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Confession: Bonnaroo was never on my bucket list. It didn’t get the chance to be! It’s only in the last few years that I’ve become a festival fiend, taking on events from Burning Man to Tomorrowland and anything I can get my hands on in between. When my girl Kristin invited me to attend in conjunction with our whirlwind trip to Nashville, I only had the faintest idea what this Tennessee festival was all about. And that turned out to be a blessing.

Sometimes, having no expectations and putting the steering wheel in someone else’s hands leads to the best of experiences.

Bonnaroo Travel Blog

I admit I didn’t have the most traditional experience. In addition to her condo in Nashville, Kristin and her husband have a house in Central Tennessee not far from the festival grounds, meaning we were able to shower on the regular, sleep on heavenly mattresses and even squeeze in a few work hours here and there. Also, Kristin and her kin are ‘Roo regulars, meaning I more or less bypassed the first-timers experience all together in exchange for the veteran package.

Our Bonnaroo crew was an epic one — , and I had all hightailed it down from Nashville together, where we were joined by Kristin’s hubby Scott. Technically Bonnaroo is a four day festival, with Thursday’s limited line-up seen as somewhat of a warm up. We skipped it in order to spend an extra morning in Nashville, and arrived in Central Tennessee for a cookout at the Luna compound that evening.

Thus, Friday was our first official day of festival-ing. And our first order of business after sorting out our wristbands and swiping into Centeroo was to eat. Oh, did you think I was going to say listen to music? This might be a controversial opinion on the festival circuit, but my philosophy is snacks first, stages second.

Food at Bonnaroo

Food at Bonnaroo

Actually, the lineup didn’t start until 2:00pm on Friday (and didn’t stop again until 3:30am!) so we had plenty of time to goof around, explore the festival grounds, and take photos. There is so much more to Bonnaroo than music — so much more! — that I actually enjoyed having time to run around without worrying about what set I might be missing.

Bonnaroo Blog Review

Bonnaroo 2015

Bonnaroo 2015

We decided to hop on the ferris wheel early Friday afternoon, and boy am I glad we did. I love ferris wheels and went on the Tomorrowland version several times throughout my weekend there, so I had hoped to ride this one both by day and by night. But from that moment, every time we passed the wheel by there was a line snaking several tents back — we lucked into less than a ten minute wait!

Bonnaroo Travel Blog

Bonnaroo Ferris Wheel

Not only does going early in the weekend give you a shorter wait in line, it also gives you a great lay of the land for future stage navigating. I also enjoyed being able to peek into the camping section, which we’d yet to lay eyes on as we were staying offsite.

Bonnaroo Camping

Bonnaroo Ferris Wheel

Bonnaroo Ferris WheelOur amazing hosts

Later, after a few hours cooling off at Kristin’s (oh, the benefits of being a short drive from the gate!) we returned for ‘ and ‘ sets — Tears for Fears hitting hard for the title of my favorite set of the weekend. Tempted as I was to stick around for Kendrick Lamar, the lure of sleep was a strong one, and so we bid adieu to Bonnaroo — at least for the night.

Bonnaroo After Dark

After all, we were up early on Saturday — for the Third First Annual Roo Run! After my 10K in Rochester I was all fired up to tackle this 5K through the festival’s campgrounds, and thankfully it wasn’t hard to convince fitness freaks Kent and Caanan to join me. (Kristin was meeting with her personal trainer than morning, the slacker!) I struggled with the heat and a festival food hangover, but managed to finish in a respectable thirty-five minutes.

More on this run later, but suffice it to say it was a really fun way to start the day — and I couldn’t believe how many of my fellow festival-goers were up at 9am to hit the trail with us!

Bonnaroo Roo Run

Bonnaroo Roo Run

After a shower and some brunch back at Casa de Luna, we were back on the Bonnaroo grind. First stop, the most adorable airstream in existence for a private tasting with some of Kristin’s Nashville friends.

Food at Bonnaroo

Next, we toodled around the festival grounds until came on later in the afternoon. I loved the energy of the mainstage — and this with my sister — but ducked out a tad early to catch , a band from Albany, on one of the smaller new artist’s stages. I was so pumped to see my hometown represented at Bonnaroo, and they did us proud. I smiled when I looked around and saw so many Upstate New York-themed t-shirts in the crowd. Who would have guessed?

As much as I wanted to stick around and get a big ‘ol Albany pride group hug going, I was on the move again, this time to meet Kent and Caanan at . The energy was fantastic, and the set ended with Jon Hamm taking the stage to throw gummy bears to a wound-up crowd.

