Christmas in Gatlinburg: The Best Tips for Celebrating the Holidays in the Smokies
Nothing compares to a Smoky Mountain Christmas. The beauty of the mountain scenery combined with chilly weather makes every indoor space feel extra snug, creating the perfect time of year to go to music events, dinner shows, Christmas Lights Pigeon Forge style, and visit holiday-themed craft shops. If you prefer the things to do in the outdoors, the vast number of light shows, parades and even downhill skiing opportunities should keep your agenda jam-packed with holiday fun.
If you'll be spending Christmas in the Smokies but haven't quite nailed down your schedule, this list will help you out. Over 25 can't-miss holiday opportunities near the Gatlinburg/ Pigeon Forge area are highlighted, and for the true holiday lover your biggest challenge will be narrowing down your own list.
Dolly Parton's Stampede Christmas Dinner Show
The Dolly Parton's Stampede Dinner Show will provide you with a fun filled night at any time of the year, but for many visitors, their Christmas dinner show is the highlight of the season. A distinctly holiday twist comes out with the show's regular events, including action-packed performances and plenty of prancing horses. Your four-course dinner feast will be served by Santa's elves while you gaze in front of you at the serene scene of a live nativity set, complete with real camels and falling snow. Christmas at the Stampede is an experience to be cherished, and a night at the show will put you in the mood to celebrate the rest of the season.
Though it's a magical place to visit at all times of the year, there is something extra special about visiting Dollywood during the Holidays. You'll get to meet up close with Rudolph and his Christmas gang, including the Abominable Snowman and plenty of elves. For a different adventure, check out the Christmas on Ice performance of many favorite holiday musicals, or visit with Santa to snap a picture together and get your Christmas wishes granted. No matter how you like to celebrate the holidays, Dollywood will be sure to fill you with plenty of good cheer.
Country Tonite Christmas Show
If you want a chance to experience the 'best live country music show in America' over the holidays, then you won't want to miss the Country Tonite Christmas Show. This event has an impressive variety of Christmas music that blends acoustic singing with energetic dance routines that are sure to wow you. You'll burst your guts laughing at the hilarious skits performed in front of you and tap your toes to the beat during the rousing singing. During the Christmas special, you'll get to enjoy the gang in their peak form of Christmas cheer, complete with some extra holiday songs and skits. It's a fun-filled night you won't want to miss!
Festival of Trees
For over thirty years, the Gatlinburg's Festival of Trees has been a regional highlight for the holiday season. This fun-filled week kicks off with the Candy Canes and Cocktails Preview Party, and turns into a week of kid friendly activities like Christmas crafts, photos with Santa, and dozens of stunningly decorated Christmas trees. You can feel good about your purchases because all the proceeds from the festival go to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains. Stop on by to take in the sights or stay for the whole festival; either way you'll soon be wishing you could visit the Festival of Trees for the next thirty years as well.
Gatlinburg Winter Magic
If you want to take part in a Christmas display that celebrates the beauty of the natural world, come into Gatlinburg and enjoy the stunning Christmas lights at the Gatlinburg Winter Magic event. As the largest environmentally-friendly light display in the region, every light in the winter display is an LED light bulb, meaning that you can enjoy the beauty without feeling guilty about the environmental waste. Many light displays are even designed to look like deer, foxes and other animals that are indigenous to the Smokies. Thousands of visitors come every year to enjoy the light display that saves 95% of the energy used by comparable displays, and the serene beauty will make you want to join them.
If you're looking for the perfect place to do some holiday shopping, the Incredible Christmas Place will have everything that you need and more. Nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, this store is filled with unique Christmas gifts and rare collectables that are sure to satisfy everyone on your list. Come to finish your Christmas shopping or simply just to gaze in awe at the designer-themed Christmas trees that decorate the premises. It won't be hard to find all your favorite Christmas- themed brands, and after a few hours of shopping your biggest challenge might be carrying all your shopping bags into the car!
You don't have to worry about timing your arrival to Pigeon Forge exactly around the holidays; the Winterfest celebration lasts for nearly four months! You'll get to drive at your leisure through the impressive light displays of the Winterfest driving tour, or take the heated city trollies to experience the sights with a guide right along side you. Watch as the City of Pigeon Forge is transformed before your eyes into a winter wonderland that fills you with cheer. This celebration is a welcome break from the monotony of a long cold winter, and you'll be happy to mark it back on your calendar for next year.
Old Mill Square Holiday Open House
The Old Mill Square is a fantastic place to visit all year round, but few can deny that its charms are most impressive during the holidays. Take some time out from your busy Christmas season to enjoy the finer things in life. The Old Mill Square Holiday Open House is the ideal opportunity for you to get a taste of homemade southern cooking and shop for the last few gifts on your holiday shopping list. You'll enjoy peeking through the general store, massive pottery collection and even a well-stocked toy bin for the little ones. It's a fun holiday experience for everyone involved.
Christmas in the Smokies Bluegrass Festival
Everyone needs some extra Bluegrass in their lives, and this unique celebration will allow you to enjoy the best of what this enjoyable form of music has to offer. You'll get to listen to a large number of Bluegrass musicians, some that are established in the field and others that are just getting started. Their reinventions of popular Christmas carols with the twang of a banjo will get you in the mood to celebrate the season, and you'll be wishing for an encore as soon as they finish.
