14 Best Things to Do Thanksgiving Weekend

Stuffed full of food but itching to still get out during Thanksgiving weekend? Thanksgiving weekend is the kickoff to the holidays.

No longer is there any shame for listening to holiday music too early or having your decorations up since November 1. It’s your time now. Celebrate and bask in it. Here are the 14 best things to do Thanksgiving weekend.

runners pose for photo at end of turkey trot race

1. Participate in Memphis’ Original Turkey Trot

Before you get too full, get a burn in and eat all those calories guilt free. The Memphis Turkey Trot starts at 9 a.m. at Shelby Farms Park. Choose between a four-mile run or the two-mile relay. 

deck the diamonds light display

2. Be the first to see Deck the Diamond at AutoZone Park

The Memphis Redbirds are transforming AutoZone Park into a massive holiday display featuring 190 structures, an ice skating rink, a huge Christmas tree, and more. Sip on some festive drinks or enjoy s’mores on a stick. Deck the Diamond opens on Friday, Nov. 24.

potluck food at max's bar
Max's Sports Bar

3. Go Out Thanksgiving Night

If the coach isn’t calling your name, your favorite bars are. For some, Thanksgiving night is an opportunity to get out whether it’s to see old friends in town or if you just have had too much family time (no judgment). Many local bars have made it a tradition to be open. Here’s what bars are open Thanksgiving night.

Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park
Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks

4. Drive through Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park

The perfect holiday tradition for those who are too full to even think about walking around. Load up in the car with some hot cocoa and hit Shelby Farms Park Starry Nights – the park’s largest fundraiser. Starry Nights brings the spirit of the season to life with dazzling displays featuring millions of lights.

people shop at yule holiday market
Photo Credit: Mint Cream Market

5. Hit a Holiday Market

Shop and support local at a holiday market this season. Thanksgiving weekend has three markets happening for Small Business Saturday: Yule Holiday Market, Made in Memphis, and Marketplace in Motion. In addition to those one-day markets, there are many ongoing markets to check out. More info.

people prepare meal in kitchen
Photo Credit: Volunteer Odyssey

6. Give Back by Volunteering

Kick off the spirit of giving on Thanksgiving weekend. Volunteer Odyssey is always in need of volunteers and each month they give us ten ideas to love Memphis through volunteering. Volunteer at a holiday event like Holiday Wonders or Starry Nights Thanksgiving weekend. More volunteer opportunities here.

woman dressed as an old Cindy Lou who for play of Who's Holiday
Photo Credit: Playhouse on the Square

7. Hit an Adult-Only Holiday Show with Who’s Holiday at The Circuit Playhouse

Leave the kids at home for this holiday show. In Who’s Holiday! Cindy Lou Who is all grown up but she’s no longer an innocent little girl. She’s got a lot more tricks up her sleeves in this adult comedy guaranteed to have you laughing all night long.

woman poses with dog in lit up train

8. Get Hallmark Vibes at Collierville’s Town Square

Why watch a Hallmark movie at home when you can live it? Experience the magic and beauty of Collierville Town Square during the holiday season with festive events and a quarter-million holiday lights in the historic district. Santa will be at Gazebo on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with music performances to get you into the holiday spirit.

Botanic Garden Holiday lights
Photo Credit: Logan Young

9. Walk Off the Thanksgiving Feast at Holiday Wonders at Botanic Garden

The Memphis Botanic Garden is a beautiful sight during the annual Holiday Wonders. It opens for the holiday season on Friday, Nov. 24. Take in the towering Christmas tree during your journey through the garden and enjoy festive drinks. New this year is festive photo-ops, increased character engagements, and food trucks on-site on weekends.

SIX Broadway production
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

10. See Broadway’s SIX at The Orpheum Theatre

Broadway productions hit different during the holidays in the beautiful Orpheum Theatre. This Thanksgiving, we’re lucky enough to have the hit Broadway musical SIX here. From Tudor Queens to Pop Icons, the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the microphone to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a Euphoric Celebration of 21st century girl power.

light tunnel at memphis zoo lights
Photo Credit: Allen Gillespie

11. Lace up Your Skates and Walking Shoes at Zoo Lights

Get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of the holiday season as Truist Zoo Lights returns to Memphis Zoo. With mesmerizing light displays, beloved classics, and exciting new additions, this is the place to be for a merry and bright holiday experience. Don’t forget to grab a photo in the iconic Light Tunnel before hitting the ice rink.

peabody christmas tree
Photo Credit: Creation Studios

12. Spend an Evening in the Peabody Grand Lobby

The Historic Peabody Hotel is all elegance for the holidays. The Grand Lobby is decorated with the largest tree that can fit inside with 20,000 twinking lights. It feels magical to sit in the space with holiday music playing while enjoying one of their cocktails. Please note that the tree lighting ceremony Thanksgiving night is for hotel guests only.

girl poses with holiday cocktail at Miracle pop up bar
Photo Credit: Alex Shansky

13. Dine or Drink at a Holiday Pop-Up Bar

There are a few bars and restaurants transforming their spaces with festive decor. Miracle at The Liquor Store is always an annual favorite that serves holiday cocktails in a festive setting. The Lounge on Main, located above IBIS, is back with a holiday theme with cocktails to match. Magnolia & May is turning into Magnolia & Mistletoe. Enjoy a coffee at JoJo’s Espresso which is coming off their Harry Potter themed decor in the holiday spirit.

cirque dreams performers on stage
Photo Credit: Cirque Dreams

14. Be Awed at Cirque Dreams Holidaze at Landers Center

Be dazzled with a brilliant and whimsical family holiday spectacular. This annual tradition wraps a Broadway-style production around an infusion of contemporary circus arts. As lights dim and the music swells, audiences will have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads as a fantastical cast of holiday storybook characters come to life on stage.

We know this doesn't cover it all!

Take a look at more ideas here:

Don’t miss out on all the Memphis goodness!

About the Author

Hello! I'm Jalyn Souchek, the Director of Content for I Love Memphis Blog! I love calling the 901 home. When I'm not running the blog you can find me cheering on the Grizzlies, at a concert, exploring a new restaurant or kicking back at one of our breweries. I hope you'll love experiencing Memphis with me.

Build your perfect Memphis meal:

I love to eat so if I were to have only one meal left.. I’m going all out. I’d start with an app of Gumbo Fries from Blue City Cafe or Bayou Fries from Chef Tam, wings from Good Fortune or Central’s (honey gold and Jamaican Jerk), potato salad from Fat Larry’s, side of bbq spaghetti from Bar-B-Q Shop, and fried okra from Soul Fish. All paired with a Beale Street Brewing Space Age Sippin’.

Your most memorable Memphis moment:

College GameDay on Beale Street. That was an electric and perfect morning. I was still working in news then and was able to take it in up close and on the stage at some points. The fun and joy of everyone down there that morning is unbeatable.

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