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Hearing sleigh bells? Where to celebrate Christmas in East Tennessee

From Christmas light displays to festive parades, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays in East Tennessee.
Christmas at Dollywood
Christmas at Dollywood
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 5:58 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2021 at 11:04 AM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Break out the tinsel and the hot chocolate because Christmas is back in East Tennessee! From Christmas light displays to festive parades, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays in East Tennessee.

PARADES:

Dec. 2:

Lenoir City 6:30 p.m.

    • Parade will start at 5200 City Park Drive Lenoir City, TN 37771

Morristown 7 p.m.

    • The parade will follow the traditional route through downtown Morristown and disperse in the parking lot at HomeTrust Bank, 120 Evans Avenue.

Dec. 3:

Knoxville 7 p.m.

    • Bands, dancers, lighted floats, characters and Santa Claus parade down Gay Street.

Gatlinburg 7:30 p.m.

    • The parade will begin on Baskins Creek Bypass and East Parkway.

Dec. 4:

Clinton 6 p.m.

    • The parade takes place in the center of Clinton. Floats will line up on New Street and Center Street east to CenturyLink.

Sevierville 10 a.m.

    • The parade will take place on the Parkway in Historic downtown Sevierville. It will feature floats, baton twirlers, classic cars, and bands from around the region.

Karns 9 a.m.

    • The parade will start at 9 a.m. at the Ingles at 7466 Oak Ridge Hwy, Knoxville Tn 37931. Line up will start at 7:30 am. The parade will be live streamed by Karns High School A/V department.

Dec. 5:

Townsend 2:30 p.m.

    • The parade will start at IGA and end at Nawger Nob Village.

Dec. 11:

New Market 4 p.m.

    • The parade will begin at 4:00 p.m. at West Old A.J. Highway at the Old Lost Creek Golf Course and will end at the New Market City Hall.

Oak Ridge 6 p.m.

    • The parade will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will follow its traditional route beginning at Corporate Center, on the corner of Lafayette and Laboratory Road. From there, the parade will travel down Lafayette to the Oak Ridge Turnpike. It will continue west on the Turnpike to Oak Ridge High School.

Halls 6 p.m.

    • The parade leaves Halls High School and travels South on Maynardville Highway to Crippen Road.

Jefferson City 6 p.m.

    • The parade will start at the corner of Russell and Main along the railroad tracks facing East. The parade will then return the same way.

COMMUNITY LIGHT SHOWS:

  • Blount County Festival of Trees

The Blount County Festival of Trees will happen at the Blount County Courthouse lawn in Maryville. The event will occur all month long for people to drive or walk by and see, but the festival opening will occur on Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m.

  • City of Alcoa Tree Lighting

Celebrate the lighting of the City of Alcoa Christmas Tree on Nov. 29 at 6:15 p.m. The ceremony will occur at the Springbrook Corporate Center and will be followed by music, refreshments, hayrides, and visits with Santa Claus. Learn more here.

  • Zoo Knoxville Zoo Lights

Experience the all-new outdoor lantern light-up at Zoo Knoxville. General admission is $24 for adults, $18 for kids ages 3-12. Kids under 2 are free. You can purchase tickets online.

  • Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

From Nov. 5 through Jan. 2, guests can head to Smokies Stadium in Kodak for a Christmas light drive-thru. The event is open from 6:00 p.m. until 10 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25 to $50 depending on the day and the amount of people in your vehicle. You can learn more here.

  • Light Up Lakeshore

Lakeshore Park on Lyons View Pike will be illuminated with a special kickoff celebration on Nov. 28. Visitors can enjoy the decorated trees throughout the holiday season. The event is free.

NEIGHBORHOOD LIGHT SHOWS:

  • Christmas on Conner

Christmas on Conner’s dazzling display of lights will shine nightly throughout the holiday season. Over 3,000 have been programmed to twinkle, shine, and dance to several holiday songs. While the show is free, the group asks that you consider donating to the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. The show is located at 3008 Conner Drive, Knoxville.

  • West Knoxville Light Show

West Knoxville Light show is up the whole month of December, according to its website. It will be on every night from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. through the end of December. Folks are encouraged to watch and listen to the show on FM 91.5 in your car. The light is located at 11617 Foxford Drive, Knoxville.

