Winter Tour of Lights in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

There are many millions of colored and animated lights that come alive during the Winter Magic and Winterfest celebration seasons of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Here’s how to see the best displays of lights in the area.

Winter Tour of Lights by Trolley and Car in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

Gatlinburg Christmas Lights © courtesy of Dean Brown

Gatlinburg Winter Magic Tour of Lights

If you want to view the festive lights on display throughout the town of Gatlinburg, all you have to do is wander along Parkway of an evening and be dazzled. But to see the very best displays you’ll need some local advice, and the City of Gatlinburg puts out a special map each year to take your own self-guided tour – here’s the pdf download.

The Gatlinburg Trolley used to offer this tour for a nominal charge, but after the city went totally free (!) on the trolley circuit throughout Gatlinburg, the special trolley tour is no longer available. Thanks to the tour map, we can still see the best of the lights – make sure your driver stays on course while you snap your pictures.

The Tour of Lights will take you past the lights of the downtown area, including Parkway and nearby River Road. You will also traverse some of Highway 321, and throughout the town you will see beautiful light displays with animated animals, characters, dancing fountains, and any number of Christmas scenes.

Pigeon Forge Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights

Not to be outdone by its neighbor to the south, Pigeon Forge puts on its own celebratory display of lights every winter for you to enjoy. Pigeon Forge no longer offers a trolley tour of the lights, and instead publishes a free map each year of the best lights so that you can navigate through the lights on your own. You can pick up a free copy of the Driving Tour of Lights map and brochure at any Pigeon Forge Welcome Center.

Winter Tour of Lights by Trolley and Car in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge

Image courtesy of Pigeon Forge

There are more than 5 million lights on display throughout Pigeon Forge, and many of them are located on the Pigeon Forge Parkway that runs through the center of town. You can also visit Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas to get a dose of holiday cheer – and a few million more lights. And there’s a stunning collection of lights at Patriot Park, just northeast of Parkway. While you’re there, check out the new Wonders of Light Walking Trail along the town’s Riverwalk Greenway.

The Pigeon Forge Winterfest Lights usually turn on in early November around Veteran’s Day, and stay on until late February. The self-driving tour of the lights is perfect for families who like to plan their own routes and schedules, travel with pets in the car, or have small children who may be uncomfortable on longer trolley rides.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge aren’t the only sources of holiday lights in the area, by the way. Check out our guide to the major Christmas Lights in the Smokies for the best displays of lights (and fireworks) during the season.

Whichever town you prefer to be closer to, we have cabins all over the area that can put you where you want to be. Check out our Gatlinburg Cabins and our Pigeon Forge Cabins pages, or for a little quieter (and very scenic) area, try the Wears Valley Cabins page. And all cabins get our Free Ticket “TripCash” book of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Coupons, worth over $700!