Knoxville Family Christmas and Holiday Event Round-Up 2016

It’s here, friends! ‘Tis the season! Knoxville certainly knows how to celebrate the holidays and you are invited to a fabulous bunch of festivities all around the area that lasts through the remainder of the year!

Hold onto your jingle bells and hop into your sleigh because I am here to take you on a fantastic holiday tour through local events, train rides, parades, and Santa sightings all around East Tennessee with our Knoxville Family Christmas and Holiday Event Round-Up!

{Also be sure to check out our Christmas Tree Farm ListWhere to See Christmas Lights Post, 2016 Knoxville Holiday Shopping Guide, and all our Christmas posts!} 

Knoxville Holiday Events 2016

Please note I have placed asterisks (**) on each event I personally recommend. Again, these are personal faves and nothing more, so if you trust me, you must see/do/experience these. If not, well then there is a lovely list of many, many more to choose from! AND, if you’re looking for activities with Santa, look below for the RED ink!

First stop, events.

Events (listed in order of start date):

Dixie Stampede’s Holiday Adventure
Dixie Stampede
3849 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Ticket prices and show times vary.
The “high-spirited adventure” of Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction receives a festive twist for the 2016 holiday season with the magnificent sights and sounds of Christmas, including a full-scale living Nativity, holiday decorations, Santa Claus and a fabulous four-course Christmas feast. See website for more details.

**Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland**
Sevierville/Kodak, TN
Tennessee Smokies Baseball Stadium
3540 Line Drive, Kodak, TN 37764
11/04/16-1/08/17 dusk-10:00PM (or possibly later on the weekends) Open rain or shine and on holidays.
Cars or family vans $25, larger vehicles $40, tour/school buses $80. Fees include admission to Santa’s Village. **Santa’s Village will be open 11/17/16** Credit cards accepted.
See a synchronized music and light show that will amaze you from the comfort of your vehicle and then get out at Santa’s Village to see Santa and do much more. See website for more details. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

**Christmas at Biltmore**
Asheville, NC
The Biltmore
1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803
See website for ticket pricing as they vary depending on date and day.
See the hundreds of trees, thousands of lights, and miles of garland around the picturesque estate. Visit Antler Hill Village on Saturdays and Sundays to see Santa! See website for more details. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

**Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas**
Pigeon Forge, TN
Dollywood Theme Park
2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd. Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
See website for ticket pricing and park hours.
A must see indeed, as a five time award winner of America’s Best Christmas Event. Features over four million holiday lights and spectacular performances! You can also see Santa in the Parade of Lights! See website for details. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Parade of Lights pictured below just above parade section.)

Sevierville’s Winterfest Kick Off Celebration
Sevierville, TN
Sevierville Municipal Complex
110 Gary Wade Blvd. Sevierville, TN, 37862
11/07/16 3:00PM-10:00PM
Entertainment, games, food, fireworks and more at this celebration to kick off the official start of Sevierville’s Winterfest! See website for more details.

Sevierville’s Winterfest
Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, TN
Enjoy viewing millions of twinkling lights as you drive down the Parkway through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. See website for more details.

**Ice! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer**
Nashville, TN
Gaylord Opryland Events Center
2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214
Pricing ranges from roughly $18-$42 depending on age and date.
Put on a giant snowsuit and tour the more than two million pounds of amazing ice sculptures created to the theme of The Nutcracker. Finish it off with a trip down the 2-story slide made of ice! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Definitely worth a day trip to Nashville to experience Ice and tour Opryland decorated for the holidays from top to bottom! See website for more details. (2015 Nutcracker display pictured below.)

Santa Fest
West Town Mall, Belk Kid’s Department
Knoxville, TN
Join Santa for photos, holiday crafts, face painting, and much more. See website for more details.

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops
Kodak, TN
Bass Pro Shops
3629 Outdoor Sportsman Place, Kodak, TN 37764
(865) 932-5600
A special preview event for Santa’s arrival opening night including a magical tree lighting, giveaways, and holiday treats! Other days include photos with Santa and holiday crafts. See website for more details.


Lights up! at the Pinnacle Turkey Creek
Knoxville, TN
Turkey Creek
11/18/16 4:00-9:00PM
FREE. Donations for the Mission of Hope are encouraged.
Come watch Santa light the 60-foot tree, take pictures with Santa inside the Little Nest Photo studio, enjoy holiday crafts, refreshments, train rides and more. See website for more details. 

