KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Big Ears Festival is returning to Knoxville in late March, but that's not all that's in store for 2023. Festival organizers and Visit Knoxville brought people together at the Mill and Mine on Tuesday evening to make a special announcement: there will be a new three-day event coming to World's Fair Park in May that will feature legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
This year will mark 10 years of Big Ears. It's not exactly the true tenth anniversary for the festival because it launched in 2009, but it is the tenth time the festival has been held following a few hiatuses -- most recently the two that happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
As they celebrate ten years, Ashley Capps -- the Knoxville music promoter who helped dream up Big Ears, Bonnaroo and other renowned North American festivals -- said there will be a new three-day event at the end of May at World's Fair Park featuring Appalachian music, storytelling, food and more.
Capps said the event will run from May 25 to 27 and will feature Yo-Yo Ma the night of Friday, May 26. More details will be announced soon, but Capps said Yo-Yo Ma will be joined by musicians Rhiannon Giddens, Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer.
Capps said Yo-Yo Ma was able to visit the Great Smoky Mountains last May and he had the opportunity to hold a few "brainstorming conversations" with him about the region.
"And then from that a few weeks later, I was asked if I would be willing to create an event based in Knoxville that would tie together a lot of the things that were discussed... music making, storytelling, food, you know, dance, all sorts of activities," he said. "It's gonna be a really multifaceted celebration of Appalachian culture. It's definitely a little bit about why this is so important to Knoxville."
He said the community is also planning several activities to coincide with the new event, saying many will be free and open to the public.