How Much 'Carefree' Festival Fun Will Cost You

Though winter is still dreadfully weighing upon us and it doesn't seem possible, we're creeping into that long stretch of music nirvana that spans the spring, summer and a bit of the fall: music festival season! OutKast is reuniting and headlining Governor's Ball in New York this summer, as well as Coachella, whose lineup is out of this world amazing. And last night, at the Bonnaroo Lineup Announcement Megathon aka BLAM! (ten points for name koolness) hosted by comedians Taran Killam and Hannibal Burress with performances by the goddamn Flaming Lips among others, the Tennessee music festival's official lineup was released. And as expected, it's phenomenal: headlining are KANYE WEST, Frank Ocean, Lauryn Hill, the Avett Brothers, SIR ELTON JOHN, and non-headliners but still awesome acts Neutral Milk Hotel, Vampire Weekend, The Flaming Lips, Lionel Ritchie and Phoenix. Someone pass me my inhaler because I am freaking out with delight.

But it's a woeful anticipation because I know the cost of a music festival is just not feasibly affordable for a cashpoor freelance writer like me. But who CAN afford these festivals anymore? They're still marketed as ~fun, carefree getaways from the daily grind~ where you can congregate with your fellow music lovers and just enjoy the sound, man. But I'm calling bullshit, because at this point music fests cost an arm and a leg and your iPhone 5S. Here's what you're in for if you're looking to attend Bonnaroo this year:


Gotta pay to get in the door. Bonnaroo, which is held in Tennessee from June 12-15, offers a lot of payment plan (a lot of music festivals do these days) because those definitely work for your student loans, so why not for a festival? Pre-sale passes which are obviously long gone were $234.50 for four days of "music, laughter, art and positivity." If you want to do this in installments because that's sensible (in this economy!), you too can be laughing positively and creatively for only 4 payments of $57.00 and one payment of $91.60. So why don't you just skip brunch for the rest of your life?

If you just got a new job or you wanna max out that pre-approved credit card, you can buy a VIP ticket, which is a reasonable $1499.50 (that fifty cents is just rude) for two tickets and "a scoop of luxury" which includes amenities like "a parking spot" and "a shower." Very luxurious.


Sadly technology has not delivered on the promise of jetpacks so you gotta get there somehow. Bonnaroo, luckily, is in Manchester, TN, aka "Wait, where?" If you don't have the time to drive, you can buy your flight tickets early. According to the Bonnaroo site, the exact location is: "a beautiful 700-acre farm, located in Manchester, TN, about 60 miles southeast of Nashville and 40 miles northwest of Chattanooga," but don't worry, 'Roo has an airport shuttle (that of course is not free). If you buy your tickets now:

From NY: $237

From LA: $420

From Florida: $320


Fear of flying? "Getting there is half the fun?" Get on the road, you free spirits! If you have your own car, the only expense is gas! How much is gas these days, anyway? About $3.50 is the national average, and let's say you have an adequately fuel efficient vehicle (being generous here) that gets 25 MPG.

From NY (about 1000 miles, 15 hours): $140

From LA: (about 2000 miles, a day): $280

From Miami: (about 800 miles, 12 hours or so): $115

And then there's the price you pay in sanity from being in a car with your annoying friends for the better part of a day.


Part of that quaint music fest charm is marinating in your own filth at a campsite with lots of other drunk and stoned fest-goers. Don't worry, camping is included in the price of a ticket, but you still need a tent, and a cooler, and a sleeping bag, and the knowledge of how to set up a tent, and the ability to find your camping spot when darkness falls.


OMG I hate that "festival fashion" is even a thing. But since celebrities started going to music fests, they've become the place to see and be seen, so buy yourself a pair of perfect fringe booties that will get ruined by sweat and mud so you can photographed by someone with a blog and pin your outfit to Pinterest.


You're not gonna spend this four-day endeavor sober, are you? Between booze and "other," let's just be generous and say you're looking at about $100 here.


You're gonna probably need to eat something over the four days in the Southern sun. Load up on that SPF. Then there's the inevitable overages you're gonna incur on your data plan from all that Instagramming and "OMG where r u guys?" texts you're gonna send and receive. And don't you want some cool band tees to prove to everyone you're just, at the end of the day, a committed music fan? If only we all had a disposable $700-$1000 to "escape into Excitement. Music. Art. Discoveries. Trees. Fresh Air. Green Grass," but I think I'll just stay at home with my Youtube videos and bodega whiskey. As much as I love the acts headlining at Bonnaroo this year, I just can't afford the carefree summer fun of festivals! Debt doesn't seem so fun for me.