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Things to Do This Holiday (2021)

Make it a Downtown Knoxville Christmas.

This year, more than any other, we've been given pause to appreciate what truly matters – spending time with family and friend while making memories that will last a lifetime. We invite you to come downtown for a visit to sip on a warm mocha. Ice skate the day away with the kids. Take in the festive lights, holiday windows, street musicians, and brand new Peppermint Grove. 

No rush, no hurry, no agenda: just enjoy this holiday season!

Photo Credit: @tntheatre

1. Get Lost on the Peppermint Trail

Follow the peppermints along the sidewalks of Downtown Knoxville to discover treats, sweets, cocktails and more featuring the favorite red-and-white holiday candy, plus plenty of gingerbread, cinnamon, cranberry, apple spice, and other holiday flavors. From candy cane coffees to hot buttered rum and eggnog, you will feel the holiday magic with every warm sip! Delight your taste buds with holiday cheesecakes, fudge, donuts, and macarons. Plus, gift shops will sell holiday t-shirts, soaps, and scented candles. Explore the Peppermint Trail from Friday, November 27 to Sunday, January 3. #KnoxPeppermint

2. Holiday Stroll Through Peppermint Grove

Bring your family downtown to enjoy the brand new Peppermint Grove with plenty of opportunities to experience the holidays in a safe way – outside! Holiday murals will decorate storefront windows, drawing you into their magic. Peppermint stick lampposts and red-and-white twinkling lights transform Market Square into a winter wonderland from Monday, November 23 to mid-February 2021. Around the corner, Krutch Park dazzles with romantic trees wrapped in more sparkling lights (you may just see a proposal happening here). There are plenty of festive photo ops, awe-inspiring holiday art, and candy cane trees to create a fantastic, safe, and festive experience. Come enjoy Downtown Knoxville decked out and dipped in peppermint!

Photo Credit: Bruce McCamish

3. Elf on the Shelf Adventure

Santa is sending his Scout Elves to Downtown Knoxville for a magical windowfront scavenger hunt from Friday, November 27 to Sunday, January 3. Since the North Pole is following health and safety guidelines just like us, the Scout Elves will hide in storefront windows only. Bring the family for The Elf on the Shelf® Adventure to walk through the wide sidewalks of downtown to spot these sneaky elves throughout downtown. #ElvesInKnox

4. Ice Skate with the Family

Skate the day away at Knoxville's Holidays on Ice at Knoxville Civic Coliseum, the home of our city's own professional hockey team – the Ice Bears! From  December 11 to January 3, bring the family, meet some friends, or bring a date to the ice, where there is space for all skaters to be physically-distanced. There will be cheery music and an opportunity to skate the season away on a 180 ft ice rink – rain or shine.

[Following the Knox Count Board of Health's recommendation that we adhere to Safer at Home measures, the City of Knoxville has suspended Holidays on Ice at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum for the remainder of the season.]

Photo Credit: @tiffanybgraham

5. Host a (Socially-Distanced) Secret Santa

Just because we're socially-distanced, doesn't mean we can't have fun! Host your own Secret Santa by drawing names virtually, and then hand-delivering a special gift to that person's front porch or mailbox. Just don't go through the chimney! We've crafted eight gift guides to inspire your Secret Santa shopping. You can find something fun, something boozy, something thoughtful; you can be choosy! Shop online or in-store at dozens of unique places to shop downtown for gifts.

Not sure where to start? Try this quiz to help you find the perfect downtown spot to shop for the perfect gift.

Photo Credit: @jacksofknoxville

6. Sip on a Holiday Cocktail (21+)

Grab your girlfriends, your adult family members, or your partner to discover dozens of holiday-inspired cocktails from downtown restaurants and lounges. The French Market always shows off during the holidays with Hot Buttered Rum to pair with holiday crepes. 'Tis the season to be merry!


7. Shop Holiday Markets

As if all the holiday lights, decorations, and downtown cheer weren't enough, we also have holiday markets that bring locally-made gifts right to you, in safe, outdoor environments. Artists bring their goods to the Farmers' Market at Mary Costa Plaza and the Old City Market at the Jackson Terminal throughout the holiday season. Browse coasters, pottery, glassware, jewelry, ornaments, art, and other uniquely-made items not found anywhere else. You're literally buying gifts straight from the artist's hands!

Photo Credit: @nourishmarkets

8. Spend Time with Friends & Family

This one may seem obvious – it is the holidays after all! Safely gather at a restaurant's outdoor or private dining space for dinner, walk the wide sidewalks for a yummy treat for the kids (and young at heart), and watch the street musicians. Before heading home, find the perfect puzzle for the night's entertainment. You'll find unique selections – many with local themes – at Rala, Union Ave Books and Mast General Store. Is there a better way to spend time with family than around a table? There's loads of fun to be had, and plenty of memories to make along the way.

Photo Credit: @gabrielgonzaleztr

9. Decorate Your Home Together

Fresh-baked cookies, hanging ornaments on the tree, decorating the mantle. This is what holiday dreams are made of! Decorate your home together, passing down memories of your childhood to your kids, sharing laughs, and creating a cozy winter wonderland in your home. If you need to spruce up your holiday décor, shop downtown (or shop online) for everything you need. Some of our favorite holiday items this year are Jacks' gingerbread, eggnog, and fresh-cut Christmas tree scented candles, OP Jenkins' holiday pillows, and Bliss' adorable holiday tea towels!

10. Send a Hand-Written Card to Someone

Bring a smile to someone's face, and a sparkle to their eye, with a hand-written letter. Our friends at Jacks of Knoxville and Rala carry locally designed cards that will bring back the lost art of writing letters (and sending them in the mail)! Whether you're reconnecting with a long-lost friend, sending love to a family member in another state, or surprising your grandparents just down the street, there's a special thing about opening a hand-written letter. And the kids can write a letter of their own. To: Santa. 

Also thinking about holiday cards? They're another wonderful way to share the season. Get inspired with downtown photo shoots!


Photo Credit: Rala

Jingle bells. Peppermint lights. Storefront elves. Visit Downtown Knoxville this seasons, and share your memories with #LoveDowntownKnox.