Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. is more than just four days of head bobbing, hand clapping and mass singalongs.
I had the pleasure of venturing from Chicago to Manchester for the 2012 fest with two friends from high school, Bryan and Nick. We knew it was going to be one for the books when the eight-hour trip lasted us 12, and Bryan experienced a freak accident that landed him in a helicopter to a Nashville hospital before the music even started.
While I had been to Lollapalooza and Summerfest, I had not previously experienced the next-level comradery of breathing for the music by day, and camping under the stars by night. Now nearly two years later, I can’t list off every single act that I saw, but I can tell you the ones that made the greatest experiential impact.
Yes, the ticket price is slightly daunting, but in the breakdown of bands, activities and self discovery, it is absolutely worth it.
Thinking about going? Some things to consider:
- No cops. That’s right, no American law enforcement on this farm. While the Tennessee police infest the roads leading in to Manchester all the way up to the entrance looking for Northerners to bust, they’re not on the grounds. There are Canadian Mounties, but they’re just there for safety.
- No showers. Well, you can pay $7+ for a shower, but you will be mocked. Alternatively, you can poor bottled water over yourself like I did, hit up the water slide, or skip the refreshment all together.
- Deep-friend Oreos. Need I say more?
- Good beer. Again, need I say more?
- Hula hoops and happy faces. Just smiles and contagious joy everywhere.
- Damn good music. Artists love to play Bonnaroo, so you’re guaranteed a five-star performance.