185 miles from Atlanta
What it is: Hosted on a 700-acre farm since 2002, this four-day, sweaty, multistage music and camping festival started out as a laid-back jam-band gathering but now attracts more than 80,000 revelers for performances from big names like Bruce Springsteen and Phish as well as lesser-knowns from genres as varied as indie rock, electronica, and blues. bonnaroo.com
Insider tip: Visit the Sonic Stage to see smaller acts up close. And take a nap in the afternoon so you’ll have energy for the nighttime performances.
Why I go: “Bonnaroo is almost maniacal in its level of energy saturation, but there is a method behind the madness that allows artists and listeners to share a truly magical and intense experience. In the end, it’s all about the music.” —Annika von Grey, who plays violin, banjo, guitar, and keyboard with her sisters in the Atlanta-based band von Grey
Where to sleep: If you can manage the cost, rent an RV. Camping in tents can be a challenge—music goes late into the night, and the sun will wake you early in the morning. Plus, there’s not a lot of shade at the event site.
What to eat: There’s more than just hot dogs and soda here—carts and kiosks sell everything from locally sourced veggies to authentic arepas and Amish doughnuts. And Bonnaroo Buzz ice cream by Ben and Jerry’s is free.
What not to miss: The Ferris wheel, the merchandise (buy it on Thursday night, before it sells out), the fireworks on Saturday night, the sunsets.
Listen anywhere: Radio Bonnaroo is available year-round via the festival website, mobile app, iPad app, and Mac app. Hear music, artist interviews, and live programming during the festival itself.