Can I go to Bonnaroo and not smell like I'm at Bonnaroo?
February 8, 2006 10:55 PM   Subscribe

BonnarooFilter: Planning on attending for the first time this year, and am looking for some first hand accounts of what it's like and how to prepare.

Yes, I have Googled this and came across semi-useful sites and message boards, but am looking for some MeFite expertise!

Particularly, advice on where to set up camp and shower, what/how to pack (what could you not have survived without?), when to get there, and how to stay comfortable in that Tennessee summer heat.
posted by viachicago to Travel & Transportation around Manchester, TN (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Satapher at 11:14 PM on February 8, 2006

Thinking of going again this year. My experience a few year gave me this advice...

- Take less than you think you'll need. But make sure a book's in there.
- Bring a camelback or some sort of always present water device.
- Sunscreen. Dont be a lobsterback
- Don't bring anything you'll be annoyed losing or have wrecked by the mud. (Particularly footwear)
- On that same note, keep an eye on keeping your gear water safe. Nothing sucks more than a wet bedroll after a mid afternoon thunderstorm.
- Did I mention water?
- Keep a good humor around you. It's a lot of people looking to have a good time, but really it's a lot of people and more than a few of them are bound to annoy you. Just let it ride.

For camping, you don't really get much choice about where you're camping. It's all based upon where they're throwing people when you pull into the fest grounds. If you want close, get there early.

Oh and figure out how to set your tent shaded. You'll need it if you're stumbling off to bed at 2-4am and wanting to sleep to 9.
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:40 AM on February 9, 2006

Being a local (Go Sewanee!) I'll just tell you that the Interstates are insane for the entire time around the festival. Don't plan on getting there, and being able to leave for're stuck.
posted by griffey at 6:23 AM on February 9, 2006

Shade is the most scare resource at Bonnarroo. Forget ice. Forget food, water, anything. The most prized posession is shade. Or AC. if you can find a way to shade your tent from the sun, this will let you sleep until 9 or 8 (instead of waking up in a pool of sweat at 7). And this is key to being able to enjoy the concerts. Naps are also good, but it's hard to make yourself do it. Especially with no shade, but really even if you've got great shade.

The walk from the campsites to the venue ranges from 2 minutes (if you're very lucky/early) to 20 minutes. It's hard to go out and come back. So bring a bag that can hold water and food. you can made dinner and eat it on the way, which we did with some limited success.

Lots of people attach various tall-things to their cars / tents / shade contraptions. You might consider doing this. I saw balloons, flagpoles, etc. You'll be surprised at how lost you can get as you navigate hundreds of thousands of tents full of similar looking kids, late at night, with a buzz on. You can get so lost that you don't even know in which direction to go. To combat this, on the first day, scope out the area with your map. Find some landmarks.

Bonnarroo sells all of the shows now (flac and mp3), taped off of the soundboard. So you don't need to bring your own taping equipment. Unless you're hardcore like that. The gates, at least the year I went, were very mellow. Everybody going in got a smile -- they never opened people's bags as far as I could tell. And it's totally fine to bring in food, water, chairs (there was a size requirement, but it was not enforced), etc. Even bracelets were not well policed. Take this for what it's worth, things might be completely different this year.
posted by zpousman at 6:35 AM on February 9, 2006

If you can afford it, consider an RV. I've done it with tents a couple of times and yes, waking up sweaty at 8am is no fun. My friend had battery-powered fans that helped somewhat. Ditto on the sunscreen, and reapply reapply reapply. Hats, waterbottles, comfortable shoes. The rainstorms in 2003 were a bitch. Getting inside takes a couple of hours on line, fewer if you're there early. They assign spots randomly: the one time we got there on Thursday night, we were a half hour march away from the stages. Getting out is easier: some people take off right after the last show on Sunday; we usually left early early Monday morning. There are troughs for washing that get crowded and gross, but last time I went they had $5 private showers that were absolutely worth it. There are shade tents and sprinkler tents that feel like bliss. Don't get greedy and hop from stage to stage too much--you'll spend more time walking than dancing, without every really getting into the groove of any one set. Bonnaroo's exhausting, maddening, nutty, and buckets of fun. I won't forget coming over that little hill to the Lips leading a huge Yoshimi singalong at 3am, and a thousand of other great moments. Have a blast & be kind.
posted by muckster at 7:31 AM on February 9, 2006

For accommodations, I recommend getting a bunch of tarps and rope and going crazy with the shade. Leave some room between the tarps and the ground and you'll get good airflow. You should be able to sleep fairly late (inside a tent or not), which is key, considering music goes 'til the early early morn. Half the fun of a big festival is setting up your home base. And yes, definitely erect a unique flag at your campsite. Getting lost at 5 a.m. on the way back to your camp can be fun, but usually you just wanna hit the hay.

As far as where to set up your camp, you don't really get much choice. The parking crew pretty much just funnels you to whatever area they're currently parking people in. However, if you study the map while waiting at the main gate and have a good idea of where you don't want to park, you can try to ease your way closer to the stages. Just be friendly and kind and try to turn toward Centeroo if you get a chance.

Bring tons of water, sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, comfortable shoes and rubber boots (in case it rains like crazy). Also, bring at least two coolers: one regular cooler filled with ice, and a 2nd "freezer cooler" with enough dry ice for the weekend (about 1 Lb. per 12 hours you'll be using the freezer). The "freezer" will freeze water bottles rock hard in a few hours, so you can cycle them with thawed ones in your regular cooler, both keeping your beer cold without having to buy (or spend your time carrying around) extra ice from the General Store, and keeping a steady supply of ice cold water ready.

Inforoo is a good, active forum with plenty of good discussion and advice.

I'm getting excited already! Have fun!
posted by maniactown at 10:50 AM on February 9, 2006

I went two years. All the advice is good, water, sunscreen, shade. First thing I would say is
*get there as early as you can. The first year I got there on Thursday night at 11pm and did not get to my campsite until Friday at 8am. 2nd year, got there Wednesday afternoon, and was in and settled in a few hours.
*When you set up for shade, make sure your tarps are positioned so they can handle rain.
*Bring your own food and drinks because although you can buy it its more expensive, unless you don't want to deal with the cooler thing.
*bring a pair of shoes that don't come off easily in case you run into mud, and rain gear if you like.
*there are sinks which you can practically shower in, bring some towel or something to wash with
*lock your car at all times, i had stuff stolen while people were at the site
*go with people you are going to enjoy it most with
posted by Andrea2880 at 12:34 PM on February 9, 2006

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