Mark your calendars! With the holidays in full swing and school breaks right around the corner, you’re probably wondering what Santa things there will be to do in and around Knoxville. Whether you’re looking for simple activities or grand holiday experiences, here’s a list of fun and festive events you’ll want to take your kids to that are happening over the next few weeks.
Meet and Greets
Cookies with Santa
Santa is making a special stop at the Tennessee Theatre on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 where he will meet and greet children on the stage. Each child (or family, if you have multiple children) will have the opportunity to take a picture with Santa in front of the tree on the stage, tell Santa their wish list, and check the naughty or nice list for their names. There will also be coloring and craft stations available, along with cookie decorating stations. Cost: $20 per child.
Cookies with Santa Cruise – Knoxville
Come see Santa as he makes his first stop of the year on the Volunteer Princess during this cheerful one hour cruise on Saturday, December 10th. Decorate cookies and wear your favorite holiday gear! It will be an unforgettable afternoon for you and your family. Cost: $20 per child, $30 per adult.
Breakfast with Santa (West Town Mall)
Come enjoy a light breakfast sponsored by Loco Burro, activities, crafts, and photos with Santa from 10am-12pm on Saturday, November 18, 2023. This event is free. Any giveaway and craft items are while supplies last. Cherry Hill Photography will also offer photo packages available to purchase.
Elf Jr: The Musical
From December 1–17, plan a visit to Knoxville Children’s Theatre to catch Elf Jr: The Musical. The play highlights the story of Buddy, a young orphan, who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and that his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. Elf JR. features songs by Tony Award-nominees, Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, with a book by Tony Award-winners, Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin. Cost: $12-15.
A Charlie Brown Christmas – Live
Everyone’s favorite holiday classic comes to life in a spectacular new touring production of A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage on December 23, 2023 at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium. Adapted from Charles M. Schulz’s timeless story, and featuring the music of Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage is a present that the whole family can enjoy. Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the whole Peanuts gang as they sing, dance, and learn the true meaning of Christmas! Cost: $24-126.
Pajama Party with Santa
Head to West Town Mall for a pajama party and photo experience with Santa on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 from 5-7pm. Activities include cookie decorating, music, crafts, story time, and giveaways for attendees. Photos with Santa will be available for purchase.
Frozen Holiday Party
Join Elsa and Anna for a special Frozen Holiday Party with some of their favorite princess friends and even Santa Clause at Lighthouse Knoxville on Saturday, December 9, 2023, 10:30am-12pm and 1:30pm-3pm. Enjoy snacks while watching the princesses sing some of their favorite songs and Christmas carols for you to enjoy. The princesses will come to each table for meet and greets and photos, and a professional photographer will be taking photos of your children with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Santa. Not recommended for children under the age of 2. Cost: $50.
Stay and play
Safety City Christmas
Christmas in the City begins on November 28, 2023 and will run until December 14, 2023 from 4pm to 8pm on the selected open dates. During “A Safety City Christmas,” families are invited to bring their own bicycles, push scooters, battery-operated cars, doll buggies and the like to the display of Christmas lights around the miniature city. These special evenings even welcomed a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Cost: free.
Holidays on Ice
Holidays on Ice presented by Home Federal Bank opens on Friday, November 24, 2023. Bring your family and friends to skate in the heart of downtown Knoxville in Market Square. The rink opens the day after Thanksgiving and will be open through January 2, 2024. Enjoy skating under the stars and twinkling lights while listening to music every night. Cost: $9 children age 12 and under; $12 adults. Season passes are also available.
Christmas Lantern Express
Climb aboard the “Christmas Lantern Express” and be a part of this beloved Knoxville tradition on The Three Rivers Rambler. Enjoy festive decorations, holiday treats, story time with celebrity readers and a special visit with Santa from November 24, 2023 through December 23, 2023. Guests aboard the excursion train enjoy a seasonal trip along the Tennessee River. Trips last roughly two hours and begin the journey in downtown Knoxville at the new depot located at University Commons and past historical sites to the “Three Rivers Trestle” where the French Broad and Holston Rivers join to form the Tennessee River. Cost: $12 – 50.
Christmas in the Cave
Come celebrate a little bit of Christmas Magic in Cherokee Caverns! Stroll along the cave path among the Stalactites and Stalagmites with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights and scenes. Visit with and get a picture with Santa. Remember to bring your Christmas list! We heard Santa loves cookies and a friendly little elf said his favorite is Little Debbie Snacks. Plus, watch out for the Grinch; he will be meeting you around the turns and twists of the cave or he might be lounging in his lair. The Grinch will be doing his best not to catch the Christmas Spirit from you and grow his heart 3x the size. His favorite gift is stinky onions or sour lemons. Also, joke around with Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation inside of Cherokee Caverns this Christmas Season, shop the vendor booths to get your Christmas gifts, and grab dinner at The Grotto! Please bring cash for photos. There is no wifi inside of the cave. Cost: $15 ages four and up.
Of course, we can’t forget to mention the tons of Christmas parades happening around town. Enjoy marching band performances, Christmas floats, large balloons, dancers, treats, a visit from Santa and more. Find out all you need to know about East TN Christmas parades here (including times and locations). Cost: free.