Knoxville Cultural Activities

knoxville art center building downtown tennessee

A marvelous surprise is in store for newcomers to the Tennessee Valley in the depth and breath of native artistic talent, and the opportunity to enjoy the many and varied cultural activities offered in the Knoxville area.

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.

The Ula Love Doughty Carousel Theatre (UT Campus) presents theater in the round; offering musicals, comedy, drama and dance by professional and university players.

Clarence Brown Theater (UT 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, and a laboratory theater for experimental drama. The company produces four plays a year and attracts many theatrical stars.

UT Musical Arts Series and University Opera Theater (UT 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.

UT 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 UT 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.

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

UT Choral programs are varied and include a concert choir, chamber singers and the ever-popular UT Singers.

While the University assumes leadership for local cultural endeavors, by no means is it relied upon exclusively for the surprisingly rich and varied culture 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 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 (ABC) incorporates the Maryville/Alcoa Civic Ballet, and offers a broad range of programs. Under the direction of Amy Morton Vaughn, the company tours various cities. Each year a performance of The Nutcracker is presented at the Christmas season.

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 feature ice shows, circus, concerts and a professional ice hockey team.

The Tennessee Theatre recently underwent a $24.5 million dollar renovation. This in-depth restoration restored this historical beauty to its original grandeur. Originally open in 1928, “The South’s Most Beautiful Theatre” drew generations of families to downtown Knoxville. New sound, lighting, seating and other updates make this a wonderful venue for enjoying the performing arts.

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 DC; they have also performed as far away as Japan and London.

The Nativity Pageant is one of the country’s most lavish religious presentations 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.

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