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Getting ready for bonnaroo: What to know before you go

Bonnaroo Festival in 2013
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival is less than a week away! If you haven’t been before, or in a long time, it may be helpful to know a little bit about what to expect, what to bring, and when to arrive. While the official website is the best source of all for this information, this article shall serve as a summary of all the pertinent facts while you get ready to hit “The Farm” next week.


The General Admission campgrounds will be opening at 8 PM on Wednesday, June 11th. It fills up in order, with those getting there earliest having the closet camping to the action, and those showing up late having to walk further to the stages and vendors. The VIP campground opens later, at 7 AM on Thursday, June 12th - the first day of the festival.

When you arrive, you will be directed to the appropriate Tollbooth, which is the vehicle entrance area. The Tollbooth attendants will be searching your vehicle for prohibited items, checking everyone in the vehicle’s wristbands, giving out Program Guides which include a map, and directing you to your camping area. Only groups arriving together may camp together, so please coordinate with friends before arriving at the Tollbooths and prevent holding up traffic. Once at your campsite, please only move your car if necessary, and never leave it in the way of access for emergency vehicles or it will be towed.

While entrance can occur (for most types of guests) at either the Highway Tollbooth, West Tollbooth, or East Tollbooth, exiting may only occur through the East and West tollbooths. If you are only day parking, and aren’t camping on festival grounds, you may only enter and leave through the West Tollbooth. Signs should indicate where to go and how to get to there for day parking. Anyone leaving the festival, be it on foot or by car, must have their wristbands scanned out in order to get back in later.


If you are camping on festival grounds, which is truly part of the experience of Bonnaroo, there are a few things that you should bring for your own comfort:

A good tent that doesn’t leak and is well ventilated
Tarps to protect the tent from rain, as well as to put under tent if muddy
Sleeping bags, an air mattress, or your own personal choice of sleeping accommodation
A lantern to hang in the tent, and additional flashlights for finding your way to the toilet at night
Luggage lock to fasten your tent, so strange people don’t sleep in it
Rain gear, at the least plastic ponchos
A hoodie or jacket in case it gets cold at night
At least two pairs of shoes, preferably mud proof
A bandana
Something to pull long hair back with
Bug spray
A refillable container for water
Toilet paper, in case it runs out on the grounds
Soap, shampoo and other toiletries
Trash bags (you should clean up your site before you leave)
Ashtray, if you smoke
A flag, balloon, etc. to identify your campsite
Ear plugs for if you want to go to bed while Skrillex plays on into the wee hours
Spare car key so you don’t get locked out

Like all good things in life, Bonnaroo festival attendance does come with a few rules. There are certain things that may NOT be brought into the festival grounds, per the official website, and are as follows:

NO glass containers of any kind
NO weapons of any kind
NO fireworks
NO illegal substances
NO bicycles, scooters, or personal motorized vehicles
NO professional photography equipment/cameras with detachable lenses longer than 2”
NO pets
NO glowsticks
NO laser pens or focused-light devices
NO box trucks or trailers (camping trailers OK, considered RVs)
NO gasoline, unless you have a generator
NO charcoal or propane, unless you have a portable grill (in which case 40 lbs. of charcoal and small container of propane are allowed)

Vending of any kind is strictly not allowed. Per the rules, sharing is allowed, selling is not.

Once you get to the main venue (known as Centeroo), there are a few more prohibited items, which will have to be left at the campsite (if allowed on festival grounds at all):

No glass or cans
No food or drinks, other than water and small snacks such as trail mix
No folding chairs higher than foot off the ground
No flags or totems which contain metal pieces or are capable of being pounded into the ground
No laser pens or similar focused-light devices

What you CAN bring into the main venue (Centeroo) is:

Water bottles or Camelbacks containing water only (clear, non-glass containers only)
Non-framed backpacks and bags (which are subject to inspection)
Low-seated concert chairs, sitting less than a foot off the ground
Cameras WITHOUT detachable lenses over 2” in length

In final note, some general common sense would include don’t leave valuables in plain sight, such as in your tent or in view in your car. Better yet, just don’t bring valuables, but that’s up to you.

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