Christmas is a magical time of year when calories don’t count and strangers are welcomed into our chimneys just as long as they leave presents. And while we’re convinced Christmas would be magical anywhere, we believe it’s particularly wonderful in Knoxville, TN.
Here are some of our favorite things to do throughout the holiday season:
1. The Christmas Parade!
Kick off the Christmas season via a festive parade down Gay St.
Yes, it is basic. Yes, it is crowded. Yes, it is basically one long lit-up advertisement. And YES, it is also MAGICAL and an absolutely wonderful way to start the holiday season. Lean in, friends! Get caught up in the crowd, wave to Santa, sing along with the music, and welcome Christmas!
2. The Markets!
There’s no denying we’ll all end up spending too much money this month – so why not make our inevitable shopping trips festive and local? Knoxville has a ton of holiday markets where you can shop small, chat with the makers themselves, and come away with unique gifts for your loved ones.
Some of our favorite markets to hit up each year are the Market Square Holiday Market every Saturday leading up to Christmas, the Old City Market on the second Saturday of December, and the Holiday Barn Sale at Riverview Family Farm on the first weekend in December.
(You can also check out our local holiday gift guide here!)
3. Miracle on Gay St.!
Every year in December, one downtown bar gets a holiday makeover. During the Christmas season, this otherwise normal bar, Sapphire, becomes the pop-up bar “Miracle on Gay St.” aka the bar of your Christmas dreams. It’s Christmas in the most nostalgic, tacky, over-the-top way and we are here for it. We’re also here for the seasonal cocktails which are both delicious and adorable.
4. The Theat-ah!
If there’s one thing we love about Christmas (though, in actuality, there are a zillion things we love about Christmas), it’s all the excuses to feel fancy.
Enter: the theater.
Catch a classic in December like “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” put on by River & Rail Theatre Company or “A Christmas Carol” put on annually at Clarence Brown Theatre. The Tennessee Theatre and Bijou Theatre both have various Christmas shows, concerts, and events throughout the season as well.
Whatever you choose, we think you’re very classy for supporting the arts and by golly, you deserve a cocktail from Miracle on Gay St.
5. The 5Ks!
If you’re one of those people who are under the impression that calories count during Christmas (though they definitely do not), you’re in luck! Knoxville has a handful of opportunities to exercise in the most festive environments.
Whether you choose to run the Rockin’ Santa Half Marathon in Victor Ashe Park, the Ugly Christmas Sweater 5K at the Bearden Beer Market, or the Jingle Bell Run in World’s Fair Park, you can have the satisfaction of knowing you earned your Christmas cookies and helped a good cause as all these runs support various charities!
6. Ice Skating on Market Square!
If you’re ever wanting your life to look more like a Hallmark movie, just head to Market Square. Throughout Christmas, the middle of the square transforms into a colorful winter wonderland, complete with an ice skating rink. $11 gets you unlimited time on the ice ($8 for kiddos) and we think that’s a small price to pay for utter Christmas magic. Pro-Tip: take a walk through Krutch Park afterwards for extra Christmas magic – the lights are beautiful!
7. The Peppermint Trail!
Have you ever walked into a coffee shop only to find out they were not serving peppermint mochas?! The Peppermint Trail is here to save you from those kind of holiday catastrophes by taking away all the guesswork. Just follow the peppermints on the sidewalk to find local businesses (coffee shops, restaurants, apparel stores, etc.) selling pepperminty treats!
8. Old North Knoxville’s Victorian Holiday Home Tour!
Y’all, this is our fool-proof method for holiday spirit. Seriously.
The holiday home tour in the historic Old North Knoxville neighborhood allows you to snoop, whoops, we meant explore gorgeous restored homes impeccably decorated for the holidays. And when we say impeccably, we mean some of these homes are owned by HGTV execs IT IS CASUAL. Beautiful old homes, Christmas music, holiday decor, and even the occasional gingerbread cookie all come together to create the sweetest experience.
A ticket for the tour allows you to hop on a bus, but we highly recommend walking and enjoying the sites on foot. You can even take a quick detour to Kbrew for a latte – because in typical New2Knox fashion, we believe all things are best served with a local cup o’ joe.
9. The Lights!
The Holiday Festival of Lights sets up shop every year at The Cove at Concord Park out in west Knoxville and it is absolutely delightful. The show is an illuminated three-quarter-mile greenway trail you can walk through with coordinating music. Oh and SANTA COMES ON FRIDAYS AND SATURDAYS. If you’re into that. Which we are.
There are also a couple other notable displays of light and music at people’s actual homes. Hop in the car any December night to check out the West Hills Christmas Light Show and the West Knoxville Light Show!
10. The Cozy Nights at Home!
If you’re anything like us, throughout the Christmas season, nights in are just as special and festive as nights out. Pick up some local coffee from Mahalo, Vienna, or Golden Roast and add in a little Sugarlands peppermint moonshine or Ole Smoky Shinenog. Then turn on one of the many holiday specials somehow including Dolly Parton and voila! You’ve got a delightful East Tennessee Christmas evening on your hands.
We hope your Christmas season is full of hope, joy, and wonder! We think these things may help make that happen. If you have any other questions about Christmas in Knoxville, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or shoot us a DM on Instagram. Merry Christmas!