Bonnaroo! 12 Fun Things to Do! (Besides the Music)

Hey y’all! It’s that time of year again, when we get to go down to The Farm. For 4 days, the 700 acre farm (now called Great Stage Park), less than an hour away down in Manchester, TN, turns into the coolest city in the country – maybe even in the world! For the 15th year, you’ll join up with more than 85,000 other music and art lovers, and be overwhelmed with over 150 acts on more than 10 stages, dozens of comedians, and more activities than you’ll be able to do. Here’s some of what you can expect:

1. Music

After all, a music festival wouldn’t be a music festival without music! You’ll get to hear all your big-time favorites, along with your local favorites, and new acts destined to become your new favorites, on more than 12 stages. Oh, yes, there are dozens of comedians, too. And don’t you just love the names of the stages – What Stage, Which Stage, Who Stage, This Tent, That Tent, and The Other Tent?

Here’s the lineup:

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Bonnaroo 2016 Lineup (partial). Image: bonnaroo.com

2. Christmas Barn

This offbeat venue with glistening lights and ornate holiday décor brings the spirit of the legendary New Orleans dive bar Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge to life for Bonnaroovians. Are you on the naughty list, or the nice list? Check out the candy cane coated courtyard while DJ sets, brass bands, and surprise artists keep you entertained day and night.

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Snake & Jake’s Christmas Barn at Bonnaroo. Image: Jack Johnson – Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic on bonnaroo.com

Late into the night on Saturday night, only people dressed in robes for the 3rd annual Robe Rage will be allowed into the Christmas Barn, when there will be a very special surprise musical guest. What kind of robe, you ask? Doesn’t matter – boxing, bath, choir, wizard, kimono, monk, judge… use your imagination!

3. Arts

More than 20 different Art-centered entertainment venues are yours for the enjoyment all weekend. You must see the ones that have become the most iconic:

The Arch: You can’t miss it! The Arch is the entry point to Centeroo, and is an amazing sight! This year, the same team behind prior Arch designs has dreamed up another magical arched entry point for you!

The Arch at Bonnaroo
The Arch, your entry point into Centeroo at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Image: Adam Macchia on bonnaroo.com

The Fountain: The Bonnaroo Fountain is by far the festival’s most iconic structure. Every year, a different select artist or group of artists has had the privilege of redesigning and repainting the structure, creating a brand new vision and experience for Bonnaroovians! Located in the heart of Centeroo, The Fountain serves as both a way to cool off from the hot Tennessee sun and as a great meeting point. And once the sun sets, black lights transform it into a glowing source of eye candy!

The Fountain at Bonnaroo.
The Fountain at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Image: bonnaroo.com

Bonnaroo Poster Art Exhibit: Inspired by the poster makers of the ’60s, you’ll get to see a showcase of the work of some of today’s most relevant poster makers. Enjoy the stunning display of craft, technique, and skill by designers, illustrators, and professional magic-makers. Chat with select artists from all over the nation and pick up your very own souvenir event poster of Bonnaroo 2016!

Bonnaroo Art Poster 2015
Bonnaroo Art Poster 2015 by Ali Gulec on bonnaroo.com

4. Cinema

On a hot June day, the air-conditioned, fully-seated Cinema Tent will be your movie oasis. Experience exciting new independent films, soul-stirring documentaries, sing-along and quote-along cult comedy classics, and interactions with special guests.

You’ll also get to have live Q&A sessions with special guest filmmakers, and one-of-a-kind performances from musicians and comedians.

5. Kalliope

Kalliope has become a legendary late night destination on The Farm for fans and artists alike. Mind-blowing light shows, an earth-shattering sound system, and tons of pyrotechnics make Kalliope a one-of-a-kind Bonnaroo adventure.

Artists you love will climb her heights, while you join the dancing crowd below.  Who will grace the stage among the flames this year? There’s only one way to find out…

Kalliope stage 2015 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival
Flaming Kalliope. Image: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic on bonnaroo.com

6. Big Red

The Grand Marshal for Bonnaroo is Big Red, aka “Little Brother”, an adorable, gigantic, vw beetle art car. Look for Big Red, the cutest bug ever, and join the inevitable parade/dance party following him.

Bonnaroo's Big Red at night.
Bonnaroo’s Big Red in all his glory at night. Image: Ben Kaye on consequenceofsound.com

7. Parades

March to the beat of your own drums, get dressed up in something fancy, or just high step around spinning an umbrella as you second line through Centeroo!

Every Bonnaroo parade is a bit different, and each one is a good time, usually including a great brass band (or an art car!). Sometimes they even lead you to a pot of gold.

