clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Atlanta's Growing Music Festivals (and the Money They Bring)

New, 17 comments

When Shaky Knees launched in 2013, its lineup consisted of 27 bands. It was a good start, to be sure, but very few of the acts were likely to draw festival-goers from around the nation. Most were the kind of niche bands listed in the small-print section of major festival lineup posters. Now, just three years later, it boasts more than twice as many bands (72) including heavy hitters like Florence + The Machine, Jane's Addiction, My Morning Jacket and Huey Lewis and the News (who knew they were still touring, much less performing "Sports" in its entirety?) plus newer favorites like Walk the Moon, Foals and Atlas Genius. Even more impressive is the fact that Shaky Knees has spawned another spinoff (following last year's Shaky Boots in Kennesaw). The inaugural Shaky Beats will be an electronic music event featuring acts such as Major Lazer, Porter Robinson, Chromeo and Odesza. But Shaky Knees and Beats are not alone.

Sweetwater 420 Fest has also transformed itself in recent years, growing from a 3,000-person event in Oakhurst to a 65,000-person downtown mega-festival. The 2016 lineup features Kid Rock, Ben Harper, Bastille, Ludacris, Cypress Hill, and 20 other performers.

Music Midtown is expected to be back in 2016. Dance music festivals Imagine and Counterpoint are growing quickly. Despite 2015's, um, "challenges" and concerns of citizens, Mayor Tom Reed of Chattahoochee Hills says TomorrowWorld will be back in 2016 as well.

Not only does the growth of these festivals contribute to Atlanta's cultural landscape, it also has the potential to bring big money to the city. An LA Weekly article notes that the first year of the 30,000-person Firefly Music Festival in Delaware injected an estimated $12 million into the local economy.

Massive festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo bring in $20 to $80 million in ticket sales alone; although it should be noted that festivals held in the middle of nowhere — where participants show up, camp in a field then leave the state — bring less to local economies. An 11Alive report on TomorrowWorld indicates that 2015's event, despite drawing more than 160,000 fans from 75 countries, put a paltry $35,000 into the local economy. Big names at venues such as Centennial Olympic Park and Historic Fourth Ward Park, on the other hand, stand to bring tourists from around the country — and even the world — to see what Atlanta has to offer.

SweetWater 420 - April 22 to 24, $138, Centennial Olympic Park

Shaky Knees - May 13-15, $236, Centennial Olympic Park

Shaky Beats Festival - May 20-22, $185, Centennial Olympic Park

Imagine - August 26-28, $199, Historic Fourth Ward Park