I saw them it was at the StateFarm Here To Help Lounge where they filmed a private acoustic set for StateFarms Neighborhood Sessions. It was amazing to be one of the roughly thirty people there and to watch what went into these videos and the filming process. The next day I was able to see their performance on one of the larger stages with their full band with them. Both were great performances but had completely different vibes to them.
(Neighborhood Sessions w/ Joseph)
There were a few bands other than Joseph that played both a smaller venue and then a bigger stage over the weekend. Umphrey’s McGee stepped in for Shpongle and played a smaller late night set at That Tent and then jammed on one of the main stages the next day. Portugal The Man surprised everyone with a small album release party at The Grind before taking the stage at This Tent to close out Friday night. One of my favorite things to see was all of the musicians that performed with their own bands then joined forces with each other for “The Soul Shakedown” and “The Bluegrass Situation Roots” Bonnaroo Super Jams. Watching all of these musicians, from headliners to smaller bands, come together and work with each other to put on a unique performance was amazing.
(Bluegrass Situation SuperJam)
Things To Do:
There is plenty to do here at Roo other than all the fantastic musical acts. One of the best things about Roo is the water fountain/giant water slide located in the festival grounds. This provides the perfect way to escape the heat and lets everyone release their inner child and splash around in the water. Bonnaroo also offers a number of yoga and movement classes throughout the weekend including Twerk It Out with Big Freedia and a Fan SuperJam open to all Bonnaroovians. Bacardi Rum also set up a sandy oasis where you can relax on a beach in real sand and play some volleyball while enjoying a cold mixed drink. This year also marked the Fifth First Annual Roo Run, a 5k race winding thru the campground and surrounding woods full of unique costumes and happy runners.
VIP or Nah:
Personally, I would have to say nah to VIP here. There’s something special about roughing it in GA and sharing that experience with so many others. If you do choose to go VIP here you do get a lot of nice perks tho. For starters, the VIP camping area is very close to the festival grounds. That would have been very nice because my campsite in GA was a little over a mile from the main entrance. The VIP upgrade also offers private bathrooms and a VIP lounge with wifi and live video feeds of different performances. Special viewing areas close to the stage are also available for VIP ticket holders.