Central Park in New York City has nothing on World’s Fair Park in Knoxville, TN. With a historical past rich in memory and southern culture, the World’s Fair Park is filled to the brim with relaxing and exciting activities for old and young alike.
By demolishing the abandoned Louisville and Nashville Railroad Yard, a 70-acre site was dedicated to the first World’s Fair ever to be held in the South. In 1982, the World’s Fair Exhibition was hosted there, and the fair was opened by President Ronald Reagan on May 1st, 1982. Opening day contained almost 88,000 people, and the exhibition lasted for five months, closing on October 1st, 1982.
Now the World’s Fair Park, located on World’s Fair Park Drive in Knoxville, is used by citizens of Knoxville and visitors alike as a peaceful getaway for outdoors enthusiasts. From daily walkers to families picnicking with their children and playing in the playground areas and interactive, cooling fountains, the park is filled with green grassy areas, luscious trees, and lakes.
The Festival Lawn contains two acres of green turf centrally located in the park and holds such inviting features as native plantings, a tree-lined plaza, and the Court of Flags Fountain. There are two large restroom facilities nearby, making this an attractive venue for outdoors events.
The Performance Lawn is ideal for events like concerts and festivals, and is larger than two football fields with reinforced turf suitable for portable stages and motor vehicles. Electricity and water are available for those planning a future event in Knoxville.
The iconic Tennessee Amphitheater is surrounded by a small lake on one side and has seating for 1,000 people. The Amphitheater has hosted numerous country music and classical music concerts, and is an attractive venue for music-lovers in the area.
Volunteer Landing was the site of the Holston Treaty and is a waterfront destination that encompasses a seven-mile stretch along the Tennessee River. With geysers and waterfalls, the Tower with two concession stands, and a grassy circle, this is a popular place for small to medium events or just a casual stroll along the waterfront. Volunteer Landing is accessible from the World’s Fair Park via walking trails to the Second Creek Greenway and the Neyland Greenway, and is a must-see site in Knoxville.
Visitors to Knoxville are probably curious about the tall Sunsphere in the park, an easily-seen structure that is similar to Seattle’s Space Needle and served as a symbol for the 1982 World’s Fair. Standing at a height of 26 stories tall, the iconic Sunsphere has an elevator that goes to a landing deck. The Sunsphere’s Observation Deck is free of charge to visit, and the fifth floor is occasionally home to a restaurant or café, with other private businesses on the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors. The Sunsphere is pictured in many images and logos of Knoxville, and is even used in the design of Tennessee’s state-issued driver’s license! This is another must-see attraction to enjoy if you are visiting Knoxville or recently moved to the area. Don’t forget to visit the fourth floor for a 360-degree view of Knoxville, and bring a picnic lunch to eat by the lake or fountain in case the restaurant is closed.
Numerous events are still held yearly at the World’s Fair Park, including Festival on the Fourth, Children’s Festival of Reading, the International Food Festival, and Volapalooza, a large student-organized event that celebrates the end of the school year for the nearby University of Tennessee.
From fun-filled events to a beautiful view of Knoxville and a peaceful, green area lush with the abundant waters of Tennessee, World’s Fair Park is an attraction all by itself. You can plan your next big event for a reasonable fee in a picturesque and iconic setting, or you can enjoy the elevator ride to the Observation Deck on the Sunsphere and soak in the Knoxville scenery. Regardless of why you choose to visit the historic World’s Fair Park, bring plenty of food, kites for the large lawns, and a set of dry clothes for everyone, because even the grownups can’t resist the spray fountains!
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