World's Fair 40 logo


In 1982, more than 11 million people came to Knoxville to experience the hospitality of East Tennessee and cultures from around the world. The 1982 World’s Fair, formally known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition, ran May 1 through October 31 under the theme “Energy Turns Our World” and would become recognized as the last successful World’s Fair held in America.

More than 50 private organizations and companies took part in the Fair. Participating nations included Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and West Germany.

The amphitheater and Sunsphere, still standing on site today, hosted all official ceremonies and entertainment, including Broadway shows, world-renowned orchestras, ballet and opera companies. The list of entertainers and performers included Johnny and June Carter Cash, Japan’s acclaimed Grand Kabuki, Rudolf Nureyev, Red Skelton, Richie Havens, The London Symphony, and Bob Hope.

Today, Knoxville still draws visitors with history, music, food, culture and festivals that reflect many of the countries represented here years ago.

Join us for the 40th Anniversary of the 1982 World’s Fair and feel the ENERGY of our nature-loving-adventure-seeking-artsy-kinda-town.

Celebrating the Sunsphere

On July 28, 2008 the Sunsphere was both the site and the subject of a luncheon lecture by one of the architects who worked on creating the theme structure for the 1982 World's Fair. William Denton spoke about the challenges of constructing the world's first spherical building, and what he hoped Knoxville would do with it. Former mayor Randall Tyree spoke following Mr. Denton's remarks.

World's Fair Anniversary Events


Stories from the World's Fair


World's Fair Music

  • 9 minute read

This post is part of a series on the Anniversary of the 1982 World’s Fair that was…



  • 7 minute read

This post is part of a series on the Anniversary of the 1982 World’s Fair that was…

Top Music of 1982

Big Rock, Country and R&B hits from 1982

Artists Who Performed at the 1982 World’s Fair

40th Anniversary Celebration Steering Committee  

  • Adam Alfrey - East Tennessee History Center 
  • Bruce McCamish - Bruce McCamish Photography 
  • Chris and Johnathan Ford - Sweet P’s  
  • Courtney Hendricks - The Maker City/Mayor's Maker Council  
  • Doug Lawyer, Knoxville Chamber  
  • Jack Neely - Knoxville History Project  
  • Jane Jolley, Knox County - Knox County  
  • Jayne Burritt - Public Building Authority  
  • Karen Massey - Kreative Events, LLC  
  • Kyndra Brewer - City of Knoxville Special Events 
  • Liza Zenni - Art & Culture Alliance 
  • Mary Pom Claiborne - Knox County Libraries 
  • Michelle Hummel - Downtown Knoxville Alliance  
  • Paul James - Knoxville History Project 
  • Rick Emmett - City of Knoxville  
  • Robin Thomas - Downtown Knoxville Alliance 
  • ​Shellen Wu - University of Tennessee 

With full support from the staff and leadership of Visit Knoxville 

Maps and Resources