Smoky Mountains Independence Day Update

Are you visiting Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or the surrounding area over Fourth of July? Due to the plentiful activities, this is one of the most popular times of the entire year to visit the Smoky Mountains!

July 4th in Gatlinburg

Below is a list of several Independence Day activities that we recommend:

Gatlinburg’s Famous July 4th Midnight Parade
Why not kick off the Fourth of July party early? At precisely 12:01 am on July 4th, the first Independence Day celebration in the country will kick off.   The best spots on the parade route, which runs from traffic light #1A (East Parkway/321) all the way to traffic light #10 (Ski Mountain Road), fills up early. With over 100,000 people expected at the 2017 Independence Day parade, the attendees are expected to be setting up lawn chairs along the route by 7 am!

The parade route is over a mile long and will feature exotic cars, balloons, floats, and multiple marching units from all over the country. Prior to the parade, there will be a 6:00 pm concert on the Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza featuring the the 129th Army Band.

Gatlinburg has chosen the Firefighters, First Responders, and Law Enforcement Officers who heroically came to our city’s aid during the recent wildfire to co-Grand Marshal the 42nd edition of this annual parade. This year’s parade will be a testament to the resilience of our mountain town.

Pigeon Forge Patriot Park on July 4th

27th Annual Patriot Festival
On July 4th, the official City of Pigeon Forge activities will take place at Patriot Park (near the Old Mill restaurant).

The festivities kick off at noon and will follow the schedule below:

  • Noon: Free Kids’ Carnival along with food vendors start the festivities off.
  • 1:30pm –Stock Creek Bluegrass Band
  • 2:30pm – Vinyl Tap
  • 3:30pm – Veterans Tribute
  • 4:00pm – Pigeon Forge Community Chorus
  • 5:15pm – Sammy Arriaga
  • 6:30PM- Departure
  • 8:30pm – Thompson Square
  • 9:45: Fireworks Showcase begins!

The event is free of charge and the perfect opportunity to combine patriotism, live music, good food, and fireworks!

River Raft Regata
If the idea of an unmanned river race floats your boat (bad pun), look no further! The River Raft Regata, is a race of unmanned rafts that starts the Christ in the Smokies Bridge on River Road and ends at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

What types of rafts can you expect to see? Anything that floats. Literally. Each year, participants enter matchsticks, rubber duckies, and even bars of soap. You have to see this to believe it!

Awards are given for the top three finishers in each of the following categories:

  • Trash (not handmade)
  • Treasure (handmade)
  • Smallest Entry (pill-bottle size)
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not Entry

Registration, which takes place on the lawn of Christ in the Smokies, is free and takes place at 10 am on July 4th. Not planning on racing? No worries, but you still should consider coming down to the registration for games, prizes, and a chance to get photos with Zeno the Gatlinburg Bear and Sharkey from Ripley’s Aquarium.

The race begins promptly at 12 pm and isn’t over until the last raft reaches Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.


Gatlinburg Fireworks
The final recommended Fourth of July activity in Gatlinburg is the Fourth of July fireworks celebration. The fireworks show will start at 10 pm and the best viewing area is near traffic light #3 and traffic light #5.

Leading up to the start of the fireworks, the 129th Army Band will perform a free concert on the Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza.

The twenty-minute fireworks spectacular marks the end of the 2017 Gatlinburg Fourth of July festivities.

Dollywood Fireworks
What could possibly be better than a summer day at Dollywood? Dollywood with extended hours! From July 1st to July 8th, this popular theme park has extended hours and is open until midnight each night. Each of those nights (and every other night between June 17 and August 6), there is an incredible display of fireworks synchronized to music.

The music, which was written by Dolly Parton specifically for this summertime event, is an inspiring soundtrack and named Paint Your Dreams across the Sky.

We hope that each of you have a truly memorable Fourth of July in the Smoky Mountains! Thank you for choosing to visit Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding area.

Happy Independence Day from!