The holidays look different this year, but we are still planning for a magical season in Knoxville. We’ve rounded up our favorite activities to enjoy your favorite traditions and make new memories along the way!
Downtown Christmas Tree, Peppermint Grove, & Holiday Lights
Downtown Knoxville will shimmer like a scene from a classic Christmas movie this season. Enjoy the 42-foot-tall tree with 5,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient, synchronized LED lights, approximately 200,000 tiny bulbs will shine across downtown. The tree will be lit November 23 through January 3.
The Peppermint Grove is lighting up Market Square with massive oak trees wrapped in thousands of red and white lights plus bigger-than-life peppermint stick lampposts. Twinkling lights and decorated storefronts transform it into a winter wonderland!
There are plenty of photo ops throughout Krutch Park and Gay Street, with romantic trees wrapped in sparkling lights and holiday murals galore. Then, head to the Old City for more candy cane lampposts and works of holiday art and magic.
Elf on the Shelf® Adventure Scavenger Hunt
The Elf on the Shelf® is a cherished Christmas tradition celebrated in households around the world. This November, for a fifth straight year, Santa will send some of these magical Scout Elves from the North Pole to Knoxville, Tennessee to be adopted by over two dozen downtown Knoxville businesses. Families are invited to explore downtown and find where these little Scout Elves have landed each night for a fun-filled holiday scavenger hunt.
Scout Elves will land in Knoxville to begin the scavenger hunt on Friday, November 27. To help guide them through the adventure, children of all ages are invited to pick up a North Pole Pass at the Knoxville Visitors Center or Mast General Store. The pass includes a list of the elves’ locations and details on the fun-filled holiday experience. As a special treat, Santa has granted permission for these Knoxville Scout Elves to remain in Knoxville until Sunday, January 3.
The 2020 event is again sponsored by Mast General Store (the Downtown Knoxville Santa-Approved Scout Elf Adoption Center), the Downtown Knoxville Alliance and Visit Knoxville. Information about the scavenger hunt and participating merchants can be found at here, pick up a North Pole Passport at either Visit Knoxville or Mast General Store. Don’t forget to share your elf sightings on social media using #elvesinknox!
Enjoy the Peppermint Window Wonderland displays as you explore the Peppermint Trail – just follow the peppermints along the sidewalks! You’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste seasonal goodies at businesses offering Peppermint Trail treats and specials. Downtown restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and boutiques will feature peppermint specials throughout the season including peppermint coffees, desserts, cocktails, gifts, and more. You'll also find store fronts, windows, doors, and patios decked in decorations to add to the over 100,000+ lights and garland draped throughout downtown's trees and parks. Enjoy from November 27-January 3. Post photos of your favorites at #knoxpeppermint on Instagram!
Christmas in Chilhowee
The Drive-In at the Midway series will conclude with two holiday films on Friday, November 20 (Elf) and December 4 (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). Both start at 7pm. Admission is free, but space is limited and participants must register in advance to reserve a space. Bring your plaid fuzzy blankets, bring your own meal or snacks, and get cozy in the comfort of your own vehicle!
Holidays on Ice
The Holidays on Ice skating rink will be at the Civic Coliseum. The large rink will allow skaters space to practice physical distancing while skating on the same ice where Knoxville Ice Bears play hockey. Starting Friday, December 11 and going through January 3, Holidays on Ice will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday with extended hours during Knox County Schools’ winter break (December 21-January 1). Parking is free at the Civic Coliseum. The full schedule and prices will be posted here.
Old City Holiday Mini Market
The Old City Market transforms the patio at the Jackson Terminal into a curated, outdoor market showcasing artists, crafters, and creative makers. Enjoy their holiday market on the second and fourth Sundays (Sunday, November 22 and Sunday, December 13). Plus enjoy restaurants, coffee shops, and a fun day in the Old City!
Market Square Farmers’ Market (at Mary Costa Plaza)
The Market Square Farmers’ Market (this year at Mary Costa Plaza at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum) will have craft vendors with holiday items, artisan foods (like caramels, roasted coffee, and hot sauces), baked goods, food trucks, greenery, and all manner of farm products, including great gifts like maple syrup, honey, and cheeses. Visit the Market on Saturdays through December 19 from 10am-1pm.
Tour de Lights
Tour de Lights will be hosting their annual costume contest virtually, so participants can submit pictures of their costumes and decorated bikes and compete for prizes including VIP passes to the USA Cycling 2021 event. Get in the holiday spirit by decorating yourself and your bike and take a ride around local neighborhoods this holiday season to enjoy the holiday decorations by bike! The City of Knoxville’s Office of Neighborhoods and Office of Special Events has created a map of Knoxville Neighborhood Holiday Trails, keep reading for more information.
All Christmas in the City events and updates are posted on the City of Knoxville’s website.
An updated list of county-wide holiday events including Light the Park at Founders Park, ice skating at the Ice Chalet, Christmas at Cherokee Caverns, a Candlelight Christmas at the Museum of Appalachia and MORE can be found at visitknoxville.com/holidays.