November 25, 2009 – Mayor Bill Haslam will lead the countdown as downtown Knoxville lights up for the holidays Friday night at the Regal Celebration of Lights.
The annual event that serves as the big kickoff for Knoxville’s “Christmas in the City” is set for 6 p.m., Friday, November 27, at Krutch Park Extension. It features the lighting of the 38-foot-high First Tennessee Foundation Christmas Tree which fronts on Gay Street amid the glow of more than 100,000 blue and white lights decorating downtown.
The celebration – which includes musical performances, storytelling, outdoor ice skating, a Christmas Market, horse drawn carriage rides and, as always, a visit from Santa Claus among its offerings – spreads across the extension, Krutch Park and Market Square.
The event, sponsored by Regal Entertainment Group and the City of Knoxville, runs from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and has grown steadily during recent years.
The Regal Celebration of Lights begins with the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. and it features performances by the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble, the Knoxville Symphony Brass Quintet and the Lenoir City High School Choir.
Bo Williams and Tearsa Smith of WATE-TV will host the ceremony
Haslam, with assistance from Santa and others, will switch on the lights about 6:15 p.m. accompanied by a brief fireworks display and some highly localized snowfall.
At the same time, 6:15 p.m., the city is asking businesses that are part of the “Up on the Rooftops” program to flip the switches lighting up the trees on top of their buildings. “Up on the Rooftops,” which began in 1995 with 11 light trees now includes more than 400 light trees adorning the tops of buildings in downtown, on Volunteer Landing and across the city.
In addition to the tree-lighting other attractions at the Regal Celebration of Lights include:
The WDVX Holiday Ho-Ho-Hoedown on the Market Square Stage begins at 5 p.m., takes a break at 6 p.m. for the tree-lighting ceremony and picks back up at 7 p.m. The free concert features performances from The Step Above Dancers, The Early Morning String Dusters and The Leadbetters.
Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice opens at 10 a.m. on Friday with open air ice skating in Market Square. Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for children under 12. The rink will be open daily – except Christmas Day – through January 3.
The Christmas Market featuring items from local craftspeople. It opens at noon on Friday and closes at 9 p.m. before a Saturday (November 28) run from noon until 5 p.m.
In addition to Regal Entertainment Group other sponsors of Friday’s event include Pilot, First Tennessee, The Knoxville News Sentinel, WDVX, Mayfield Dairy Farms and WATE-TV.
“Christmas in the City” is Knoxville’s citywide holiday celebration including dozens of activities and events ranging from concerts, dramatic performances and Christmas services to a parade, ice skating and dazzling light displays. It is coordinated by the city’s Office of Special Events.