Happy Fourth: What to Do?

Fourth of July Fireworks, Knoxville, 2016
James White Fort, Knoxville, December 2015

I hope everyone has a great day hanging out with friends or family, making a little barbecue along with memories. If you are looking for something to do, you can find quite a bit in downtown Knoxville. You might start with coming into downtown early and taking a walk. Holiday mornings in downtown are great for feeling like you have downtown to yourself — not a feeling you get very often in 2024.

You might consider connecting your day to history. It’s kind of what the day is about, right? What better place than at James White Fort? The home, built just ten years after the signing of that little love letter to King George, you can step back in time on this very historic day. It starts at 9:00 am “Celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence with the Sons, Daughters and Children of the American Revolution. Immediately following there will be a reflagging of COL John Sevier’s grave at the Knox County Courthouse.” It’s a chance to help the kids understand what the day is about before hitting the hot dogs and baked beans.

Mabry-Hazen House, 1711 Dandridge Avenue, Knoxville, December 2015

After lunch, you might want to head over to another historical Knoxville home. The Mabry-Hazen House will host its annual “old fashioned Fourth of July Celebration” from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. They promise food, beer, live music and tours of the home. You’ll also get great views of the official city fireworks from the top of the hill. Modern food trucks join old fashion family fun with face painting, sack races, watermelon seed spitting contests, three-legged races, bocce, croquet, corn hole,
tug-of-war, cake walk, Victorian festival games, and more. A focal point of the  celebration will be the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Tickets for adults (16+) are $15 ( includes one drink ticket), children (ages 5-15) are $5, and you can pick yours up here.

Of course, the big celebration will be the City of Knoxville’s Festival on the 4th from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The family-friendly and free event in the World’s Fair Park (both lawns) will include fun activities like water wars, axe-throwing, mini-golf games and paddle boats. Food vendors will be located on both lawns. DJ’s start up at 5:00 pm, live music kicks in at 6:00 pm and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s performs their 40th Annual Free Lawson Family Foundation Independence Day Concert at 8 p.m. Fireworks launch from the Henley Bridge at approximately 9:45 p.m.

Fourth of July Fireworks, Knoxville, 2016

But what if you love the idea of fireworks, but wish you had the best vantage point, air conditioning, nice restrooms, food and drink, and shelter from any aberrant storms? Well, you can have that, but it will cost you a bit. How about a magical viewing from inside the iconic Sunsphere? Well, Sunsphere Events and Rosa’s Catering will host Knoxville’s 3rd Annual July 4th Celebration. “Price of admission ($75) includes an evening of relaxed, out of the heat, plenty of food, drink and dessert , filled with music , July 4th celebrating. Rosa’s Catering will be providing a delicious buffet of Summer favorites , drinks , ice cream station and a cash bar. One of Sunsphere Event’s prefered Dj’s will be keeping the night alive.” You will find tickets here.

As anyone who reads Scott McNutt’s wonderful Ten Day Planner each week could readily tell you: That ain’t nearabout all. Whether you want to go with the theme of the holiday or just go out for a great day or evening with friends, downtown has you covered. I’ve included below his complete list of over twenty options for the day, along with links to get the details.

Have a happy and safe day, no matter what you do!

Frog and Toad and Friends, Maker Exchange Grand Opening, 710 Clinch Avenue, Knoxville, September 2022 (Photograph by Heather Ryerson)

Thursday, July 4

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