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What is Boomsday?

By Matthew F.
Updated May 23, 2024
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Boomsday is a fireworks event in Knoxville, Tennessee held on Labor Day weekend every year. Taking place on the waterfront in downtown Knoxville, Boomsday is the largest fireworks show in the Southeast United States and has been visited by dignitaries from the Middle East and Europe. As one of the biggest events in Tennessee, it is a top attraction in the region and has even been filmed by National Geographic for a television special. The term Boomsday comes from the booming sound of the hundreds of fireworks that create the highlight of the event.

Held on Volunteer Landing and Neyland Drive in Knoxville, the Boomsday celebration attracts spectators for around the United States. Nearly 325,000 people attend the event usually on Sunday at the beginning of September, and the fireworks can be viewed from any of a number of locations around the waterfront. Free to the public, Boomsday features live music, entertainment, and festivities from 5 pm to 9 pm, with fireworks starting at around 9:30 pm every year. The 20-minute fireworks show, accompanied by soundtrack music, blasts off from the Henley Street Bridge, the Gay Street Bridge, and from Baptist Hospital.

The event features Boomsday food vendors, amusement park games and rides, children’s activities, exhibits, and an amateur stage for community performances or programs. The event has also featured pony rides, petting zoos, and shows by radio DJs in its history. Since 2000, Boomsday has incorporated shows and fly-bys by the Air National Guard, the Knox County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit, and the Tennessee Museum of Aviation. In 2006, the show was expanded to three days, but could not sustain its profit and population over the longer weekend and so went back to the traditional one-day format starting again in 2007.

Knoxville has hosted Boomsday since its inception in 1987, and Pyro Shows of LaFollette, Tennessee has organized the fireworks display for the show for each of its first 20 years. Since about 2005, Boomsday has expanded to a 12-hour event, and features convenient seating on many places along the riverfront, from the beach, to docked boats, house roofs, and hillsides. Boomsday is also used as an avenue for patriotic and contemporary music and promotional messages, and draws many visitors to the nearby Great Smoky Mountains and to the Knoxville Zoo.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1006097 — On Jan 27, 2022

Boomsday ended in 2015.

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