Dirty Dancing at Bonnaroo

It’s three in the morning and you’re standing outside a venue watching your favorite band perform while everyone around you is dancing with nothing on their mind but the music.

By: Elizabeth Patterson


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (AP/The Loop)-This crazy  four day music festival started in 2002 created by Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment. Every walk of life enters the park, guaranteeing a new and unique friend and seeing sights that shouldn’t be seen while jamming out to your favorite band.  The festival has various musical artists performing and tons of activities for the whole family.  Although I wouldn’t recommend bringing your children, everyone is welcomed. Every summer thousands of people gather on a 700- acre piece of land in Manchester, Tennessee.

View of the park

Bonnaroo attracts so many people even celebrities attend the festival.  Drew Barrymore has been spotted in the crowd dancing to one of her favorite bands.  Ryan Brown who has attended the festival four times in a row says, ” I look forward to going to see the music but I’m always looking around to see if my celebrity crush or idol is out in the audience.”

The festival is also sponsored by many businesses across the United States such as:

  • Budweiser
  • Garnier Fructis
  • Cannon
  • Wheat Thins
  • Rolling Stone

To attend Bonnaroo, you must first purchase your tickets online. Tickets run about $250 at the cheapest. You can bring your RV or car but it will cost an additional  $175.  Instead of the general admission, you can get the VIP package .  However if you are resident in the Manchester area or  have volunteered to work at one of the tents, you can receive your ticket for free.

To volunteer at Bonnaroo you can get on the main website and wait until they post the volunteer application.  You must pay a fee of $25 to fill out the application and be at least the age of 18.  They offer the volunteers the opportunity to see their favorite bands and you have to complete three shifts.


Once you have arrived you can park your car and set up your tents and any other equipment you need. Camping is what the majority of attendees do to get the full affect of the festival. You can locate your campground anywhere around the Centeroo Venue.  You will become really close to your neighbors since you’re sharing the campground with about 98% of the population that has come to the festival.

Since Bonnaroo is known for its rainy days and nights,  you can get really dirty and muddy so there are plenty of facilities on site.  You will have showers, bathrooms, medical stations, food and shopping, telephones, hand washing stations, art installations, pods and a general store. You will experience the true outdoors during this four- day festival. ATMs are available for emergency cash and there is a security detail around the festival as well as emergency services.

Muddy Bonnaroo

After putting out your camping gear, it’s time to switch into party mode and watch some of your favorite bands.  The most permanent venues are as followed; Centeroo where all the activity is held.  What Stage is the main stage of the festival that can hold 100,000 people. Which stage, is the second largest stage holding about 30,000 people at the most.  Finally, the Comedy Tent, which is restricted only for comedians such as stand up.

When Bonnaroo first started, they focused mostly on jam bands as their main source of musical entertainment.  However, over the years Bonnaroo has held many diverse musical talents.  The music ranges from hip hop, indie rock, bluegrass, country music, gospel, reggae, alternative and electronic music.  With this much variety everyone can find their niche. Here are some of the various artists that have performed at Bonnaroo over the years:

  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Phish
  • Disco Biscuits
  • Widespread Panic
  • Kings of Leon
  • Katy Perry
  • Dave Mathews

People at the festival cooling off

You can find music, activities and attractions throughout the park.  When you don’t  want to be around dirty, sweaty bodies you can attend the comedy theatre or the fuse barn where you can charge your phone and stand under the mist to cool down.  There is a freedom lounge where you can hangout and meet new people.  The festival even holds yoga classes and a tent where you can have a hairstylist wash your hair and trim your dead ends for free!

Bonnaroos popularity started when Rolling Stone Magazine named it one of the 50 greatest moments in rock and roll history.  The lead singer of Phish, Trey Antasio, was just one of the first to who took the stage in 2002. “That year helped establish it’s rep as a friendly home for jam bands,” said Rolling Stone.  Other magazines, movies, websites and books have also recognized Bonnaroos popularity.

The atmosphere of the festival is one heck of an experience.  Amazing laser light shows are presented while the performer is on stage.  The crowd is in full force jumping around singing and dancing. Balloons, glow sticks, water and huge beach balls are being thrown at you from one direction to the next.  There are even people crowd surfing and the person next to you might be nude.

light shows while artists perform

You will see a lot of nudity because they feel that the festival brings freedom and a “let go” attitude.  Every walk of life comes to this festival.  There are people who paint their bodies, have dreadlocks, piercings, tattoos, nude people and any other strange thing you can think of.  UTC student Sam Stanley says, “The one thing about this festival that everyone loves is people aren’t there to judge, they are there for the enjoyment of the music and to meet new friends.”  Many students from UTC have attended Bonnaroo since the location is about an hour away.  UTC student Meredith Blanchard says, “I have been to Bonnaroo three times and every time it’s worth the money, I have such a good time!”


Bonnaroo is a great festival to come too during the summer to have fun and meet new people.  You’re there to enjoy the music, volunteer, help and love one another.  It’s sort of a replica of Woodstock which was started in 1969.  Without music our world would be boring, this is just a place to escape from the real world for four days and live out loud!

The next Bonnaroo festival is coming in the year 2011, June 9th-12th.  This will be Bonnaroo’s 10th anniversary, and many people are expecting some of the original bands that first started Bonnarroo to attend. The new lineup will be released in January.  Check this link out to find anymore information on the festival or to find out who is playing this summer.


Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival ©2002-2010