Summer’s coming to a close and you’re not ready for festival season to end. You’re in luck: September and October mark some of Gatlinburg’s most exciting events.
From craft fairs to Oktoberfest, there’s no shortage of entertainment in the Gateway to the Smoky Mountains. Whether you spend your autumn days walking along the Parkway or viewing the glorious colors from Ober, you’ll be entranced by Gatlinburg’s festive spirit. Set aside a weekend or two so you can hit up the following events:
Autumn Whimsy Abounds at the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival
Location: Parkway, Gatlinburg
Dates: September 7-November 25
Experience the wonder of autumn in the Smokies at Gatlinburg’s Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival. A longtime favorite among locals and vacationers alike, this tradition is not so much a single event as it is an ethos of autumn. This year, Gatlinburg has expanded the festival’s duration to provide even more opportunities to celebrate harvest season. Additional updates include new decor — most notably, life-sized 3D scarecrows that greet you throughout your journey and allow for abundant photo opportunities.
During the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, local business owners are encouraged to jazz up their storefronts with autumn-themed decorations. Stroll along the Parkway and you’ll observe countless bales of hay, corn stalks, pumpkins, and more. It’s the perfect activity for a lazy day in Gatlinburg.
The Taste of Autumn: Gatlinburg’s Culinary and Auditory Feast
Location: Mills Auditorium, Gatlinburg
Date: September 13
The fall season in Gatlinburg kicks off with the Taste of Autumn — an annual hit that supports United Way of Sevier County. Held at Mills Auditorium’s Tennessee Ballroom, the Taste of Autumn features delectable meals from the region’s top restaurants. This year, food will be provided by Land Shark Bar and Grill, Mellow Mushroom, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, The Fox and Parrot Tavern, and several other acclaimed establishments.
As you sample the best cuisine Gatlinburg has to offer, enjoy familiar tunes from one of the nation’s most acclaimed Beatles tribute bands: Abbey Road Live. You’ll also hear a beautiful blend of traditional and contemporary bluegrass music from Cannon Creek.
Support the Arts at the Fall Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
Location: Gatlinburg Convention Center
Dates: October 4-21
One of the most beloved aspects of Gatlinburg’s Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, the Craftsmen’s Fair brings the region’s most talented artisans to the downtown district. Held in the Gatlinburg Convention Center, the fair encourages you to not only view and purchase works of art, but also witness the creative process in person. Take a break from shopping to listen to live music; with three different shows scheduled most days, you certainly have plenty of options.
Over the years, the Fall Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair has earned numerous awards, including distinctions from the Southeast Tourism Society and Sunshine Artist Magazine. Stop by on a rainy afternoon to discover what all the hype’s about; you’ll no doubt make a return visit before the fair ends on October 21st.
Embrace German Tradition at Oktoberfest at Ober
Location: Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area
Dates: September 21-October 28
Mountaintop activity-center Ober Gatlinburg boasts the most stunning views in Gatlinburg — particularly during the month of October. Take it all in as you observe (or better yet, participate in) time-honored traditions straight from Munich. Eat your fill of German-inspired dishes such as bratwurst, schnitzel, sauerkraut, pretzels, and strudel. Of course, your meal won’t be complete without a beer — this is Oktoberfest, after all. A different brewery is featured every weekend, providing ample opportunities for sampling unique brews. Get adventurous with a beer card that allows you to chug either four or eight samples…or stick with your all-time favorite in a 24-ounce beer boot.
Believe it or not, there’s more to Oktoberfest than food and beer. As you down your favorite German beer, enjoy a live performance from the lederhosen-clad Bavarian Fun Makers Oompah Band. Hit up the vendor tent for a T-shirt, stein, or one of several other souvenirs. Despite the emphasis on beer, this is a family-friendly event. Don’t hesitate to bring your kids; they will love the rides, dancing, music, and food.
The trip to and from Oktoberfest at Ober should be just as exciting as the event itself. Arrive by way of the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, which links Ober directly to Gatlinburg’s downtown district. Along the way, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the fall colors.
Show Off Your Creative Genius at Hands On Gatlinburg
Location: Various studios Throughout Gatlinburg
Dates: October 12-14
After you’ve oohed and ahhed at the many works of art on display at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, head to Hands On Gatlinburg to learn how you can create such beautiful pieces on your own. The event consists of dozens of classes hosted by local artisans, including potters, quilters, woodworkers, and candle makers. This is the perfect opportunity to learn from the area’s most talented and passionate individuals. Get a head start on the gift-giving season by crafting handmade items with patient guidance and plenty of words of encouragement.
Daytime Scares at the Gatlinburg Trick Or Treat Kickoff Karnival
Location: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Plaza, Gatlinburg
Date: October 31
If you prefer to celebrate Halloween while the sun is up, you’ll appreciate the festivities at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg. Technically, however, this ‘karnival’ serves as preparation for the big event: nighttime trick-or-treating. Your little ones will learn all about Halloween safety from the Gatlinburg Police Department. They’ll also receive a bonus lesson in fire safety from the Gatlinburg Fire Department. Other event highlights include costumed characters, a pumpkin contest, and, of course, plenty of candy. Attendees of all ages are encouraged to wear costumes; think of this as a dress rehearsal for your nighttime trick-or-treat adventures.