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A Holly Jolly Holiday in Downtown Knoxville


Downtown Knoxville transforms into a sparkly, bright, and merry place with memory-making festivities for everyone. We invite you to sip on a warm mocha, ice skate the day away, even plan a winter weekend get-away.

Keep reading for the Santa-approved list of things to do in Downtown Knoxville this holiday season.

🍬 Sleigh the Peppermint Trail

This year, the Peppermint Trail is sweeter than ever! Treat yourself to delicious holiday cocktails, coffees, candies and desserts, including flavors of peppermint, gingerbread, cinnamon, cranberry, apple spice, and more. Explore businesses on the Peppermint Trail from the day after Thanksgiving through January 8, 2023. #KnoxPeppermint

πŸ”Ž Discover Hidden Elves

One of the most magical traditions in Downtown Knoxville is The Elf on the Shelf® Adventure. Every year Santa sends special elves to hide in stores, assisting businesses with all things holiday. Each elf has a name, which you can read about here. Pick up your North Pole Pass at Mast General Store or Knoxville Visitors Center, and make a day of it (the parents have as much fun as the kids)! #ElvesInKnox

⛸️ Ice Skate the Day Away

Knoxville's Holidays on Ice in Market Square is an annual tradition. The open-air ice rink is nestled under twinkling lights for children and parents to skate the day away from the day after Thanksgiving to early January. It's also a perfect spot to people watch, sip on a coffee, and check out the surrounding local shops.

πŸͺ Taste-Test All the Cookies

Downtown Knoxville cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants have baked up divine confectionaries that warm the heart and remind us of our childhood. Satisfy your sweet tooth with the chewy perfect balance of the peppermint mocha cookies at Jacks, "snow-dusted" peppermint crackle cookies from The Tomato Head, cranberry apple cookies from Ham'n Goodys, Matt's special chocolate and peppermint cookies at Goody Golly, and peppermint chocolate chip from Petro's. Try them all!

Photo Credit: Jacks of Knoxville

πŸ’ Find Heart-Warming Gifts

Say farewell to the big-box online stores in exchange for shopping local in Downtown Knoxville. You'll find a heart-warming gift for everyone on your list, plus have a fun day building excitement around the holidays. Meet the business owners behind our local stores to see who you support when you shop small.

πŸ“¬ Send Your Wish List to Santa

Elves have placed a magical mailbox in Market Square where children of all ages can drop off their secret wishes to Santa before Christmas Eve. Local artist Paris Woodhull designed and painted the special box, with express delivery to the North Pole (no postage required). The elves even created a coloring page to fill out!

Photo Credit: Dogwood Arts

🍸 Warm Up With a Spirited Cocktail

Take your holly jolly to new heights with a holiday-inspired cocktail. The Tern Club is a great place to start with a menu filled with punny cocktails like It's a Wonderful Spice, and the French Market always shows off with Hot Buttered Rum to pair with holiday crepes. 'Tis the season to be merry!

Photo Credit: Chivo

🎁 Shop Holiday Markets

You can practically feel the joyful warmth radiating from Downtown Knoxville's outdoor holiday markets. Artists bring handcrafted gifts to the Market Square Farmers' Market and Old City Market on Jackson Ave, where you can browse jewelry, pottery, ornaments, and art straight from the maker's hands. Plus, First Friday ArtWalk is a great holiday shopping night for unique gifts.

πŸŽ„ Attend a Holiday Event

It's an exciting holiday season with events throughout the month of December. Revel in the excitement of the festive Christmas Parade and Tour de Lights Parade as they make their way down Gay Street. Join the mobile experiences during Phil Kline's Unsilent Night and Carol Cart as they wind through the sidewalks of downtown. And celebrate New Year's Eve at the Sunsphere with friends, food trucks, and a ball drop.

Photo Credit: Tour de Lights

🚎 Hop On the Free Trolley

Take a ride through the Downtown Knoxville district on the free, super charming trolley. The trolley can take you to destinations on the Peppermint Trail, to find elves, or to quickly get you from one shop to another. But really, it's an enchanting ride all by itself. Find the trolley flags, hop on, and cruise down Gay Street.

Photo Credit: KAT
Free Trolley

❄️ Enjoy the Season

Slow down and get lost in making memories this holiday season. Share laughs over delicious meals, inspire kid's imaginations with scavenger hunts, cozy up to your partner over a rooftop fireplace, walk the sidewalks for photo-ops and lights. Is there a better way to spend time with family and friends?

Photo Credit: @helloknoxville