(credit: Jeff Gentner/Getty Images)

One of America’s largest and most famous music festivals is just days away and if you’re going or thinking of going to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee, it’s time to get ready! Inspired by a Dr. John album titled “Desitively Bonnaroo,” the word “bonnaroo” is a New Orleans-based slang word that loosely translates to “a really good time,” which is the essence of this annual festival that helps kick off the summer concert season. With more than 80,000 music lovers expected to descend upon Great Stage Park, it’s essential to know what to expect, where to stay, who to see and most importantly, how to behave so everyone around you has a really good time. If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, there is no time to waste, so start planning now to experience one of the biggest outdoor music and arts events of the year.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Great Stage Park, TN  37355
Dates: June 9-12, 2016


Once described by MTV as the size of 375 football fields, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is an annual summer music festival that began in 2002. Held on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry have performed over the years, including Arcade Fire, the Black Keys, Elton John, Dave Matthews Band, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West and Stevie Wonder. Annual attendance on the site affectionately known as The Farm is 80,000 music lovers over the four-day period, which equates to the seventh largest city in Tennessee. Bonnaroo is the only festival in the country that operates 24 hours a day without a curfew and is also said to be the largest beer festival in the South. Red Bull TV will be live streaming the event.


General Admission tickets will continue to be sold at Price Level 2 while supplies last. Additionally, VIP packages may still be available, which include two VIP tickets, camping pass and exclusive entry into VIP areas. The event will be held rain or shine.

Each ticket holder will receive a high-security wristband which will be valid for all four days. Wristbands are embedded with a uniquely coded RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chip and concertgoers are required to register their wristband before entering the venue. Registration of wristbands is available online or via the mobile app for iOS or Android.

Wristbands are void when tampered, removed or transferred. Bonnaroo is not responsible for any counterfeit tickets, wristbands or car passes. There are no reissues for lost or stolen tickets.

Recreational Vehicle (credit: Randy Yagi)

Parking, Camping Passes & Overnight Accommodations

Every individual who wishes to park a car, truck, SUV, minivan or other standard vehicle at the festival must buy a car pass in advance. People driving a vehicle larger than a standard 15-passenger van must purchase an RV, RV with companion car pass or RV with shuttle package.

Additionally, a car camping pass is available for those who wish to camp at the festival. The pass is valid for the duration of the event. In addition to camping and RVs, concertgoers can also rent or purchase tents on site, rent a luxury cabana, RV for up to six people or a fully stocked Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour bus. There is also an accessible camping area, as well as a variety of services to assist people with disabilities.

VIP Food Program

Concertgoers have the option to pay for their meals in advance by purchasing a package from the VIP Food Program. The program will include lunch and dinner for the last three days of the festival. Meals will be prepared by Five Senses Restaurant & Catering of Manchester.

(credit: Jeff Gentner/Getty Images)

How To Get There & Alternative Transportation

Bonnaroo will be held at Great Stage Park, a 700-acre outdoor event space located off Interstate Highway 24 in Manchester, Tennessee. The park is approximately 65 miles southeast of Nashville. In addition to driving to the festival, concertgoers can take alternative transportation, such as shuttles from Nashville, airport shuttles and hotel shuttles from Murfreesboro. Hotel shuttles for all four days are available as part of a package from either the Resident Inn by Marriott or Embassy Suites Hotel. Lastly, ride share packages are also available for service from several cities, including Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami.

Bands To Watch & Comedy Acts

More than 150 bands are scheduled to appear at Bonnaroo 2016. Top headliners include Pearl Jam, Dead & Company, J. Cole, LCD Soundsystem, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ellie Goulding and the Grammy Award-winning country music singer Chris Stapleton. The two most anticipated nights of the festival will be on the last two nights, with Pearl, Ellie Goulding, Chris Stapleton and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on Saturday and Dead & Company, with John Mayer and three former Grateful Dead members — Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir — on Sunday. Among the other big-name acts slated to appear at Bonnaroo are Death Cab for Cutie, Bryson Tiller, Haim, Halsey, Chvrches and the Claypool Lennon Delirium, featuring former Primus lead singer Les Claypool and Sean Lennon, the son of John and Yoko Lennon. Concertgoers will also be treated to a wealth of lesser known and up-and-coming bands. Among those to watch for include Luke Bell, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Boy and Bear, Bob Moses, Lamb of God, Third Eye Blind and Leon Bridges. Complementing the impressive lineup of music artists will be a host of comedians, including director and writer Judd Apatow, Comedy Central star Adam Devine, season seven finalist of the Last Comic Standing Rachel Feinstein and two popular cast members of Saturday Night Live, Vanessa Bayer and Pete Davidson.

Lagunitas Beer (credit: Randy Yagi)

Food, Beverages & Attractions 

More than 125 food and beverage vendors will be on hand, including representatives from local restaurants and gourmet food trucks. The Broo’ers Festival will also feature more than 25 different breweries across the country, such as Lagunitas, Blue Moon, Green Flash, Star Hill and Coney Island Root Beer. In addition to the music and comedy acts, Bonnaroo offers a wealth of fun activities to enjoy. This includes fitness classes, a waterslide, kidz jam, a variety of artwork, the Kalliope light show and the art car Big Redparades, the Christmas Club Barn and the Bonnaroo Cinema.

Bonnaroovian Code & Health+Safety

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival observes the Bonnaroovian Code, to help make a better festival experience to the more than 80,000 attendees. This includes playing as a team, acting responsibly and respecting the farm by recycling and cleaning up. Bonnaroo also provides a list of health and safety tips, such as storing valuables, information on medical services, food safety and proper hydration.
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Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com