The City of Nonconformists - My Family Travels

You cannot put Knoxville, Tennessee into a neat, little box and slap a bow on it. It just won’t fit. It’s tasty. It’s musical. It’s cultural. Something that special doesn’t conform into one category. That’s why Knoxville is so great year-round.


     In spring, the sun smiles and the sky is cotton candy blue. In other words, a perfect time to stroll the Dogwoods Arts Festival downtown. This April-long event celebrates local artists and the beautiful scenery made possible by the (you guessed it) dogwood trees. In addition to this festival, the Market Square Farmers’ Market opens for business in May. On Wednesdays and Saturdays until November, outdoor vendors sell fresh produce grown in the East Tennessee region. While you’re meandering through the booths and street performers, you witness the magic of Knoxville: its people. Whether they’re farmers, sidewalk magicians, or stoop musicians, eclectic Knoxvillians are always ready to strike up a pleasant conversation. After you’ve made your rounds of the farmers’ market, check out the vibrant music scene. Many restaurants and bars put on fantastic shows on the weekends by local bands like the Mutations and Faux Ferocious. Larger venues such as the Tennessee Theatre and the Bijou Theatre feature native musicians who receive national recognition like Erick Baker and Dave Barnes.

     While temperatures reach sweltering levels in summer, Knoxville keeps cool with lively entertainment. One form of amusement is the Hard Knox Roller Girls, Knoxville’s roller derby team, at the Knoxville Coliseum. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door and all proceeds go to local charities. An action-packed evening fit for the whole family ensues and after the game, you can meet the tattooed warriors. Another Knoxville gem is Shakespeare on the Square. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Shakespeare? Why would I want to see some dead guy’s plays?” Fret not, concerned voyager. Shakespeare on the Square puts a unique twist on the Bard’s classics. During the summer, this stage company showcases two of Shakespeare’s plays on alternating evenings in Market Square on an outdoor stage. It’s free, but donations are appreciated. Come a bit early with an empty stomach and check out the delicious restaurants. Spots like the Tomato Head and Café 4 offer a wide variety of foods and are vegetarian-friendly.

     Fall is synonymous with football season in Knoxville. We Knoxvillians are huge fans of our college football team, the Tennessee Volunteers. A game at Neyland Stadium is always a blast; just be sure to wear orange and white! After the game, simply admire the scenery of East Tennessee. Knoxville is at the height of its beauty during autumn because the leaves turn stunning colors. From almost anywhere, you can see the gorgeous Smokey Mountains change into reds, oranges, and yellows.

     Last but not least, it’s winter. Nothing will get you in the holly jolly spirit like the city’s ice-skating rink in Market Square. Tickets to skate are $10 for adults and $7 for children under 12. After you skate to your heart’s content, you can browse the different boutiques downtown. Theses shops sell unique merchandise that is perfect for gift-giving. Something sure to warm your bones and your soul are the holiday-themed productions put on by various theatres. The Clarence Brown Theatre showcases A Christmas Carol every winter, and the Civic Coliseum has shown the Nativity Pageant for over forty years each December.

     Knoxville is an eclectic, alive city, and the best way to understand its energy is to immerse yourself into the Knoxville life. So jump right in because there’s plenty to see, hear, and taste, no matter the season.


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