The Nutcracker by Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association
Oak Ridge, TN
Oak Ridge High School Performing Arts Center
11/19/16 2:00PM (without professional guests, tickets are $10 for all) and 7:30PM
11/20/16 2:00PM
Adults $25, Seniors $20, Students $10.
See website for more details.

Holiday Canstruction
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Knoxville Convention Center
11/22/16-12/02/16 8:00AM-5:00PM
Come check out all of the holiday-themed art projects made out of canned foods created by local architects, engineers, contractors, designers, and students, all the while fighting hunger as every can used will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. See website for more details.

**Fantasy of Trees**
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Knoxville Convention Center
(865) 541-8441
Wednesday, 11/23/16 9:00AM-9:00PM
Thursday, Thanksgiving Day 3:00PM-8:00PM
Friday, 11/25/16 9:00AM-9:00PM
Saturday, 11/26/16 9:00AM-9:00PM
Sunday, 11/27/16 12:00PM-6:00PM
Adults $8, children 4-12 $4, 3 and under free, Family 4 Pack $20. *You can also find a coupon in your Knox Co. Schools Coupon Book and the Knoxville News Sentinel!*
This 32nd annual celebration is a fabulous event filled with hundreds of sparkling holiday trees to see, decorations galore, and gift shops a plenty to find just the right gift this season. Make a craft, decorate a gingerbread house, or visit with Santa. Proceeds benefit East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. See website for more details. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

A Christmas Carol
Knoxville, TN
Clarence Brown Theatre at UT
(865) 974-5161
Showtimes vary as well as pricing.
A production of the classic holiday story. See website for more details.

The Elf on the Shelf Adventure
Various businesses around downtown Knoxville
A brand new adventure for Knoxville featuring a live Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt! Once it starts on November 25, visit any of the participating locations and pick up your Elf on the Shelf North Pole Pass. Collect a store stamp at each scout elf sighting…and continue the adventure. Diligent seekers collecting twenty or more stamps will be entered to win grand prizes of downtown merchandise and gift cards. There will also be lots of fun, treats, and additional prize drawings along the way. A list of participating stores can be found on their website.

Holidays on Ice
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Market Square
Ice Rink $10/adults, $7 for children 12 and under
The square is transformed into a fabulous outdoor skating rink through the winter months. See website for more details. (Pictured below.)


**Regal Celebration of Lights**
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Market Square, Krutch Park, and Krutch Park Extension
11/25/16 6:00PM-9:00PM
A favorite indeed! Head downtown for the lighting of the gigantic 38 foot tree! Stay after for train rides, face painting, crafts, visits with Santa, marshmallow roasting and more! See website for more details. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

WDVX Holiday Ho Ho Hoedown
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Market Square Stage
11/25/16 6:30PM-9:00PM
A group will be singing songs of the season and holidays. See website for more details.

**2016 National Gingerbread Competition**
Asheville, NC
The Omni Grove Park Inn
290 Macon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
Open to the public Sunday after 3:00PM through Thursday, excluding holidays. Resort guests only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday mornings and holidays.
$10 parking fee.
View the Gingerbread contestants’ projects, including the winners. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

6th Annual Light the Park
Farragut/West Knoxville, TN
Founder’s Park at Campbell Station, formerly Campbell Station Park
405 N. Campbell Station Rd., Farragut, TN 37934
11/28/16 6:00PM-7:00PM
Enjoy a ceremonial tree lights, refreshments, and music! See website for more details.

Gingerbread Week Story Time
West Knoxville, TN
Smart Toys and Books
9700 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 394-6060
11/30/16 and 12/01/16 at 11:00AM
FREE. No reservations needed. See website for more details.

Santa’s Village at the Knoxville Zoo
Knoxville, TN
3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive, Knoxville, TN 37914
Thursday, 12/08/16 through Sunday, 12/11/16 10:00AM-3:00PM daily
Free with regular zoo admission ticket.
Enjoy holiday crafts and activities, as well as a visit with Santa! Zoo members will also receive a special gift with their membership card.

Celebrate the Season
Farragut, TN
Farragut Town Hall
12/01/16 4:30PM-7:00PM.
Activities include photos with Santa, cookie decorating, crafts, and more.

Pictures with UT Santa
Maryville, TN
Foothills Mall
197 Foothills Mall, Maryville, TN 37801
12/01/16 6:00PM-9:00PM
Price depends on photo package chosen.
Come out to see Santa dressed in orange in support of the UT Vols! See website for more details.

