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New Year’s Eve in Knoxville: 9+ Best Ways to Ring in the New Year

Looking for ways to make your New Years Eve in Knoxville the best one ever? You’re in the right place!

This detailed guide to spending NYE in Scruffy City covers everything from the Knoxville bars hosting parties to outdoor activities to NYE activities for kids.

Plus, we share the best places to stay, where you can eat a fancy NYE meal in the city, and so much more!

Dress your best, grab a jacket, and let’s dive into the best ways to celebrate New Years Eve in Knoxville.

Spending New Year’s in Knoxville

happy new year sign with confetti

Before you head out for a big night on the town, there are a few things you should know about this time of year in Knoxville.

Because it’s closely associated with the Great Smoky Mountains, many people are surprised to learn that Knoxville’s winters are actually fairly mild (especially early in the season).

While the mountains absolutely get snow (and gets chilly), Knoxville usually does not.

Expect daytime highs anywhere between the 40s and low 60s, and overnight lows close to freezing, but rarely dipping below. While it’ll be cold, it should be pretty comfortable with a coat and gloves.

As far as traffic and crowds, downtown Knoxville (and Market Square especially) will be very crowded.

Arrive early to park in one of the city garages. Or, better yet, take a rideshare and avoid the hassle of parking.

You can also seek out slightly less-busy areas like Old City, as an alternative to navigating the throngs of partygoers downtown.

FUN Things to Do for New Years Eve in Knoxville

New Years Eve in Knoxville for Adults

woman holding a disco ball and glass of champagne for new years eve party in downtown knoxville tn at radius rooftop lounge
Credit: Radius Rooftop Lounge

1. Radius Rooftop Lounge NYE Party

The beautiful Radius Rooftop Lounge hosts this party, perched atop Embassy Suites, one of Knoxville’s best downtown hotels.

For just $40 per person (a serious bargain, if you ask us!), you’ll gain access to the rooftop party.

Enjoy being in the very heart of Knoxville with stunning city views, including a fantastic spot for seeing the Sunsphere’s midnight fireworks. This is THE place to be on New Years Eve in Knoxville!

If you’re partying with a group, consider upgrading to one of the VIP packages. Groups of six or less can purchase the $300 package, which includes one bottle of liquor and one bottle of champagne. Larger groups can spend $600 and get two bottles of each.

2. Annual Silent Disco at Pretentious Beer Co.

One of our favorite Knoxville breweries hosts this popular and unique annual NYE event.

This is NOT your typical silent disco, however! Three DJs play throughout the night, and party guests can choose which music they want to listen to through their headsets.

In past years, Pretentious has served beer (with glitter) and rigged up its own ball drop in the brewery — so you never know what to expect!

The party runs from 9:00 PM to 12:00 midnight, and is strictly open to those 21 and up.

Silent Disco Knoxville and Pretentious Beer Co. both have huge followings, so this event sells out every year. Don’t wait before grabbing your tickets (which include a pair of headphones)!

3. Go on a New Years Eve Bar Crawl

With so many awesome bars in Knoxville, and so many fun-looking events going on, why not hit several?

This New Year’s Eve pub crawl hits four major hot spots in historic Old City, often called the “independent downtown alternative.”

Old City is edgy, quirky, and very hip, and lacks the crowds and traffic found in downtown Knox.

On this pub crawl, you’ll hit Old City Sports Bar, Wagon Wheel, Southbound, and Hanna’s Old City. One wristband gets you into all four bars, but you’ll need to pick them up from Old City Sports Bar.

Each of the bars will also be running various drink specials throughout the night, many of them exclusively for wristband holders. You can go in and out of each bar as often as you want, or stay at one the entire night if you find a place you love.

All four will also have options for VIP tables or booth add-ons.

4. Early New Year’s Eve Countdown at Knox Brew Hub

Not everyone wants to stay up late on NYE…right?

Knox Brew Hub knows that, and offers a different way to ring in New Years Eve in Knoxville.

