Every season brings its own unique charm to Gatlinburg, but nothing compares to autumn in the Smoky Mountains. As the leaves change colors and the air grows crisp, this beautiful mountain town comes alive with folksy decor, phenomenal flavors, and impressive creations from the region’s talented artisans.
Events and experiences abound throughout the fall season, but the following essentials are especially worth checking out:
1. Taste of Autumn
The Gatlinburg harvest season kicks off with the annual Taste of Autumn, which brings a variety of memorable scents and flavors to the Gatlinburg Convention Center. This delightful evening features top dishes from several of the area’s most beloved restaurants, including LandShark Bar & Grill, Mad Dog’s Creamery, and Mama’s Chicken Kitchen. As you eat your fill, you’ll be serenaded by On the Border — an acclaimed Eagles tribute band. If nothing else, this culinary event is worth attending for the sake of supporting a good cause; the proceeds are donated to United Way of Sevier County.
2. Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
Another Gatlinburg Convention Center event worth checking out, this annual fair has highlighted magnificent crafts for over four decades. Take your time as you browse a vast collection of booths. Throughout your visit, you’ll observe one-of-a-kind, never-duplicated items made by hand. Favorites include pottery, molded leather, and copper art. In the fall, several of the fair’s top vendors display harvest-themed items, as well as holiday crafts to get you started early on your shopping list.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see the event’s best artisans in action. They’re always happy to answer questions about their crafts or share the stories behind their finest works. One stroll through the Gatlinburg Convention Center and you’ll understand why the Southeast Tourism Society refers to the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair as one of ‘The South’s Most Popular Events.’
3. Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg
Fall colors bring stunning views to the already beautiful Ober Gatlinburg. These views are best enjoyed with a beer in one hand and a pretzel in the other as you take in the best of the region’s Oktoberfest celebration. Enjoy impressive sights as you make your way up the mountain on the aerial tramway. At Ober, the journey is nearly as wonderful as the destination.
When you arrive, you will be overtaken by the cheerful music of the Smoky Mountain Oompah Band, which will have you feeling like you’ve been instantly transported to Germany. Hit up the Bier Garten to check out the latest selections from the region’s top breweries. Arrive hungry and eat your fill of bratwurst, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and strudel. In addition to the band, you’ll find entertainment in the form of yodeling, dancing, sing-a-longs, and more.
4. Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival
Hit up the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival for a thorough overview of what, exactly, makes autumn in Gatlinburg so special. Extended to last several weeks, this iconic festival brings a variety of whimsical decorations to the streets of Gatlinburg. Photo opportunities abound, especially when you spot the festival’s iconic life-size scarecrows.
In early November, the festival adds culinary delight into the mix with an annual chili cook-off like no other. The highly anticipated cook-off marks the change in seasons, with the beloved Trolley Ride of Lights commencing the next day. Until then, you can appreciate the brisk weather, the cheerful atmosphere, and the cute decorations that abound along the Parkway and throughout Gatlinburg.
5. Ole Smoky Moonshine
Ole Smoky Moonshine offers excellent tastings and live music year-round, but certain selections are especially exciting during the autumn season. Stop at The Holler for apple pie moonshine or The Barrelhouse for caramel apple whiskey. Ole Smoky Moonshine has also been known to sell pumpkin pie moonshine, which delivers the full range of spices you’ve come to expect from your favorite autumn dessert. As you enjoy your fall-themed moonshine or whiskey, take in lovely bluegrass melodies, which will have you tapping your toes or even jumping up and dancing.
No autumn environment quite matches that of Gatlinburg, where you’ll find new sources of joy around every corner. Take your time to explore this charming town throughout the harvest season — you’ll quickly learn why fall is so cherished in Gatlinburg and throughout the Smoky Mountains.