KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The city will party like it’s 1982 this coming year as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of the World’s Fair.
The Knoxville International Energy Exposition, as it was formally known, saw more than 11 million people come to Knoxville over the span of six months. Participating nations included Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and West Germany.
The amphitheater and iconic Sunsphere hosted ceremonies and entertainment, including Broadway shows, orchestras, ballet and opera companies. Johnny and June Carter Cash, Japan’s acclaimed Grand Kabuki, Rudolf Nureyev, Red Skelton, Richie Havens, The London Symphony, and Bob Hope all played to the Knoxville crowd.
The Sunsphere reflected the ’82 World’s Fair theme “Energy Turns Our World.” Each pane of glass on the sphere atop the hexagonal truss structure is made with 24-karat gold which gives it its reflective gold color.
The skyline landmark was renovated in 2007 and its observation platform is currently getting facelift. The city held a concert series to pay for the upgrades. The platform, which offers 360-degree views of the city, is expected to be open in February.
The official 40th-anniversary celebration will officially kick off with a concert at the World’s Fair Amphitheatre on May 20 and a full day of festivities on May 21. The park will host international food vendors, entertainment, history walks, and a variety of family activities.
Other events and festivities will go on throughout 2022 including an anniversary exhibit at the East Tennessee History Center which will run from March to October. A full schedule of events can be found at worldsfairknoxville.com.