WIVK Christmas Parade
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Gay Street
12/02/16 7:00PM
Parade route: Howard Baker Jr. to Church Street, right onto Gay Street, right onto Jackson Avenue
Bundle up streetside to see decorated floats, marching bands, dancers, a special guest as grand marshal, and Santa, of course. See website for more details. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Snowmen at Night Preschool Craft
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center
1127 Broadway St. Knoxville
(865) 523-1401
Friday, 12/02/16 10:00AM-11:15AM
Tickets $15
In this fun, frosty workshop we will explore author Caralyn Buehner’s delightful storybook Snowmen at Night and create a wintery work of art to go along with it! We will read from the beautiful book and talk about our favorite winter things. Then we will use colored paper, oil pastels and mixed media objects to create and add personality to a snowman, snowy hills, winter-time trees and the glowing moon. See website for more details.

Holiday on the Square
Knoxville, TN
Franklin Square
9700 Kingston Pike
12/03/16 11:00AM-3:00PM
Activities include puppet show, carriage rides, visits with Santa, door prizes and more.

3rd Annual Rocky Hill Christmas Festival
Knoxville, TN
12/03/16 6:00PM
How the Grinch Stole Christmas 5:00PM Come watch the movie with cider and cookies at Pero’s on the Hill.
Parade 6:00PM-6:30PM Start location will be near Rocky Hill Elementary and will end near Rocky Hill Baptist Church.
Christmas Tree Lighting 6:30PM-7:00PM Light the tree with the Rocky Hill Baptist Church Choir.
Christmas Vendors 7:00PM-8:00PM
See website for more details.

The Nutcracker by the Appalachian Ballet Company
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Knoxville Civic Auditorium or Clayton Center for the Arts
12/03/16 7:30PM and 12/04/16 3:00PM at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium
12/09/16 7:30PM and 12/10/16 3:00PM at the Clayton Center for the Arts
Tickets vary from $25-$45.
See website for more details.

Portraits with Santa
West Knoxville, TN
Smart Toys and Books
9700 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 394-6060
12/04/16 1:00PM-5:00PM
$10 sitting fee, must register ahead of time.
Get professional photos by Break the Mold Photography taken of your family with Santa! See website for more details.

Nutcracker on Ice
Knoxville, TN
Ice Chalet
Bearden area, 100 Lebanon Street, Knoxville.
12/06/16-12/10/16 7:00PM daily with an extra show at 2:00PM 12/10/16
Tickets are $15, $20, or $25.
Enjoy the holiday fairy tale performed by skaters of all ages and skill levels. See website for more details.

Evening with Santa
Lenoir City, TN
War Memorial Building
103 North B Street
12/08/16 6:00PM-7:30PM
Enjoy a big-screen movie, crafts, refreshments, a visit with Santa, and more. See website for more details.

Chilhowee Park Drive-Thru Light Tours
Knoxville, TN
Chilhowee Park
Drive yourself through the park to view the lights and decorations. See website for more details.

**Christmas in Chilhowee**
Knoxville, TN
Chilhowee Park
12/09/16 6:00PM-9:00PM
Watch them light the tree, listen to live music, visit with Santa Claus, ride a train, build a gingerbread house, and much, much more. See website for more details. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Christmas in the Cave
Knoxville, TN
Cherokee Caverns
8524 Oak Ridge Highway, Knoxville, TN 37931
12/09/16-12/11/16 5:00PM-8:30PM
12/16/16-12/18/16 5:00PM-8:30PM
$10 ages 3 and up, additional $10 for photo with Santa. Free parking. Cash or credit cards accepted.
Come stroll through the underground winter wonderland, get your face painted, do some holiday crafts, and visit with Santa! (Wheelchair and stroller accessible.)

Jingle Bell Run/Walk
Downtown Knoxville, TN
World’s Fair Park
12/10/16 10:00AM, registration at 8:30AM
See website for pricing and different race options.
Come out in your festive gear to run/walk to support the Arthritis Foundation! A fun bonus for kids, the Santa Chase: a short run to try to catch Santa at 9:30AM. See website for more details.

Breakfast with Santa
Farragut/West Knoxville, TN
Lakeside Tavern
10911 Concord Park Dr. Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 671-2980
Saturday, 12/10/16 8:30AM.
Adults $10, children $5
Dine with Santa for a pancake breakfast! Must call to make reservations. (Pictured below.)


Breakfast with Santa
Farragut/West Knoxville, TN
First Farragut United Methodist Church
12733 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37934
(865) 966-8430
12/10/16 9:00AM-11:00AM
Enjoy craft-making and a pancake breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus. See website for more details.

ETH’s Holiday Open House
Downtown Knoxville, TN
East Tennessee History Center
601 S. Gay Street
12/10/16 11:00AM-3:00PM
Enjoy musical performances, make crafts and ornaments, listen to storytelling and more. See website for more details.

The Nativity Pageant of Knoxville
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Knoxville Civic Colisseum
Saturday, 12/10/16 3:00PM
Sunday, 12/11/16 3:00PM
Monday, 12/12/16 7:00PM
FREE, no ticket needed.
See a live performance of the traditional Christmas story with beautiful costumes and live animals, also including an orchestra and choir. See website fore more details.

Smokies Santa Hustle 5K and Half Marathon
Sevierville, TN
The Wilderness at the Smokies (start and finish line)
1424 Old Knoxville Highway, Sevierville, TN
12/11/16 7:30AM
See website for pricing and registration.
Join the race to benefit Keep Sevier Beautiful and get a free sweatshirt, Santa hat, and beard along with a medal for the 5K and Half Marathon! See website for more details.

Holiday Festival of Lights at the Cove
Farragut/West Knoxville, TN
The Cove at Concord Park
11808 South Northshore Drive
12/15/16-12/30/16, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 6:00PM-9:00PM
See the park light up each night on a walk around a 3/4 mile loop! No further information available on this event yet. In the past, they have requested non-perishable goods for donations to the Love Kitchen. They have also had hot chocolate and s’mores available to purchase. See website for more details.

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s 30th Annual Clayton Holiday Concert
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Knoxville Civic Auditorium
12/16/16 7:30PM
12/17/16 3:00PM, 7:30PM
12/18/16 3:00PM
See website for ticket pricing.
Watch the orchestra perform some of your favorite holiday hits! See website for more details.

**10th Annual Tour de Lights**
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Market Square
12/16/16 7:00PM, judging begins at 6:00PM.
Get yourself and your bike decked out in holiday decor and ride a fun, casual ride around downtown. All ages and skill levels welcome, but you must wear a helmet and headlight. See website for more details. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Nutcracker by the Moscow Ballet
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Tennessee Theater
12/20/16 3:00PM and 7:00PM
See website for various ticket prices. Tickets are on sale now.
Performed by the Moscow Ballet. See website for more details.

The Muse’s Cheer in the New Year at NOON!
The Muse
516 N. Beaman Street, Knoxville, TN 37914
12/31/16 10:00AM-2:00PM
Tickets on sale 12/01/16. Ticket prices and more information coming soon.
Get ready for the best New Year’s Eve party for kids and families! See website for more details as they become available.

New Year’s on the Square
Downtown Knoxville, TN
Market Square
12/31/16 10:30PM
Celebrate the coming of the New Year in Market Square with a countdown, ball drop, and fireworks! See website for more details.


Next stop, trains! Check out the holiday versions of these train rides!

Train Excursions:

**The Polar Express**
Bryson City, NC
Departs from The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, approximately 2.5 hours from Knoxville.
45 Mitchell Street, Bryson City, NC 28713
See website for departure dates and times, as well as different pricing based on date, age, and seat.
Sip on hot chocolate and listen to the story of The Polar Express during your 1 hour 15 minute ride to the North Pole and back. Santa will board the train and give each child the magic silver sleigh bell. We rode The Polar Express last year and I can honestly say it is one of my absolute favorite memories with my daughter. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this trip! (With that said, she was three at the time and my personal opinion is that ages 3-10 are probably best for the trip. If coming from Knoxville, note that there is about five hours of driving time total as well as roughly 1.5 hours of sitting time on the train so it seems difficult for a child under three to handle all of that still time. Just my own personal recommendation! Pictured above.)

North Pole Limited Train Ride
Chattanooga, TN
Departs from the Grand Junction Station
4119 Cromwell Rd. Chattanooga, TN 37421
See website for departure dates and times. Ride is 1 hour and 15 minutes long.
All passengers ages 2 and up $26, Santa’s Private Car $50.
Take an imaginary journey to the North Pole. Enjoy sing-a-longs, refreshments, and story-telling with a visit from Santa. See website for more details.

Christmas Lantern Express Train Ride
Knoxville, TN
Departs from a new location at the 3RR Depot at the University Commons located off Cumberland Avenue (site of new Walmart at the edge of campus)
11/25/16-12/22/16 various days of the week. 9:45AM, 1:00PM and 4:15PM
See website for departure days and times.
Adults $26.50, Seniors (55+) $25.50, Children ages 3-12 $15.50, Toddler ages 1-2 $7.50, Under 1 free.
Enjoy a train ride fully decorated with refreshments and a visit from Santa. See website for more details.


Third stop, the parades. Bundle up for these magnificent celebrations as they are often chilly, but well worth the extra layers!


Lenoir City Christmas Parade
Downtown Lenoir City, TN
12/01/16 6:30PM
Parade route: down Broadway from C Street to Pike Street
Join local families as they kick off the season with the lights and sounds of the holidays with a Christmas parade. See website for more details.

Gatlinburg’s 41st Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
Downtown Gatlinburg, TN
12/02/16 7:30PM
Parade route: Begins at traffic light #1A on Highway 321 at 7:30PM and ends about 90 minutes later at traffic light #10.
With over 100 parade entries, Santa, and a dozen marching bands, you’re guaranteed to have jingling good time!

Sevierville’s 54th Annual Christmas Parade
Historic Downtown Sevierville, TN
12/03/16 11:00AM-12:00PM
Best viewed at Forks of the River Parkway and Court Ave. See website for more details.


Last stop, Santa. Nothing screams the holidays like a child on Santa’s lap…no pun intended. Ok fine. Pun intended. But really, the season isn’t complete without an annual photo with that jolly big belly.

More Santa Sightings:

Santa at West Town Mall
Knoxville, TN
See website for more information on times and dates for family and pet photos with Santa!

Santa for Special Needs
West Town Mall
Knoxville, TN
Caring Santa provides a subdued and welcoming environment for children with special needs and their families. See website for more information.

Foothills Mall
Maryville, TN
See the website for more information on times and dates for family and pet photos (11/28/16) with Santa!

f/32 Photo’s Santa Experience
f/32 Photo
7838 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
(865) 934-0909
Available starting 11/23/16
$29.95 session fee. Photos available for purchase a la carte or in packages beginning at $25.00. Packages are not required.
The Santa Experience is a time set aside for your child or children to have one on one time with Santa. It is a private session held in the studio where your child(ren) can talk to Santa about their year, what they would like for Christmas, and the all important question…whether they have been naughty or nice. Santa also loves reading with the kids, his favorite book being the “Night Before Christmas”. While all of this is taking place, one of their professional photographers will be capturing those memories. See website for more details.

Little Nest Portraits’ Santa Sessionette
Little Nest Portraits
11279 Parkside Drive, Knoxville, TN 37934
(865) 675-6378
Available starting 11/26/16
Book a session for designer photos with Santa, including time for your child to spend with Santa. An 8×10 print is included! $20 of each session purchase is being donated to charity. Contact studio for more details.

Be sure to stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for more information on ways and places to give back to your community this holiday season and another round-up on your local Christmas Tree Farms and best Christmas lights around town.

If you have another event you would like to add, please comment below and use our link to add it to our site calendar here

If you get holiday-ed out (I know, I know. Impossible, but maybe your husband will!) don’t forget about the Knoxville Ice Bears games, the Men’s UT Basketball and Women’s UT Basketball games, and other inexpensive indoor fun around town!

Wishing you and yours
a cheerful holiday season!

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7 Responses to Knoxville Family Christmas and Holiday Event Round-Up 2016

  1. Krista December 1, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    Your information on Knoxville Zoo’s Santa’s Village is incorrect. It is actually only going on December 8-11 from 10am-3pm. Just wanted to let you know.

    • Natalie
      Natalie December 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

      Thanks we will update!

  2. Jessica December 4, 2016 at 4:58 am #

    Thank you so much for taking the time to provide all of this great information! It is so helpful to mothers like me who don’t know where to start when looking for something to do with my 2 y/o son this holiday season.

    • Natalie
      Natalie December 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

      So glad you find it helpful! Kara spends a lot of time putting this together.

  3. Audrey Collins December 4, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    Great site ! Thank u so much !!!

  4. Frankie Phillips December 10, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

    My stepdaughter and her 3 year old are visiting for a few days. My husband has to work and I am left to entertain. I just moved to east Tn in July so I did not have a clue what Christmas events were offered in the area. Thanks to you and your blog I have a list of ideas for them to choose from. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Natalie
      Natalie December 10, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

      YAY we are so glad to hear that and hope you have a great time!

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