Five things to know about Big Ears Festival

Photo courtesy of Nathan Zucker

Build it… and they will come. Sure, that might apply to a baseball diamond in a cornfield, but it also fits Big Ears, Knoxville’s world-class music festival that launched in 2009, the vision of AC Entertainment’s Ashley Capps. Fourteen years later, it’s been called “one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over” by the Oxford American and “one of the world’s greatest music bashes” by The New York Times

If you’ve not been lucky enough to attend in the past, here are five things you may not know about Big Ears. 

  1. Big Ears performers defy description. Big Ears brings to downtown Knoxville outstanding composers and musicians representing all genres of music: from classical to jazz, rock to folk, as well as genre-spanning performers who are blazing new trails. 
  2. It’s everywhere. Seriously. You’ll find Big Ears concerts and events in two downtown churches, at restaurants and bars, at the Tennessee Theatre and the Bijou, as well as the Tennessee Amphitheater at World’s Fair Park, at an art gallery, a museum, as well as in performance spaces downtown and in the Old City. The whole city will sing with sound. 
  3. This year Big Ears branches out. Its lineup includes literary artists as well as musicians, including poets, essayists and writers that include Nikki Giovanni and Patti Smith. In addition to performing their work, they will participate in talks and panel discussions throughout the festival. 
  4. This year’s Big Ears is March 24-27. After two years of COVID-impacted streaming performances and special events, the Big Ears Festival returns in a big way, offering more than 150 concerts throughout downtown. The bad news? It’s sold out already.
  5. The good news? There’s hope. First, there will be free concerts open to the public at the Tennessee Amphitheater beginning at 4 p.m. on March 24 and 3 p.m. on March 25, as well as a 1 p.m. parade through the Old City led by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on March 26. Second, if ticket holders find they can’t attend, they can sell their passes to someone looking to buy at LYTE. The site does not allow markups on the face value of the ticket and retains all the documentation required to register at the festival. Learn more about it here

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