The weather is cooler and the nights are longer, but the holiday seasons brings a special kind of energy to the Smoky Mountains, and there is much to see and do with your entire family. Check out some of the holiday highlights happening throughout the area, and start planning your festive Smoky Mountains vacation today!
Take in a Christmas-themed show
Most people know that Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are acclaimed for their plethora of family-friendly live entertainment options, but the shows take it to a different level during the holiday season. Many of the most popular and celebrated shows in the region put on special holiday performances for guests, from November and into early January, and you don’t want to miss any of the festive fun. Some of the notable holiday-themed shows include Hatfield and McCoy Christmas Disaster Dinner Show, Christmas at the Comedy Barn, Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede, the “Tis the Season” show at the Grand Majestic theater, and Christmas at Country Tonite. This list is only scratching the surface, and you could easily come back year after year and still have new shows to see.
Celebrate the season at Dollywood
Dollywood is filled with great attractions no matter what time of year you visit, but the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival brings a host of celebratory traditions you and your family can join in on. The park is transformed into a shining winter wonderland thanks to the addition of nearly 5 million lights throughout the property, all in various colors and configurations. Dollywood also lights up the sky with a fireworks show set to Christmas music that occurs every Friday and Saturday night, as well as selected weeknights during the season. Finally, there is plenty of holiday-themed live entertainment in the park, such as Christmas in the Smokies, Candlelight Carolers, and Appalachian Christmas.
Check out the lights and have fun up high on a mountain
There is plenty of fun to be had on ground level during the holidays, but you are in the mountains after all, so why not head to higher ground and see what the season has in store? For instance, you can go to Anakeesta to see the snowy mountaintops from the tallest spot in downtown Gatlinburg, and stroll through the twinkling lights and decor during your journey. If you want an unbeatable view of the Lights Over Gatlinburg, take the trek up to SkyLift Park to get a sweeping vista of the town in full holiday mode. The SkyBridge itself joins in the fun with its own tunnel of spectacular lights to complete the dazzle on the mountain.
Explore all of the festivities in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
Whatever your family is into for the holidays, you can find it in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Take the crew to some of the fun and educational attractions in the area, such as Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, or the Titanic Museum (which features special Christmas decor). If you need to catch up on some holiday shopping, there are plenty of small boutiques and brand name stores to check out. Be sure to visit some of the notable shopping areas such as The Island in Pigeon Forge and the Village Shops in Gatlinburg to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays in the Smokies, it’s always nice to return to your cozy cabin at the end of an eventful day and savor quality time with the family, gathering around the fireplace, or even the hot tub on the deck for some star gazing.
Take a Scenic Walk
Remember too, the simple things like taking a family stroll together along some of the very easy trails available in the area – check our guide to Easy Trails & Walks for some of the very best. In Pigeon Forge there’s the Riverwalk Greenway that takes you through the heart of the town along the river and on a paved, park-quality walking and biking trail – dogs welcome too. In Gatlinburg there’s the nearby Gatlinburg Trail, easy for all the family and the family pet. Hiking doesn’t have to be a rugged adventure, it can be like a walk in the park (did we really say that?) – and lots more easy places in our guide!
For more fun adventures during your stay in the Smokies, check out our guide to Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains as well as our Smoky Mountains activities pages, and especially our guide to Things to Do in Gatlinburg With Kids. Check in on the current festivals and happenings with our Gatlinburg Events guide.
And wherever you choose set up base, we have cabins throughout the area for you to stay in – check our Gatlinburg cabin rentals and our Pigeon Forge cabins. And don’t forget our Wears Valley cabins over on the quiet side of the Smoky Mountains.