Knoxville Activities


The cultural atmosphere of Knoxville is characterized by high levels of professional achievement, excellent facilities, great variety, community support and pride in its performing arts programs. The presence of a great university always provides the cultural stimulus in the surrounding area. 

Carousel Theater (U.T. Campus) presents theater in the round; offering musicals, comedy, drama and dance by professional and university players.

Clarence Brown Theater (U.T. Campus) is a professional repertory company in residence on the campus. The facility houses a large stage for the Clarence brown professional and university acting companies, visiting troupes, and a laboratory theater for experimental drama. The company produces four plays a year and attracts many theatrical stars.

University of Tennessee Musical Arts Series and University Opera Theater (U.T. Music Hall) attracts audiences for afternoon chamber music concerts, student and faculty recitals; while the opera theater produces complete operas and scenes during the school year.

The U.T. Children's Theater productions are presented annually for local and regional school groups with about 6,000 viewing productions each spring.

The New Repertory Dance Company of the University of Tennessee includes ballet as well as a special contemporary ensemble dance unit. Students are provided an opportunity to perform on stage; instructors find the opportunity to choreograph original pieces.

U.T. Symphony Orchestra presents several major concerts each year and performs with the U.T. Opera company.

U.T. Choral programs are varied and include a concert choir, chamber singers and the "ever popular" U.T. Singers.

While the university assumes leadership for local cultural endeavors; by no means is it relied upon exclusively for the surprisingly rich and varied cultural milieu of Knoxville. When discussing serious music in the Knoxville area, we must begin with:

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (formed in 1935) has grown to more than 100 musicians, conducted under the baton of a foremost conductor, is known as one of the best in the Southeast. Each year, nationally and internationally known guest artists perform at the concerts presented at the Tennessee Theater. Season tickets are offered at very reasonable prices, as are tickets for individual performances. 

Other cultural activities available are: 

The Knoxville Opera Company performances are offered at the Tennessee Theater. Nationally and internationally known stars, such as native born Mary Costa, perform in its major productions each year. Noted directors and conductors are also invited to lend their professional talents to these events. 

The Appalachian Opera Company takes opera to children in regional school systems. 

The Appalachian Ballet Company incorporates the Maryville/Alcoa civic ballet, and offers a broad range of programs. Under the direction of Cheryl Van Metre, the company will tour various cities and Europe this year. Each year a performance of The Nutcracker is presented at the Christmas season. 

The Knoxville Community Theater presents much of its schedule at the Bijou theater. Open to amateur participation, community residents wishing to be near the footlights, may volunteer for productions. 

The Civic Center Series includes most of the elaborate Broadway shows touring the south. Recent performances have included: The Sunshine Boys, Annie, Fiddler on the Roof, A Chorus Line, Sugar Babies, Oklahoma, Cats and Sing.

The Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum features ice shows, circus shows and concerts with top rock groups, country music stars, and more.

The Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble is believed to be the world's only children's dance ensemble. Performing in Knoxville, Salt Lake City and Washington,D.C.; They have also performed as far away as Japan and London.

The Nativity Pageant is one of the country's most lavish religious presentation and features a cast of 85 volunteers. So prestigious is the program that would-be performers must wait at least two years to take part in the pageant. Parents enter their children on a waiting list at birth; once in the cast they usually remain.

The Dogwood Arts Festival is an area-wide celebration of spring; and offers over 350 events including arts and crafts shows, sporting events and entertainment. The 17-day festival, in April, showcases 500 miles of Dogwood trails and adjoining gardens. This Spring Festival is one of the largest of its kind in the country. 

The Beck Cultural Exchange Center displays the history and contributions of Knoxville's black citizens. Educational opportunities for minorities and disadvantaged citizens are provided.

The Greek Festival, held in May, features church tours, Greek food and pastry, and cultural exhibits.
Artfest brings a week-long celebration with arts and crafts, children's activities, and daily entertainment in October. 

The 1982 World's Fair Site is now the center of varied festive events, including the annual Fourth of July celebration. 

The Knoxville Museum of Art is located at the World's Fair Site and features special exhibits during the year, as well as exhibits of locally prominent artists. Each year the museum sponsors a fair, where works of art and crafts, donated by local artists and craftsmen, may be purchased.

The Children's Museum , located in nearby Oak Ridge, is also a popular attraction.

The Arts Council of Greater Knoxville encourages participation in the arts with programs such as: Artists in the Schools, Art Displays in public places, and a Registry of Artists.

