Join us downtown for a little holiday magic.
Downtown Knoxville brims with life all year long, but the holiday season is when it really shines. Everywhere you turn, there’s a bit of twinkle. A taste of peppermint. The promise of snow (even if only in our imaginations). We’d love for you to join us—the more, the merrier.
Here's your guide to create special holiday memories with friends and family.
Go on The Elf on the Shelf® Adventure
Scout Elves will land all across downtown to begin an epic holiday scavenger hunt on Friday, November 29. Pick up a North Pole Pass at Mast General Store, a Santa-approved Scout Elf Adoption Center, or any of the participating businesses to join in on the fun. For the only community-wide The Elf on the Shelf® scavenger hunt in the country, these Knoxville Scout Elves have Santa’s permission to remain in Knoxville until Sunday, January 5. Find elves, fun, treats, and prizes along the way.
Follow the Peppermint Trail
Bite into a peppermint crackle cookie, warm up with a peppermint mocha, sip on a tasty peppermint cocktail, discover the perfect holiday gifts! All these and more when you follow the 70+ peppermints on the sidewalks of Downtown Knoxville from November 29 through January 5. Downtown Knoxville will also be decked out in over 200,000+ bright lights throughout trees, parks, patios and store fronts. Post photos of your favorites at #KnoxPeppermint.
Ice Skate in Market Square
Downtown transforms into a dreamy, wintery wonderland with an open-air ice rink nestled under twinkling lights in the middle of Market Square. Adults and children can skate day and night, seven days a week from November 29 through January 5. Themed ice-skating nights take the fun to the next level. You can skate with the Knoxville Ice Bears, our city’s very own hockey team, and Peppermint Panda, the ice-rink mascot. Wear your best sweater for Christmas Sweater Night. And, skate to disco lights and DJ music on the weekends! Or just come people watch.
Celebrate the Season
The season is packed with special nights starting with the Celebration of Lights on November 29. This holiday kick-off includes the lighting of the Christmas tree, miniature train rides down Gay Street, visits with Santa, and more! Friday, December 6 brings First Friday ArtWalk, a great time for holiday shopping, plus the annual Christmas Parade with spectacular floats and Santa himself at 7pm. The popular Tour de Lights cycles down Gay Street on December 14. If you’ve never seen crowds of decorated bicycles and people in Christmas costumes, you won’t want to miss this! Visit our calendar of events for info on these and more holiday fun.
Visit a Holiday Market
You won’t find a better place to peruse unique, hand-made gifts for the holidays than the Market Square Farmers’ Market and the Old City Market. Artisans, food producers, food trucks, and farmers fill downtown with their wares, perfect for holiday gift giving. Find farm-grown greenery for decorating, hand-crafted gifts, ornaments, decor, and hot beverages to keep you warm while you shop! The Market Square Farmers’ Markets are Saturdays, December 7, 14, and 21. Visit the Old City Market on Saturdays, November 30 and December 14.
Entertain Out-of-Town Guests
You know that special feeling Knoxville gives you? The warm fuzzies inside. The holiday season provides a great opportunity to share that feeling with out-of-town guests and relatives in town for the holidays! Come downtown for gems like hand rolled tamales, meals by James Beard award winning chefs, and fresh farm-to-table cafes. Evenings with craft cocktails, afternoons sampling local beers, weekends with brunch, hot chocolates and coffees, and even holiday ice creams. Whatever your guests’ mood and taste, you’ll find what you’re looking for. And there’s always people watching, shopping, movies, bowling, and so much more.
Find That Perfect Gift
Shopping for gifts for friends and family can be down-right hard, but Downtown Knoxville shops make it easy! They specialize in selling unique gifts perfect for anyone on your list. Dad gift? Try Casual Pint. Tennessee-spirited? Nothing Too Fancy. Fitness junkie? Eddie’s Health Shoppe. Foodie? Tree & Vine. Don’t forget Mom! Knoxville Soap Candles and Gifts carries many items she’ll love. Historian? Union Ave Books! We could go on and on. There are so many unique gifts at local boutiques and galleries, from handmade chocolates, art, and clothing to local beer, hand blown glass, and gourmet foods. Find something for everyone on your list!
Christmas Shows at the Tennessee Theatre
See your favorite holiday movies on the big screen! Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” for free during two special showings on December 15. There are also paid showings of “White Christmas,” “Christmas Vacation,” and “Polar Express” throughout December, plus performances of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” extravaganza and “Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker!” Opportunities to make memories with the entire family.
Host a Holiday Party
Whether you’re planning a holiday office party, holiday reunion with friends, or holiday bash with out-of-town relatives, downtown is your place! Large or small, formal or fun, there are a variety of downtown locations that are perfect for celebrating so all you have to do is relax. Let downtown restaurants and event venues do the rest, and everyone will talk about your party for years to come. Check out a list of downtown event venues.
New Year’s on the Square
Ring in the New Year by watching the ball drop on Market Square at midnight, witness a display of fireworks, and sing along to "Auld Lang Syne" at this family-friendly New Year's Eve event. Before midnight, celebrate the end of another year with drinks and dinner along Market Square, Gay Street, and in the Old City.
Enjoy the Season
This time of year can be hectic, and it’s easy to lose ourselves in the busyness. So we invite you to come downtown for a relaxing visit. Sip on a warm mocha, hot chocolate, or apple cider. Watch ice skaters on Market Square. Walk down Gay Street to the Old City taking in festive lights, holiday windows, and street musicians.
No rush, no hurry, no agenda: just enjoy the season!