Bonnaroo … the lights, the sounds, the smells, the spicy pie, the LN (late night) vibes, the wonderful, glowing, epic LED arch … welcomes an escape to Reality on the farm. Rain or shine the annual festival is a staple in the minds and hearts of old and new Bonnaroovians and making the most out of it is key. We have been covering/going to Bonnaroo for the last 13 years (we are including 2020 in that count because we still celebrated by throwing a backyard Bonnaroo the weekend they did Virt-a-Roo) and we have compiled a list of tips and tricks from vets, newbie mistakes we have observed and our own experiences. We hope that it helps you navigate and prepare the wonderful event that we consider our second HOME!
- WATER. WATER. WATER. We cannot stress enough. Drink a lot of it, and bring more than you think you will drink.
- Shade and Canopy tents are key for camping and staying cool. Put the over your tent too, it will help you sleep longer.
- Comfortable AND broken in shoes. New shoes and the amount of walking at Bonnaroo will not bode well for your feet. Also, flip flops are okay for day time (unless it’s super muddy – then rain boots/boots are the best option. The mud will take pretty much any other shoe). Night time we highly suggest closed toed shoes, you will thank us later!
- If you didn’t listen to us about not wearing new shoes… be sure you have a bucket/collapsible bucket of some kind. your feet will thank you for this one. Not only are these buckets great for dishes, daily whore’s bath, but when filled with ice cold water it is a great foot soak option for those sore feet after walking 10-15miles a day.
- Like we mentioned earlier about the different types of shoes to bring, you should do the same with your clothing options. Prepare for all kinds of weather. Days can be hot and humid, but nights can get pretty cold and you will be wishing you brought those thicker socks and hoodie. Also factor in other elements like rain or wind that might require a dust mask for the dust bowls or rainboots for the mega mud puddles.
- It’s always good to meet your neighbors. We don’t know how many times we had forgotten something super important like our air mattress pump or were short a battery or even one year our propane ran out on our grill and our neighbors came to the rescue. And in return we have definitely helped save a few days for our neighbors in the past as well. Plus it is an extra set of eye on your home-base to keep out the wooks and other pilferers.
- Speaking of home base, don’t forget your camp decorations. This s going to be your home away from home for at least 4 days (sometimes longer depending on when you arrive/depart) and having a zen-awesome setup just adds to the experience. Think tapestries, solar lights, batter lights, blow up couches, rugs … we have seen some pretty decked out setups over the years including strobe lights, disco balls, pools, slip and slides and more. If you think you would be doing the most with an idea, you probably would be wrong and should go for it!
- SUNSCREEN! It does not matter if you “burn and then it turns to tan” or whatever. Where some damn sunscreen. Bonnaroo heat, sun and humidity are no joke. A sunburn will dehydrate you even more than the natural elements will so you are basically working against yourself. Apply, let it dry and then remember to reapply later on. Sun-poisoning is no fun. I recall making this mistake on my second or third Roo and basically missed an entire day cause I felt so sick and couldn’t go back out in the sun. Also think about shawls, umbrellas, or other options to keep from burning as well.
- Don’t forget the WIPES. Baby wipes, wet wipes, butt wipes, dude wipes, lysol wipes. Small containers, large containers, on the go containers … trust us bring all them ALL. You WILL use them and be so glad you had them.
- This is a general rule of thumb with any trip whether it be a festival or otherwise. Try to buy and or stuff gathering your supplies and such in advance. It can be overwhelming trying to do this all at once or last minute, especially if this is your first time.
- Get your merch EARLY. They will be out of the most popular sizes and designs by mid-day Saturday. This is something we always forget about and we wait until Sunday and then are bummed by the limited options. Don’t be like us, go first day in Centeroo!
- FLASHLIGHTS. Yes, there are lights on the Farm. Way more lights than there were when we first started going all those 13 years ago. But trying to set up camp in the dark, or make a sandwich in the dark, or walk back to camp late night after a show in the dark is really hard to do without a flashlight. Bring a couple in various sizes. Don’t rely on your phone as your flashlight. It will eventually die, and so will your external charger that charges said phone.
