Declared “one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over” by The Oxford American Magazine, the 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.

Named for someone who is capable of discerning and perceptive listening, who has the ability to use the ears as a creative tool or who hears things many may miss, the Big Ears Festival is a weekend of world-class musical performances in beautiful historic theaters, clubs, galleries, and museums, combined with talks and discussions, interactive workshops, installations, exhibitions, film screenings, surprise collaborations and unexpected connections.  It celebrates the never-ending adventure of artistic creation and exploration.


Since its 2009 debut, Big Ears has hosted many of the leading composers and performers of our time, from ground breaking classical composers like Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Laurie Anderson, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich along with a new generation following in their footsteps such as Nico Muhly, The National’s Bryce Dessner, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood; ensembles such as the Bang on a Can, Ensemble Signal, The Bad Plus, So Percussion, and The Wordless Music Orchestra; leading alternative rock artists like The National, Swans, tUnE-yArDs, The xx, Joanna Newsom, St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, and The Dirty Projectors; icons like Television, John Cale, and Silver Apples; and countless visionaries such as Pauline Oliveros, Tanya Tagaq, Jon Hassell, Antony & the Johnsons, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, Marc Ribot and My Brightest Diamond who continue to push boundaries and defy convention.




Media Coverage

Since its inception in 2009, Big Ears’ profile has grown from a local and national presence to yearly international coverage.

Click here to view a small summary of notable articles that have been written about Big Ears, highlighting what The Wall Street Journal calls “a festival where all genres are welcome.”

The Big Ears Film

The documentary on Big Ears, made by Durham-based Rock Fish Stew, will immerse viewers in the sounds and sights of this festival. Visions of contemporary Knoxville will be blended with archival material from the city’s musical and cultural past. Like the festival, the film detaches music from notions of star power, career trajectories or personal demons. It captures performers at work on the road—unloading gear, setting up shows, rehearsing, sound checking—while exploring the sublime art and craft of listening. To learn more, click here.

Little Ears

Big Ears is proud to once again partner with the Joy of Music School and Community School of the Arts to bring special opportunities to underprivileged and at-risk youth in the Knoxville area during the festival weekend. These organizations play an integral role in the community by providing a musical educational and mentorship to the disadvantaged that would not exist otherwise. The festival will be supporting the mission of these groups by coordinating hands-on musical experiences for the students throughout the weekend, in addition to providing a cash donation from each ticket sold to the event.

Big Ears is proud to be making its return in 2017 for another weekend of visionary music, exploratory art, and southern hospitality March 23-26 in historic downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

Big Ears is created and produced by AC Entertainment, recognized as one of the foremost independent promoters in the United States. Founded in 1991 by Ashley Capps, the company books, markets and presents over 1,000 events per year. In addition to Big Ears, AC Entertainment is the force behind internationally renowned events including Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival® and The Forecastle Festival. For more information on AC Entertainment, visit