April in the Smoky Mountains around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is definitely the month of wildflowers in the millions (see below for details). April is the time when the season puts its boots on for summer, all the venues are open with special attractions, people are arriving for fun, and everything starts popping.
The snow is mostly gone by now and nights are above freezing with temperatures in the mid-forties and day times in the low seventies. The waters of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are generally rushing and giving us spectacular waterfalls, and the fishing is great. Music is in the air as festivals, fairs and other special events happen, and the sound of hot-rod engines mingles in with it all too.
April is also the time when the national park announces the viewing dates for the annual synchronous fireflies in June, and the Lottery dates for the limited parking available.
On April Fool’s Day we can find special events for this day up on the mountain at SkyLift Park, Ober Mountain and Anakeesta, those three great mountaintop attractions sitting above Gatlinburg. Following this, SkyLift Park begins its Music on the Mountain shows in early April, running through May, while Anakeesta starts its Blooms and Tunes shows mid-month, running into early June.
The first Saturday of April is also the 1st, in 2023, and this is when Gatlinburg hosts its second annual Spring Trout Tournament and River Cleanup. This one-day event is based in Gatlinburg’s Mynatt Park, and fishes the Gatlinburg waters. The traditional Trout Tournament in Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge was discontinued in 2022, and there is no clear word yet on if it will come back.
In early April we always see the Great Smoky Easter Arts & Crafts Show happening in Gatlinburg at the Convention Center. This is our first chance to see what the nation’s largest community of independent artisans has been working on through the winter – music, food and handmade works in abundance.
Easter is a special time and kids get a start on it with the numerous Easter Egg Hunts leading up to the day, put on by various organizations throughout the area. This year, Sevierville gets the jump on everyone with an April 1 Easter Egg Hunt for kids up to 10 years old, at 10 am at Bruce St. Gazebo in the Sevierville Commons.
Ripley’s Aquarium will be hosting breakfasts and photo ops with the Easter Bunny April 7-9, and Gatlinburg holds a Saturday Egg Hunt at Mynatt Park on April 8, while Pigeon Forge on the same day holds a hunt at Wear Farm city park.
Easter Day itself always offers a special service on the mountain at Ober Mountain, the Easter Sunrise Service. The tramway is free to attend, and for those who drive up, the resort offers free parking. If the season has been kind, the ski area will have extended the famous snow tubing all the way to this day.
The many churches in the area of course will offer services for Easter. And SkyLift Park offers, not a service but a Smoky Mountain Sunrise event on that day, with more sunrise opportunities offered through April and into May.
Car Shows & Meets
Everything wakes up in April, including the many motors of the automobile and hot car enthusiasts. The big event is the Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run, which fills the town with classic cars in the hundreds, on display along Parkway and cruising the strip until late into the night. It’s a 3-day event that promises traffic snarls for the unwary, but also a fun time and friendly crowds.
The Shades of the Past classic car meet and competition, by the way, really is in the past now, as it held its Last Roundup in 2022. Townsend helps to make up the balance, over on the Peaceful Side of the Smokies, with a 4-day, Classic Bronco Super Celebration (world’s largest), followed by a classic car and motorcycle show toward the end of the month.
Spring gives us something to sing about, and it doesn’t happen with more heart than with Gospel music. The LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge hosts the annual gathering of musicians in the NQC Spring Break – there’s one in Fall to watch out for too.
Dollywood heeds the season with the beginning in late April of its Flower and Food Festival, starting this year on April 21 and lasting through June 11. The theme park’s usual world-class flair brings us a dazzling display of flowers, sights and sounds, with music and foods from all over.
Townsend in April hosts its Great Smoky Mountains Fiber Fair, featuring classes, workshops and displays of everything yarn and fabric. Many artisans moved to or located in the Townsend area and traditional history and craft are strongly held here. The fair is held at the Heritage Center, April 21-22, 2023.
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Wildflowers in the Smokies
Wildflowers are a big event in the Smoky Mountains, with millions upon millions of gorgeously colored wildflowers springing up all over during April. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is normally so filled with trees and covered with canopy that the forest floor doesn’t see a lot of sun, but in springtime, before the canopy has fully leafed out, the wildflowers get their chance in the sun, for a short window of time. We see flowers blooming everywhere inside and outside of the park during April, but we see it best each year with the expert guides of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage taking us on selected tours to the best places and the most stunning sights of these millions of exotic flowers.
Soldiers put their boots on too, from cadets to veterans, and including civilians, in the annual Mountain Man March, a marathon mix of walk, march and run on several courses, carrying backpacks, in an event of remembrance and honor that draws participants from across the nation in this volunteer-driven gathering.
If you don’t want to march you could always ride a float in the annual Music in the Mountains Spring Parade that happens in Pigeon Forge at the end of April or beginning of May each year. This parade pulls out all the stops for Pigeon Forge, with marching bands, musicians, dancers and singers adding to the color and excitement.
- The Lottery is in April for limited parking to view the Synchronous Fireflies in June.