Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community Trail

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is noted for its wealth of arts and crafts, and its many artists and craftspeople, with one of the largest communities of independent artisans in the country. Nowhere is this more visible than along the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community Trail – an 8-mile scenic drive on the outskirts of Gatlinburg that contains a host of studios and shops.

The historical trail – named as a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail – was started around 1937 when local craftsmen decided to make and display their wares at home. As popularity grew and frequent visitors started stopping by, more artists joined the 8-mile loop opening studios, shops, galleries, and workshops.

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The 2017 Summer Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

In the Great Smoky Mountains region, handcrafted items made by talented locals forms a living part of the area’s history. One great way to experience the creative culture first-hand is to visit Gatlinburg during the 42nd Annual Summer Craftsmen’s Fair, held July 14-23, 2017, in the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

The Gatlinburg Convention Center offers 150,000 square feet to hold this year’s Fair, with an estimated 200 booths filled with a vast variety of hand-crafted items, for sale or just to admire. Pick a day that fits your schedule from Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under.

Images courtesy of the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

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The First Independence Day Parade of 2017: Gatlinburg’s 4th of July Midnight Parade

The 4th of July comes again to America in 2017, and Gatlinburg for its fifth decade running leads the nation in its First Independence Day Parade, starting in the first minute of Tuesday the 4th, after the stroke of midnight of Monday night, July 3. This is the 42nd Annual Fourth of July Midnight Parade in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

This year, in honor of the countless local and regional heroes who came to the aid of Gatlinburg during the fires of 2016, the Grand Marshals of the parade will be firefighters, first responders and police officers who jumped into hazard without hesitation to save the town.

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Shagbark Community Resort in Wears Valley

Shagbark resort community in Wears valley is off of Highway 321, located 7 miles from Pigeon Forge. It’s a gated community with spaciously placed cabins that share resort amenities such as a pool and tennis courts, as well as stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and park-like, wooded views for the more secluded cabins. In the area are streams and scenic walks, and the terrain is fairly steep, offering a true mountain feel.

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The Track in Pigeon Forge

Racing go-karts is a time-honored tradition for the whole family in the Smoky Mountains, and The Track in Pigeon Forge is a popular venue in the region. The Track is home to several different go-kart experiences, enough for every member of your family. The Track isn’t just about go-karts: there are numerous other rides and experiences that make for a complete day of family fun in a great setting.

It wouldn’t be The Track without go-karts (more…)

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show

Dinner theater in Pigeon Forge has a new addition with Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures, on stage twice a day with live performances and good old fashioned southern food. The show takes place in the old Lumberjack Feud theater on Parkway, and retains the same sense of acrobatics and high-climbing scale. The new dinner show attraction opened in May, 2017, with Dolly Parton herself presiding over the ceremonies.

The show is unique as it provides a special treat covering the history of one of America’s favorite entertainers with a visual look at the history of Dolly’s parents. Show times are 6 and 8 pm, but you’ll want to arrive early to soak up the atmosphere, listen to the down-home music, and enjoy the sideshows and activities, before sitting down to dine and enjoy the show.

Image courtesy of Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures

Partons vs Owens (more…)

2017 Big BBQ Bash in Maryville

When visiting the south, the down-home flavor of juicy barbeque is a tradition. If your travel itinerary brings you to the Smoky Mountains, you’re in for a delicious treat at the 2017 Big BBQ Bash in Maryville. Scheduled for Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24, 2017, this free festival of food and fun takes place at historic Founder’s Square in the heart of downtown Maryville.

For Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge fans who may not know, Maryville is about 40 miles to the west – if you’ve been to Townsend on your way to Cades Cove, you were already halfway to Maryville. This historic town on the “quiet side of the Smoky Mountains” also loves a festival, and it keeps throwing parties to prove it!

Image courtesy of the Bash

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Free Trolleys on Parkway Again in Summer of 2017

There’s nothing quite like summer in the Smoky Mountains, and every year Gatlinburg attracts families eager for adventure and down-home charm. The city has never skimped when it comes to welcoming guests. That’s why, for the seventh year in a row, Gatlinburg’s popular Free Trolley Service on Parkway is joining the ranks of its other color-coded routes.

Yes, this special summer-only trolley service is free! If you’re visiting Gatlinburg between June 17th and August 12th, you can leave your car parked and relax as you and the family are shuttled around downtown. The trolley is handicap accessible and bike-friendly, and route maps are available in English and Spanish.

Image courtesy of City of Gatlinburg

Where to Find the Trolleys (more…)

Tunes and Tales 2017

Summer in Gatlinburg means that the hugely popular Tunes and Tales has begun, running from June 9 through August 12, 2017, and now in its 12th year. Highly talented musicians, performers, actors and artisans offer live music, storytelling and interaction in small performance groups at unknown spots along Parkway, starting at 6 pm each evening.

Image courtesy of Barbara Weibel video footage of Tunes and Tales

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Synchronous Fireflies 2017

The annual peak viewing of the Synchronous Fireflies at Elkmont in Great Smoky Mountains National Park begins May 30, 2017 and runs through June 6. This annual event is unique in North America and very rare in the world, matched only in southeast Asia. A species of firefly flashes its light in sync with thousands of its fellow fireflies.

People come from all over the world to see it, and viewing space is very limited, and controlled by the rangers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which holds the premium location to view this event. This year more than 18,000 people applied for one of the 1,800 parking spaces, and on May 10 the lucky winners were notified. For 8 days, by car, van, bus and city trolley these people are allowed into this very special event.

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