The holiday spirit is alive and well in the Great Smoky Mountains! Here is your guide to some of the best events taking place this year in the region, including a variety of outdoor events so that you and your family can stay safe and still enjoy the magic of the season.
Delight your senses with millions of holiday lights
Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like strolling through town on a chilly evening and marveling at a dazzling array of festive lights. We know how to decorate for the season here in the Smokies, and you have numerous options for viewing spectacular collections of lights across the area.
If you want to take a drive or ride through some amazing light shows, the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights or the Pigeon Forge Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights will be just what you’re looking for. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland is another drive-through holiday extravaganza that is home to countless colorful lights, festive audio-visual presentations, and activities outside of the car for the whole family. If walking while enjoying the lights is more your style, consider checking out the shopping mecca that is The Island in Pigeon Forge, or snag some tickets to the winter wonderland that is Dollywood.
Hit the slopes for skiing or tubing
Looking for an exhilarating holiday experience? Ober Gatlinburg, one of the most popular attractions in the Smokies all year long, is home to the best skiing and snow tubing in the area. Ski and snowboard season usually begins around mid-December at Ober Gatlinburg, and they have expert instructors available for lessons if someone in your family needs some practice before hitting the slopes.
Ober Gatlinburg also offers a hugely fun snow tubing track that opens around Thanksgiving every year, and the best part is that it doesn’t require any equipment or previous experience. Simply head to the top with your tube provided by Ober and let gravity do the work as you shoot down the track on the naturalistic snow provided by mother nature and the state-of-the-art snow guns.
Creativity at the Thanksgiving and Christmas Arts & Crafts shows
The holidays are the perfect time to recognize the contribution of the artisans and craftspeople to the local culture of the Smoky Mountains, and you have two opportunities to explore their work at the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Arts & Crafts Shows. These two shows are typically held back-to-back in late November and early December at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Visit either or both (because different artisans and activities will be available at each, along with items celebrating each specific holiday season) to browse beautiful items, shop for unique gifts for loved ones, or simply connect with other arts and crafts appreciators.
Safely gather together for the Christmas Parade and New Year’s celebrations
The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is always one of the most anticipated events of the year, and the 2020 edition will be taking place as scheduled on December 4th. Also New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations are taking place in Gatlinburg at the Space Needle, and in Pigeon Forge at the Island. Visitors are encouraged to observe social distancing and wear face masks so that everyone can enjoy the season safely. No matter how you choose to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, the adventures you are looking for await you in the Smokies.
Check in on more of the current festivals and happenings with our Gatlinburg Events guide. Also see our guide to Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains as well as our Smoky Mountains activities pages, and the all-important guide to Things to Do in Gatlinburg With Kids.
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.