  • West Hills Christmas Light Show

This light display is over 15 years in the making. The current show is now in its 11th year, and thanks to everyone who comes out to watch it. The light show is open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day, according to its Facebook page. The lights are located at 7008 Hampshire Drive, Knoxville.

  • Johnson Christmas Lights

Johnson Christmas Lights has unveiled its Christmas show. It runs weekdays from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Guests are encouraged to tune in to the show on their radio and watch the synchronized light show, according to the Facebook page. The show is at 4901 Fragrant Cloud Lane, Knoxville.

Listen to the Lights in West Knoxville has released its 30 minute synchronized light show. The show runs daily from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The last day to view the show is Jan. 6, 2022, according to its Facebook page.

The show is located at 929 Oak Haven Road, Knoxville

FESTIVALS, ATTRACTIONS AND MORE:

  • Christmas Drive-In at Chilhowee

On Dec. 10, guests are invited to participate in free activities and photos with Santa at Chilhowee Park. The event will also feature a free drive-in movie of Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Events run from 5:30 p.m. at 9 p.m. at Chilhowee Park Midway. The film will begin at 7:00 p.m.

  • Holidays on Ice

Ice skating returns to Market Square in Knoxville. The rink opens the day after Thanksgiving and will close on Jan. 2, 2022. Tickets for unlimited skating are $12 for adults and $9 for kids. Hours can be found on the city website.

  • Tour de Lights Holiday Bike Ride

More than 1,000 people participate in a fun, free 5-mile bike parade through downtown, 4th & Gill, and Old North Knoxville. The race will be on Saturday, Dec. 11at 5:30 p.m. Participants can decorate their bikes and themselves to compete for prizes.

  • Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas

Features 5 million Christmas lights, holiday shows and special treats. Reservations are recommended during the holiday season to make sure you can get into the park. Learn more about the festival on the Dollywood website.

  • 23rd Annual Festival of Lights

The 23rd Annual Festival of Lights will kick off Wednesday, Dec.1, and runs through Jan. 2. The festival will feature light displays and other activities for guests to enjoy. The event is free, but guests are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to The Love Kitchen. The festival is located at The Cove at Concord Park from 6:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.

  • Anakeesta Enchanted Winter Wonderland

Anakeesta’s winter celebration has kicked off and runs through Feb. 14. The wonderland features tens of thousands of twinkling lights throughout our mountain top park. Guests will also have opportunities to shop in the Firefly Village for the perfect holiday gift. You can purchase tickets to the event on their website.

  • Santa at West Town Mall

Santa is back in town at the West Town Mall in Knoxville. He will be there seven days a week through Christmas to take pictures and hear what you want for Christmas. You are encouraged to make a reservation online. You can walk up, but spaces are limited.

  • Christmas in the Village

Go back in time to a pioneer celebration at Christmas in the Village at the Heritage Center in Townsend. Guests will be able to view lights and decorations and be able to participate in different crafts. The village is open on select Saturdays from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18; tours begin at 5 p.m., with the last tour starting at 8 p.m. You can learn more here.

  • Smoky Mountain Christmas at the Museum

On Dec. 10, the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum will host an outdoor family-friendly Christmas event in Townsend. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Learn more here.

  • H.O.M.E For the Holidays

H.O.M.E. (Hall-Oldfield-Maryville-Empowerment) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center are hosting this annual community celebration. Kick-off the holidays here from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. with the tree lighting at 6 p.m. on Dec. 4.

  • Peppermint Trail Downtown Knoxville

Follow the peppermints along the sidewalks in Downtown Knoxville to discover specials featuring the favorite red-and-white holiday candy. Restaurants, coffee shops, and bars will have candy cane coffees, desserts, and cocktails, while boutiques will sell peppermint t-shirts and fun gifts.

  • Elf on the Shelf in Downtown Knoxville

Downtown Knoxville’s Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt has returned to businesses. The tradition features a set of hidden elves across downtown. Those interested in participating can pick up a “North Pole Pass” from mast General Store on Gay Street.

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