December in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area means lots of festive events, and 2021 is in full swing with seasonal fun – here are the highlights of the month to watch for.
Where we left off our Thanksgiving Events preview was with the Christmas Arts & Crafts Show, transitioning from the Thanksgiving week into the Christmas fare, with unique handmade items, gift-shopping for those with a list still to fill, food, music and fun, all in the huge Convention Center. This show starts on November 29 and runs through Sunday, December 5.
December 1 brings some unusual visitors to the Smokies with the Budweiser Clydesdales. These world-famous horses will appear at several venues in eastern Tennessee, and come to Gatlinburg for a very special venue, leading the Christmas Parade.
December 3 – Gatlinburg’s annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade will stage again on this Friday evening, for the 46th year – with those famous horses leading the long procession. The parade kicks off at 7:30 p.m. from Baskins Creek Bypass and East Parkway, and will take up to an hour and a half to conclude. Expect many floats with dazzling lights and costumes, huge cartoon-character balloons, marching bands, prancing horses, celebrities, singers, dancers, and all marching through downtown to end at Light #10 by about 9:30 pm. Come early for a good place in the crowd – wear a Santa hat to blend in!
December 3 also marks the Christmas return of Tunes and Tales along Parkway in Gatlinburg, with strolling players and carolers offering seasonal joy around any corner on the Fri-Sat evenings of Dec 3-4, Dec 11-12 and Dec 17-18, from 6 pm to 11 pm.
December 4 also offers another Christmas Parade, this one in the fun town just up the road, in Sevierville. It’s the 59th Annual parade, happening in the historic downtown, at 10 am, and the festivities last until 1 pm.
Up at Anakeesta on December 3-4, there’s a photo-op with Santa from 11 am to 3 pm. And on the 4th, you can enjoy a Breakfast With Santa from 7:30-10 am. Santa will return for breakfast the following Saturday too, December 11.
Santa gets around for sure in this season. On December 4 he also appears at Crave Golf Club on that Saturday, and again on the 18th, and then Thursday the 23rd. No shortage of candy at that venue!
December 9, the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg will hold its annual Souper Bowl fundraiser for our local United Way. Join the community between 11:30 am and 2 pm for a homemade lunch with endless soup, and a handmade bowl that’s yours to keep after.
December 10-12 in Pigeon Forge at the LeConte Center, the annual Yama Con Anime & Comic Convention, with more costumes on display than we thought possible, even at Christmas. This is the 9th year for Yam Con here, and its wildly popular, with thousands of attendees and a multitude of events and programs.
On December 11, Santa shows up again, with a little more rockin’ style, at the Listening Room in Pigeon Forge. It’s a great music venue in the upscale Mountain Mile entertainment complex, and the fun is from 8 am to 1 pm, with music, food, drinks and a photo-op with the big man himself.
Throughout the month of December, Anakeesta and the SkyLift Park up on the mountain above Gatlinburg each present dazzling lights for your festive enjoyment. And Ober Gatlinburg offers the Snow Tubing that the whole town loves (be sure to book ahead), and the slopes don’t have an opening date set yet but look for anytime from mid-December.
There will be multiple events and specials happening at the countless venues of Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge and the area, with Dollywood in full Christmas swing, and Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland open on Christmas Day itself also.
When we get past that day, there’s New Year’s Eve to look forward to, and Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge will not disappoint. On December 31 at midnight the fireworks will light up the night sky. In Gatlinburg, the Space Needle will offer its Countdown and Ball Drop in the evening, and over in Pigeon Forge, The Island will mount its customary extravaganza, with a midnight crescendo.
And then we can all take a rest for a bit 🙂
PS…if you’re wondering where to stay during the fun, see our tips on How to Find an Affordable Gatlinburg Cabin, How to Find a Gatlinburg Cabin With Spectacular Views and How to Find a Secluded Gatlinburg Cabin.