With the end of Thanksgiving comes the start of the Christmas season, the jolliest time of year. If you are looking for some fun activities to boost your holiday spirit, East Tennessee is home to several of the region’s best events.
Bristol Motor Speedway, located at 151 Speedway Blvd, Bristol, boasts one of the largest light shows in the country and supports local children’s charities with its proceeds. The driving path is a total of four miles long, filled with enough lights to put Santa’s workshop to shame. At the end of the route, guests have the opportunity to ice skate a large rink or walk around a large area of vendors from across the region. The event runs from now until Jan. 5; cars are $15 Sunday-Thursday and $20 Friday-Saturday.
Downtown Johnson City has a few activities planned for Saturday, Dec.1. Starting off the day is the annual Johnson City Christmas Parade, a fan favorite. This year, the theme is ‘The 12 Days of Christmas,’ with many local groups and businesses registered to march. The route begins at 10:30 a.m. at ETSU and will travel across University Parkway, ending downtown near Founder’s Park. ETSU student Cody Tarlton remembers years he attended the parade.
“I love watching the bands and seeing everyone’s floats. They’re all so creative and really display Christmas spirit,” said Tarlton.
After the parade, Founder’s Park will be hosting Whoville Village from 12-2 p.m. The fun, family-friendly event features characters in costume open for photo opportunities and many crafts for kids.
Dec. 1 also holds more Christmas fun. The Blue Moon Theatre Company located at 215 E Main St, Johnson City, is performing their holiday show, ‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!).’ The program promises to leave guests laughing merrily as the cast runs through all the holiday classics. The show runs from Saturday, Dec. 1 through Saturday, Dec. 22. Tickets are $22 with special discounts for students, seniors and veterans. You can also purchase a light meal to watch during the show for an additional charge.
For those seeking a little more active holiday fun, another event a little closer to home is the CPA’s Santa Climb. On Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 5-8 p.m., Santa Claus himself will be resting from his pre-Christmas cardio on top of the rock wall. There will be a photo opportunity for anyone willing to climb up and see him, making for a unique Christmas card! Entry is free for anyone with a CPA membership, with a suggested donation to Bucky’s Food Pantry.
Since the semester is also winding to an end, you may be looking for one last educational experience for the year. If that’s the case, The Tipton-Haynes Historic Site is hosting a Christmas program titled ‘Visions of Christmas: 1863.’ Guests are permitted to tour the house while live actors reenact the Haynes family preparing for Christmas. After the tour, snacks are served over an open hearth, giving guests an authentic closing to the night. The event is Dec. 6 from 2-6 p.m., located at Tipton-Haynes Historic Site, 2620 S Roan St, Johnson City. The cost is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children 12 and under.