Heading to Bonnaroo for the first time? Feeling a little overwhelmed? Let’s go over all the important first timer tips you should know for your first Bonnaroo. These are tips from personal experience, asking friends who have attended Bonnaroo, and other tips I have found throughout the Internet. My goal here is to centralize all the best first timer tips for Bonnaroo so you are as well prepared as possible for your first time at the ‘Roo.
Bonnaroo Tip #1 – Pace Yourself
Most music festivals wrap up after the festival headliners finish their shows, but Bonnaroo is another story. Centeroo, where all the fun happens at Bonnaroo, stays open from Thursday to Sunday, 24/7. Bonnaroo describes it to be like Vegas: the party never stops. This means it’s important to pace yourself as you are free to party nonstop if you want. Given how hot it is at Bonnaroo it’s easy to go too HAM: don’t make that rookie mistake and be sure to pace yourself. Remember that Bonnaroo is a four day festival! If you are using party favors, remember that moderation is the key. Don’t spend all that money on Bonnaroo just to get fucked up on some bad mushrooms and miss out on all the action. Pace yourself and you will have an amazing experience at Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo Tip #2 – Bring Earplugs
Given my previous tip, there will be noise nonstop at Bonnaroo. If you want to sleep at night I highly suggest snagging some earplugs to make your nights more quiet and peaceful. I usually just use cheap ones like these, but you can bring whatever ones you prefer.
Bonnaroo Tip #3 – Create a Meeting Spot
Cell service sucks at Bonnaroo given so many people in one area. The stages are also vaguely named: What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, etc. It can be confusing on where to meet so be sure to establish a meeting spot for your squad. I usually like using a specific food place that is centrally located.
Bonnaroo Tip #4 – Comfy Shoes!
Bonnaroo is a lot of walking, even moreso than most festivals. This is doubly the case if you are camping in the general admission area, as everyday you are looking at a 10-20 minute walk into Centeroo. You definitely want to have comfortable shoes as you will be doing a ton of walking: being stylish at Bonnaroo is overrated, go for comfort.
Bonnaroo Tip #5 – Find Some Shade
Whether you spend some time in a tent, or find a tree, it doesn’t matter – find some shade throughout the day at Bonnaroo. It’s easy to get dehydrated or spend too much time in the sun at Bonnaroo. It’s really smart to find periodic breaks in the shade throughout the weekend. That said, also be sure to bring sunscreen with you. Bonnaroo doesn’t allow the aerosol spray, so be sure to bring the lotion type of sunscreen to Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo Tip #6 – Baby Wipes
Baby Wipes are like a swiss army knife at Bonnaroo. Many people use baby wipes for showers in the Bonnaroo campgrounds, as showers are $7 a pop. Many people go the whole weekend at Bonnaroo just wiping themselves down with baby wipes. Many people also like using baby wipes for the disasterous shit show that is a Bonnaroo bathroom. The point is, baby wipes are a great way to keep clean at Bonnaroo. Be sure to snag some of these before you head off to Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo Tip #7 – Try Some Food
Bonnaroo brings in a lot of great food to the festival. I know you can and should bring a lot of food to your campsite, but you should also try some of the food Bonnaroo brings in. There’s a lot of tasty treats, try at least a few of them.
Bonnaroo Tip #8 – Dry Ice
Keep your food cool all weekend by snagging some dry ice. Wrap it in a towel, cover it with frozen water bottles, and put it on top of your food. Your food will be set all weekend at Bonnaroo.
Bonnaroo Tip #9 – Bring a Camelbak
Camelbak’s are a Bonnaroo and music festival lifesaver. You are allowed to bring an empty camelbak into Bonnaroo everyday and there are free water refills throughout the festival grounds. Camelbak’s let you have to run for less refills and have more time enjoying the shows at Bonnaroo. You will use the camelbak beyond just Bonnaroo, so they are totally worth it. This is the camelbak that I use, but really anyone will do.
Bonnaroo Tip #10 – Be ready for crowds
Bonnaroo is one of the biggest festivals in the country with over 100,000 per day most years. Be ready to be crammed at stages, walking around people, and waiting in lines. Everyone’s at the ‘Roo to have a good time though so most people are super friendly and spreading good vibes all around: just be ready for all the crowds going into it. The lines part is doubly true for getting into Bonnaroo: it is not unheard of to be waiting to get into the campground for hours. Patience my friends!
Bonnaroo Tip #11 – BRING Supplies, Don’t Get Them There
Yes, you can get propane/gas, alcohol, food, sunscreen or anything else you need at Bonnaroo: there are vendors throughout the grounds. However, there will be huge lines and drastically marked up prices. Make a checklist or whatever you need to do before going to Bonnaroo to make sure you don’t forget anything. It’s easy to forget things, really try not to!
Bonnaroo Tip #12 – Prepare for All Weather
Generally Bonnaroo is a hot and humid climate, but it can downpour rain as well. Nashville in the summertime can be fairly unpredictable. I highly suggest bringing some rain boots and a waterproof jacket in case you get some of those torrential downpours. Be sure to pack clothes you don’t mind ruining: Bonnaroo can turn into a muddy mess where you won’t be getting those mud stains out anytime soon.
Bonnaroo Tip #13 – A General List of What To Bring
One of the more common questions, and I have already mentioned a few goodies, but here is a full list. I’m not going to mention super obvious things like pillows, this is more little things that can really make your Bonnaroo experience better:
Bonnaroo Tip #14 – Bring Cash
Yes it is 2017 (at the time I am writing this) and most vendors at Bonnaroo will take card at this point, but cash is still nice at times. A lot of the time it is nice just to make your transaction quicker, but some vendors do still require cash. Be sure to bring it with you though: Bonnaroo has ATMs but the ATM fee is bullshit and there can be lines to use them. Stock up on cash before heading to Bonnaroo!
Bonnaroo Tip #15 – Download Tunes for the Drive to Bonnaroo
As you approach Bonnaroo you are getting amped, but you are also hitting major traffic and a shitload of people. You will likely lose reception, so don’t turn the bad vibes from traffic into an issue when you also lose your music. Download your Bonnaroo playlist before heading off to the festival so you still have your jams while you bake in traffic.
Bonnaroo Tip #16 – Show Up Early If You Want a Good Spot
If one of your favorite bands is playing you want to show up at least the show before that act to get a good spot. At Bonnaroo, like most music festivals, there is a big migration between shows as people head out for food, the restrooms, or to another stage. This is when you can seriously move up closer to the stage. Get to your stage a show in advance and when that early show lets out make your move forward. You will be surprised how far forward you can duck and weave in this transition period. If you are doing this for a headliner go two shows in advance. Again, this is all if you want a really good spot, if you don’t care that much just show up whenever!
That is all my Bonnaroo knowledge I have to bestow upon you! Be sure to pace yourself and bring everything you can with you to Bonnaroo. It’s a one of a kind experience, follow these tips and you will have a great time!