Holiday Market 2024/2025

It may be a surprise to most, but we’ve been working on Holiday Market since the start of the year. There are a number of moving parts with that event series - many outside of our control - and this year we received disruptive news which will impact both Holiday Market 2024 and 2025.

I’m only going to focus on the big items today. Most of you will have questions, and I will be sharing more details over the next several weeks/months. There is a lot to unpack, as it’s taken months to reach where we are today, and I feel that bite-sized posts will better serve our needs.

Backstory

In February, we were notified by the Chattanooga Convention Center of a series of changes which adversely impacts our Holiday Market series. We appreciate their providing us with plenty of lead-time, as it has enabled us to navigate the changes and secure a solid, very positive solution for the future. Here is what we learned:

for Holiday Market 2024

  • there is a considerable rate increase starting this year, which they state was waived (but not mentioned) last year.
  • Our initial load-in Friday has been compromised for one of the Halls. They were willing to allow us to load in starting at 8pm, but did not feel it appropriate to reduce the rental fee. (Less usage, more complexity, same price.)
  • Move out will be necessary between all weekends.

for Holiday Market 2025

  • there is no availability for Holiday Market 2025
  • instead, a Chattanooga-based semi-pro soccer club is using the venue to host an indoor tournament.

Reaction
Well, after 12+ years at the CCC, perhaps it is best left that we were surprised by the news.

Holiday Market 2023 generated approximately $1m in direct vendor sales, an estimated $8-10m in indirect regional impact, attracted thousands of shoppers and families into downtown from around the region - with many from Atlanta, Nashville and Knoxville. It upset us is that the lives of over 200 entrepreneurs, small businesses, artists and farms which depend on Holiday Market were seemingly disregarded without much consideration.

I’m going to conclude my op/ed with that single paragraph above. Instead, I will continue with focus on what is factual, and what actions we have taken to make Holiday Market 2024 and 2025 successful.

Holiday Market 2024
Late last year, we held a public forum discussion/vote as to what the Holiday Market 2024 schedule should be due to the close proximity of Christmas to the final third weekend. Given the risks involved, and the unexpected rate increase and other disruptions, we have reduced our footprint to the first two weekends in December only:

  • December 7-8, 2024
  • December 14-15, 2024

This will reduce the vendor setup expenses back to a budgeted level, and get us out of the CCC and home for the holidays a week earlier than previously planned.

Holiday Market 2025
Our Holiday Market has grown to the point where there is no other facility in the Chattanooga metro capable of holding us. The First Horizon Pavilion is not an option, as it is contractually held by UTC for Football Playoffs, the CCC is off the table – which leaves exactly nothing remaining indoors. So, after a fair bit of research, onsite visits and contract negations - we’re moving Holiday Market 2025 to Knoxville, Tennessee.


And I must say, I’m excited about the move!

The staff at the Knoxville Convention Center has been extremely professional and friendly to work with, and I really like their campus. We have contracted with them for December 2025 to occupy the Worlds Fair Expo Center, will have first right of refusal in the future, a secured load-in schedules and contractual rights to remain in place mid-week. Basically, many of the pain points we’ve experienced with the CCC are non-issues from the start in Knoxville.

I was surprised by how nice the Knoxville campus is, and how easy it is to access from the interstate. There is good parking, plenty of restaurants, a variety of lodging options, etc. And even better, we have room to grow - if we decide to expand beyond our current footprint, we can more than double our presence by taking over portions of both buildings. Bigger city, more options!

More details to follow, as I’ve already overloaded most everyone today - but here is the 2025 Holiday Market schedule:

  • Sunday, November 23, 2025: Chattanooga Holiday Market (11am-4pm)
  • December 6-7, 13-14, 2025: Holiday Market on Tour (Knoxville)

Yes, we only have two weekends planned for 2025 as well. This is a big unexpected and unwanted change, and although we feel very good about it – we want to mitigate risks as much as possible. For now, two weekends in Knoxville seems to be the perfect balance.

More to Follow
If your head is spinning a bit, I understand - it’s taken several months for us to adjust. If I am to be honest, at this point I’m quite excited about shifting Holiday Market to Knoxville for our 25th Season Finale. Most of our vendors, farms and entrepreneurs are regional, with very few living inside the city limits of Chattanooga, so this has the opportunity to be a lot of fun and perhaps quite strategic.

We will chat more. Starting in June, we will be launching a fresh Holiday Market website to promote our Knoxville shift for the next 18+ months. A special thanks to the Knoxville Tourism group, which is currently soliciting discounted hotel rates for our vendors and otherwise extending a lot of friendship and courtesy our way. We are truly grateful for their support!

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Thank you for working so diligently to make this work! Knoxville sounds exciting!

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Not sure how to proceed just yet ,more info is needed. But thank you for getting out in front of the problem and finding a solution.

Understood. This year will largely be the same as the past, only with a few more hassles.

Booth sizes, pricing and such will remain similar for 2025 - that was one of our selection criteria. Layout will also be familiar, with mostly quad booth pods, although landmarks such as stage placement, entrances, and such are different - so some redesign of the map is necessary.

I know you guys are resourceful- McKenzie Arena was off-limits, I suppose??

It’s not large enough… and Dec is the start of basketball season!

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With one weekend bein cut out this year is it going to be same price?

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Slightly lower setup costs are expected in 2024; we will finalize that and announce in June.

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We are sorry that this door is closing, you guys are the best - their loss…

Knoxville sounds exciting! And Chattanoogans will get first dibs on the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2025.

The Chattanooga Market Team is the best! We appreciate your hard work and are excited about the new opportunities this brings!

Rock on!
Phll & Martha

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I am disappointed that CC isn’t accommodating us anymore, but I also think it’s a good thing. Condensing the market to two weekends means people will need to focus and BUY rather than window shop the first two weekends. And I’m excited about Knoxville! We’ll have a new audience in a better venue that actually seems to appreciate us (and seems to have much better lighting). Kudos for thinking outside the box to give us a new chance to make the Holiday Market even better.

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Wow! That’s a lot to digest. Thanks for all the work you and the staff have done to pivot and get things in place to move forward. Looking ahead to good things!! Thank you!

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Thank you, I think the Knoxville venue will be wonderful. As I live closer to Knoxville than Chattanooga, I feel it will open up a whole new group of people that may want to travel to Chattanooga for the weekly market once they see what a great group of vendors the Chattanooga Market has. Looking forward to the upcoming season.

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Sooo does that mean us “easy to setup food trucks” can partake!?!?

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Regrettably, no - Knox has the same food restrictions as practically all convention centers. No on-site food sales. Sorry!

My concern is that the Chatt market will be in direct competition with the Nourish Knoxville Holiday Market on the two Saturdays in December. Has there been any coordination with them?

We looked at their website, and it indicated their season ends in Nov. If it extends, we are unaware.

Regardless, contract signed at this point - we are committed.

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The summer season ends in Nov. week off for Thanksgiving, and then the winter market starts and goes through end of March.

Ah. Well, there is always a wrinkle. As mentioned, contract signed and we are now committed.

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The Market Square Farmers Market just has farmers markets in December and from10-2 only! They aren’t marketing them as holiday markets any more!

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and anyway, who can compete with the incredible selection of vendors in the Holiday Market???

This is a wonderful group of makers and producers… every single one is special and unique!

Grateful to be here.

Most Grateful for the amazing team that works behind the scenes to secure the venue, keep it running…the people who make this market possible… doing all the hard work… We all appreciate you guys… Thank you!

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