Bonnaroo's Big Red
Grand Marshall of Bonnaroo Big Red leading a parade! Image: offbeat.com

8. Connect

Meet the Bonnaroo producers at Bonnaroo Works Community Center or Planet Roo. Ask them anything! This is your chance to be heard and to get a good look behind the curtain of one of the greatest festivals on earth.

Take the kids to Kidz Jam, where they can be inspired by music, culture, and creativity in a safe haven. There are performances, interactive games, sports and challenges, and oodles of recycling art projects. Kids can even jam with instruments provided just for them! Fresh water, sun block, earplugs, and safety tips are free.

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Kidz Jam at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Images: examiner.com

Bonnaroo has its own Post Office at Planet Roo! If you buy something from a vendor and don’t know how to get it home you can get boxes and envelopes, packing materials, stamps, special Bonnaroo postcards and even the official Bonnaroo postmark!

Bonnaroo PODS are strategically placed community centers throughout the Bonnaroo campground, providing security, information, medical, showers, and drinking water.

9. Food & Drink

First of all, there’s going to be more than 125 gourmet food trucks at the Food Truck Oasis. You can choose your fare from some of the best food trucks in the Southeast!

And then, there’s Planet Roo Café, which is 100% Waste Free. Your meals there will be prepared by Crescent Foods, featuring healthy local and organic choices.

BaconLand is every bacon lover’s dream, where you can indulge in Bacon Flights of quality pork selections from around the country. Or, pair your Alan Benton’s Hickory Smoked Tennessee Bacon with other foods in a BLT or Grilled Cheese Sandwich. And don’t leave without trying the Bacon Bun, where Benton’s bacon and rich maple syrup replaces cinnamon in this decadent and delicious take on the classic cinnamon bun. And, you might as well eat all that bacon sitting next to Henri The Pig, the fire-breathing ambassador of Hamageddon.

Hamageddon at Bonnaroo
Henri The Pig, the fire-breathing ambassador of Hamageddon, showing off at BaconLand. Image: Jess Weos on bonnaroo.com

Top it off at Broo’ers Festival, featuring 25 different breweries from all over the U.S. Under one tent in the heart of Centeroo, you can enjoy hearty bocks, revitalizing pilsners, crisp pale ales, refreshing ciders, and more offered up by world-renowned microbreweries. You can also attend classes at Broo’ers University at the Solar Stage, which offers Bonaroovians a wide array of classes and discussions focused mainly on the art and awesomeness of beer, surrounded by authentic wooden bars, hop vines, whiskey barrels, haystacks, and an Oktoberfest-style outdoor patio that faces the Which Stage. Cheers!

10. Save the Planet

When you need a break from the chaos, head on over to Planet Roo, a haven for sustainability and global consciousness. This space is an opportunity to learn, relax, and eat great food. The Academy there provides a ton of different classes ranging from theatre to crafts, so you can create your own art, not just enjoy it. Learn how to effect change and make sustainable choices on The Farm and beyond.

In Planet Roo, you can’t help but notice the Oak Tree Collective, a crew of artists and builders who use natural and salvaged items to create a cooler atmosphere at Bonnaroo. They’ve built an eclectic neighborhood of sustainable and shady structures, like the straw bale Post Office. Every year they continue the transformation towards beauty, art, and shade.

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The grand entrance to Planet Roo by Oak Tree Collective: Image: oaktreecollective.org

11. Work Out

Dancercise, Yoga, and a 5K Run! Dancercise is hosted by Bonnaroo’s very own fitness expert Julia Hubara on Friday at 11am at Kalliope Stage. Yoga classes of various levels and types are held all weekend at various locations, from 9am to 12pm. And you can run or walk in the 4th Annual Roo Run and Magic Affair Costume Party!

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Use your imagination with your costume for Roo Run and Costume Party. Image: tennessean.com

12. Goods & Gifts

As usual, Bonnaroo will offer some of the best shopping this side of the Mississippi at Centeroo Market. There are plenty of assorted high quality craftsmen and artisans, vendors, and official festival and artist merchandise.

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Alex and Ani Bonnaroo charm bracelets will be available at Bonnaroo! Image: bonnaroo.com

Forget something? Drop by one of the Bonnaroo General Stores to stock up on everything you’ll need for a successful stay at Bonnaroo. The General Store has 2 locations, in the campgrounds and in Centeroo.

The Bonnaroo Works Community Center will feature a Silent Auction with a diverse offering of artist-signed memorabilia, guitars, Bonnaroo merchandise, stunning photographs, entertainment experiences, and much more. All funds benefit the Bonnaroo Works Fund charities.

So, there you have it – everything not to miss at Bonnaroo! What’s your favorite Bonnaroo activity – besides the music? Please let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

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