Christmas in the City Kicks Off Friday, November 25, 2016

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Christmas in the City Kicks Off Friday, November 25, 2016

Posted: 11/16/2016
Christmas in the City

Families have some thrilling new holiday treats to look forward to with this year’s edition of Christmas in the City, including ice skating with a holiday mascot, family portraits in a life-sized snow globe, and a “Peppermint Trail of Treats.”

As of today, most of the 100,000 downtown holiday lights have been installed by City Public Service Department workers. There’s a lot of effort – a labor of love, really – that goes into making Christmas in the City a special season.

Now, it’s a matter of counting down the days until the kickoff on Friday, Nov. 25. Mayor Madeline Rogero will switch on those 100,000 lights during the Regal Celebration of Lights on Market Square and in Krutch Park and Krutch Park Extension.

“Last year, we debuted a big new 42-foot-tall tree with multi-colored synchronized lights, so we’re looking forward to flipping the switch again on Nov. 25,” said Judith Foltz, the City’s Special Events Director. “It’s an amazing visual.”

Pun intended: Officials are “shaking up” the lighting experience this year with a life-sized Christmas globe. Families will have the opportunity to snap a family photo while they pose from inside the AT&T Snow Globe. (Be sure to bring your own camera.)

The Regal Celebration of Lights and the accompanying opening of the Market Square open-air ice-skating rink – known as “Holidays on Ice,” presented by Home Federal Bank – jumpstart the more than a month-long series of art and music performances, public gatherings and the annual WIVK Christmas Parade.

“Christmas in the City has truly become a memory-maker for holiday traditions,” Foltz said. “It brings businesses and families together in one large six-week community celebration. 

“By popular demand last year, we removed the tent over the outdoor ice skating rink, and that proved extremely popular. Market Square became a miniature version of Rockefeller Center – Knoxville style. So this year, we’re adding to that sense of openness. The rink will have clear dasher boards. And how much fun will it be for families to be able to skate with Peppermint Panda, the rink’s mascot?”

Peppermint Panda will be skating on Market Square with “Holidays on Ice” visitors at 7 p.m. every night that the rink is open (through Jan. 8, 2017), with extended hours with Peppermint Panda on Tuesdays. Visitors are encouraged to wear red and white on Tuesdays to coordinate with Peppermint Panda.

The scent of peppermint may very well be wafting through the air as downtown restaurants and businesses participate in the “Peppermint Trail of Treats.” As part of this new effort, businesses and restaurants will offer peppermint-flavored coffees, brownies, cocktails and many more peppermint-flavored treats. 

Christmas in the City continues with the Friday, Dec. 2, downtown parade; the Dec. 9 “Christmas in Chilhowee” at Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center; and the Dec. 16 Tour de Lights, an event where bicycle enthusiasts decorate their rides with lights and tour the town.

Two of Knoxville’s most historic and ornately decorated theatres will be hosting free events during the holiday season. On Sunday, Dec. 4, the Knoxville Community Band will perform a free Christmas Concert, presented by City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation at the Bijou Theatre. On Sunday, Dec. 11, the Tennessee Theatre will host two free showings (1:00 p.m. & 5:00 p.m.) of the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” presented by Home Federal Bank.

Want to end the year with a literal bang? Christmas in the City concludes with a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party that’s free and open to the public on Market Square, complete with fireworks and a ball drop at midnight.

To help you keep up with the dozens of Christmas in the City concerts, movies, bike rides, community events and other happenings, download the City of Knoxville’s Special Events app, available for free for all smartphone and mobile devices. Search for “Knoxville Events.”

All Christmas in the City events and updates also will be listed on the City of Knoxville’s website:

Here are additional details about some of the major Christmas in the City events for 2016:

Regal Celebration of Lights – Friday, Nov. 25
Market Square, Market Street and Krutch Park Extension
6-9 p.m.

• Downtown Knoxville is transformed into a Christmas village;
• A 42-foot-tall animated Christmas tree in Krutch Park Extension will be lit;
• Krutch Park and surrounding streets will sparkle with more than 100,000 lights;
• Free activities include pictures with Santa Claus, hot cocoa by the Salvation Army, face painting, balloon animals and much more;
• Train rides for children of all ages will be offered;
• A Christmas marketplace with vendors will be set up;
• WDVX Holiday Ho-Ho-Hoedown entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m. on the Market Square Stage, with the Market Square Stage tree-lighting ceremony;
• Sponsors include the City of Knoxville, Regal Entertainment, Pilot Flying J, Krispy Kreme, WDVX, WATE Channel 6, 93.1 WNOX, Home Depot, the Knoxville News Sentinel, and AT&T.

Knoxville’s Holiday on Ice – Nov. 25 through Jan. 8, 2017
Market Square

• The rink will be open every day, weather permitting, except for Christmas Day;
• Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children 12 years and younger, and that includes skate rental and sales tax;
• For more information, visit or call 865-215-4423; and
• Sponsors include the City of Knoxville, Home Federal Bank, Pilot Flying J, Regal Entertainment, WBIR Channel 10, B97.5, the Knoxville News Sentinel, AT&T and Holston Gases.

WIVK Christmas Parade – Friday, Dec. 2
Gay Street
7 p.m.

• The annual parade, featuring floats, bands, decorated vehicles, dancers, twirlers and other performers, is a Knoxville holiday favorite; there’s even a special appearance by Santa Claus!
• Sponsors: City of Knoxville, WIVK, WVLT Channel 8, 865 HVAC and the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Christmas in Chilhowee – Friday, Dec. 9
Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center
6-9 p.m. 

• This public event showcases a forest of lighted trees floating on the lake, pictures with Santa Claus, hot cocoa by All Occasion Catering, face painting, balloon animals and more – and it’s all completely free!
• Help build gingerbread houses with the Austin-East Culinary Arts Department; 
• Train rides for children of all ages will be offered; 
• Nightly self-guided driving tours through the park will be available from Nov. 25 thru Jan. 1, 2017;
• Sponsors include the City of Knoxville, WVLT Channel 8, the Knoxville News Sentinel, 93.1 WNOX, Krispy Kreme, The Muse Knoxville, All Occasion Catering and Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center/SMG.

Tour de Lights – Friday, Dec. 16
Starts at Market Square
Judging begins at 6 p.m.; the bike ride begins at 7 p.m.

• Tour de Lights is a fun, free, casual 5-mile bike ride that starts from Market Square and tours downtown, 4th and Gill, and Old North Knoxville;
• Prizes are awarded after the ride in several categories, including Best-Decorated Bike, Best-Decorated Person, and Best Group Theme; 
• Mast General Store and Three Rivers Market provide hot cocoa and cookies for participants;
• Helmets, white front lights and red rear reflectors are required; all ages and skill levels welcome;
• More information is available at

New Year’s Eve on the Square – Saturday, Dec. 31
Market Square
Music starts at 10:30 p.m.; Ball Drop at Midnight

• Ring in the New Year on Market Square! Watch the ball drop at midnight on Dec. 31; celebrate the end of 2016 and usher in 2017 with thousands of your friends and neighbors;
• Live music: Mae Beth Harris will perform at 10:30 p.m.; bars and restaurants downtown will be open, some offering live music;
• Sponsored by the City of Knoxville, Lloyd’s Electric and WNOX 93.1.