The Early New Year’s Eve Countdown, often also referred to as the “Fake New Year’s Eve Countdown”, only runs from 6-8:00 PM. So in theory, you could be home in bed by 9:00 PM, but still have enjoyed a champagne toast!

Champagne of beers, that is — Knox Brew Hub serves Miller High Life for the midnight toast. The toast is accompanied by streamers, balloons, and even a ball drop, so you won’t miss out on anything!

This fun event is great for several reasons. Even if you don’t want to be home in bed early, it’s an awesome way to pre-game. Or, it serves as a relatively calm, uncrowded spot to “party.”

5. Take a Fancy Cooking Class

Looking for something romantic and extra special to do on New Years Eve in Knoxville? Sign up for a date night cooking class!

Cutting Edge Cooking School designed this interactive class just for couples.

This particular class’ theme is Bourbon Steakhouse Surf & Turf, and it includes tenderloin filet, honey garlic shrimp, and a variety of side dishes. Of course, you’ll also get two bourbon tastings in the form of cocktails.

During the class, you’ll learn about different cuts of beef and you’ll trim and cut steaks. And, since it’s a New Years Eve class, you’ll also enjoy complimentary champagne!

You’ll be in class from 6-9:00 PM, so there will still be plenty of time to do some bar-hopping or check out other NYE hot spots around town.

Side note: this is one of the best Knoxville date ideas any time of year, and Cutting Edge offers a variety of themed classes.

6. New Year’s Eve EVE at Fountain City Social

If you’re a serious social butterfly or just can’t decide between NYE events, throw caution to the wind and party all weekend! Fountain City Social hosts an annual New Years Eve EVE party on December 30th.

The Johnnys Band will keep you entertained with live music all night long, while the bartenders shake up all sorts of festive cocktails. The best part? This event is totally free!

Remember we said you could party all weekend? Well, now you can at Fountain City Social!

On actual New Year’s Eve, the bar will host an elaborate masquerade ball. This is a very different event, and tickets are required for entry. Both events are strictly 21 and up.

New Years Eve in Knoxville for Kids & Families

people watching fireworks at the knoxville sunsphere in downtown knoxville tn for new year's eve
NYE at the Sunsphere / Credit: City of Knoxville

1. New Years Eve at The Sunsphere

Kind of a “who’s who” as far as events go, this is one of the biggest, best things to do for families on New Years Eve in Knoxville.

The main event of New Years Eve at The Sunsphere is the iconic ball drop at midnight, but there are tons of events leading up to that.

You can listen to live music, sample local food trucks, and participate in the silent disco. And best of all, everything is FREE! Note that you may bring chairs, but canopies/tents are not allowed.

World’s Fair Park is also super close (within walking distance) to the Holidays on Ice ice skating rink. So, you can plan a full family night in the area, starting with ice skating and finishing with the ball drop.

Importantly, this is strictly a family-friendly event (no alcohol allowed). It’s not served and no, you can’t bring your own.

Insider tip: All City of Knoxville-owned garages will offer free parking on New Year’s eve.

2. New Year’s Eve Sunset Cocoa Hike

New Year’s DAY hikes have always been a thing, but why not get started on your resolutions with a New Year’s EVE hike?

Held at Seven Islands State Birding Park, this family-focused event gives you the opportunity to squeeze in one last hike before the year ends.

The ranger-led hike (which is rated “easy” and really more of a stroll) goes down the paved Kelly Lane Greenway and ends at the Green House. Just in time to watch the sunset over the French Broad River!

There, all hikers will enjoy complimentary hot cocoa while learning more about the park.

This 2-mile round-trip hike is suitable for all ages and experience levels. Pre-registration is required, and it costs $8 per person. Children six and under are free.

3. Noon Year’s Eve at the Blount County Library

Just 20 minutes from downtown Knoxville in Maryville, this sweet event is just for the littlest ones.

The library’s Noon Year’s Eve celebration runs from 11:00 AM to 12 noon on December 29th.