Museums in the area which should not be missed are: 
Knoxville Museum of Art in the World's Fair Park 
American Museum of Science and Energy in nearby Oak Ridge
East Tennessee Discovery Center Museum with its planetarium
Blount Mansion (built in 1792 - Knoxville was capital of the southwest territory)
James White's Fort located in downtown Knoxville
Ewing Gallery of Art (UT Campus) - both permanent and special exhibits
Frank H. McClung Museum (UT Campus) - permanent exhibits on local geography, Cherokee Indians and decorative arts, as well as a full traveling exhibit schedule.
Armstrong Lockett House (contains a beautiful collection of early silver work)
Fort on Ft. Loudon 

The Knoxville Zoological Park is located on about 120 acres off Magnolia avenue and has more than 1200 animals. It is one of the 71 zoos, out of 470 in the U.S. and Canada, accredited by the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. The animals, wherever possible, live in open and natural environments. The Knoxville Zoological Park's breeding program produced the first African elephant to be born in captivity in the western hemisphere. Other firsts include the hatching of a hingeback tortoise and the mating of two papuan pythons. Known for it's collection of large cats, the zoo is an active participant in 11 of the 37 species survival plans. The petting zoo is a particular favorite of the children; there one can find African pygmy goats, llamas, baby elephants, sicilian donkeys, and other more common species.

In this area the old and the new blend in beautiful union. The area is also rich in native heritage and is enriched by the cultural diversity added by our adopted citizens who have come from other parts of the country, and the world, to call Knoxville "home".

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is within a short drive of Knoxville. Pigeon Forge, Dollywood and Gatlinburg are located adjacent to the park. In this area artists are found working at their crafts of weaving, furniture construction, pottery, painting, basket weaving, quilt making, etc.

Part of the good life, enjoyed by the people of the Knoxville area, stems from the abundant recreational and leisure opportunities afforded by the geographic setting. Located in the heart of the Tennessee Valley, we are in the midst of one of the most scenic areas of the Eastern United States. Surrounded by TVA lakes and the Great Smoky Mountains, one can easily spend a day on the lake, or in the mountains, and be home by evening. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park area offers an incredible array of events, activities and attractions: 

Hiking: Nearly 900 miles of well maintained trails wait to be hiked through rugged, wooded mountains graced with wildflowers in the spring and vivid foliage in the fall.

Fishing: Mountain streams offering the best in trout fishing include more than 300 miles of streams with some 70 species of fish.

Camping: Permits may be obtained from park headquarters or ranger stations for camping in the park's back country. With 101 campsites, the Smokies are a treat for the backpacker.

LeConte Lodge: Five trails lead to the 6,000 foot elevation where the lodge is nestled above the clouds. Reservations are made well in advance for the 40 accommodations at the primitive lodge. Llamas are used to bring fresh foodstuffs for delicious hot breakfasts and dinner meals for the guests.

Gatlinburg: This prime resort caters to the approximately 9 million visitors annually. They come to view the scenery, enjoy the family-oriented atmosphere, visit exclusive shops and dine at popular restaurants.

Skiing: The mountains of Southern Appalachia are among the favored skiing areas of the east. Ober Gatlinburg has several trails, an ice-skating rink and year round fun on the alpine slide. Nearby Beech and Sugar Mountain Resort offers great facilities during the winter months.

Pigeon Forge: This resort area lays adjacent to the park boundary and is sometimes referred to as the playground of the Smokies. Thirty-six major amusement attractions offer everything from "Dollywood", "The Great Smoky Mountains Circus", "Lee Greenwood Theater". 


Initially the T.V.A. System was designed for navigation, flood control, generation of electricity and reforesting. Now, a wide range of recreational activities is an additional facet of resource management. Five of the "Great Lakes of the South" are within 30 miles of Knoxville. Fort Loudon Lake is a feature of Knoxville with homes along both the north and south shorelines.

The more than 15 reservoirs within an easy drive offer the best in sport fishing. Muskie and hybrid stripped bass are the heavy-weights. Bass fishing is superb in both the Spring and Fall. Crappie and perch dominate the summer fun. Many of the lakes and streams are known for fine trout fishing.

Area lakes provide over 3,000 miles of shoreline for a wide variety of recreational activities; including picnicking, sail and power boating, swimming and camping. The great thrill of whitewater rafting is available for the skilled or the amateur on the Nolichucky, French Broad and Ocoee rivers. Within a few hours of Knoxville, there are a number of rated whitewater rivers.

Golf: Over a dozen courses in the immediate Knoxville area provide the week-end golfer with excellent golfing facilities.Numerous other courses are within easy driving distance of Knoxville, including several scenic mountain courses along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. State PGA members promote and supervise local and area tournaments, including the City Men's, City Women's, Knoxville Open, and the Chet Atkin Tournament. Junior golf, featuring several rated juniors, is very popular.

Tennis: Thousands play regularly at several private clubs and city/county owned course. Several tournaments are scheduled each year; including the Dogwood Tennis Tournament, the City Tournament for all ages, and the USTA Seniors. Several world-rated pros call Knoxville their home.

Swimming: Many public and private pools, as well as the University of Tennessee student aquatic center, afford cool relief from the summer heat. Most pools are open from mid-may through labor day. There are several competitive swimming clubs in Knoxville, along with the nationally ranked University of Tennessee swim team.