Holiday Spirit and Events Around Every Downtown Corner 2023

Regal Celebration of Lights, Christmas in the City, Knoxville, November 2017
The Tree is Lighted, Regal Celebration of Lights, Knoxville, November 2021

It’s the most magical time of year! And my favorite. Knoxville does not disappoint regarding events and ways to celebrate the holiday season. Here are some of the highlights of the holiday events going on downtown. It is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to keep your eyes on the 10 day planner posted every Sunday so you don’t miss a thing!

To start, many of us find joy in giving back to the community, especially this time of year. If that is you, please check out

Whether you’re an individual seeking a fulfilling holiday, a family teaching your children the importance of giving back, a group hoping to gather friends for a fun experience, or a corporation interested in making an impact, they have volunteer opportunities to fit your family.

Next up is the fun events around town. Many of these are free and all of them will be fun.

*Regal Celebration of Lights is Friday, November 24 at Krutch Park Extension from 5:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Join the lighting of the 42-foot tall Mickey Mallonee Christmas in the City Tree in Krutch Park Extension. Enjoy live music with Mikki Norwood Band at 5:15pm with the lighting of the tree ceremony starting at 6pm; free activities start after the tree lighting! There will be caroling, hot chocolate and rumor has it, a visit with the jolly ole Saint Nick himself!

* The very popular and magical East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Fantasy of Trees at Knoxville Convention Center goes until November 26, 2023. Beautifully decorated trees, treats and plenty of family-friendly activities to keep the kids busy and all going to raise money for ETCH!

Fantasy of Trees, Knoxville, November 2017

Christkindlesmarkt is the Shulz Brau Brewery’s take on a traditional German Christmas Market. Original markets date back to as far as the late Middle Ages and are a hotspot for German holiday culture. You can find them every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas beginning on Nov. 25th. I think I am most excited about this one!

*Sleigh the Peppermint Trail  from November 24 – January 7. If you have wondered what those peppermint stickers are on the sidewalks and in windows, you can follow the trail of peppermints to discover all sorts of treats featuring the favorite red-and-white candy. From candy cane coffees at morning brunch to craft cocktails sipped by candlelight, you’ll find peppermint treats round almost every corner – along with plenty of gingerbread, cinnamon, cranberry, apple spice, and other holiday flavors. Plus, boutiques and gift shops feature peppermint-themed t-shirts, scented soaps, candles, and all kinds of holiday surprises.


*The Elf on the Shelf® Adventure  also runs from November 24 thru January 7. I’ve done this one with my kids since 2019, and we always have a blast going shop to shop looking for that mischievous elf. You can pick up a North Pole Pass at Mast General Store or Knoxville Visitors Center to guide you through the adventure. The first 5,000 participants will receive a holiday stamp to self-stamp their passes.  Share your fun photos with #ElvesinKnox!

*Holidays on Ice is now through January 2. It has become tradition for us to go ice skating in the heart of Downtown Knoxville! It is open seven days a week, weather dependent.  Find online tickets, waivers, and more information at

*A Tuna Christmas is a broad comedy set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas presented by Theatre Knoxville. The plot centers on the town’s annual Christmas Yard Display Contest, won 14 times in a row by Vera Carp. A mysterious “Christmas Phantom,” known for vandalizing the yard displays, has the contestants on edge. This production will run from Nov 24-Dec 10.

*November 25 at 11:00am you can join the Old City MarketSmall Business Saturday
The Old City Market transforms the historic Old City into a curated, outdoor market showcasing artists, crafters, and creative makers. You can support small business and get your shopping done feeling good about your purchases!

*November 26th at 2:30pm is Classical Christmas: Handel’s Messiah at the Tennessee Theatre. For those who are looking for that musical and nostalgic start to the season, Knoxville Symphony’s annual holiday tradition may be just the thing for you.

*Christmas in the City begins on Nov 28th at Safety City
Guests may bring bicycles, non-motorized scooters, push cars, strollers and wagons to come ride or walk thru the miniature replica of Knoxville decorated with all the lights and holiday cheer you need. It is a sweet time to enjoy your kiddos and experience this fantastic addition to our city.