Bonnaroo 2015

Bonnaroo Blog Review

There was no time to eat candy for us, though (first time I’ve ever said that sentence), as we were off to hit the Silent Disco. I’d nearly cried when I saw , one of my favorite New York party extraordinaires, was hitting the decks in the wee hours on Friday night — I knew there was no way I would convince any of my festival companions to stay up with me till 3am (and I was at the mercy of others’ wheels). However, I quickly wiped my tears when I saw they were at the helm of the Silent Disco from 7-10pm on Saturday. Score!

For some reason I’d yet to seriously get my dance on till that point, but we more than made up for it in the sweaty hours that followed. Based on pure joy-meter ratings, I’d say this was my favorite part of Bonnaroo.

Later, after the boys said goodnight, Kristin and her mom and I (Did I mention Kristin’s whole family heads to Bonnaroo every year? Bonnaroo is for !) got settled back at the mainstage for , the perfect note to end the night on.

Silent Disco at Bonnaroo

Silent Disco at Bonnaroo

Silent Disco at Bonnaroo

Silent Disco at Bonnaroo

Sunday morning, we made our way back to the campground early for a vinyasa yoga class accompanied by live bluegrass music. Yoga at a festival? Heck yeah! I know a lot of people think music festivals aren’t for them, but I kinda think that there’s a lot of leeway for making it your own thing. At this particular one I barely rounded the corner of buzzed and hardly stayed up past midnight, but I did attend three separate wellness events.

I’ll be writing more about this fitness components of Bonnaroo that so blew me away, but for now suffice it to say it was the perfect way to kick off our final day. It was literally about a billion degrees, but something about being surrounded by live music, day-four festival vibes, and doing sun salutations under a blue Tennessee sky left me smiling.

Bonnaroo Yoga

Bonnaroo Yoga

Bonnaroo Yoga

Kristin and I couldn’t get enough, it seemed, so we stuck around for an hour-long acroyoga workshop at  knowledge-sharing based The Academy as well.

Bonnaroo Yoga

That evening, we reconvened once again for a final night at Centeroo. I was already feeling nostalgic for my time with this wrecking crew, and it wasn’t even over yet.

Bonnaroo Blog Review

Bonnaroo 2015

I admit, I was a little letdown by ‘s set — but clearly, we had plenty to keep us busy. Like group selfies, for example.

Bonnaroo Travel Blog

Bonnaroo Blog Review

And teaching Caanan the Take Up As Much Room As You Can Dance, a move I mastered back in college.

Bonnaroo 2015

Bonnaroo 2015

Bonnaroo Travel Blog

Soon, the sun was setting on our last night on The Farm, as Bonnaroovians are fond of calling this, er, farm that the festival takes place on.

Bonnaroo Travel Blog

Sunset at Bonnaroo

After a final meal at the festival’s fantastic food stalls and trucks — soundtracked to the crazy energy of the nearby set — we raced back for headliner . Unfortunately, we were a little underwhelmed again. But I’d seen so many amazing acts on the smaller stages throughout the weekend, it was nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders.

After all, this festival was so much more than music.

Bonnaroo 2015

Bonnaroo After Dark

Bonnaroo 2015

Bonnaroo, a festival I quite frankly hadn’t spent too many hours dreaming of before I was lucky enough to attend, truly took me by surprise. In fact, I have a post coming up on all the ways it blindsided me. Bonnaroo was friendship. It was food. It was fitness. It was sustainability. It was community. It was art, and dancing, and creativity.

And yes — it was music.

Bonnaroo 2015

Have you ever been to Bonnaroo? Stay tuned for my next post!

All non-selfie shots that I’m in are likely courtesy of the talented ! What’s that you say? Bonnaroo was back in June? True, I’m pretty behind in my blogging — but the good news is, if this post inspires you to go in 2016, pre-sale tickets are rumored to go on sale one month from today. The perfect amount of time to get planning!

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36 Comments...
  • Ahhhh let’s do it all again next year. Cool? After all, you’d be doing a disservice to that flower crown and the watermelon romper not to bust them out again on the ‘Roo grounds!
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      So true. They deserve at least a double spin on the festival circuit…

  • LC
    October 27 2015

    Ah, so jealous you got to see Tears for Fears. What a rad looking festival!

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      They were amazing! Definitely a top set of the weekend.

  • Chris
    October 27 2015

    Wow, looks like you had a blast!

    I’ll admit, the first time I read the name I thought it must be somewhere in Australia (Bonnaroo sounds like our kind of thing)…

    Well done on the run, however I think one of my favourite festivals has that little run covered.

    Google the ‘Meredith Gift’ some time 😉
    Chris recently posted..

  • becky hutner
    October 27 2015

    Meihoukai. I thought I knew you!! 5K run at a festival? Barely a buzz??? But then you did bust out your “Take up as much room” so I’m gonna say….forgiven.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Ha, I know! So unlike me! But it was kind of fun to realize I could have fun under so many different circumstances, if that makes sense. It was a great time.

