Back To The Farm: Pilgrimage Festival Delivers Youth-Filled Sold Out Weekend Of Musical Vibes
Luke Bryan, The Lumineers Attract Younger Crowd For The Franklin Festival’s Ninth Go-Around
Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival PACKED out The Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, TN celebrating its ninth year with a SOLD-OUT weekend (September 23 & 24). Across three stages, two days and thousands of fans, the music and arts festival put on a knock-out show.
This year, the scalding hot lineup drew an even bigger throng of teenagers to the Farm… chasing the buzz of Luke Bryan, The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart. Instagram and Tik Tok were on content overload with high school and college-aged young adults wearing cute couture styles inspired by Coachella, Barbie and Broadway (the one in Nashville, y’all!). Pilgrimage nailed it with this lineup in their 9th year. Their timing on booking many of these bands was impeccable.
During the two-day “intimate festival” (American Songwriter), fans packed out the farm from stage to stage, selling out the event for the second time in Pilgrimage Festival history. With doors opening at noon on both days, people flooded in eager to celebrate music, art and community.
“We were absolutely blown away by the performances we witnessed this weekend and are grateful to all the artists for making this a really special year. We want to thank the fans for being here and for their enthusiasm and passion for this festival. They show up ready to have a great time and their energy is one of the reasons we can attract such top tier talent,” shared festival producers Michael Whelan, Kevin Griffin and W.Brandt Wood.
High points from Day 1 included comedian and podcaster Theo Von joining Better Than Ezra on stage to gift the iconic Pilgrimage Festival Gibson Guitar to a lucky fan in the crowd, which has become a festival tradition. A hometown performance from fast-rising Nashville singer-songwriter Hailey Whitters, and an unforgettable moment from headliner The Lumineers who rocked-out from their very own satellite stage surrounded by the crowd.
The Tennessean also raved about The Black Crowes captivating the audience with “a foot-stomping, hollering eruption,” Yola’s “belting impressive R&B runs,” and The Head & The Heart‘s golden-hour performance “creating a moment of zen.”
Keeping the momentum red-hot at Day 2, the Midnight Sun stage was packed-out by 3 p.m., with a “spirited crowd” (The Tennessean) that filled the atmosphere. Nathaniel Ratliff & The Night Sweats put their “heart and soul” into their headlining performance as The Tennessean praised. Sunday was filled with surprise appearances starting with Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin sitting in with Tigirlily Gold for a fun performance of their co-penned song, “Shoot Tequila.”
More major highlights from this day included Dierks Bentley’s pop-up at Charlie Worsham’s set for “Things I Can’t Control,” and Nashville-based producer/songwriter of The Cadillac Three, Jaren Johnson appeared on stage “bringing the audience to their feet for the toe-tapping ‘Kiss Like You Dance,’” according to Billboard. The guest appearances didn’t stop there, though. Worsham brought fellow-festival performer, singer-songwriter Ian Munsick for “How I Learned to Pray” and, as Billboard praises, a “stripped-down, still-churning version” of the Garth Brooks classic “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”
Sunday night headliner Zach Bryan “surprises fans with a parade of guests” (Rolling Stone) starting off with an appearance from The War & Treaty, who also graced the Midnight Sun stage earlier in the day, to perform their collaboration “Hey Driver.” Noah Kahan hit the stage with Bryan to perform their song “Sarah’s Place” from Bryan’s surprise EP Boys Of Faith, that landed Friday (9/22). And The Lumineers and Bryan both returned for an encore Sunday night for their never-performed recent duet “Spotless.” Bryan even stopped the show to bring a fan on stage to sing and play guitar during his popular hit “Heading South.” The fan revealed his name to be Johnny.
Rolling Stone captured exclusive behind-the-scenes photos of artists on and off the stage. Go backstage at Pilgrimage Festival here. While PEOPLE brought to life all the Western-Country influences in their stellar Pilgrimage x Stetson Spirit photo booth. Check out the PEOPLE gallery here.
Makers Village celebrated the weekend with tons of festivalgoers eager to peruse and shop. While the Franklin Fun Farm delighted all the little ones, captivating their attention with stellar acts such as high-flying aerialists on Saturday. The Beer Hall was the go-to spot for all football fanatics to watch their teams live on huge LED screens. And fans who missed out on the epic sold-out weekend tuned into Pilgrimage Festival’s social media for all the live updates, garnering over a MILLION views for the festival’s Instagram page, just this weekend.
Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival is produced by Better Than Ezra front man Kevin Griffin, W. Brandt Wood and Michael Whelan and has established itself as a leader in the music and arts festival business. Beyond the music, the festival creates a space for community to join together and celebrate. Coming to a close on its ninth year, check out a recap from Day 1 here and Day 2 here.
Pilgrimage Festival would like to thank all sponsors who helped make the event possible: Gibson, Beaulieu Vineyard, Bud Light, Crescent 9, Deep Eddy Vodka, Dunkin’, George Dickel Bourbon, High West Whiskey, Milagro Tequila, National Seating & Mobility, NÜTRL, Stetson Spirit, Tractor Supply Company, Vanderbilt Health, Wicked Weed Brewing, and Williamson Health.
See ya next year as we HEAD BACK TO THE FARM!