Memorial Day Weekend in Gatlinburg: 5 Things to Do

Ready to do it up for Memorial Day Weekend, Gatlinburg-style? This is a fun time to get away, although, of course, it is important to remember the reason for this special weekend: honoring those who have given their lives for our great nation. By choosing the right location, you can pay homage to these brave individuals and their families while reflecting on life as an American. there’s still room for adventure and relaxation — and all these qualities are abundant when you spend a weekend in the Smoky Mountains.

Gatlinburg is definitely a patriotic town and this will be immediately evident as you stroll the Parkway during Memorial Day Weekend. Traditional festivities such as picnics and barbecues are definitely worth planning, but there are also plenty of special events and attractions worth check out. We’ve highlighted a few of the best below so you can start planning your Gatlinburg Memorial Day itinerary:

1.  Discover a New Perspective at Anakeesta

view of the smoky mountains, anakeesta, mountain top, walking bridge

Anakeesta is an amazing Memorial Day destination that should easily keep everyone in your group entertained.  Nothing compares to a scenic trip in the gondola, but the Treetop Skywalk is also a delight. There is a lot going on for Memorial Day weekend, including live performances from the Pixie Belles and the Tennessee Line.

These performances are included with the price of an Anakeesta ticket: $34.99.

Also, the brand new Anakeesta attraction Astra Lumina, promises “illuminating encounters.” If you crave something a bit more patriotic, you’ll love the United Tastes of America. It is centered around a tasting pass that allows you to sample specialties from several states, this is a culinary tour like no other. This event kicks off right in time for Memorial Day Weekend but extends through August 11th. Tasting cards cost $49.99, while Astra Lumina adds $15.99 to the total cost of attendance.

2. Celebrate SkyPark’s 70th Anniversary 

view of gatlinburg sky bridge

Gatlinburg’s SkyPark is a true icon, with its original four-season chairlift opened way back in 1954. Since then, the SkyLift has delivered an extraordinary experience for generations of visitors. This long history will be celebrated all summer long, with on-site events scheduled for several special days throughout the next several months. 

One of those important days? May 24th, when a spectacular Memorial Day Weekend can be kicked off in style at a true Gatlinburg gem. SkyPark is still worth visiting the remainder of the weekend, however, as the views will be as spectacular as usual and, better yet, there will be an abundance of ways to enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery. The SkyLift is only the beginning, after all; there’s also the SkyBridge and the SkyDeck to check out. All this can be enjoyed for just $25.95 while the SkyPark is under construction. 

In addition to the 70th anniversary celebration, there will be other special events — including the Festival of Flags. This begins May 20th, with the festival spanning nearly a month before it comes to a close on June 17th. An inspiring display at the SkyBridge will highlight all fifty state flags, along with military flags, and, of course, the beloved American flag. This patriotic spectacle is perfect for a Memorial Day celebration.

If you love live music and can’t make the anniversary festivities during the afternoon of the 24th, plan an evening visit. The amazing Richard Bennett will perform at 6 pm on May 24th and again at 6 pm on the 27th. This might be your last chance to see him at SkyPark, as his Gatlinburg extravaganza will end on May 31st. On Saturday, May 25th, you can catch Gavin Harper for one of just two performances at SkyPark. 

3. Enjoy a Feast for the Senses at Dollywood

woman cooking food at dollywood, corn on the cob, southern food

Dollywood is always worth a visit, and Memorial Day is no exception. The long weekend might attract crowds, but there is no need to spend the entire day waiting in lines for rides; the real attraction will be the gorgeous mosaicultures and the whimsical umbrella sky. It’s all part of the beloved Flower & Food Festival. This special event runs through June 9th, but Memorial Day is the perfect time to see what makes Dollywood so special during the transition between spring and summer.

To get the full Flower & Food experience, splurge on a tasting pass. This $39.99 add-on will get you far more interesting fare than what you’d expect from a Memorial Day BBQ, although BBQ seasonings will certainly be in abundant supply. Beyond this, you can also enjoy decadent desserts like lemon cannoli and red velvet cookie dough. The beverages are just as enticing, especially as things heat up near the end of May. Get ready to sip several types of lemonade and sweet tea. 

4. Celebrate With Song at Dolly Parton’s Stampede

woman on twowhite horse jumping through ring of fire

Dollywood is by no means the only Dolly Parton attraction worth checking out near Gatlinburg. If you want something even more patriotic for Memorial Day, be sure to grab your tickets for Dolly Parton’s Stampede. This spectacular dinner show boasts four-course feasts, not to mention horse riding stunts and an aerial performance.

Flags are prominently featured during each show, which can be enjoyed at 6 pm or 8:30 pm most days (or at 3:30 pm on Sunday, May 26th). This show promises to entertain audience members of all ages and could be a great addition to your Memorial Day itinerary. 

5. Embrace Views and Outdoor Thrills at Ober Gatlinburg

Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway

Anakeesta and the SkyPark are definitely worth checking out, but there is yet another scenic, thrill-oriented destination in town: Ober Gatlinburg. It has a bit of a vintage feel, but this is exactly what many visitors find appealing. Stunning views are to be expected along with an array of exciting indoor activities that make Ober Gatlinburg a solid choice on a drizzly day. The classic tramway ride is the definite highlight — but once you ascend, you will have the chance to hit the skating rink or go wild with ice bumper cars.

Of course, sunshine is always best, and if the weather cooperates, Ober Gatlinburg will keep you and your loved ones plenty entertained: several seasonal options have recently reopened for summer, including the Tennessee Flyer and the Alpine slide. Don’t forget to stop by the onsite cafe or snack bar for some Memorial Day treats. Rates vary depending on which activities spark your interest, but it costs $29 if you stick with the tramway.

Memorial Day Weekend provides plenty of opportunities to get patriotic as you explore Gatlinburg’s finest attractions. Along the way, you will enjoy tasty treats, awe-inspiring views, and a unique sense of community that will make Memorial Day feel truly special.