Wintertime in the Great Smoky Mountains Area.

Is there a better place to celebrate a family Christmas in a cozy cabin retreat or just spend wintertime in the Great Smoky Mountains? We don’t think so. Luckily for you the winter celebration in the Smokies starts at the beginning of November and runs through the end of February. Let’s take a look at some of the events running during WinterFest.

Lets start out in Gatlinburg…

Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights

Visitors can soak up the spirit of the season from the comfort of a Gatlinburg Trolley by taking the relaxing Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights.

The specially designated trolleys carry their guests on a memorable journey through downtown and adjacent Hwy. 321, allowing everyone to experience the magical wonder of Gatlinburg Winter Magic. Trolley times are at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30.

Featuring one-of-a-kind LED lighting displays along Gatlinburg’s famous downtown Parkway, adjacent River Road, and the triangle juncture of the two, the latest $1.6 million-plus rollout of custom designed and fabricated lighting displays are marked by sections reminiscent of winter forests, evergreens and romance. The Hwy. 321 route features an injection of bright displays as well.

Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community Thanksgiving Show

Unique handcrafted gifts made by members of Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community are offered as they host their annual Thanksgiving show at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Craft show hours: Weekdays – 10am – 5pm, Friday and Saturday 10am – 6pm and Sunday 10am – 4pm.

Festival of Trees

The holiday season is rounding the corner and so is one of Gatlinburg’s most spirited events, the annual Festival of Trees. Presented by Gatlinburg Hospitality Solutions, the event benefits the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains.

For over 30 years, this free event has brought the joys of the season to visitors of all ages and will continue the tradition this year with even more exciting activities such as a children’s craft and play area, entertainment throughout the week, photos with Santa Claus and, of course, the exquisitely decorated Christmas trees and wreaths that will be available for purchase.

Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees will be located at W. L. Mills Conference Center in the Gatlinburg Convention Center at stoplight #8, Historic Nature Trail. The Festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 21 and continue through 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 25.

Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

Gatlinburg’s most enchanting holiday tradition returns! Presented by Ole Red, the 43rd Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade promises to be a spectacular celebration filled with marching bands, large balloons, dancers, and of course, Santa Claus. It all happens on December 7 at  7:30 p.m. from Baskins Creek Bypass to traffic light #10 in downtown Gatlinburg.

Parade-goers are encouraged to arrive early to find a spot on the Parkway to watch the parade or you can purchase a bleacher seat to get one of the best seats in the house.

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show

Gatlinburg will welcome the arrival of 2019 in unique style with its Annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show around the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail at the base of the Space Needle late Monday night, December 31.

Nearly 50,000 people will gather around the intersection of Parkway and Historic Nature Trail at the base of the Space Needle late Monday night, December 31 to ring in the New Year. At the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2019, fireworks will blast off the rooftop of the 400-foot tall Space Needle with special music choreographed for the fireworks show produced by Pyro-Shows of LaFollette, Tennessee. The Space Needle has added rhythmic LED lights to the tower, making for a spectacular display.

Looking for more ways to spend wintertime in the Great Smoky Mountains area let’s move up the parkway to Pigeon Forge…

Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights

The best way to take in the beauty and splendor of all the light displays throughout Pigeon Forge is on the Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights, which begins at the north end of the Parkway. Draped in more than 5 million holiday lights, Pigeon Forge creates a winter wonderland for locals and guests alike to enjoy during the city’s annual Winterfest celebration. The lights of Winterfest shine from early November through the end of February.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Visit Dollywood to see more than 4 million lights shine during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, when the park is filled with holiday music, plenty of rides, a nightly Parade of Lights and much more to celebrate the season. Dollywood recently announced the addition of Dolly’s Parade of Many Colors, featuring new floats, specialty characters and songs. The park also adds a new show to its entertainment lineup with the stage production It’s a Wonderful Life.

Titanic Thanksgiving Fireworks Display

There will be magic in the air Thanksgiving evening when the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge ignites the night in a glorious, live, special outdoor Thanksgiving Fireworks Display to kick-off the holiday season.  And, bring your cameras to capture photos of the breathtaking Titanic “Fantasy” Princess, distinguished crew, holiday lights and largest fireworks display of the year on the Smoky Mountain Parkway.

WinterFest at The Island in Pigeon Forge

Another must-see is The Island in Pigeon Forge with all new decorations including approximately 40,000 ornaments, half a million lights and more than 5,000 feet of garland. Guests are treated to three new Christmas trees, including one that stands 40 feet tall and allows guests to walk through. Santa and Mrs. Claus greet guests at their new workshop while roving carolers fill the air with Christmas music.

Looking for more active ways to spend wintertime in the Great Smoky Mountains area then don’t miss Ober Gatlinburg.

Ober Gatlinburg is Tennessee’s #1 Skiing, Snowboarding and Snow Tubing Destination

There is no better place to spend a winter day. Ober Gatlinburg offers snow activities for anyone interested in playing in snow AND plenty of things to do inside for those who prefer to stay warm! The opportunity to Ski, Snowboard, Snow Tube, Ice Skate or play in Cubbies Snow Zone presents the foundation for fabulous winter memories! A continued winter tradition for many families, Ober offers the complete experience. Board the Aerial Tramway in Downtown Gatlinburg and arrive to the mountain without driving.

One question we hear often is: “SO, WHEN IS SKI SEASON?” On average, our Ski & Snowboard season begins in early-mid December and can last to mid-March. The exact opening and closing dates for the ski slopes are determined by Mother Nature, as our opening and closing dates are unpredictable… like the weather!

Snow Tubing Season, however, IS predictable… We always open Snow Tubing on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and we Tube until April 1.

There you have it.  From your cozy cabin you can set out on a great many different experiences for how to spend wintertime in the Great Smoky Mountains area.  You can enjoy fireworks, parades, them parks, shopping, crafts, skiing, snowboarding and tubing plus the many restaurant and other attractions the area has to offer.  Did we mention the National Park in the winter, not yet but that’s another post.

Indeed, wintertime in the Great Smoky Mountains area can be many different activities to many different people.  To explore more about the area, we invite you to read some of our other blog posts or visit our website dancingbearfoot.com for accommodation information.


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