There’s nothing like the holidays in the south and we may be partial to Northeast Tennessee’s picture perfect downtowns and mountain landscapes. Looking for a list of holiday activities for the family? Check out our top 14 ways to celebrate the season.
Rogersville Celebrating the Seasons Community Festival
With Santa’s annual visit, the Parade of Trees, Downtown merchants Open House and the tree lighting service on the Courthouse Square, Rogersville does it right for Christmas, all in one day. Take in the atmosphere of this small town and its larger than life holiday spirit during these festive events throughout the day on December 2.
Kingsport Exchange Place Christmas in the Country
Experience the holidays on the farm in the 1850s. Christmas in the Country features fresh greenery and trees, handcrafted wreaths and roping, as well as unique folk arts and crafts. In the kitchen, you’ll find traditional Christmas fare including oysters, fritters, cinnamon waffles, ginger cakes and wassail. Join in to make old-fashioned yuletide decorations such as stringed popcorn and pomander balls, as well as candle-dipping, bird tree decorating and old-timey toys. Christmas in the Country also features blacksmith demonstrations and no celebration is complete without an official Yule Log Ceremony. The Kingsport Exchange Place Christmas in the Country will take place on December 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
*Another favorite tradition in Kingsport is the Santa Train. In conjunction with the 75th Annual Santa Train, kids will be welcomed with a day of fun activities at the Santa Depot while waiting for the arrival of Santa and his elves on Nov. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Rocky Mount Candlelight Christmas
Smell the apple fritters frying in the kitchen, pies waiting to be eaten in the dining room and smoke of the bonfire. Travel back to Christmas Eve 1791 where the Cobb home is adorned with handmade decorations of greenery and candles. Listen to the stories of firing the anvil, the kissing ball, poor man’s punch and to traditional music where you may even be invited to join in and dance. A Candlelight Christmas will take place on December 1, 2, 8 and 9 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Reservations are encouraged and admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 5 and up.
The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights
For 21 years, Bristol Motor Speedway has turned into a winter wonderland, growning into one of the largest holiday spectacles in the country on a near five mile route. Many guest-favorite lights return including the dinosaur village and candelabra poinsettia.The holiday spectacular also includes a trip to the infield for a visit to the Appalachian country Christmas-themed Christmas Village, complete with holiday vendors, family-friendly midway rides, arts and crafts, hot chocolate and marshmallows and a visit with Santa Claus.Other popular activities include the Ice Rink, Santa’s Speedway Sleigh and the BMS Express. The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. November 17 through January 6. Admission varies.
*While you’re in Bristol, check out the Annual Downtown Open House on Nov. 20 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Open House has traditionally been a customer appreciation night when merchants stay open late, have special discounts, and refreshments are served at participating locations. You’ll also be able to meet Santa Claus, ride in a horse and carriage through the iconic State Street.
Christmas Shows at Barter Theatre
There’s no better way to welcome the Christmas season than with the official state theatre of Virginia. Barter Theatre produces four shows dedicated to the spirit of Christmas throughout November and December. Productions include Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, The Santaland Diaries, A Tuna Christmas and Rudolph. Admission and times vary. Click here for more info.
Christmas Shows at Paramount Bristol
From ballet to classics, the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol will get you in the holiday spirit as Bristol Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec. 9 and 10, followed by the annual screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 17.
Christmas Shows at Niswonger Performing Arts Center
Bringing children’s favorite stories to life, country legends and gospel songs of praise for the season, Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville presents the Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas Celebration Tour (Sold Out) Dec. 3, A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage (Sold Out) Dec.13 and Laura Story Christmas on Dec. 16.
Christmas in Downtown Johnson City
Celebrate with a day full of fun in Johnson City on Dec. 2 beginning with the annual Christmas Parade throughout downtown beginning at 11:30 a.m., followed by a trip to Whoville at Founder’s Park beginning at 12:30 p.m. The event is free, kid-friendly and open to the public. Food trucks will be onsite selling hot chocolate, food and desserts. There will also be plenty of holiday activities for kids: craft stations, photo opportunities with Whoville Village characters, dance area with a DJ and various other activity stations available.
