Traditions: Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring

Event: Rites of Spring (two day music festival) | Second or third week of April annually. 
Average Attendance:
5,542 per day

How has Rites of Spring changed and grown over the years?
During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Vanderbilt students, faculty, and administrators went to great lengths to increase the amount of contact the school had with the Nashville community. One example of this community outreach was the student-formed “Free University” which offered instruction to Nashville residents in topics ranging from short wave radio to the arts. The “open campus” policy also resulted in many Nashville residents taking part in Vanderbilt campus events such as the implementation of the Rites of Spring Music Festival in 1971. Rites of Spring in its 46-years has changed tremendously over the years.  It went from a 5-day music festival to a 2-day festival.

What makes Rites of Spring unique?
Rites is one of our oldest traditions at Vanderbilt and it serves as a great recruiting tool for prospective students. A large majority of our committee members have mentioned that it was one of the factors that made them choose Vanderbilt.

Which Artists have performed at Rites of Spring over the years?
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bo Diddley, Dave Matthews Band, George Clinton, Run DMC, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Roots, Lady Antebellum, T.I., Wiz Khalifa, Miguel, Twenty One Pilots, Chance the Rapper, Future, The Shins, Johnnyswim & Rae Sremmurd.

How do you keep Rites of Spring interesting?
One of the keys to making your tradition interesting is to always change it up.  It’s important to preserve the core elements of your event but add different elements to make people come back for more.  Every year we add a different aspect to our festival. This could be the addition of food trucks, different staging aspects, including a corporate sponsorship activation, a DJ between sets or decorative elements that changes the aesthetics of our venue space.

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Melissa AronsonTraditions: Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring