It’s Thanksgiving, the day Americans set aside to celebrate food, family and friendship for a few hours before racing to get the jump on Black Friday sales.
It wasn’t always that way, and it doesn’t have to be now. Shopping doesn’t have to consume us consumers. We have a lot of blessings in this town when it comes to arts and entertainment, and they can extend family and social time in creative and enjoyable ways. I’m sure I can think of half a dozen such blessings in the next seven days …
The main event all weekend is the 35th annual Fantasy of Trees, dubbed “Mistletoe Mountain Christmas.” The fundraiser for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital started Wednesday and continues today through Sunday at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Artfully decorated Christmas trees will inspire and impress visitors. Entertainment is practically nonstop, with musical performers, dance troupes and even martial artists. The talent ranges from the very young to the well seasoned. It’s a fun way to kick off the holiday season.
Hoedown in the city
WDVX has always been the little radio station that could. From its humble beginnings in a Norris camper to its landmark digs in the Knoxville Visitors Center, the independent roots/country/Americana station is one of Knoxville’s coolest assets. It’s also one of the city’s staunchest supporters of live music.
Take yourself to Market Square on Friday to enjoy the WDVX Holiday Ho-Ho-Hoedown featuring the Royal Hounds, Tray Dahl and the Jugtime Ragband, and holiday music from AP Strings. The Hoedown, part of Knoxville’s Christmas in the City festivities, is free and starts at 6:30 p.m.
By the way, Boomers, WDVX is catering to our generation with the broadcast at noon today of “The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” by Arlo Guthrie. There’s room for you there on the Group W bench.
Christmas classics, classically
The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will go big during its normal chamber slot in December. The KSO will present “A Classical Christmas” at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, with Aram Demirjian conducting. The Knoxville Choral Society will join the orchestra at the Tennessee Theatre, which has sold out the past four years.
Along with guest soloists Jennifer Barnett Harrell, soprano; Caitlin Bolden, alto; Matthew Mimbs, tenor; and Maurice Hendricks, bass, the orchestra will perform excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah,” including the ever-popular Hallelujah Chorus.
The program will also include seasonal favorites and light classics.
Mighty Musical Christmas celebration
The Tennessee Theatre is one of Knoxville’s biggest blessings, and it’s showing its love for the community Dec. 2 with Mighty Musical Monday. This month, the series featuring Freddie Brabson on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ will be a Christmas Celebration, with guests Trisha Gene Brady, The Ensemble Swing Time, Cedar Bluff Middle School Vocal Ensemble and more.
The concert is free. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. for the noon performance.
Be amazed by Cirque Holidaze
Also at the Tennessee, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, Dec. 3-4, Cirque Dreams Holidaze helps set the mood with a family-friendly wintertime visual feast. Cirque artists, singers, dancers and talent will present new acts, holiday scenes and theatrical innovation in a multimillion-dollar wonderland. Broadway singers will perform original songs as well as holiday favorites while toy soldiers, snowmen, penguins, candles, reindeer, gingerbread, carolers, Santa and colossal ornaments will fly and balance their way into your imagination.
Put some swing in your season
Round out the week at the Tennessee with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s holiday concert, “A Swingin’ Christmas with Regina Carter. Shows are Thursday and Friday, Dec. 5-6.
Violinist Carter will join the band as it shares holiday favorites performed in the styles of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and more. She is a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” award and a Doris Duke Artist Award and is a fan favorite at the world’s top festivals.
Season’s greetings from you
If you prefer a hands-on approach to art, head to Ijams Nature Center to create your own cards to give family, friends and co-workers. Sarah Brobst will lead Holiday DIY: Holiday Card Crafting Workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. Learn how to make cards that show your personality. The fee is $20 per person, with all supplies included. Register here.
Betsy Pickle is a veteran entertainment, features and news reporter.