If you’re an RV traveler with a passion for music festivals, you already have a busy calendar — Coachella in mid-April, Summerfest at the end of June, and Lollapalooza in early August. These are some of the priciest, high-attendance, and most logistically difficult festivals, though, which can lead to burnout if you’re hopping from one to the other throughout the summer. There are dozens of smaller, more niche festivals with limited lineups offering a more relaxed experience. That’s where Columbus, OH’s Wonderbus Festival comes in.
What is the Wonderbus Festival?
With only 15,000 annual attendees, it’s less than a tenth the size of some of the flagship summer festivals. This can be a blessing for first-time attendees as you won’t need to worry as much about lines at the gate, bathrooms, or food vendors. It also means there won’t be as much pressure on the city’s traffic, with parking, rideshares, and public transportation being easier to access.
This year’s Wonderbus festival has Demi Lovato, Pitbull, and Caamp headlining, with tons of lesser-known acts like Portugal the Man, Brittany Howard, and Dayglow on the bill too. There are also loads of art, food, and activities to experience when you’re not binging on fantastic musical performances.
When and Where is Wonderbus 2023?
Wonderbus runs from August 26th to 28th and takes place on the Lawn at CAS at 2540 Olentangy River Road in Columbus, just north of the Ohio State University campus. The venue is a few miles outside the city center, helping to alleviate traffic and parking issues found in more urban festival settings. However, a short walk over the Olentangy River puts you in Old North Columbus, home to dozens of great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops along North High Street.
Where to Get Your Wonderbus Festival Tickets
Tickets for Wonderbus can be purchased on the festival’s website for either a single day or for the whole weekend. Single day tickets cost $92 with a $25 service fee or $199 for a weekend pass with a $37 service fee. Festival attendees with a student ID can get tickets for a few dollars less, and if you have three friends, four packs of single-day tickets are only $300, and weekend passes are $600.
General admission plus tickets are $180 for a single day or $295 for the weekend pass and give you access to air-conditioned bathrooms, priority entry lines, and a dedicated seating area with shade. For the finest festival experience, there’s the VIP pass, which costs $350 for a single day or $575 for the weekend and comes with all the general admission perks plus a catered lunch and dinner, along with an even better-dedicated seating area.
How to Get to Wonderbus 2023
Columbus’s central location within Ohio (a state that is also quite centrally located) makes getting to Wonderbus a breeze. The city’s main airport, John Glenn Columbus International, has flights to dozens of cities along the east coast and throughout the south with a few destinations on the west coast.
A smaller airport, Rickenbacker is a few miles south of the city and serves as a hub for low-cost carrier Allegiant Airlines, with flights to popular tourist destinations in Florida and Georgia. However, due to the limited number of destinations served and relatively low traffic, Columbus is known for having higher-than-average ticket prices. The closest Amtrak station is also two hours away in Cleveland and provides service between Chicago and New York, D.C., or Boston. Given the higher cost of flights and train tickets, most Wonderbus attendees will arrive in their vehicle.
Traveling in your own vehicle, especially an RV, also gives festival-goers the option of camping somewhere outside the city limits. Campsites, even with full hookups, are considerably less expensive than a hotel in Columbus, which usually charge higher rates during events like Wonderbus.
Parking at the Lawn on CAS is available for $25/day (paid in cash), but spaces are limited, so your best bet is to take public transportation or park on the street nearby and walk to the venue. Free parking is available on many residential streets throughout North Columbus, but to avoid any hassle or burdening the neighborhood, it’s best to leave your RV at one of the park-and-ride lots at the edge of the city. The #1 and #2 COTA buses stop at or very near the Lawn on CAS.
Things to Do Near Wonderbus
Columbus doesn’t receive top billing on most travelers’ bucket lists, but there are dozens of exciting attractions and neighborhoods worth exploring during your trip to Wonderbus 2023. The Short North Arts District is just south of the festival venue and features several art galleries, plenty of trendy shops, and some of the city’s best restaurants. There’s also the Scioto Mile, a riverfront walking and biking path with amazing views of the city skyline. Sports fans can take a walk through the nearby Ohio State University campus and visit “the Horseshoe”, home to the Buckeye football team.
Arrived by car or RV? There’s a world of possibilities outside of Columbus to explore should you have some time before or after the festival.
Cuyahoga National Park
A few hours north, just outside of Cleveland, is one of the most underrated parks in the Midwest. Cuyahoga National Park’s history is one of both incredible sadness and inspiring redemption: in the late 1960s, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River was one of the nation’s most polluted waterways, even catching fire in a widely televised disaster. In the following decades, though, a Herculean effort was made to clean up the river, transforming it from a toxic wasteland into a tranquil green space spanned by multiple bike paths and hiking trails.
New River Gorge National Park
If you’re coming to Wonderbus from the South, a stop at New River Gorge National Park should definitely be on your itinerary. As of 2023, it is America’s most recently designated national park and showcases some of the most beautiful landscapes of West Virginia. An abundance of hiking trails ascend, traverse, and overlook the namesake river and its 1000-foot-high cliffs, and with over 1,600 established routes, the park is a mecca within the rock climbing community.
Where to Stay During the Wonderbus Festival
There’s no camping allowed at the festival, but Columbus isn’t an especially large city, and it only takes a few minutes to get outside the city limits, where there are several public and private campgrounds to stay in. One of the closest is Alum Creek State Park, about a half-hour north of the venue. With over 200 sites with electrical and 30 sites with full hookups, not to mention hot showers and a dump station, this is an ideal campsite for RVers attending Wonderbus.
Just a short drive to the east of Alum Creek is Berkshire Lake Campground, which has over 300 sites with full hookups. They also have kayaks and paddleboards for rent, and a swimming pool and miniature golf course, so you’ll never be short on activities during your stay. The smaller, city-owned Pastime Park is also around half an hour from the venue but to the west of the city. It has only a few full hookup sites but a few dozen with water, electrical hookups, and showers.
Road-Tripping to Wonderbus 2023
Road-tripping to a music festival can be a thrilling and unforgettable experience, filled with incredible performances, delicious food, and the opportunity to explore places along the way that you’d never otherwise consider visiting. Cruise America can help to make those travel dreams a reality with an RV rental that is affordable and, just as importantly, dependable.
So start planning your Wonderbus experience today, and contact us to assist with all your transportation needs.