2024 Festival Planner

Mardi Growl Parade, Old City, Knoxville, March 2023

With the Mardi Growl Parade and Festival this coming Saturday, Festival Season officially begins in Knoxville. There may be a city that hosts more and larger festivals, but for its size, Knoxville has to be competitive. We love a good festival and they are about to start cranking, so buckle up and get ready for the ride.

As always, the list below is equal parts research and educated guesswork. Some festivals are slow to update their webpages. This page will be linked at the top under events and it may be updated, so check back. As always, I’m happy to take corrections, so correct me in the comments if you have knowledge of these events or others.

In any case, it’s time to get those dates on your calendars and start making plans.

Charles Lloyd Chapel Trio, Civic Auditorium, Big Ears Festival, Knoxville, April 2023


The season begins with Mardi Growl and steadily builds into a flow that doesn’t stop for months. The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade returns March 16 and begins at 1:00 pm on the Gay Street Bridge, proceeding along Gay Street through to Magnolia Avenue. The Big Ears Festival 2024, runs from March 21 – 24. We begin the month with puppies on parade and end the month with the world celebrating in our downtown, with events, performances and more starting on Thursday and running through Sunday. This year promises to be one of the best ever Big Ears Festivals with Herbie Hancock, Andre 3000, Digable Planets, Jon Batiste, Laurie Anderson and dozens more amazing world artists. Fortunately, it hits a week earlier this year and so avoids other major events slated for April.

Sonia Summers, Dogwood Arts Chalk Walk, Market Square and Krutch Park, Knoxville, April 2023


The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, which is actually an entire family of races and events spanning two days, joins the annual Dogwood Arts Chalk Walk on the first weekend in April, offering great events for both participants and spectators. The runners amaze crowds with their strength and stamina, while nothing is more delightful than watching chalk art take form through the course of a sunny Saturday on Market Square. The next weekend sees the Old City Market kicking off for the year.

A new/old festival slips into the middle of the month with the “Happy Holler’s First Annual Street Festival,” Holleroo. I say new/old, of course, because there was a festival in Happy Holler that ran for several years, but there has been a gap and it’s coming back in fresh form. Central Street will be closed through that section for the entire day for live music, an adult soap box derby, and more. As retail expands in the area, expect this spot to pack more of a local punch.

The back end of the month packs a powerful punch with two of Knoxville’s largest festivals. It kicks off with the annual Rossini Festival and International Street Fair with music, food, and more, presented April 20-21 by Knoxville Opera. Featuring multiple stages and opera along with choral, jazz, and other music, it also features dance performances throughout the day, great smells from all the food vendors, and wine and beer sales on a portion of Gay Street and Market Street, which are shut down for the event.

April ends with Knoxville’s traditional signature festival: The Dogwood Arts Festival. The events begin in February and feature a lengthy list that runs through April. The Dogwood Arts Festival on the World’s Fair Park south lawn (April 26-28) dominates a weekend with everything art related. It’s a can’t-miss weekend for anyone who loves the arts and the city. Be sure to go to the main site above and check out all the other great events scattered over greater Knoxville during the three-month period. The same weekend, be sure to catch the wonderful neighborhood tour, Fourth and Gill Tour of Homes and Secret Gardens on April 28.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Southern Skies Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, May 2023


The Southern Skies Music and Whiskey Festival presented by Dogwood Arts returns to a one-day festival, May 11 (a week earlier on the calendar), and includes curators The Dirty Guv’nahs and others, plus headliners Old Crow Medicine Show. It has also expanded to include a Tennessee Whiskey component. Children get their turn with the return of the Knox County Public Library’s Children’s Festival of Reading on May 18. The day-long festival features children’s and young adult authors, story-telling, and much more.

May also marks the beginning of several ongoing events that while they are not technically festivals, they feel that way at times – and they are long running, marking spring and early summer as much as any single events. The biggest is the annual return of the Market Square Farmers’ Market to the heart of downtown. It resumes its regular spot-on May 3.

Also resuming a regular schedule during the month of May will be the Concerts on the Square series, featuring Jazz on Tuesdays beginning May 7 and a variety of genres on Thursday nights starting May 16 on Market Square. Long-time readers know I adore Jazz Tuesdays. It’s one of the highlights of the year in the city. It has also taken to the Emporium during the hottest parts of the summer and the coldest part of the winter.

Vancie Vega, Rhinestone Fest, Old City, Knoxville, June 2023


June doesn’t slow much for Knoxville Festivals. It starts with Bob Dylan and Rhinstone Fest, which we can’t call Dolly Fest, anymore, but celebrates all things Dolly. I bet there isn’t another city in America that kicks off their June with these two major icons. The month got a little lighter this year with the removal of Bike, Boat, Brew and Bark in favor of other focuses for Visit Knoxville, and the rotation of the USA Cycling Championships to another city. There is still plenty to do and SoKno Pride, which has exploded in the last couple of years, anchors the end of the month.

  • Bob Dylan Birthday Bash, June 1, Ijams
  • Rhinestone Fest, Old City for All Things Dolly, June 7 – 8
  • Downtown Home Tour presented by the East Tennessee Historical Society, June 8
  • Haitifest, Emporium, 6:30 – 9:00 pm
  • Brewfest, World’s Fair Park, June 22
  • SoKno Pride, Sevier Avenue, June 29


In July, we do slow down a bit and settle into our summer routine of Jazz at the Emporium and the Market Square Farmers’ Market. There are a couple of notable exceptions, with our annual July 4 celebration on the World’s Fair Park and the beginning of the wonderful Knoxville Shakespeare series produced by the Tennessee Stage Company.

  • Festival on the Fourth, World’s Fair Park, July 4 (I can’t find information on this event, so this is an assumption)
  • Knoxville Shakespeare, July 18 – August 11, Ijams

While fewer in the fall, some of our biggest festivals have found their groove there despite that season being ruled by a certain sport. The Asian Festival which has highlighted August in recent years, as moved to September (I’m guessing due to the heat). The East Tennessee History Center’s History Hootenanny returns in August. Maybe August needs a water-based event? At least we can catch the couple of festivals and otherwise hide and wait for the cooler weather that brings us some of our biggest festivals in September and October.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2023




  • Pridefest, Gay Street (parade, 10/4), World’s Fair Park events, 10/5

If I’ve missed something you think I should have included, say so in the comments and at the least you’ll have plugged another event, and maybe I’ll bring it onto the main list. See errors? I’d like to hear about that, as well. Are you tired already? See you at the festivals!