It’s that time of year again when Knoxville’s streets, shops, parks, venues, and public spaces
come alive in a three part harmony of the things the city is famous for: music, food, and outdoor
fun. Spring in Knoxville is a time of reawakening—when the town returns to life and when the
people come pouring into the city from far and wide for exciting festivals both big and small.
Whether you’re looking for grassroots outdoor celebrations or headline music events, here’s the
perfect guide to some of the can’t miss festivals happening in Knoxville this spring.
Big Ears: March 31 - April 2
The Big Ears Music Festival is easily one of the most unique and exciting celebrations of music
you can find in East Tennessee. Since its debut in 2009, Big Ears has hosted big names like
Radiohead, the National, and Vampire Weekend, but its real draw is the eclectic and boundary-
pushing experimental soundsmiths, many of whom would likely not have such a large stage,
were it not for Big Ears.
Film screenings, installations, exhibits, and, of course, music abound at the festival, and are
housed in some of Knoxville's most beautiful historic buildings. And for one weekend a year, the
town most prominently known as "the cradle for country music" transforms itself into a hip
avant garde sound shop more commonly found in places like Brooklyn or Portland.
But if you're not fully sold on the idea (or can't afford the $150 weekend pass), you can enjoy a
taste of Big Ears for free! John Luther Adams will perform his outdoor masterpiece 'Inuksuit'
around Meads Quarry, backed up by up to 99 additional percussionists, on Sunday, April 3 at
12:00pm to close out the eventful festival. Come take part in this oneofakind musical
experience in one of Knoxville's favorite outdoor spaces. Just be careful. You might walk away
with slightly bigger ears.
Knoxville Marathon: April 2
Knoxville’s signature running experience is now open for registration and daring you to attempt
its 26.2mile tour through downtown. Participants in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon
will start at the Clinch Avenue Bridge and run through downtown, finishing at the 50yard line
of the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium.
Not ready to run a full marathon? That’s okay. There are a wide variety of options, including the
half marathon, 5k, and a kids run that give runners of every age, skill, and style a chance to race
across the city. You can even team up with a friend (or three!) for one of the relays.
You can find more info on the races, start times, volunteering, and the best places to watch on
the official race website, knoxvillemarathon.com. We’ll see you at the finish line!
Rhythm N' Blooms: April 8-10
The Rhythm N' Blooms Music Festival is the musical centerpiece of Dogwood Arts—Knoxville’s
largest art expo. In addition to a full house at The Pilot Light, you’ll find local, regional, and
internationally renowned bands packed into transformed urban settings, hair salons, and pizza
shops along Jackson Avenue for a full weekend celebrating sound, the city, and spring vibes.
Previous headliners have included the Decemberists and the Black Lillies, and you can buy your
Rossini Festival: April 23
Between 60 and 100,000 people attend the Knoxville Opera’s annual music and food fair. Why
not be one of them this year? For the low low price of absolutely zero dollars (yup totally free!)
you can see Gay Street transformed into a sea of tents, tenors, and technicolor as you indulge in
a taste of Europe at one of Knoxville’s most popular street festivals. Learn more at the Knoxville
Biscuit Festival: May 13 - 14
This one pretty much explains itself. Come enjoy all things buttery, fluffy, and southern at the
International Biscuit Festival. The $10 Biscuit Boulevard ticket gets you access to the festival
and includes a chance to sample five different biscuit creations. If you’re a serious doughboy (or
doughgirl), you can also buy a ticket for the prefestival Biscuit Bash the night before. Find out
more at biscuitfest.com.
The Knoxville Stomp: May 5 - 8
If Rhythm N' Blooms celebrates the music of the moment and Big Ears celebrates emerging,
around the remastering and release of the once lost, 1930's era "Knoxville Sessions," Stomp
highlights the diverse musical heritage of this city in the form of museum exhibitions, film
screenings, a record show, panel discussions, and, of course, plenty of live musical
entertainment. Like the "Sessions," much of the city’s nuanced musical history has been
forgotten, but for at least a few days, Stomp will resurrect the tracks, tones, and secret
trailblazers of our sonic city's past.
For a full list of spring festivities in Knoxville, check out Visit Knoxville’s event page.