Shadrack Christmas Wonderland
If you enjoy impressive light shows and Christmas displays, the Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is a celebration you won't want to miss. This fun display is actually the world's largest drive-through LED Christmas light show, and at just over half an hour away from Pigeon Forge, it's close enough for any celebrators to take part in. You'll be amazed at this fully synchronized light show with over 300,000 lights that pulse to the beat of the music. Everyone in your family will enjoy this holiday excursion, and the challenge will be to stop rocking out in your car long enough to keep driving safely.
Sevierville's Annual Christmas Parade
Get caught up in the magic of the season by celebrating the Annual Christmas Parade in Sevierville. This traditional hometown parade is full of baton twirlers, marching bands, locally designed floats, pageant winners and even Santa Claus himself! It's a fun holiday event that will keep your entire family entertained, but be sure to bring a few extra layers of clothing as the conditions may be blustery.
Santa Hustle Smokies 5K
Take some preventative action against those unwanted holiday pounds by making sure you get some exercise during this feasting season. The Santa Hustle 5k is different than any other race you've ever run because Santa costumes are all but mandatory for participants. What other chance will you ever get to run in a white beard and red suit? Run while listening to holiday music and enjoy the seasonal treats available at the finish line. All 5k finishers receive participation medals, but this award pales compared to the pride you will feel to have completed the race next to so many other friendly Santas. It's an experience that every race-lover won't want to miss!
Fireworks on Thanksgiving on the Titanic
Start your holiday celebrations early by taking in a magical fireworks display on Thanksgiving night. Hosted by the Titanic museum, this annual firework extravaganza is the largest fireworks event of the entire year. Put on as a way to pay tribute to the lives and legacies of the passengers on the ships fated first voyage, this display allows you to truly start the holiday season with a boom.
New Years Eve at the Island
New Years Eve is always better when you celebrate it with a crowd, so why not allow yourself to have the grand experience by joining the celebration at The Island? This holiday event promises to be bigger and better than the legendary celebration last year. Many of the details of the celebration are remaining under wraps for now, but you can expect to experience plenty of incredible live music and lots of fun for the whole family. If you don't have plans for the last night of the year, make sure that going to The Island becomes your first choice.
City of Gatlinburg Trolley Ride of Lights
The season of lights in Gatlinburg is a spectacular sight to see, and there's no better way to witness the festivities than through traveling on the Gatlinburg trolley. For just $5 a person, you'll get a tour of the city that takes you through the best light displays, all from the comfort of the city's classy trolly cars. On city light tours, you will even be accompanied by a guide to keep you informed about what you are seeing. You'll get the whole city experience, all without having to worry about driving or parking. It's the perfect way to experience a true Gatlinburg Christmas!
Winter Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales
The streets of Gatlinburg have never offered more musical talent than during the Winter Magic Tunes and Tales performances. Beginning in November, this talented crew will be on the streets performing cherished holiday favorites for everyone that walks by. The performance incorporates some interactive elements for the youngest people in your group, meaning that they will stay entertained as you bask in the delight of good music. Enjoy the sounds of bluegrass, country and traditional Appalachian music, all without having to pay for a concert. For the true music lover, this is a top holiday event.
Great Smokey Arts and Crafts Show
Get all your holiday shopping out of the way and invest in unique handmade gifts by going to the annual Christmas show of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. Held in the Gatlinburg Convention Center, this community makes up the largest organization of independent artisans in the whole United States. You'll get to gaze at gorgeous quilts, old fashioned household decorations, hand carved candles and so much more. Once you see all the beautiful wares for sale at the show, it might be a struggle to remind yourself to shop for people besides yourself!
Festival of Lights Parade
Enjoy the sights and sounds of the 41st Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade this year. You'll want to come claim a seat early, as last year over 60,000 people came to watch this award winning parade filled with musical performances from marching bands, unique floats, giant balloons and Santa Claus himself. If you're extra lucky, you might even get some candy thrown your way. This parade is a fun way to start off your holiday season and is sure to exceed your every expectation.
Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort and Amusement Park
This year-round family friendly Ober Gatlinburg amusement park reaches a whole new level of fun during the winter season when it transitions into a fully-equipped ski resort. Plenty of snow making machines pack on the powder whenever the weather permits, allowing the natural ski season to be extended for you to take full advantage of it. Whether you love downhill skiing, snow tubing or ice skating on an indoor ice rink, there will be plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained for your entire visit.
Smoky Mountain Opry
Get ready for a multi-media extravaganza when you come to a holiday show at the Smoky Mountain Opry. Consistently listed as one of the best shows in the Smokies, this musical event showcases huge video screens and an impressive laser light show. You'll get to experience the thrill of listening to a wide variety of music from all different genres, and the Christmas show features plenty of big name artists lending their exceptional voices to the Christmas songs we all love. No matter what type of music is your favorite, you'll be sure to hear some performances that get your heart racing this year at the Smoky Mountain Opry.
When you aren't experiencing the Christmas cheer at the Country Tonite Theatre or visiting Wonderworks Gatlinburg, be sure to book a stay at one of the great hotels in the area like the Econo Lodge Riverside Pigeon Forge or the Clarion Inn Pigeon Forge.