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Is the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Worth the Trip?

Get your camping gear ready and dancing shoes on because the Bonnaroo Festival is around the corner. It’s the ultimate adventure for music junkies.

Bonnaroo isn’t your average concert experience. For four days, you’ll watch performances from top-tier bands to up-and-coming groups nationwide. It’s one of the best forms of sensory overload we can think of.

Join us as we dive into this annual event full of music, parades, food and drink, and art.

Let’s jam!

About Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

The Bonnaroo Festival, or Roo as regular attendees call it, began in 2002. Since then, it’s become an annual pilgrimage for thousands of people to get their music fix while camping under the Tennessee stars. The event normally begins the second Thursday of June and runs through the following Sunday.

Over 150 bands perform on one of ten stages, and you’ll hear everything from rock to bluegrass to world music. There’s hardly a genre that you won’t find at this festival.

A 700-acre farm hosts the Bonnaroo Festival and its throngs of attendees each year. If you’re not into big crowds, this might not be the event for you. On average, about 80,000 to 100,000 people arrive at the fest grounds to dance throughout the day and night over the long weekend.

More Than Just Music

While music is the biggest draw for most people, Bonnaroo offers a variety of activities for guests of every age. You’ll find plenty of things to keep everyone in your group entertained. 

You can participate in one of the many parades scheduled throughout the weekend. Or ride the Ferris wheel to enjoy an aerial view of the grounds. 

Bonnaroo also has an area known as Planet Roo which includes several non-profits focused on sustainability and environmental issues. In addition, you can spend some cash on handmade items in the Village Market or grab a craft brew in the beer garden. 

Headlining acts for the 2023 Bonnaroo Festival include Foo Fighters and Kendrick Lamar. But you’ll also be able to get down to My Morning Jacket, Umphrey’s McGee, Tyler Childers, and Sheryl Crow over the four-day event. 

Know Before You Go: Check out the full lineup of artists on the Bonnaroo Festival website. 

Where Is Bonnaroo?

Located in the middle of Tennessee, the 700-acre festival grounds are in a town called Manchester. It’s about 60 miles southeast of Nashville. So if you’re into road trips, Bonnaroo Festival is within a day’s drive for about 80% of the country’s population. 

This part of Tennessee is gorgeous, with rolling green hills, lakes, and rivers running through the landscape. If time allows, you might want to plan a few extra days before or after the festival to explore the region. 

You won’t lack things to do if you decide to extend your stay in Manchester. The area offers plenty of restaurants, parks, and shopping to keep you occupied for a few days. 

How Much Are Tickets for the Bonnaroo Festival?

As with many multi-day festivals, Bonnaroo offers tiered ticket pricing. That means the earlier you purchase passes, the cheaper they’ll be. For example, a four-day general admission (GA) entry per person starts at around $300 and goes up to about $400, depending on when you buy them. 

However, if you want to treat yourself, you can spend more to get extra perks. You can choose the GA+, VIP, or Platinum weekend passes. You’ll be looking at a price of anywhere between $550 to about $3,500 per person, depending on how baller you feel like getting.

If you can’t attend Bonnaroo for the whole weekend, you can still purchase one-day festival passes. Just choose which lineup is most appealing and buy your single-day ticket. 

Manchester, Tennesee – June 12, 2011: A group of good looking young women relaxing on a hot summer afternoon at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

Other Fun Things To Do Near the Bonnaroo Festival

While the festival may have all the fun you can handle in one weekend, you might want to enjoy some local sightseeing. You won’t have to go very far from the festival grounds to check out these places.

Rutledge Falls

Rutledge Falls could be an excellent place to refresh and recharge after a weekend of dancing with thousands of people. It’s about ten miles from the festival grounds, and the water is cool and inviting on a hot summer day. 

After parking at the trailhead, you’ll take a short, relatively easy hike to the falls. It’s less than a mile and provides beautiful scenery along the way.  

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park

Another short drive from the Bonnaroo Festival farm is this historic archeological site. Built 1,500 to 2,000 years ago, Native Americans used the Old Stone Fort as a ceremonial gathering place. 

The 400-acre park has several hiking trails, from easy to moderately strenuous. If you feel like spending a few days exploring, they offer a 50-site campground suitable for RVs and tents. 

Short Springs State Natural Area

If you enjoy waterfalls, this is a must-see location. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the festival grounds. You’ll have the chance to view several falls along hiking trails within this densely-forested 420-acre natural area.   

Parking can be a little challenging, especially on weekends. If the designated spots are full, you’ll have to come back another time. However, if you arrive in Manchester a few days before the festival or extend your stay afterward, you might have better luck.  

Best Places To Stay Near the Bonnaroo Festival

While the Bonnaroo Festival offers several camping options, you can also stay in a nearby hotel. If lodging off-site, be aware you’ll need to purchase a parking pass or arrange other transportation to and from the fest.

Outeroo

The Bonnaroo Festival is essentially a camping event. However, you have numerous choices for resting your head each night. The cheapest option will be car camping, starting at around $50 per vehicle, not per person! Of course, each friend in your group will need their own festival ticket. 

Additionally, Bonnaroo offers RV camping ranging from $350 to $850. The more expensive sites include 30- or 50-amp hookups. 

Or you can stay in Area 931, close to the main festival grounds. Prices for this section start around $500 for primitive car camping and go up to $2,000 to $3,000 for glamping options. 

Historic Tower House Inn

If you want to add extra excitement to your Roo weekend, a stay at this historic inn may be in order. A former owner and his family supposedly haunt it. Built in 1894, we’re sure the inn has many stories to tell. 

It’s a short ten-minute drive to the Bonnaroo Festival grounds. If a shuttle isn’t available, it’s likely easy enough to call an Uber or Lyft. Rooms typically start around $49 per night. However, due to the high demand, expect them to be a little more expensive around fest time. 

The Sewanee Inn

While further away than the other two options, you’ll feel like royalty staying at this inn. It’s about a half-hour drive from Bonnaroo. They offer walking trails on the grounds with beautiful views of the surrounding green rolling hills. Additionally, if you’re a golfer, you can get in a round or two on their 9-hole course. 

Rates start around $225. You can choose a room with a queen or king bed, and some will also have balconies. You can return from the festival each night to a luxurious retreat and feel rejuvenated for the next day’s activities. 

Is a Road Trip to Bonnaroo Music Festival Worth It?

If you consider yourself a music junkie and love dancing with thousands of like-minded people, this is probably a great road trip for you. Of course, you can also fly into Nashville if you don’t have the time to drive. But the most economical way of experiencing the Bonnaroo Festival is traveling in a vehicle with a few friends and car camping on-site. 

Additionally, you’ll be in the beautiful state of Tennessee with plenty of other attractions to check out along the way. You really can’t go wrong with a mix of live music, friends, and a landscape that fills all your senses.

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