*While you’re in Johnson City, come sip, snack, and shop at The Holly Jolly Holiday Market on Dec. 3 at the Carnegie Hotel. This event will feature many local small business owners that will be selling everything from gourmet coffee, to sweet treats, boutique clothing, jewelry, giftables, Christmas decor, stocking stuffers and more.
Christmas in Olde Jonesborough
Tennessee’s Oldest Town turns into an old fashioned Norman Rockwell scene during its annual Christmas in Olde Jonesborough event series that takes place on Saturdays leading up to Dec. 25. Take part in family oriented events downtown including Whoville Christmas on November 25, bring the furry friends for A Doggone Christmas December 2, enjoy special events just for the kids during At Home with Santa on December 9 and a Historic Church Stroll on December 16. Christmas in Olde Jonesborough takes place each Saturday from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. All events in the series are free and open to the public, unless noted otherwise.
*While you’re in Jonesborough, make plans to purchase tickets for the Colors of Christmas event on Dec. 2. Take your pick of a historic tour of buildings downtown, a locally prepared dinner that takes you inside Jonesborough’s treasured establishments, or both for one price!
Old Christmas: Militia Muster at Fort Watauga
December 25 has come and gone, but Christmas isn’t over yet! European migrants brought Old World holiday traditions to America, from the Dutch Sinterklaas to the Twelve Days of Christmas. Discover the English, German, Scottish and Irish roots of our modern holiday celebrations. Linger on to that Christmas spirit and learn about the Twelve Days of Christmas at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park on January 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and January 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Old Christmas: Militia Muster at Fort Watauga is free and open to the public.
Erwin Candlelight Nativity Parade
Hundreds of little shepherds and angels will flow down Main Street singing traditional Christmas songs and lighting the way for sheep and other animals as they search for the star of Bethlehem. The scene will be set to link activity to the First Baptist Church as the sheperds and angels arrive to see Mary, Joseph and the wise men with baby Jesus. Spectators and onlookers can join in on the reverent event and follow the holy family to the manger while singing family carols along the way. The Erwin Candlelight Nativity Parade is free and open to the public and will take place on December 20 at 7 p.m.
Greeneville New Year’s Eve Celebration
You’ve recovered from Christmas and are ready to bring in 2018! Celebrate in style at the General Morgan Inn in downtown Greeneville. Beginning at 7 p.m., kick off the festivities with Ivy Road in the Grand Lobby. At 9 p.m., join DJ Robbie Britton on the Garden Terrace for a night of dancing and nonstop fun! Then at midnight, get ready for the big finale during Greeneville’s very own ball drop celebration. Cash bars, hors d’oeuvres and party favors will be available at General Morgan Inn, three ticket packages are available.
Johnson County Festival of Trees
You’re already in the mountains of Johnson County, so why not take in a festival dedicated to the trees? Back for its third year, the Johnson County Welcome Center and Museum’s Festival of Trees showcases up to 25 trees decorated in various styles by community members, organizations and businesses. You’ll find anything from shopping coupons, memorials, Victorian era and modern to rustic.The public is also encouraged to take part in the fun and vote for their favorite tree. The Festival of Trees is free and open to the public and takes place the entire month of December.
*While you’re in Mountain City, be sure to check out the Tour of Homes on Dec. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. for only $10.
Christmas in Hancock County
It’s small town USA at its finest when the Hancock County/Sneedville Chamber and Community Partners put together their annual Christmas Parade on December 2 at 6 p.m. Decorated floats with lights and music, antique tractors, classic cars, horses and more fill the streets to compete for coveted people’s choice awards.
While this is just a sampling of some of our favorite activities in the region during November, December and January, there are plenty more craft shows, theatre performances, parades, tree lightings and other events taking place. We encourage you to check out our online calendar or visit your local Visitors Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce for even more fun for the holidays.