Moon River 2023 – Recap

It has been awhile since LTFL got down to Chattanooga for Moon River. Our last adventure was in 2019, the link to that recap is right here.

One thing that stuck out to me from that visit was that there was a really nice hotel just on the other side of the pedestrian bridge from the festival site, and I wanted to stay there. Turns out that hotel is The Edwin and it was an excellent choice – more about that soon. Let’s start from the beginning.

This trip started eventfully with a rushed trip to the Philadelphia Airport and a truck sending a giant piece of debris straight through my windshield. Thanks to a flight delay and AAA, I still made it to the airport in time to meet up with my travel buddy and catch our flight (not without a quick drink at the bar – much needed by this point).

In any event, all was eventually fine and we flew easily into the Atlanta Airport, rented a car and made the trip (about two hours) up to Chattanooga. The bonus was we got to save quite a bit on flights and stop at Buc-ee’s. We got to The Edwin in time to snag a drink and some Doordashed local goodies at the rooftop bar, Whiskey Thief. The next morning we snagged mimosa flights and delicious brunch a couple blocks from the hotel at Ruby Sunshine. Strongly recommend.

After brunch, it was time to change into our festival gear, snag the cameras, and head inside. The GA line to get in was long but moved quickly. We made a quick stop at the merch tent before heading to the stages. It was a beautiful early afternoon of music and food.

As it started to warm up, we snagged some snow cones and headed over to do a tasting from George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey. $15 bought us four tasting sized portions of very nice whiskey – some of the bottles were super expensive, so a great opportunity to sample- and it also bought us some shade.

About this time, the sky started to darken and we had a feeling that a storm was coming. A bit later, the festival got evacuated and we headed for the hotel. It was the perfect spot because it wasn’t too long of a walk back (many thanks to Sarah for running with my camera gear). We went up to the rooftop again, and grabbed some appetizers and a drink while we waited for news. Having been evacuated from a number of festivals, I can say this one was both pretty smooth and short. They opened all the side exits, so I headed for one of those and right out with no trouble. By the time we reached the hotel, the downpour was over, and we were able to watch the lightning in the distance from afar. By the time we were finished with our food and drinks, we got the alert that we could head back into the festival. Sarah decided to use the opportunity to finish some schoolwork and dry her shoes, so I headed back in solo and got to see some excellent music.

This is Drew Holcomb’s festival – so I couldn’t miss his performance – especially with the added energy of Johnnyswim – performing together as Goodbye Road. We even caught a wink from Johnnyswim. Follow that up with Marcus King and Needtobreathe and it was an excellent night of music.

I finished the night off with some more snacks from the nearby food trucks before heading home across the bridge.

Day 2 featured Sarah making the morning trip alone, due to a stomach bug I apparently brought with me from our daycare germ infested little one. She had a blast checking out the activations, including snagging some swag from White Claw and some of the festival’s signature cocktails – before heading over to check out Noah Cyrus.

I joined her shortly after so that we could spend the afternoon listening to awesome music from Judah & The Lion, and Hozier. We walked across the bridge and made plans to go to a sort of speakeasy style bar called Company Chattanooga, but eventually decided sleep was more important. We grabbed a quick coffee and pastry in the hotel lobby cafe – which was delicious, and hit the road back to Atlanta for a morning flight. There are tons of options to fly into Chattanooga directly (if you plan earlier than I did), but Atlanta had a ton of direct flights and was inexpensive even at the last minute. Not a terrible drive. One tip though, we found out when we got there that a ton of the rental car places were very booked – so plan ahead and don’t wait on a car.

Final thoughts: Moon River (and Drew Holcomb) remain on top of our list of festivals this size. This festival is super family friendly, offering a ton of shade especially under the bridge and spots for everyone (from the sports lover to the bourbon enthusiast). Yes friends you can watch college football on a giant tv at the festival. Chattanooga is also an awesome place to eat, explore, and even get out and hike. Lots of people camped out on blankets and chairs in this area throughout the festival. They also have an amazing children’s area, including a large splash pad/fountain that provided an excellent place for kids to stay cool and burn off that snow cone energy. In 2019, the festival partnered with someone to offer some river based activities – like boating – that’s one thing I personally would love to see come back in the future.

Make sure to check out the links above to our last recap for more info on Moon River. Hope to see lots of familiar faces out there next year.

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