- So if you haven’t already realized this. Bonnaroo is a camping festival. SO CAMP! It is all a part of the experience. Whether it be in a tent or an RV, camping is a must to experience the full essence that is Bonnaroo.
- Cellphones. Yes they are important, yes it’s great to capture the moments with friends and take photos and videos. Don’t live on your phone, live in the moment!
- Power inverters for charging electronics are amazing and key for quickly recharging items. Just remember to start your car at least once a day aside from when charging.
- As an addition to above if you are using your car or not for charging. Be sure to have a set of jumper cables and a hidden extra key.
- Don’t over pack food. Be realistic about how many meals you are going to prepare and how much time it will take for said meals. Most of the time you will not be going back to camp in between shows to eat. Plus there are SO MANY amazing food vendors so take some of the money on food you would have bought and get some yummy food from the vendors.
- Bring toys, games, bubbles, glow sticks, kandi bracelets, stickers, glitter, temp tattoos, body jewels, you get the point. HAVE FUN! Bring little gifts/tokens to give away. It’s how you make friends!
- Keep your phone in a safe spot and have a lock screen with a phone number of who they can call if the phone is found. Don’t keep it in your pants pocket. Chances of it falling out are high. Keep it in your Fanny pack, hydration pack, etc. And also keep it out of direct sunlight so it does not overheat.
- Ride the Bonnaroo Ferris Wheel. It. Is. Amazing!
- Don’t forget a FIRST AID KIT
- DUCT TAPE. I prefer the waterproof kind as the moisture overnight and humidity during the day don’t affect it. But it has so many uses from securing tarps together on the ground, to fixing a bent pop up bar or keeping a shoe sole together. Just bring it, it is always good to have on hand.
- Portable, battery powered fans are a must.
- Bandanas and masks. These were a staple before pandemic times and are even more important now.
- Flags or balloon for campsite. If you are camping out in one of the back pods … excuse me “Plazas” … things can all start to look the same the further out you get so having some kind of flag or balloon or something so that you can find your camp site is essential.
- Bring a blanket of tapestry into Centeroo to chill on. If it’s rainy/muddy those emergency blankets that have the mylar side can keep you dry while sitting.
- Chafe Cream/Bold Bond/Baby Powder. There are a ton of products out there these days to prevent chaffing. Trust me don’t think it won’t be that bad. It will be, be prepared. I basically don’t wear anything where skin on skin touches on me anymore. It’s a personal choice cause I don’t like to chance it, but these products do work.
- This one is a given but learn the stage names and where they are in Centeroo.
- ZIPLOCKS. I prefer the slider freezer style ones and don’t cheap out on these. Buy the name brand. But bring them in every size. They keep stuff dry when heading into Centeroo, while at camp in the cooler, clothing outfits so humidity and moisture don’t get to them. They are an essential on the packing list.
- Bring a Bluetooth speaker for camp. There will be times you want to jam to your own groove or listen to a few songs from an artist that’s about to play that day to get pumped up for the show.
- Have you ever seen the Meme of Bilbo Baggins running from the shire that say “I am going on an adventure”? Bonnaroo is that adventure, go for it. Lose yourself to find yourself. It’s the Bonnaroo way. Just be safe and in a somewhat sane mind when you do this. If you are tripping balls stick with your buddy.
- Rent a locker. I have never done it, but if you are going to be in Centeroo all day, you should do it so you aren’t carrying around your supplies all day long.
- Day Naps are Key for LN Vibe Survival.
- Planning is everything, the plan is nothing. (You will know when you know on this one.)
- Bring a camelbak or fanny pack, or both! They are the best festival gear ever.
- Ear plus, they can even be cheap and disposable cause you most likely will lose one. Protect those ears. We only get one pair in our lives. I wish I would have taken better care of mine in my early festival years.
- Bring SNACKS. Prepackaged un-open snacks are key. Having these little morsels on you make a huge difference for walk-abouts the festival grounds.
