The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is an annual four-day music festival developed and produced by Superfly Presents and AC Entertainment. Since its first year in 2002, it has been held at what is now Great Stage Park on a 700-acre (2.8 km²) farm in Manchester, Tennessee, USA. The festival typically starts on the second Thursday in June and lasts four days. Main attractions of this festival are the multiple stages featuring live music with a diverse array of musical styles including indie rock, classic rock, world music, hip hop, jazz, americana, bluegrass, country music, folk, gospel, reggae, pop, electronic, and other alternative music. Musical acts play from around noon until 3:00am or later.
The festival began with a focus on jam bands and folk rock; it has diversified in recent years but continues to pay tribute to its roots. Notable acts have included Eminem, U2, Phish, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Tool, The Beach Boys, Kanye West, My Morning Jacket, Stevie Wonder, The White Stripes, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, The Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, James Brown, Wilco, Bon Iver, Arctic Monkeys, The Flaming Lips, Willie Nelson, Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Jay Z, Bob Dylan, The Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Dave Matthews Band, Buffalo Springfield, The Police, Arcade Fire, Jack Johnson, The Strokes, The Black Crowes, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys, Kings of Leon, ZZ Top, Dead & Company, and Widespread Panic. The festival features craftsmen and artisans selling unique products, food and drink vendors, a comedy tent, silent disco, cinema tent, and a Ferris wheel.
Bonnaroo Music Festival was largely influenced by rock concerts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as the massive Phish festivals of the late 1990s. The festival is a nod to the Monterey International Pop Music Festival (1967), the Atlanta International Pop Festival (1969, 1970), and most famously the Woodstock Music & Art Fair (1969).
The festival was ranked in 2003 by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll", "Festival of the Decade" by Consequence of Sound, and among the 10 Best Festivals by GQ Magazine.
Bonnaroo was established by Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment and Kerry Black (graphic design), Rick Farman (festival operations), Richard Goodstone (marketing), and Jonathan Mayers (programming) of Superfly Productions.
The first Bonnaroo Music Festival took place in 2002. The founders chose "bonnaroo" (Creole slang meaning a really good time) for its literal meaning and to honor the rich New Orleans music tradition they had enjoyed in college. Bonnaroo was popularized by New Orleans R&B singer Dr. John with his 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo is derived from the French "bonne" /bɔn/ the feminine agreement of "bon" /bɔ̃/ meaning "good," and the French "rue" /ry/ meaning "street," translating roughly to "the best on the streets".
The founders were inspired by music festivals they attended in the 1990s, including those put on by the band Phish, and events held in Coachella and Glastonbury. They found a site in Manchester, Tennessee that had facilities and good highway access. Using only their website for ticket sales, they sold out the festival in about two weeks. By 2003, the festival had been named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 'top 50 moments in rock & roll.' Comedy acts such as Jim Breuer were first added in 2005. In 2007, Bonnaroo purchased the land for the festival, creating Great Stage Park with all of its iconic features. They installed a permanent main stage in 2010.