Declared “one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over” by The Oxford American Magazine, Big Ears Festival is a dynamic, interactive experience that explores connections between musicians and artists, crossing all musical genres while interfacing with film, performance and the visual arts.

Highlights from Big Ears 2017

Venues of Big Ears

Tennessee Theatre

604 S Gay Street

The magnificent Tennessee Theatre first opened its doors in 1928 as Tennessee’s grand movie palace and was hailed as “the South’s most beautiful theatre.” Writers from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork have likened it to performing inside a Fabergé egg. It’s a fabulously ornate space – one that hosts everything from classic movies, symphonies, Broadway touring shows, dance and live music events. Acts such as B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Kings of Leon, Widespread Panic and Morrissey have all performed on its storied stage.

The Mill & Mine

225 Depot Avenue

Knoxville promoter Ashley Capps and developers David Dewhirst and Mark Heinz have partnered in a new downtown concert venue called The Mill & Mine. Located across from the Southern Railway Station at 225 Depot Ave., the venue has a 1,200-patron capacity and features a large elevated stage, a second floor viewing area, private rooms and outside patios.

The U.S. Cellular Stage at the Bijou Theatre

803 S. Gay Street

The Bijou Theatre is one of East Tennessee’s oldest and most revered performance venues, opening in 1909, as part of the Lamar House hotel, one of the oldest buildings in Knoxville. Tabbed by the New York Times as “one of the best sounding rooms in this country,” the U.S. Cellular Stage at the Bijou offers a clear stage view and aural excellence from every seat. Music, vaudeville, opera, comedy and more have all been
performed on the historic stage throughout the years hosting, among others, Joan Baez, The Ramones, Richard Thompson, Bob Weir, St. Vincent, Sonic Youth, Philip Glass, and the xx.

The Standard


With its urban feel, huge skylights, exposed brick and more than 10,000 square feet of usable space, The Standard is a beautiful and unique event space in Knoxville. Originally built in 1930 for manufacturing, 416 West Jackson Avenue once housed the building’s namesake, the Standard Wilson Glass Company. Today, The Standard features an original wood staircase, copper storefronts, exposed brick walls, arched
doorways and much of the original trim detail—making the space perfect for weddings, galas, parties, receptions and so much more.

Knoxville Museum of Art


Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee, presents new art and new ideas, educates and serves a diverse community, enhances Knoxville’s quality of life, and operates ethically, responsibly and transparently as a public trust.

St. John's Episcopal Cathedral


St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral has been an anchor congregation of downtown Knoxville since 1826. The present church building dates from 1892, although the oldest parts of the campus still in use were built in the 1850s. The church’s generous acoustic and beautiful Richardsonian Romanesque interior have made it an ideal space for music, and St. John’s has been a frequent host of choirs, chamber music, orchestras, and organ recitals. Today, St. John’s Cathedral seeks to contribute to the rich cultural life of Knoxville and participate in the vibrant downtown community through charitable works, the arts, social activities and as a house of prayer for all people.

The Square Room

4 Market Square

Stepping through the archway into the small alley nestled in Knoxville’s Historic Market Square district, one can’t help but get the feeling that something unexpected lies behind the doors of The Square Room. Each performance at the Square Room has a setting unique to the audience in order to afford music fans of all ages the opportunity to enjoy every aspect of a live show. The combination of the intimate setting, top-of-the-line sound, lighting & video equipment make the Square Room one of Knoxville’s must-visit venues.

Church Street United Methodist Church

900 Henley Street

Church Street United Methodist Church‘s first congregation met in 1816. Since that time, the church has relocated a number of times, finally settling on its centralized Henley Street location in 1928. On Labor Day 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was driven past the church en route to Newfound Gap to dedicate the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He reportedly inquired about the church and remarked, “That is the most beautiful church I have ever seen.” In 2009, the church building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recognized for its architecture and beautiful stained glass.

Photo by Inside of Knoxville

Boyd's Jig & Reel

101 S. Central Street

Jig and Reel is an authentic Scottish music and Whisky pub located in the Old City. Open six days a week, they serve delicious meals with a focus on friendly Scottish hospitality. Its extensive Scotch selection is one of the best in the world and, with over 600 whiskies on their full list, any of their knowledgeable bartenders will be happy to recommend something new for you to try. It is their goal to preserve their musical history and celebrate the Scottish culture of their ancestors.

Visit Knoxville Visitors Center

301 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN

Located in downtown Knoxville at the corner of Summit and Gay, the Knoxville Visitors Center is the place for all things Knoxville. From maps and information on tours and entertainment to locally made art and gifts, visitors and locals alike enjoy trips to our Visitors Center.

Regal Riviera Stadium 8

510 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN

Regal Riviera Stadium 8 stands on the site of the long lost, jazz-era Riviera Theatre. Regal’s Riviera features all the latest amenities along with an impeccable film presentation for an outstanding moviegoing experience and is the first new downtown cinema in Knoxville since the Roxy Theatre was built in the 1930’s.


When and Where is Big Ears 2018?

Big Ears is March 22-25, 2018 in downtown Knoxville, TN.

When will I receive my wristbands?

Wristbands were mailed to weekend pass holders the week of March 5.

Daily ticket holders and international patrons can pick up wristbands at will call, located at 304 W. Jackson Ave. Knoxville, TN 37902.

Will call hours of operation:
Thursday, 3/22
12:00PM – 11:00PM

Friday, 3/23
9:30AM – 11:00PM

Saturday, 3/24
10:00AM – 11:00PM

Sunday, 3/25
10:00AM – 8:00PM

I never received my wristbands. What should I do?

