Photos by: Demi Diaz
For years the music festival landscape has continued to evolve, with technology at the center of it all. Music festivals are now more immersive and have the ability to get very creative with ways they engage attendees. This trend will continue to evolve, leaving an exciting future ahead for all. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival always interests me when it comes to changing with the times. Below is a timeline of updates to the farm and campgrounds at Bonnaroo.
By now, many of us have seen RFID wristbands. Since the introduction of RFID wristbands, attendees benefit from convenience and organizers benefit from data analytics previously unavailable. Between speeding up the check-in process to quickly buying loaded tots through the touch of your wristband, RFID bands have many benefits. Bonnaroo was one of the first American festivals to implement RFID technology in 2011.
Furthermore, in 2012, Intellitix installed Live Click Stations to check-in via Facebook at Bonnaroo and Coachella. Bonnaroo surpassed expectations with a shocking 74,000 live check-ins that year. Live Click Photo stations powered by Ford Escape also made an appearance at Bonnaroo 2012. The great success and usage of these stations opened up new doors for what is possible with RFID technology in the music festival industry.
In 2015, Live Nation took a controlling stake in Bonnaroo. This allowed for many updates to infrastructure on the farm for the following years. One of the main additions to the farm in 2016 was installing flushable bathrooms in Centeroo. This is one we all are happy about. Something that is so normal in our day to day lives is true luxury at a camping music festival.
Moving into 2017, Bonnaroo updated the sound and screen displays for the stages. In addition, the festival introduced The Other stage where the EDM sets play. Bonnaroo reports that this space is an expanded area with even more room to dance than the tents.
The updates made in 2018 are some of my favorites. In 2018, Bonnaroo made the shift from camping pods to camping plazas. Each plaza includes a barn containing a stage. Cage the Elephant even played a surprise show around midnight in one of the plazas! Check out this article for all the details from the 2019 plazas.
Perhaps the most anticipated update yet is the updated entrance to Bonnaroo. A couple of weeks before the festival in June, it was announced that the Bonnaroo arch would be replaced with a new, high technology entrance. There are various rotating screens to this entrance. One of my favorite screen displays would come at nighttime showing different color shades of the moon.
In addition, Bonnaroo added another stage in the campgrounds named Where in the Woods. I really enjoyed this area for a couple of reasons. For starters, art displays from Centeroo 2016 were placed throughout the tree covered stage. 2016 was my first Bonnaroo, so there was a lot of nostalgia walking by. Hammocks were scattered through the trees while lights and lasers lit up the area into a mystical wonderland.
Last, but I’m sure not least, Bonnaroo introduced roaming information booths. The event management nerd in me geeked out over this brilliant idea. Golf carts are zoned to plazas to roam offering answers to questions from attendees. This is extremely convenient for anyone lost from camp or anyone who didn’t want to walk to an info booth. Although these golf carts can’t transport attendees, you can catch them spraying water guns and blowing bubbles throughout the campgrounds.