*First Friday ArtWalk on Dec. 1 will feature various downtown locations for a casual evening of art in many forms from 5-8pm. This will coincide with the Christmas Parade on Gay Street beginning at 7pm. Floats and decorated vehicles, marching bands, majorettes, dancers, and of course, Santa Claus will parade through the city spreading Christmas cheer. My advice is to get there early and go to the end of the parade route for easiest viewing.

*Market Square Farmers’ Market – Winter Edition! Every Saturday from December 2, 2023 through March 30, 2024 (10am – 2pm), come for gifts + more.

*33rd Annual Victorian Holiday Home Tour on December 2nd & 3rd 2023
Old North Knoxville features beautiful homes built in the Queen Anne, Craftsman/Bungalow, Neoclassical Revival, and American Four Square style decorate for the holiday season. It is sure to help you get in the spirit! My husband and I enjoyed our first tour last year and look forward to seeing all the new homes in 2023.

505 E. Scott, Martin House, Old North Victorian Holiday Home Tour, December 2022 (Photo by Heather Ryerson)

*The Nutcracker: Knoxville Civic Auditorium presents Appalachia Ballet Company presents The Nutcracker accompanied by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. This will run Dec. 2-3. Find tickets here:

*Knoxville Community Band Holiday Concert: Dec 3 at 3:00pm
Bijou Theatre View Event Website The Knoxville Community Band performs its annual Christmas concert. Admission is free.

* Come see Santa at the Sunsphere December 7th-9th! Visit Knoxville will be hosting photo reservations with Santa on the 4th Floor Observation Deck–reservations must be made in advance. Reservations allot for a photo opportunity with Santa for up to 3 children.

*Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night: Dec 7 at 7:00pm
On the streets of Downtown Knoxville. Free, family-friendly event, open to everyone! An outdoor participatory sound sculpture of many individual parts, recorded on cassettes, CDs, and mp3s, and played through a roving swarm of boomboxes carried through city streets every December.

*Jingle Bell Run: Dec 9 at World’s Fair Park for the atheletes! Wear your favorite holiday attire and invite family and friends to join this fun holiday-themed 5K to help raise awareness and funds supporting arthritis research.

*Nativity Pageant of Knoxville at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum Dec 9-11.
The Nativity Pageant is presented as a gift to the community and is free of charge. Seating is open.

*Tour de Lights Bike Ride + Market: 3:30-8pm at Mary Costa Plaza and downtown neighborhoods. Decorate your bike with lights, garland, and holiday decor for the annual bike ride through downtown neighborhoods. Before and after the ride, enjoy a Holiday Market & Expo with food, drinks, shopping, and a special appearance by Santa.

Ice Skating on Market Square, Knoxville, December 2016

*A Very Dave Barnes Christmas: 8:00pm
Bijou Theatre View Event Website Singer-songwriter Dave Barnes and guests perform classics like “Christmas Tonight” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” along with other holiday favorites.

* Cookies with Santa Tennessee Theatre on Dec 12 at  4:00pm
Santa makes a special stop at the Tennessee Theatre to visit with children on the stage. Children can take a picture with Santa in front of the tree, share their wish list, plus coloring, crafts, and enjoy cookie decorating.

Santa, Market Square Stage, Knoxville, December 2014

*The Appalachian Equality Chorus (formerly the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus ) presents “Christmas is a Drag!” on Dec 15-16.

There are many other events and concerts going on at the Bijou Theatre, the Tennessee Theatre and the Clarence Brown Theatre, so be sure to check out their calendars and get your tickets now.

*Wrapping up the year is the New Year’s Eve at the Sunsphere at World’s Fair Park.

The fun begins at 9:00pm. You can ring in the new year with food trucks, free activities, music, and traditional ball drop at this family-friendly New Year’s Eve event.

Thanks to Downtown Knoxville Alliance, Visit Knoxville and the City of Knoxville for supporting and providing so many of these lists and events!

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