Holiday Festival of Lights at The Cove

Carol EvansGet Out & Play

This is shortest and prettiest hike you will take this year. I guarantee it.

Employees of Knox County Parks & Rec have installed lights around a ¾-mile greenway trail (previously a campground already wired for electricity at each site). But it’s not been a campground for some time. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Holiday Festival of Lights at The Cove.

It gets better each year.

The festival is open 6-9 p.m. through Saturday, Dec. 31, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at The Cove at Concord Park, 11808 S. Northshore Drive. It is free and open to the public, though visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to The Love Kitchen, which provides meals, clothing and emergency food packages for the homebound, homeless and unemployed.

Noting the 25th anniversary, Mayor Glenn Jacobs said traditions like this make this time of year special. He flipped the switch to start the festival and handed out candy “Kanes” to attendees.

The Cove has several fire pits available for guests to warm up or roast s’mores. Pets on leashes are welcome. A concession stand will offer hot chocolate, pizza, hot dogs, nachos and popcorn during the month.

Here are a few other neat events. The full schedule is at

Saturday, December 9

Tour de Lights Holiday Bike Ride, Market & Expo: 3:30 p.m., Mary Costa Plaza. Free. Info: Bike Walk Knoxville. Costume judging for you and your bike starts at 4:15 p.m. Ride begins at 5:30 p.m. and covers ~5 miles through East Knoxville with a grand finale down Gay St. Register online.

Jingle Bell Run: 9 a.m., Worlds Fair Park. Info: Arthritis Foundation. Wear your favorite holiday attire and we’ll jingle all the way to a cure for arthritis. Register online.

Monday, December 11

Flying Pints Fun Run: 6:30 p.m., Alliance Brewing Company. Free. 865 Running. Social pace 3’ish mile run in South Knoxville, come back for $1 off on beers. All levels are welcome.

OHB Run Club: 7 p.m. Check Facebook for start location. Free. Info: Orange Hat Brewery at 865-240-3884. Walkers to sprinters, all ability levels, join us for a greenway or trail run every Monday evening. An out-and-back 5k distance will be marked. Afterwards, enjoy $1 off beers in the OHB taproom.

Tuesday, December 12

FCP Tuesday Night Ride: 6 p.m., Check Facebook for location. Free. Info: Fountain City Pedalers Bike Shop at 865-357-1580. Weekly ride continues all year long via bike lights. Routes vary each week. We will stay as a group and make plenty of stops to keep it that way. Details and weather updates online.

Harvey Broome Group Monthly Meeting: 7 p.m. TN Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Free. Info: Harvey Broom Sierra Club. This month’s program features our annual December Slide Show program and social. Bring edibles to share. Details online.

Wednesday, December 13

Geminid Meteor Shower: 10 p.m., Obed Wild & Scenic River. Free. Info: 423-346-6294. The Geminids are considered one of the best meteor showers of the year; with a potential peak rate of 120 meteors per hour. Enjoy this special event in an International Dark Sky Park from the Lilly Bluff Overlook. Details online.

Friday, December 15

Constellations of the Night Skies: 7 p.m., Norris Dam State Park. Free. Info: 865-426-7461. We’ll identify the visible constellations that show up during fall and winter while learning the mythical stories behind their names and shapes. Program dependent upon clear skies. Register online.

Saturday, December 16

Winter Birding Blitz: 7 a.m., Sugarlands Visitor Center GSMNP. Info: Discover Life in America. This is a free and family-friendly event. We’ll be looking and listening for bird activity in the park and documenting what we find. To register, email Jaimie Matzko. Details online.

12Ks of Christmas and Reindeer Relay: 8 a.m., Domino’s Pizza, 900 Broadway. Info: Personal Best Racing at 865-567-0358. How about a 12k race with 1, 2 or 3 loops into the back streets of Old North Knox for 12Ks of a good time. Register online.

Carol Evans is executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation. Find dozens of outdoors events at


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