Winter holiday season in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offers festivities galore. Here’s what’s happening during December, 2019 in the Smoky Mountains. It’s a time for shopping, dining, family get-together, and lots of happy fun. Here are some of the highlight events.
December 2-8. The Christmas Craft Show 2019 is on from December 2 through Sunday, December 8. The Free event is open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm & Sun 10am-4pm. The artists and craftspeople of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community come to the Gatlinburg Convention Center for two great displays of unique, handmade artisan gifts and items representing two seasons, and the change from fall to winter. The Thanksgiving Craft Show ended on December 1, and the next day the wares of this huge collection were changed to reflect the Christmas season, and the gift shopping and giving that happens during this time.
December 5. For the hard working folks of Pigeon Forge a Winterfest Community Celebration is happening at the Community Center with music from the high school band and chorus, photos with Santa, food and games, and also Trolley tours of the lights! It’s a great show for anyone who loves Christmas decorating.
December 6. The annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade rolls through downtown Gatlinburg for the 44th time this year. The parade starts at 7:30 pm and features all kinds of lighted floats, marching bands, entertainers, costumed characters and huge cartoon balloons. The 2019 Grand Marshal is the actress Alyvia Alyn Lind, who played young Dolly Parton in the 2015 movie “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors”. Tens of thousands of people line Parkway for this event, so go early and take a blanket and lawn chair to get a place.
December 7. Following that Friday night spectacular, the fun-loving small town of Sevierville, just up the road from Pigeon Forge, holds its own Christmas Parade on Saturday, 11am-1pm, for some daylight festivity, with bands, baton twirlers, classic cars, food, fun and of course, Santa. This 57th Annual event takes place in the historic downtown area.
December 8. Keeping the party alive, the historic town of Townsend, to the west of Gatlinburg a few (very scenic) miles, over on the Quiet Side of the Smokies, holds its own Christmas Parade, at 2:30 pm on that Sunday afternoon.
December 6-8. Here’s a festival of a different kind, Yama-Con 2019 at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. This ticketed event is an Anime-Comic Convention celebrating the Japanese art form of Anime. Expect many costumes and iconic figures, from nerdy geek to heroic warrior. Not many conventions have a Weapons Policy but this one does, just to make sure the laser guns and magic swords are checked at the door!
December 7. How about a Saturday morning Breakfast or Brunch with Santa? It’s happening in the historic Old Mill Square in Pigeon Forge, with fun for kids and grownups alike, and the food offerings taking place in the Old Mill Pottery House Cafe and Grille – by reservation only please. Food from 8:30 am on, and a Kids Tent 10 am – 2 pm.
December 7, 14, 21. We can’t have Christmas without Santa Claus, and fortunately that remarkable person gets around the area so our kids can met him and we can have great photo opportunities – and this is the real one, mind you, not an imitation. You can find him on Saturdays 3-8 pm at The Island as well as 6-9 pm at Crave Golf for that extra candy theme. Both venues are in Pigeon Forge, but don’t be surprised to run into the jovial fellow in Gatlinburg and other places in the area during this season as well.
December 11-14. Bluegrass music is never far away in the Smoky Mountains, and proof of this is the annual Christmas in the Smokies Bluegrass Festival. Staged in Pigeon Forge and headlined by Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, the four-day festival gathers an astonishing count of bands and performers to play up a feast of bluegrass and country music. “Bet that Pigeon River is colder than the sea // Christmas in the Smokies that’s where I want to be.”
December 14. More music as well as living history in Great Smoky Mountains National Park as the Sugarlands Visitor Center hosts a Festival of Christmas Past during the day, with live music around 11 am. The event will feature demonstrations of old traditions and crafts, including gift-making from natural materials, and local foods too.
December 31. The end of the old year happens with festivities and massive Fireworks to celebrate New Years Eve, and you can choose to be either in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for the spectacular event. Everything at The Island in Pigeon Forge is always bigger and better each year, and this year’s New Year’s Eve in Pigeon Forge is no exception, with free live music and other fun, and a countdown and massive Fireworks show. Gatlinburg as always hosts its amazing pyrotechnic fireworks show at the Space Needle with live music, a countdown and the Ball Drop for New Year’s Eve in Gatlinburg.
Finally, if you’d rather just go shopping, check our guide to Pigeon Forge Shopping for the best places in the area, and for night time activity, see our guide to Shows in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Also for year-round events, see our Gatlinburg Events review, and check out our Smoky Mountains Activities guide for outdoor adventures, and the most important for many, Things to do in Gatlinburg With Kids.