- Check out the What Stage Pit. This another one I have never done as it is just not my thing but I have watched from the photo pit before. Maybe once in your life but that’s about it for me.
- Camp chairs. this is a given too. Or you would think because you need something to sit on at home base.
- Tarps, tarps and more tarps. Tarps for under tents, tarps for floors under pop-ups, tarps for shading the sun, keeping things dry. You can never have enough tarps.
- Inflatable couches are the bomb!
- Run through the Mushroom Fountain – it’s recycled water so do it earlier in the festival.
- Portable charging banks are a lifesaver
- GO WITH THE FLOW
- Medic Tents. are NO QUESTIONS ASKED. If you think you may need them, don’t hesitate. GO.
- Establish meet up spots at each stage for your roo crew so if you get split up you know where to find each other at the next show.
- Soberoo is key for the Sober Ones. You can still have a great time at Roo regardless of what your stance is on those types of “extra-curriculars”.
- Enjoy Roo events and offerings: Roo Run 5K, Yoga, Pride Parade, BonnaProm, Secret sets in the plazas, big ass water slides and so much more! Just check out all the PLAZAS
- Open packages, boxes and wrappers beforehand to reduce waste on the farm.
- Small toolkit is a clutch necessity
- TAPESTRIES. And if you don’t have any, what better of a place to get your first one.
- CARDIO will happen here.
- Personal hygiene – don’t be THAT person. bring deodorant, wash your hands, sanitize, etc.
- Check out the daily BONNAROO BEACON newspaper
- Have you thought about what you are sleeping on? Air mattress? Cot? hammock? the ground in a sleeping bag is not going to cut it.
- Get some sun before the trip if you can. I am one of those that this wouldn’t matter, but you don’t want this to be the first burn of your summer.
- KEEP ROO WEIRD
- Be PATIENT, with crowds, vendors, lines, crew, schedule changes. etc. it is a part of it and things move a lot smoother when there isn’t negativity.
- ROCK a COSTUME – you will not be alone in this. It’s one of the fun parts!
- NO GLASS!!! Just don’t try it. Don’t bother asking. If it’s glass transfer whatever it is into plastic.
- Keep valuables and clothes/bedding locked in cars.
- Pool noodle in the corners of canopies help from the water settling and puddling on the tops of canopies.
- PACE yourself. This is NOT a sprint. It is a MARATHON.
- Slap the bad properly … use the waterfall technique.
- Try Spicy Pie!
- High Fives (with hand sanitizer) … maybe just some elbows to be on the safe side
- Check out the Silent Disco. You gotta try it at least once.
- Bring towels and extra towels.
- Don’t forget Trash bags!
- Make sure your car is working properly before the trip. Get that oil change, and the inspection, check your tire pressure and tread. make sure your AC is working properly.
- Band aids and Mole Skin for Blisters
- Consider leaving sets a little early to avoid he traffic getting to the next set.
- Make your lists and check them twice. Or three times. I’m little OCD
- Paint on the purple wall.
- Fill up with gas before getting in line.
- Don’t do dumb things in line.
- Think twice about writing “ROO” or anything on your cars.
- Remember to stretch – there is also yoga daily!
- Bring some cash just in case. Not everyone takes cards or wristbands
- Prep those coolers. One layer of dry ice, then a layer of card board, frozen bottled water layer and then start putting in your stuff.
- Bring an umbrella
- Stake down/weigh down your canopies and tents.
- Don’t forget parking pass, wristbands, ID, Vax card/test
- Start loading Vitamin C before, during and after gest to fight off the wook flu.
- Be respectful of the Manchester residents. We are guests in their home town.
- Bring all your stuff in plastic bins/totes. It makes life so much easier and organized.
And last but not least adhere to the Bonnaroovian Code:
#1 – PREPARE THYSELF
#2 – PLAY AS A TEAM
#3 – RADIATE POSITIVITY
#4 – RESPECT THE FARM
#5 – DON’T BE THAT GUY/GAL
#6 – STAY TRUE ROO
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