Bonnaroo Music Festival: Good Vibes, Great Music

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Bonnaroo is a really good time. In fact, that’s what the word “Bonnaroo” even means. It’s a Creole slang word, a nod to the festival founders’ college experience listening to rich jazz music in the southern United States. Think of it like a modern day Woodstock.

This massive music festival takes place over a long weekend every June. 2017 marked its 16th consecutive year on a farm in Manchester, Tennessee. An hour south of Nashville, there’s not much around, save for a few whiskey distilleries, and farmland. Lots and lots of farmland.

Despite its isolation in what some would call the “middle of nowhere,” people from all over the United States and the world make the trek to Bonnaroo. Over 80,000 music fans get together under the early summer heat to dance for days on end – listening to some of the world’s most popular artists and small, local talents that are hoping to make their big debut.

This year, Bonnaroo played host to U2 for their first ever music festival appearance and their only tour stop in all of North America. Bands really want to play here; it’s just that kind of festival. Other notable talent on this year’s lineup included Lorde, The Weekend and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to name a few.

Red Hot Chili Peppers. Photo credit: Bonnaroo

The festival boasts hundreds of artists that span across rock, hip hop, pop and r&b, plus music that weaves in and out of genres. This year, Bonnaroo had its first ever electronic music stage, too that turned into an endless dance party.

In addition to amazing music, Bonnaroo is a special experience because the only way to enjoy this festival is to camp. There aren’t any hotels around and there’s no such thing as “glamping” here. Over 80,000 people sleeping in tents, drinking beers in coozies and leaving the stresses of the real world 100% behind for 4 days of never-ending music.

If you wanted to, you could stay up all night at Bonnaroo. This year was the first time they actually stopped playing music (at 3 am) but that didn’t stop the festival-goers from playing music of their own. Bonnaroovians, they’re called.

And these Bonnaroovians are what really makes Bonnaroo unique from other music festivals. Hundreds of thousands of festival attendees over the years have come together to form a community. Now, everyone lives by the Bonnaroovian Code – these words were never rules that the founders mandated, but rather, they evolved from people’s real experiences at Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroovian. Photo credit: Bonnaroo

Everyone at Bonnaroo, whether a first timer or a 10-year-veteran, knows about High Five Fridays. Actually, every day at the ‘Roo is filled with high fives, good vibes, and so much positive energy that will make it really hard to leave on Sunday night.

The Code is simple. Prepare Thy Self – it gets hot in Tennessee. Bring your sunscreen, stay hydrated, and get ready for four days of pure bliss. Don’t Be That Guy (or Gal) who parties a little too hard. But if you are, things happen. So another part of the code is Play As A Team. Strangers become friends. It’s not one man for themselves at Bonnaroo. Instead, everyone is a team player. You have to experience how friendly everyone is first hand to really get it.

Radiate Positivity – there is nothing to worry about at Bonnaroo. Beyond the high fives, you may experience a few random acts of kindness, and everyone embraces the whole getting-along-with-complete-strangers-as-if-they’re-your-new-best-friends mantra.

Respect The Farm – clean up after yourself, recycle as much as you can, share things with your fellow campers. I can honestly say that this is the first music festival I’ve been to where the port-a-potties were actually clean and had an abundance of toilet paper for all four days.

Stay True Roo, or in other words, bring that positivity you experience at Bonnaroo back out into the real world. The festival is a proud champion of sustainability and grassroots initiatives to give back to local communities.

Feature image credit: Jorgensen Photography

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Olivia Poglianich

Olivia lives and works in NYC, living the Mad Men life with a day job in advertising. She’s also an avid travel blogger and adventurous eater – trying any and every ethnic restaurant she can get to, plus the weirdest foods she can find. So far she’s had grasshoppers, rat, snake and zebra to name a few. You can read about her adventures and travel tips at (shamless self promotion).


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