This is how we ‘Roo – How to survive your first Bonnaroo

What to expect

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival kicked off on June 11. The four-day music festival is held on a 700 acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee.

Billy Joel, Florence and the Machine, Kendrick Lamar and Mumford and Sons are a few of the headliners. There’s an estimated 80,000 people expected to attend this year’s festival.

Don’t get it twisted. Bonnaroo has a lot more to offer:

LeBRONNAROO: Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Clevland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors were shown on Sunday. Game 4 was also aired during the festival.

There was also a screening of the “Game of Thrones” finale.

The most interesting Bonnaroo event is the “quote-along” screenings for films like “Mean Girls” and “Zoolander” along with R.Kelly “Trapped in the Closet” series.

The Bonnaroo festival also featured a number of comedians, including Chris Hardwick, Ralphie May and Nick Thune.


360 #Bonnaroo

A video posted by Taylor Shaw (@taylorcshaw) on

My favorite performance came from Earth, Wind and Fire. It was amazing to see the people around me singing along to “Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland” because more than half of them weren’t even born when these songs were released. They had so much energy! It seemed like they wore the same outfits as they did in the 70s. They were great! I immediately added “Earth, Wind and Fire” radio to Pandora.

Click here for the Spotify playlist for Bonnaroo 2015.


#SquadGoals Earth, Wind and Fire rocked it last night at #Bonnaroo.


A video posted by Taylor Shaw (@taylorcshaw) on

Manchester is about three hours away from my home in Knoxville, Tennessee. I work at a TV station as was able to get press passes for the festival. I was a little nervous about the whole things at first. I’ve never been to a music festival before and I’ve never been camping. This was one of those moments where I had to dive in, head first.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Here are a few lists that I put together to help you prepare for Bonnaroo (or another music festival.)

Packing list

  • Poncho
    • Not bringing it increases your chances for rain.
  • Medications
    • Bring whatever you take at home, plus a pain reliever and allergy medicine.
  • Sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Bug spray (travel size)
  • Sunscreen (travel size)
  • Plastic grocery bags (5)
  • Toilet paper
  • Flashlight
  • Ear plugs
  • Towel
  • Washcloth
  • Hand sanitizers (pocket size)
  • Extra hair ties and bobby pins
  • Diva Cup
    • NOTE: I did not use a Diva Cup, but some of my friends did. They said the experience was different, but totally worth it. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I just used the portapotty without looking down into the abyss.
  • Travel sizes toiletries
    • Baby wipes
    • Body spray
    • Deodorant
    • Body Wash
    • Sanitary napkins/products (just in case)
    • Contact solution
    • Contact carrying case
    • Powder

If you do decide to bring alcohol, make sure its in a plastic container. Glass is prohibited at most music festival.


What to wear?

Since this is was my first time going to Bonnaroo, I treated it like a costume party. I spent hours in stores like Rugged Warehouse and Target trying to find the perfect look. I’ve been told by my friends that I always look like I’m going on a job interview. I can’t help it. I love trouser pants and blazers. I traded in these items for a flower headband and metallic tattoos.

Here’s what I packed:

  • Comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty
    • You’re on a farm! You can expect dirt and grass.  The show must go on rain or shine. Be prepared. I wore a pair of ankle boots from Target that I bought a few years ago. I also used my Dr. Sholls inserts to make them more comfortable. I trashed them after the festival because they were really dirty. My friends wore sneakers, Tevas or Chacos.
  • Socks (if you choose to wear closed toe shoes)
  • 2 sports bras or bandeau
    • I wouldn’t recommend wearing a real bra. It’s wayyy to hot!
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 dresses
    • You’re going to be in the sun all day. Pack a colorful flowy dress that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Tank tops (3)
    • Make sure you put sunscreen on your shoulders!
  • Hoodie
    • The temperature may drop at night.
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 1 hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Assessories
    • Flower headbands
    • Metallic temporary tattoos
  • Pajamas
    • I wore a pair of yoga pants and a cami to sleep. When I got cold, I put on a hoodie.
  • Flip flops
    • For a quick run around the campsite.

bonnaroo tent

Camping gear

I went to Bonnaroo with a group. One of my friends, Linda, owned most of the larger items on this list. She’s a she’s been to the festival six times. I guess you can say she’s a pro.

Here’s a list of the items we brought for camping:

  • Tent
    • Lucky for me, my friends knew how to set up a tent.
  • Tarp
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Blanket
  • Pocket knife
  • Chairs

DON’T leave home without…

  • An external battery
    • I bought one from Groupon and I so glad that I did. Since I was unable to charge my phone, which I used as a camera, I bought a battery pack that was good for about three charges.
  • Long strap bag or fanny pack
    • I do not suggest wearing a backpack. Look for something small, but spacious. I used a bag I bought from a market in Mexico a few years ago.
  • Cash
    • It’s better to have too much, than not enough, especially since ATM’s inside the festival will charge a fee.



Was this helpful? I would love to hear your feedback. Shoot me an email, taylorcshaw[at]yahoo[dot]com.