It’s about that time…Christmas in the City! Of course Knoxville Food Tours runs year round, and the holidays are such a great time to see and experience Downtown Knoxville. Book a tour this season as a special treat for your family and friends! What are we eating? Well, if you know me, probably something along the lines of comfort food and decadence, such as Crispy & Juicy Fried Chicken paired with a Sparkling & Bubbly Champagne at Tupelo Honey, an Immense Bowl of Spaghetti with Warm Homemade Sauce and Thick Jumbo Meatballs at Dazzo’s, a Dark & Creamy Nutella Latte from Market House Café, a Rich Black Forest Cake with Candied Cherries, or, as we say, there’s always room for Silky Smooth Gelato. Want to add more holiday festivities to your itinerary while you are in town for Downtown Knoxville’s Award Winning, Original Tour? Fantastic idea! The following is my list of some of the Holiday Highlights coming up this season.
The official kickoff of the holiday season in Knoxville is traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving, this year falling on November 25, with the Regal Celebration of Lights, which is the lighting of the 42 foot tall Christmas tree in Krutch Park accompanied by musical performances, children’s activities, and festive treats, all beginning around 6:00 p.m. That’s also opening day for Holidays on Ice, the ice skating rink on Market Square, running until January 8.
A hugely popular event that same week is the Fantasy of Trees, November 23-27, at the Knoxville Convention Center, where you can, “wander through a magical forest of more than 350 designer items including beautifully decorated trees, holiday accessories, fireplace mantels, door designs, table centerpieces, and Adopt-a-Trees decorated by local school children, all priced to sell”. Yes, it’s that amazing. Proceeds go to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
A not to miss exhibit will also be in the Knoxville Convention Center Concourse November 22 til December 2 – Holiday Canstruction, a competition for local teams of architects, engineers, and construction companies who create large art sculptures out of typically 1500-5500 pieces of canned goods. After viewing the exhibit, cast your vote for a winner! Following the deconstruction of the sculptures, all the canned food is donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. Nice.
Wanna see something cool? On Thursday, November 23, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will make a stop in Knoxville on its way from Idaho to Washington D.C. View the 80 foot Engelmann Spruce at Clinch Ave. near the World’s Fair Park from 3:00-7:00 p.m.
Careful where you park on Friday night, December 2, some streets will be closed due to the WIVK Christmas Parade on Gay St. which begins at 7:00 p.m.
Now this sounds like fun – take a workshop on making holiday decorations from natural materials at the University of Tennessee Gardens. Tip – Register Early, these classes are usually designed for a limited number of participants for hands on activities. Saturday, December 3, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Kokedama (an ancient Japanese variant of bonsai) Christmas – create one of a kind, living, ornaments, gifts, and party favors. Slip out for a quick lunch at one of the local favorites on campus such as The Golden Roast, Jai Dee Thai & Sushi, or Fresh to Order, then return for the Fresh Seasonal Wreaths workshop from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Create a wreath to make your home smell of gorgeous, fresh cut greenery.
Want something homemade for the holidays but someone else made it? Been there. Make your destination Ijams Nature Center on Sunday, December 4, from 12:00-5:00 for their Holiday Marketplace. Local artists, crafters, and designers, as well as local food comprise this festive event.
Speaking of Markets, did you know the Market Square Farmer’s Market goes year round now? They feature a Holiday Market on Saturday December 3, 10, and 17 from 11:00-5:00. Find farm raised holiday décor, baked goods, artisan foods, and crafts and enjoy fare from local food trucks.
And then there are the shows…
I’ve seen many of the recurring holiday shows, they are all great and held in beautiful, often historic venues. Along with the traditional favorites there are new offerings in a variety of genres – classical, jazz, country, and Americana.
A new play I want to catch is Seasonal Allergies, at Theater Knoxville at 319 N. Gay St. “Get ready to laugh away your throat tickle and clear your sinuses with a healthy dose of Holiday Fun.” Sounds great! It runs November 25 thru December 11, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
A new adaptation of Charles Dicken’s theatrical favorite, A Christmas Carol, will run at the Clarence Brown Theater on the University of Tennessee campus from November 23 thru December 18. How has this story survived and thrived the past for the past 173 years? Well, we all might live a bit vicariously through Ebenezer Scrooge. Check their website for specific show info and to find a day and time to reflect a bit on your past, present, and the possibilities for the future.
Fun Note – Clarence Brown, this theater’s namesake, was a 1910 alum of UT, and was nominated for six academy awards in the 1930’s and worked with some of the brightest stars of that era such as Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino, Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jimmy Stewart.
The Historic Bijou Theater at 803 S. Gay St. is the venue for the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra’s Classical Christmas, Sunday, November 27, at 2:30. Tip – buy your tickets early, I tried desperately to get into this show last year. Want something a little more laid back? You might enjoy A Very Merry Christmas featuring singer/songwriter Dave Barnes, Saturday December 10, at 8:00 p.m. This legendary theater was built before amplification and many music writers who come through town often mention how great the acoustics are at The Bijou.
With a seating capacity of 2500, the Knoxville Civic Auditorium will host The Appalachian Ballet Company’s performance of The Nutcracker December 3 & 4, The Nativity Pageant of Knoxville’s Living Nativity December 10 & 11, The Contemporary Dance Ensemble’s Holiday Spectacular December 10, Twas the Night Before Christmas Concert by The Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus December 11, and The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Clayton Holiday Concert featuring a Suite from The Polar Express and newly appointed KSO Music Director Aram Demirjian on December 16, 17, & 18. Whew, that a lot of singing and dancin’!
And finally, the mac daddy of them all – The Majestic Tennessee Theater, with its massive French style chandeliers dripping with Czechoslovakian crystals, Italian terrazzo flooring, Spanish-Moorish style interior, Asian influenced carpet and draperies, and that ceiling…oh that ceiling… will be the site for Keyboards at Christmas November 27, Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s A Swingin’ Christmas December 8, Home Free – A Country Christmas December 9, Kacey Musgraves A Very Kacey Christmas December 16, White Christmas – the classic movie starring Bing Crosby December 18, Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker December 20, and Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis December 21.
So there you have it – Paula’s Picks for holiday fun and rounding out 2016 in style. Enjoy!