It finishes with a celebratory balloon drop and the kiddos will even get to enjoy a toast with grape juice!

This event is free and open to anyone from the public; you do not have to be a member of the library.

Where to Stay in Knoxville for New Years Eve

Crowne Plaza Knoxville

large king bed with white comfortable comforter and modern decor at the crowne plaza hotel in knoxville tn
Image: Crowne Plaza Hotel via Booking

Right on the edge of downtown and Old City, this upscale hotel is hosting an elaborate night out for New Years Eve in Knoxville.

All-inclusive packages include a prime rib and seafood buffet, live music, a champagne toast at midnight, free parking, AND overnight accommodations.

You can also enjoy a late night/early morning continental breakfast after the party (we LOVE this!).

Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown

indoor lobby with large fountain and modern decor at the embassy suites by Hilton hotel in knoxville tn
Image: Embassy Suites by Hilton via Booking

This hotel is in the middle of everything downtown, plus it’s the host of the popular Radius Rooftop Lounge NYE party.

It’s also one of the city’s best rooftops year-round, even when there isn’t a special event going on.

The all-suite hotel is less than a 10-minute walk from the Sunsphere, and it hosts a nightly FREE happy hour with cocktails and snacks.

Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown

two double sized beds at the hampton inn & suites in downtown knoxville great for families
Image: Hampton Inn & Suites via Booking

With a great walkable location, complimentary hot breakfast, and an indoor pool open year-round, this is one of the best hotels for families.

It’s even pet-friendly, so you won’t have to worry about finding the perfect pet-sitter for New Years!

‘Little Joe’ Log Cabin

little joe cabin in knoxville tn with log cabin siding and green front door
Image: Hosts of Little Joe Cabin / VRBO

This pet-friendly cabin sleeps up to five (great for two couples or a friend group) and feels very remote, yet the UT campus is only 15 minutes away.

There’s a full kitchen, fireplace, hot tub, and yard games, so you’ll have a nice private retreat to unwind…or recover…from after your NYE festivities.

East Tennessee Cabin With Game Room

mountain cabin in knoxville tn with stone siding
Credit: East Tennessee Cabin via VrBO

Want to explore beyond Knoxville while you’re here?

This large house comfortably sleeps 10, and it’s situated right between Knoxville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.

It’s a bit of a drive (30 minutes or so) into town for New Year’s Eve parties, BUT you’ll be ideally situated to explore the Smokies each day!

Knoxville Restaurants Serving Special New Years Eve Dinner

steak frites with shoestring fries at the plaid apron in knoxville tn as a great place for dinner on new years eve
Image: The Plaid Apron
  • The Plaid Apron – Enjoy a French 4-course prix fixe dinner with optional wine pairing (all Rhone). Cocktails from the full bar will also be available for purchase. Seatings on both 12/30 and 12/31.
  • Babalu – The wildly popular Latin tapas restaurant serves a special prix fixe menu for NYE, along with brunch on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Keep an eye on their socials for menu details.
  • Vida – Indulge in a 5-course special prix fixe holiday dinner at this upscale Latin-Asian fusion restaurant. Vida is right downtown, so it’s within easy walking distance of just about everything!

Knoxville Restaurants Serving New Year’s Day Brunch

eggs benedict with biscuits, ham, and eggs, with hollandaise sauce at balter beerworks for brunch on new years in knoxville
Image: Balter Beerworks
  • Balter Beerworks – One of our favorite Knoxville brunch spots hosts an annual ‘Best Brunch of the Year (So Far).’ It’s hard not to appreciate that amazing sense of humor, but the food is the star. In addition to the regular brunch menu, they’ll have a “true Southern New Years meal.”
  • Tupelo Honey – They’ll have a full Southern brunch menu available until 4:00 PM on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
  • STIR – A dog-friendly patio and to-die-for Bloody Mary’s, plus a special NYE brunch menu until 2:30 PM.

Featured Image Credit: City of Knoxville