When you arrive at the festival, please stop by the box office with your photo ID and email confirmation from Ticketmaster, and we’ll help you out!

Box Office Location:

304 W. Jackson Ave

Knoxville, TN 37902


Wednesday: 5PM – 8PM

Thursday: 12PM – 11PM

Friday: 9:30AM – 11PM

Saturday: 10AM – 11PM

Sunday: 10AM – 8PM

How can I download the 2018 mobile app?

For the most up-to-date schedule information for Big Ears 2018 and alerts about secret shows, please download the mobile app, available for free in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Marketplace.

When and where can I check in at will call?

The will call/box office is located at 304 W. Jackson Ave. Knoxville, TN 37902.
Hours of operation:

Wednesday, 3/21


Thursday, 3/22
12:00PM – 11:00PM

Friday, 3/23
9:30AM – 11:00PM

Saturday, 3/24
10:00AM – 11:00PM

Sunday, 3/25
10:00AM – 8:00PM

When and where can I purchase tickets?

You may purchase tickets online or at any Ticketmaster outlet.

Are there any age restrictions?

Big Ears 2018 is an all-ages event. Passes/tickets will be required for patrons ages 2 and older.

Can I volunteer at Big Ears 2018?

2018 volunteer applications are now closed.

Do you offer any ticket discounts?

Discounts in general (i.e. student, military, elderly, professional organizations, government, etc.) are not something we are offering at this time. We have worked extremely hard to keep the price down and value high.

How do I get to Big Ears?

Knoxville is located in Eastern Tennessee at the crossroads of I-40 and I-75, and is an easy drive from anywhere in the eastern United States. Knoxville is 3 hours from Nashville and Atlanta and an easy 4 hours from Cincinnati, Louisville or Charlotte. McGhee Tyson Airport is only 20 minutes from downtown Knoxville, and is serviced by six national airlines with both direct and easy connecting flights. Both Megabus and Greyhound also service the Knoxville area. Get more information on our travel page.

What hotels are close to the venues? is a great source for Knoxville hotel information. Visit our this page for a list of hotels, including those downtown.

Do I need to rent a car?

It’s up to you.  If you’re staying at one of Knoxville’s downtown hotels, you will be within an easy walk of all Big Ears concerts and events, as well as a great selection of excellent restaurants.  If you are staying outside of the downtown area, renting a car is the easiest means of transportation.  If you choose to rent a car, you will find parking downtown to be cheap (often free), easy, and plentiful throughout the weekend. Information regarding car rentals and transportation services from McGhee Tyson Airport can be found here.

Where can I park?

There are multiple parking options in downtown Knoxville. Parking is free at all city-owned garages after 6 PM on weekdays and all day throughout the weekend. For more information and a map, click here.

Additionally, if you are staying in a downtown Knoxville hotel, parking options are generally available during your stay. Please contact your hotel for further details.

Is public transportation available?

Downtown Knoxville is serviced by a trolley system. You can find the route map and additional public transportation information here. Your hotel should also be able to assist in any ground transportation needs.

Do you take credit or debit cards?

Yes, bars at all venues will accept cash and credit/debit cards. Merchandise stands will also accept cash and credit/debit cards.

There are numerous banks and ATMs located throughout the downtown area, including ATMs at the Bijou Theatre and The Standard.

Will alcohol be available at each event?

Most events will have a bar with beverages available, but some of the more non-traditional venues may not be serving alcohol.

Is Big Ears ADA accessible?

Yes, with the exact accessibility specifications based on  the venue. Please contact each venue for their specifications.

What about safety and medical needs?

If you need medical attention, please alert an event organizer, venue staff, or member of our security staff and we will assist you.

Can I bring a camera?

Disposable and small digital photography will be allowed, but anything with a removable lens is not permitted. Audio and video recording devices are prohibited. Additionally, please be respectful of other patrons and the artists when using your camera. No flash photography allowed.

What can I bring and what is prohibited?

What’s ACCEPTABLE: Small purse or backpack, camera with non-removable lens. Please remember, everyone is subject to search.

What’s PROHIBITED: Drugs, controlled substances, alcohol, outside food or drink (including sealed water bottles), weapons, firearms, projectiles including glowsticks, video recording equipment, tri-pods, audio recording equipment and unauthorized merchandise.

Any person attempting to enter the venues with any of the prohibited item(s) above will be refused access, or at the venue’s discretion, allowed to give up the prohibited item(s) before entry. Confiscated items will be disposed of or given away at the venue’s discretion.

Where can I find the official Big Ears On-site Safety Policy?

You can find the official Big Ears 2018 On-site Safety Policy here.

Still didn't find an answer to your question?

If you need more information or have additional questions, please contact us directly: info(at)bigearsfestival(dot)com. Please note that any music submissions sent to this email will not receive a response.


Named “one of the top arts-and humanities-based programs in the country” by the National Endowment for the Arts and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Community School of the Arts gives inner-city and rural area youth the opportunity to unlock their potential through free lessons and classes in the visual, performing, and culinary arts. The school also provides all instruments and supplies, offers volunteer tutoring services to youngsters who are struggling academically, and builds long-term mentoring relationships to help students determine their futures.

The Joy of Music School provides free individual music lessons, classes and instruments to hundreds of financially disadvantaged children every week. All teachers, over 100 in number, are volunteers. Over 1,200 children received free music instruction in lessons and outreach classes last year.

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