Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion is an Americana music festival that takes place in the Cities of Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia. Various stages are set up in Downtown Bristol, where the performances take place. The state line separating Tennessee and Virginia runs right through the middle of one of the streets in the area. This makes it a truly unique venue for a music festival.
Bristol is often hailed as the "Birthplace of Country Music." It gets this recognition thanks to the “Bristol Sessions,” recordings made in the early 20s by artists like the Carter Family members and Jimmie Rogers. The festival was first held in 2001 as a way to celebrate the city’s incredible musical heritage.
Sam Bush, The Avett Brothers, Langhorne Slim, Ralph Stanley,John Cowan, Del McCoury, Blue Rapture, Cadillac Sky, John Oates Band, Delta Spirit, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, A Great Disaster, and Acoustic Syndicate are some of the artists who have performed at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in the past.
Festivities take place over a four-block area, with many restaurants, bars, and shops in the vicinity. Over the years, new additions have been made like a dance tent and smaller secondary stages.
Patrons can choose been single-day, and three-day General Admission passes. They range in price from $45 for single-day tickets to $125 for three-day tickets. Ticket prices go up closer to the festival dates.
You can buy your passes online or visit the store at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum to buy them. Children are welcome, and those under the age of 12 can enter for free. For more information on tickets and pricing, take a look at the official festival website, for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion.
If you’re coming from the north or south into the city, you’ll need to drive along the I-81 and take Exit 3 to reach Bristol. If you’re traveling in from the east or west, drive along the I-26 and take Exit 46. Look out for signs along the way that will guide you to State street, the heart of the downtown area. The Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion takes place at the Birthplace of Country Museum on the Virginia side of Bristol. The Bristol area is not only were Tennessee and Virginia state lines meet, but it is also close to the edges of Kentucky and North Carolina. Monitor weather and road conditions for these areas as you travel to and from the area.
Limited free street parking is available around the downtown area, close to the venue. Keep in mind that you’ll need to get there early to nab these spots. The organizers typically work with a number of hotels in the city, from where shuttle services are available. You also have the option of parking at one of these hotel lots. Don't forget to consider your vehicle size when planning for parking.
Busses operated by the Bristol Virginia Transit and the Bristol Tennessee Transit have drop-off points close to the venue. Paid shuttle services operating from both the Virginia and Tennessee sides of town are usually available on the days of the event. You can also use a ride-hailing service to get to the site.
Onsite camping or overnight parking is not permitted at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Book a spot at a campground or RV park nearby in advance.
The nearest campground is less than 10 miles away from the festival grounds. Here you can find facilities like water, electrical, and sewer hookups, running-water toilets, showers, and laundry services. There are also a couple of options close to the highway, making them easy to reach in an RV.
The best way to get from one stage to the next is usually on foot, but you can also ride a bike between venues. Patrons with mobility disabilities can use wheelchairs, scooters, and powerchairs to get around the site. The area is accessible, and the entrances are wheelchair friendly. Reserved viewing areas will be available for ADA guests.
Most festival attendees will be dressed in jeans or shorts and t-shirts, to stay comfortable and make the most of the warm weather. Add a bit of flair with a stylish hat or quirky sunglasses. Keep in mind that you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking from one stage to the next. So, comfortable, flat shoes are a must.
Taking a few essentials with you can make staying out the whole day much more comfortable at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Carry sunscreen, a hat, bug spray, a rain poncho, hand sanitizer, and a portable charger. Camp chairs are allowed, but you may not need them since there is often some outdoor seating available.
Be sure to pace yourself and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you misplace one of your belongings, you can head to the lost and found area or contact the festival organizers. Patrons are advised to drink alcohol responsibly. Anyone exhibiting unsafe behavior will be removed from the grounds.
Campfires are typically permitted on the campgrounds in the area. Those that allow fires will generally have firewood available onsite at a reasonable price. Any flames must be contained inside a fire ring. In the event that the weather becomes very dry, a city-wide fire ban may be imposed by the fire marshal. Grocery replenishment options are as close as a 10-minute drive from the main festival area in case you need to restock.
There are some excellent restaurants, bakeries, and cafes in Downtown Bristol. The city has a thriving and vibrant food scene. Some dishes to try are the overstuffed sandwiches, parmesan fries, bagel sandwiches, and fresh-made ice cream. There are also a number of eateries serving delicious Chinese and Italian Food. Some locations may also be within walking distance from the music activities.
There are several local eateries within the venue grounds for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. On event days, food and beverage vendors will be selling delicious eats near all the stages. A couple of beverage gardens will also be set up, where alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be purchased. Alcohol can only be consumed within these areas or in a bar or restaurant that serves it.
Security personnel and event staff will be present at the entrances and will also be patrolling the area. Bags will be searched thoroughly before entry, so check the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion website to make sure you’re not carrying any prohibited items. Alcohol consumption will only be allowed in designated areas where alcoholic drinks are served.
The weather is typically warm and pleasant, with a slim chance of rain. If severe weather does occur, emergency procedures are in place. Organizers will make announcements and arrangements at that time if changes are required due to weather conditions. Download the festival mobile app for weather information and road alerts. These will be updated regularly on the website.
There will be a first aid tent located at a central part of the venue. It will be staffed with medical professionals trained to handle emergencies. ADA-accessible portable restrooms will be available throughout the area. Service animals are allowed, and medically necessary items can be brought in with the proper ID and documents.