Christmas in the City festivities kick off Friday

People ice skate on Market Square during Christmas festivities Friday, Nov. 25, 2011. (Photo by Wade Payne, Special to the News Sentinel)

Photo by Wade Payne, copyright © 2011 // Buy this photo

People ice skate on Market Square during Christmas festivities Friday, Nov. 25, 2011. (Photo by Wade Payne, Special to the News Sentinel)

Thanksgiving Friday means shopping, turkey leftovers and the kickoff of the city of Knoxville's annual Christmas in the City festivities.

Christmas in the City is an umbrella name for dozens of holiday-themed events and sponsored by the City of Knoxville or held in or around the city by organizations or businesses. Most events happen after Thanksgiving and continue through December. City-sponsored holiday events occur on three consecutive Fridays in late November and early December.

The city is also promoting a window decorating contest among downtown merchants. Businesses are asked to decorate their windows with holiday decorations. Those who wish to vote in the contest can do so at the Knoxville's Office of Special Events Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CityofKnoxvilleSpecial Events.

Christmas in the City begins this year on the evening of Nov. 23. with the evening Regal Celebration of Lights. At 6:15 p.m. the lights on the 38-foot Christmas tree in the Krutch Park Extension on Gay Street will be turned on for the holiday season. Krutch Park will sparkle with more than 100,000 lights alone. The lights on more than 400 tree forms set atop downtown and area Knoxville buildings also will start to shine. Participating businesses or organizations set up the tree forms in an "Up on the Rooftops" program.

The Nov. 23 Celebration of Lights includes free photos with Santa Claus, face painting and marshmallow roasting. The Salvation Army will supply free hot cocoa. Before all the holiday lights are turned on, the WDVX Ho-Ho-Hoedown begins on Market Square at 5 p.m. Nov. 23. Hosted by Freddy Smith and his Christmas Chicken, the show will include performances themed to the "Music of Christmas Past," "Music of Christmas Present" and "Music of Christmas Yet to Come." Performances will range from bluegrass and clogging to drums and horns.

Nov. 23 is also opening day for Knoxville's Holiday on Ice open-air ice rink. Last year, 20,000 people skated at the rink set up in Market Square.

The rink this year is open every day but Christmas Day through Jan. 6. Hours through Dec. 18 are 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1-9 p.m. Sunday. On Dec. 19, the rink changes its hours to 1-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday and keeps its 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday hours. Christmas Eve hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission to skate is $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 12 and younger. The admission includes skate rental.

photo by Traci K. McDonell/special to knoxville.com
Lighted Christmas tree forms float on the lake at Chilhowee Park. The annual Comcast Christmas at Chilhowee Park celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30.

photo by Traci K. McDonell/special to knoxville.com Lighted Christmas tree forms float on the lake at Chilhowee Park. The annual Comcast Christmas at Chilhowee Park celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30.

On Nov. 30, the Christmas celebration moves to Chilhowee Park off Magnolia Avenue and Interstate 40's Exit 392. The annual Comcast Christmas at Chilhowee Park is 6-9 p.m. Nov. 30. The park is known for the lighted trees around and floating on its lake. At Comcast Christmas, there'll be more free photos with Santa Claus, more face painting, marshmallow roasting and hot coca. Choirs from Knox County schools will perform; train rides will be available.

Chilhowee Park remains open through Jan. 1 for visitors to drive through on their own self-guided tours to see the lights.

photo by Traci K. McDonell/special to knoxville.com
Marching bands are a traditional part of the annual Christmas parade downtown, set this year for 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7.

photo by Traci K. McDonell/special to knoxville.com Marching bands are a traditional part of the annual Christmas parade downtown, set this year for 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7.

The first Friday in December brings the annual Christmas parade through downtown Knoxville. This year the parade is called the WIVK/McGhee Tyson Airport Christmas Parade, with the airport replacing Fowler's in the title. Whatever the name, the parade includes its traditional slate of decorated floats, marching bands, twirlers and dancers and Santa Claus. The parade starts at 7 p.m. The route starts at Howard Baker Jr. Avenue and goes along Church Avenue before turning right onto Gay Street. The parade then turns right from Gay onto Jackson Avenue and ends at Depot Avenue.

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