Details for the 2023 Knoxville Christmas Parade This Friday (Plus a Little More)

Knoxville Christmas Parade, Gay Street, December 2019
Knoxville Christmas Parade, Gay Street, December 2019

It’s not just any Knoxville Christmas Parade, it’s the fiftieth annual and it promises to be bigger (“122 parade units!”) than ever before. Included will be the usual mix of marching bands, church and community groups, dancers, small businesses, politicians and more. Hopefully long gone are the days that the parade include wrestlers and other such attractions. Recent years have hewed more closely to the theme and season and to good effect.

The city has recently trotted out a re-tooled parade route, which has the parade queuing on the far side of the Gay Street Bridge and marching triumphantly down Gay Street. The bridge should witness the first marchers at about 6:50. Try that end of Gay Street to see it first, avoid the crowds centered around the 400 – 700 blocks of Gay Street, and to be among the first to scoot off to dinner.

Of course there are road closures and the night promises to have plenty of cars needing to park, so plan accordingly. It’s First Friday, with all that entails, and both the Tennessee and Bijou have sold out shows. The streets close at 4:30 and my suggestion is to start feeling a little “ill” about lunch time and tell you boss you better scoot and scoot yourself on downtown. Perfect. Can’t do that? Park in the Dwight Kessel Garage or the Coliseum Garage where you’ll have several free spaces all to yourself. Here are those roads that will be closed:

  • Council Place
  • S. Gay Street between Council Place and Main Street
  • Hill Ave between Hall of Fame Drive and Walnut Street
  • Magnolia Avenue between N. Gay Street and S. Central Street

Once we hit 5:30, the closures spread to:

  • S. Gay Street between Main Street and Cumberland Avenue
  • Main Street between Walnut and Gay streets

By 6:15 you really should have already grabbed one of those thousands of free garage spots because more roads close right about then:

  • Gay Street between Cumberland and W. Fifth avenues
  • Cumberland Avenue between Market and Gay streets
  • W. Church Avenue between Market and Gay streets
  • Union Avenue between Walnut and Gay streets
  • Market Street between Clinch and Union avenues
Ice Skating on Market Square, Regal Celebration of Lights, Knoxville, November 2021

Of course, as Heather told you last Friday, this is just one of a mega-number of holiday events going on downtown. I hope you will consider coming downtown for at least some of your shopping and so support the many merchants who make downtown an interesting and fun destination. For many of them, the Christmas season dictates their profitability for the year, or even their survival.

Lots of stores, restaurants, and bars have special sales and promotions. In the last week I’ve heard about plans for Pretentious Glass‘ 8th Annual Holiday Sale (December 8, Noon – 9 pm) in which they will offer many hand-blown glass objects (candy canes, glassware, ornaments, and more) in a big end of the year blowout. Brother Wolf continue spreading the Merry with their Miracle in the Old City. The Holiday Market runs every Saturday and includes produce, but goes heavy on arts and crafts someone you love would love to have as a gift.

As Heather mentioned, for the next month, you can enjoy the Peppermint Trail, Elf on a Shelf, and ice skating every single day. There is so much for everyone of any age, it’s magical, and your support helps keep downtown alive and kicking into the new year.

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