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Downtown Knoxville and Gatlinburg Christmas parades return Friday

The downtown Knoxville Christmas parade is back for its 49th year! It steps off at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Two of East Tennessee's most popular Christmas parades return this week!

The 49th annual downtown Knoxville Christmas Parade and Gatlinburg's 47th annual Fantasy of Lights parade return Friday. You're going to have to choose between one of the two, though: Both parades begin around 7 p.m.  

The Knoxville parade is one of the city's holiday traditions, along with the Peppermint Trail, the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt and the Market Square ice skating rink. It will feature floats from local community organizations, school bands, and churches, as well as an appearance by Santa Claus! 

Roads along the Knoxville parade route will be closed and will be expected to reopen an hour after it ends.

The Knoxville parade will start Friday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. on Church Avenue near the Coliseum before heading down Gay Street and ending on Magnolia Avenue. It is free to the public. 

This year, the parade will honor fallen Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss. Knauss' mother, Paula, will serve as the parade's grand marshal.

More information can be found online. 

The Gatlinburg Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade steps off at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 2. It will begin at the Baskins Creek Bypass and East Parkway, traveling down the Parkway before ending at light number 10.

Gatlinburg said the outbound lanes of the East Parkway will be switched to one lane to make room for floats starting at 4:30 p.m. The inbound lane will be closed around 6:50 p.m. and all traffic along the route will shut down at 7 p.m.

This year, the parade will be led by Academy of Country Music award winner and Grand Ole Opry member, Mark Wills. Right before the parade at 7:25 p.m., the city will light the Gatlinburg Christmas Tree at the Parkway Plaza at traffic light number 3. 

People are encouraged to arrive in Gatlinburg early Friday to grab a good spot to see the parade. You can learn more at this link.

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