  • Dominique
    October 27 2015

    That festival looks like a lot of crazy fun! Sometimes it’s nice not to know a lot about a festival beforehand so that you don’t plan too much so that you can just enjoy it to the extreme! 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Exactly. Especially when traveling in a group, it’s tough if you have a really specific vision of how you want to do XYZ. It was nice to mostly just go with the flow.

  • Gemma
    October 27 2015

    I haven’t but this festival looks like a banging balance of party and fitness! No guilt pleasure. And… BELLE AND SEBASTIAN! A massive part of me and my girlfriends’ lives.
    Gemma recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      I admit, they were new to me! A fun part about going to this festival with my friends was getting to check out their favorite artists with them!

  • Kacy
    October 27 2015

    That sounds like the perfect festival experience! DC started a new festival this year to support the National Mall (jury’s still out how much help it was but that’s another story) and I loved being able to come and go and sleep in my own bed after the last show. Bonnaroo is up toward the top of my festival bucket list, so this was a great read!
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Nice! That’s great to hear. One more Roo post coming up soon 🙂

  • Andi
    October 27 2015

    Festivals are so not me, but it looks like you had such an amazing time! Love the pics!!
    Andi recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Thanks Andi! All that color… it was a photographer’s dream!

  • Sabine
    October 27 2015

    Oh wow, never heard of Bonaroo before, but Mumford and sons is so awesome! I went to the cma weekend a few years ago, but maybe next time I should consider Bonaroo 🙂
    Oh and a huge compliment to your Blog. I have to say I just found it a few weeks ago, but I think I already read at least all diving posts 😉
    All the best and greetings from Germany

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Thank you Sabine, that means a lot! I do have plenty of archives to keep new readers busy 😉

  • Britt
    October 27 2015

    So many amazing acts; I love Mumford and Sons and Hozier!

    I’ve kind of been a bit afraid of festivals since the time I passed out in a mosh pit in 45 degree heat (celsius of course).
    Britt recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Jeez! Yeah, that would put you off them — glad you were okay!

  • Amanda
    October 27 2015

    Oh man. You, Kristin, AND the NVR guys? I’m so JEALOUS. I’ve never been to a music festival, but I must admit that this looks like tons of fun – and the fact that you had a nice place to sleep makes it sound even better!
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Tell me about it! I spoiled myself at Tomorrowland with the VIP camping and now I don’t think I could ever go back to general admission again. A gorgeous Victorian was like the Super Platinum VIP 🙂

  • Laura
    October 27 2015

    Love this post Meihoukai!
    Looks amazing ! Nashville is definitely on my list when I finally get to the USA & i now have another reason to go !

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      Nice! Stay tuned for one more Bonnaroo post… I think it will give you even more reasons to make it a priority!

  • Marni
    October 27 2015

    This festival just screams fun! I love how much variety it offers. I’m also incredibly jealous you got to see Tears for Fears, and also attended a silent disco! The silent disco has interested me for awhile now.
    Marni recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 27 2015

      They are super fun! It’s always great being able to pop off your headphones and actually talk to your friends for a second and be able to hear what they say!

  • Meihoukaia
    October 29 2015

    AHHH YOU ARE SO COOL!!! How did you get your blog to be so popular? And how do you afford all these things? #lifegoals

    • Meihoukai
      October 30 2015

      Hey Meihoukaia, I work full-time on Meihoukai in Wanderland and earn a full-time living from it 🙂 Plus I have great friends who put me up often — like Kristin who hosted me here in Tennessee.

  • Sky
    October 29 2015

    I’ve been toying with the idea of hanging around the States long enough next summer to catch a festival or two before I head back to Central America and Bonnaroo was at the top of the list…I think this may have officially swayed my decision. I love the range of music…Kacy Musgraves and Hozier…so random but both so good!
    Sky recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      October 30 2015

      Nice! I think you’d be making a wise choice. What a send off that would be!

  • Nomadic Matt
    October 30 2015

    Kacey Musgrave is AWESOME! I love her stuff!

    • Meihoukai
      November 2 2015

      She is! I think you’d love Bonnaroo, if you’ve never been.

  • Leigh
    October 30 2015

    Sounds like a nearby home is the way to do ‘Roo! The whole camping like sardines thing always turned me off…I did that at the Gorge in Washington a few times!
    Leigh recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 2 2015

      And that’s why I love VIP festival camping so much 🙂 I think I’ll try to splurge on it from here forward!

  • Jones
    November 4 2015

    Amazing pictures! Bonnaroo is definitely close to the top of my festival bucket list. I don’t know when I’ll be in the States for it next, but I know it’ll be around for awhile. I’m dying to go to see how it compares to Coachella. : )
    Jones recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 8 2015

      Luckily summer is when I’m usually in the US, and that’s festival season! Coincidence, I swear 🙂