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Downtown Knoxville transformed with holiday lights

While many big events are canceled, you can still get out and enjoy the beautiful lights, decorated windows, and more in downtown.

The holidays may be a little different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but downtown Knoxville is looking better than ever for Christmas!

While many big events are canceled, you can still get out and enjoy the beautiful lights, decorated windows, and more in downtown.

“Downtown Knoxville has become the heart of the holidays, and we want to make it extra special this year,” said Michele Hummel, executive director of the Downtown Knoxville Alliance. “Due to the pandemic, we’ve worked with the City of Knoxville to create a safe and family-friendly experience for residents and visitors as they eat, drink, shop and explore this holiday season.”

There's brand new lighting in Market Square, with the oak trees and lampposts striped red and white to create Peppermint Grove. The lights, provided by the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, will be lit 24 hours a day through mid-February.

The normal but always spectacular Christmas in the City lights are also up, which includes a 42-foot Christmas tree on Gay Street; and twinkling lights throughout Krutch Park and the Old City.  

The city's Holidays on Ice skating rink is missing from Market Square this year, but you will find at the Civic Coliseum later in December.

Here's what else you'll find to get you in the holiday spirit in downtown Knoxville:

  • The fifth-annual The Elf on the Shelf®scavenger hunt will be entirely contact-free this year as Scout Elves hide in the storefront windows of dozens of participating downtown businesses. Participants can share photos via social media using the hashtag #ElvesInKnox and tagging @downtownknox for chances to win weekly gift card drawings.
  • The Peppermint Trail returns with a twist: Restaurants and businesses throughout downtown will offer specially crafted drinks, treats and gifts featuring peppermint along with other holiday flavors, such as gingerbread, cinnamon, cranberry and apple spice. Peppermint-themed decals will mark the sidewalk outside participating merchants.
  • A new holiday mural in Strong Alley by artist Megan Lingerfelt will provide an Instagram-worthy photo op. Don’t forget to tag @downtownknox.

“We are grateful for the participation of many downtown businesses in helping us create this festive holiday experience,” Hummel said. “We hope downtown residents and visitors will enjoy the holiday scenery while supporting these shops and restaurants.”

The Downtown Knoxville Alliances reminds everyone to make health and safety a top priority. Wear a mask – the more festive, the better – practice physical-distancing and stay home when sick