Bonnaroo: More Than Just the Music
While music may be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about festivals, it is not always the ultimate deciding factor when it comes to attendance. Sure, great artists can spur ticket sales with attendees who do not regularly frequent festivals, but for those who enjoy festival-hopping, often the most important deciding factor on where their next stop for the season resides in the amenities and overall vibe of a festival. This past weekend’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a case in point.
What it comes to amenities, Bonnaroo is no slacker. Its camping plaza structure is scattered with barns, each one hosting various types of activities, cultural highlights, and missions. The Ville barn and surrounding plaza center host the food and culture of nearby Nashville, while plaza 2’s barn was curated by Paramore’s Hailey Williams as this year’s Sanctuary of Self Love, and there were numerous vendors of all types throughout both the campgrounds and the main venue that is Centeroo. Additionally, recent years brought spots like The Grove and this year’s Where in the Woods to the campgrounds as places to both relax and keep the party going late into the night. There are also countless custom camping options at ‘Roo, from dedicated sober camps, ladies-only spots, groop camping for those who like to roll deep, and many other options. If you have ever worried about coming to Bonnaroo because you do not have friends who would come or have not felt like you would have a good time for whatever reason, rest assured the festival probably has an option that will fit you. And these just scratch the surface as well, as many years see various sponsors bringing out different options, such as 2018’s free laundry service.
It’s all about the Experiences
Beyond camping is the previously mentioned playground that is Centeroo. Bonnaroo’s main venue plays host to countless wonders. This year that venue changed a bit with the demise of the venue’s famous entrance, known simply as The Arch. The years-old Bonnaroo entrance was destroyed for structural reasons and likely also because of the impending start of new festivals sharing the Great Stage Park grounds alongside Bonnaroo. In its place was a giant LED board known sarcastically as The Squarch.
Rumor has it that this new entrance is a temporary placeholder, but only time will tell on that front. Beyond this entrance lie many things, most notably the mushroom fountain, painted yearly and brought to life anew as a meeting place and relief from the heat of the Tennessee sun. Another heat-beater is the Big Ass Waterslide, which towers over the festival.
Once- (or twice-) in-a-Lifetime Events
This year’s Bonnaroo brought with it countless activities both on and off of the schedule. Things like the ladies-only camping known as Sheroo and the Sanctuary of Self Love brought with them activities such as hair-braiding, glitter bars, reiki healing, yoga, and more throughout the campgrounds. Inside Centeroo were countless other activities such as the crew over at Roochute. This now Bonnaroo staple, dedicated to spreading happiness and mental health awareness travels, the country to various festivals, spreading its good word, but it only has one home and namesake, and that is ‘Roo. While there, they not only travel from show to show but also organize awesome things such as last year’s Jungle Pizza Party, or this year’s Bubble Party during Sunsquabi’s set. Then there is the granddaddy of all rogue stages in the form of SooperGroop‘s pre and after parties respectively, hosted inside the giant circus-style tent they erect annually in the Groop camping section.
All of these events of course just begin to scratch the surface of the amazing things that can happen at Bonnaroo. Throw in a smattering of engagements and weddings, Big Red the art car bringing the party around all weekend, the world-famous Kalliope Soundstage keeping the party pumping, often until the sun comes up, and you have still only seen a small fraction of the amazing events that happened at this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. And don’t even get us started on The Lonely Island teasing us about a clandestine meetup at the Plaza 2 ice machine.
Loudly Cheer for all the World to Hear
One of the things that made this year’s Bonnaroo truly magical was its dedication to Pride Month. Not only did numerous artists mention and bolster pride, but the festival also held its own first-ever Pride Parade. Produced by Brooklyn’s House of Yes, who have a themed barn on the property, and led by the New Breed Brass Band and Big Red the giant Beetle, the parade weaved its way through the festival grounds in a swirl of rainbow-colored glee. With festival-goers lining the streets as they went, cheering on in both adoration and support, it is safe to say the event was a glamorous success.
One of the Best Keeps Getting Better
So, the final verdict? Overall, this year’s amenities and upgrades to the non-stop show that is Bonnaroo are definitely a step in the right direction. Between the amazing partners invited out to curate events such as Roochute to the bonna-faithful groups like SooperGroop putting together fan-led initiatives and finishing up with great campground activities like Where in the Woods and the Sanctuary of Love, Bonnaroo has definitely taken the hint that change and evolution to how it curates activities had to happen. Keep on moving forward, Bonnaroo, and we will keep on riding out with you!