There are tens of thousands of people attempting to get in to the farm at the same time. There are lines, and you will have to wait. But you also have to get to a line. I went early Wednesday last year, and all the exits off the highway were already shut down because there were too many people already waiting for gates to open. This will vary depending on when you arrive, but bring a map or GPS of the area. It will greatly help with confusion.
Lines and Car Checks
Again, expect to wait in line. Don’t worry, its worth it. As you probably know, there are car searches. These greatly vary in intensity though. The vast, vast majority of the searches are conducted by Bonnaroo volunteers. If you know the rules going in, know how much alcohol you are allowed to have, know not to have glass bottles, and more obvious rules, you likely can get through with little to no trouble at all. Again, the majority of searches are quick, and not very invasive, with quick checks of coolers and whatnot, BUT… There are random searches done by state cops. These are VERY invasive. You don’t want this done, regardless of if you decide to break the rules or not. They take a long time, and you have to repack EVERYTHING. I’ve never experienced this. I’ve heard estimates that they check maybe 1 in 100, maybe even less. There are no official figures on this that I know of.
I know many of you are wondering, can I sneak in ‘goodies’. All I can say is know the risks. If you are caught, you risk heavy fines, not being permitted into Bonnaroo, and possibly even worse punishments. It depends on what you have and how much. Anything you want will be inside. People get it in and if you ask fellow Rooers, most will at least point you in the right direction. That being said, it is possible. This point is up to you. I’ll repeat, know the risks, plan accordingly.
Once You’re In
If you are General Admission, you aren’t going to get to pick your spot. There will be volunteers ‘ushering’ you in lines so that they can efficiently fill the spaces available. Last year they had spots pre-marked. There is enough room for you to have your car, a tent, and a canopy. Thats really it, unless you get lucky. Don’t expect sprawling amounts of space. You’ll be right up against other Rooers, but don’t worry, everyone is friendly.
Other options are group camping, VIP, and tent city. These are fairly obvious, except tent city. Tent City is an area very close to Centeroo where you can camp, but only with your tent. You park your car and take your gear down, expect a hike…
These are the best tips I can give you regarding once you are in the farm:
Know where your spot is. Triangulate with ‘landmarks’ around your area, other tents and camps, the floating numbers (Bonnaroo has camping divided into Pods that are marked with floating numbered orbs in the sky) and bathroom rows. It can get very hard to find your spot at night…
You may have heard, Bonnaroo is a marathon not a sprint. You need to pace yourself. You will do a lot of walking. Some camps can be a mile from the stages. And its hot. Really, really hot…which brings me too You can’t really sleep in. When the sun comes up, the inside of your tent becomes a sauna. But its cool at night, you’re gonna fall asleep under blankets/in a sleeping bag. You will wake up between 7 and 9 drenched in sweat. I can almost guarantee this… Which is why…
You need water! Lots and lots of water. Be safe. Get a 24 pack of bottles per person. Who cares if you don’t drink it all, you have it if you need it. And if you can, take a camelback. This will greatly help with always having water to drink, monitoring intake, and not having to carry lots of bottles around.
Also, BRING FOOD. Many people think, ah I’ll just buy it there. I strongly advise you to pack some food that is easy to heat up and make, or just eat quick. Clifbars are great, healthy, give you energy, and easy to grab and go, or pack and eat later. I always take a grill and pack a cooler with food to cook. I’m the one relaxing with a full, delicious meal while the others don’t eat so they can save money for later…
Related to food, the bathrooms are a crap-shoot… hehe. But yea, you’ll never know how they will be, and sometimes you can’t walk anymore to get to one. Oh, and it can’t hurt to take some extra toilet paper with you. Keep it at your camp, and late at night if you have to go, take it with you. That way if the johns near you are out, you can use them while everyone else goes searching.
There are lots of vendors throughout the camping area and Centeroo. You can get all sorts of cool things, although they cut down on the unlicensed selling which is a shame, but what are you going to do…You can still get anything from food to art to clothing to pipes. Yes, lots and lots of pipes. Cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else, too.
Sunscreen. Don’t be that guy that turns into a strawberry. The sun can ruin your time very quickly. Take precautions.
If you find a section of time with no acts you want to see, check out the comedy and cinema tents. They are air-conditioned and even if you just sleep for a couple hours it can recharge your battery. But there is also some really rewarding things you may stumble upon. I saw a great documentary that I would have never chosen to see while at Bonnaroo on accident, but I’m happy it happened.
Expand your horizons. Bonnaroo has a lot to offer. Check out performers you don’t know, talk to people, and experience new things. Its awesome.
What To Bring
- Canopy (optional)
- Air Mattress (optional)
- Food and Quick Snacks
- Pots, pans, utensils and a grill if you can
- Extra Underwear
- Babypowder for possible chafing
- Bandaids for foot blisters
- Extra shoes, socks, and sandals
- Cool Clothes
- Spray bottles (spray yourself to cool down)
- Extra key for car to hide
- Flag (for above tent for easy location)
- Toilet Paper
- Lawn chairs and a folding table
- Small safe for hiding valuables in car
- A belt
One last thing: on the way home, the roads throughout Tennessee are oozing cops. They look for out of state license plates and check cars, regardless of reasons. Be careful driving home… Have fun!