Celebrations, Small Businesses and More

While Christmas technically happened last year, looking back, it would appear the Grinch might have gotten away with a massive heist. There were no parades, local sales were down, there were few gatherings and holiday joy was in short supply. Maybe it wasn’t technically the Grinch, but a Grinch by any other name is still a Grinch.

So, we’ve arrived to the season a year later. Not all is well in the wider world, but it is better. We’ve felt safe enough to resume some of the traditions that make this time in the city “the most wonderful time of the year.” With that in mind and given the year that wasn’t, I’d like to highlight a few things coming up in the next few days — starting today!

Downtown Christmas Tree, Knoxville, Christmas 2020

Regal Celebration of Lights

Nearly 150,000 lights have been hung around downtown making the city sparkle. While the launch to the Regal Celebration of Lights is tonight, related festivities run through January 2. Here are the highlights:

  • Lighting of the Christmas Tree and More, Friday, Nov. 26, 5:30-9 p.m., Krutch Park
  • Holidays on Ice, presented by Home Federal Bank, Opening Friday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m., Market Square
  • WIVK Christmas Parade, Friday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m., Gay Street
  • Christmas Drive-In at Chilhowee, presented by Comcast, Friday, Dec. 10, 5:30 – 9 p.m., Chilhowee Park Midway
  • Tour de Lights Holiday Bike Ride, presented by Visit Knoxville and Bike Walk Knoxville, Saturday, Dec. 11, 5:30 p.m.
Knoxville Christmas Parade, Gay Street, December 2019

Small Business Saturday

While Black Friday may be about getting your deals on, Small Business Saturday is about supporting local small businesses. They’ve been beaten up the last year-and-a-half, how about showing them some major love this season? This Saturday is the designated day for emphasis, so please get out there. But remember them next week, all season, and year-round. They need that kind of love.

Here are a couple of places you might start, but you know who is local. Please seek them out.


World’s Fair 40th Anniversary Celebration

In 1982, Knoxville hosted the World’s Fair, an event which challenged our view of the city and gave us the Sunsphere, for goodness’ sake. The celebration of the 40th anniversary of that event begins this Sunday where it all started: on the World’s Fair Park, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., with special guests, the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdale Horses (which were in Knoxville to kick off the World’s Fair in November 1981). You can watch the hitching of the horse at 12:30, hear from Visit Knoxville’s Kim Bumpas and Knoxville Mayor Kincannon. You can get your photo taken with a horse!

Sunsphere related items will be for sale on the site and proceeds go to support the Sunsphere Fund.


Classical Christmas

  • The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Christmas concert will return Sunday, Nov. 28 at p.m. at the Bijou Theatre. The orchestra will perform seasonal selections by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and others.
Masked Christmas Elf, Pretentious Glass, Knoxville, December 2020

Peppermints and Elves

Two of Knoxville’s favorite recent traditions return this year with the Peppermint Trail and the Elf on a Shelf fun in downtown businesses. Starting today, you’ll find the Peppermint Trail in full swing, with photo ops and special peppermint treats around downtown, including some for the kids and some for the grown ups.

  • Do the Digital Twist:  A digital twist on the Peppermint Trail brings opportunities for prizes while enjoying the city center’s best coffees, candies, cocktails and other peppermint-inspired creations. Explorers can download a Peppermint Trail Pass mobile passport to track their progress on sampling holiday creations. Check in for a chance to win gift cards, dinner or even an over-night stay in a downtown hotel.
  • Stop by Mast General Store or the Knoxville Visitor Center with the kids to pick up your North Pole Pass passports to find all those sneaky elves on downtown shelves (in storefront windows). You might even snag a gift card to help Santa defray the high costs of giving!
  • Mail Santa a letter in the magical mailbox on Market Square (designed by Santa’s own local elf, Paris Woodhull)
  • Take a selfie, or a family portrait in front of the holiday mural (designed by Susie Norris) just outside the ice rink on Market Square.

There is a lot happening, but please remember to make memories with your family and friends, while staying safe. We know how badly a missing year of memories can hurt. And also really support the local businesses which have just made it through perhaps their roughest year ever.