Gatlinburg is a magical place to visit year-round. But if you ever get a chance to swing by during the holidays, definitely take it. Although it might not seem possible, the vibe grows ever more friendly and inviting, ensuring you have a wonderful time wherever you go. Plus, there are tons of awesome things to see and do all throughout the winter months, including:
Gatlinburg Winter Magic
For over 30 years, Gatlinburg has welcomed the holiday season to town in style with its Winter Magic event. During this much-anticipated event, the city streets light up in vivid hues and feature imaginative displays of all kinds.
The fun and excitement kick off on November 10th from 5 pm to 8 pm with the annual chili cookoff. As the chefs whip up their signature chili creations, you get to enjoy free, live entertainment all across the Shade Tree Parking area.
In the evening hours, you can taste the final results of the chef’s efforts, vote on your favorites, and jet out to see the city’s holiday lights come on for the season. The brilliant light displays will stay up through February 28th, giving you plenty of chances to come through and see it all over again.
Lights Over Gatlinburg
The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park gets in on the holiday fun with light displays of their own from November through January 31st. Their imaginative decorations start with a 30-foot multi-colored Christmas standing at the center of it all.
Beyond that, they have dancing trees lining the SkyTrail, beckoning you over for photo ops to remember. They fill out the rest of the space with strings of lights featuring over 20,000 brilliantly lit bulbs.
There’s even a 200-foot tunnel of lights on the SkyBridge, which also serves as a fantastic place to see Gatlinburg’s holiday spirit twinkling down below. With just one ticket, you can explore the park all day long and return after nightfall to see the lights.
Enchanted Winter at Anakeesta
Winter celebrations are always a top priority at Anakeesta. Their festivities start with the grand opening of their Astra Lumina attraction. Built as a night walk to remember, this amazing experience lets you become one with the stars while admiring their cosmic beauty.
On top of that, they’re hosting their Enchanted Winter Celebration from November through February 14th. For this event, twinkling lights set the stage for memories to last a lifetime, letting you see the park in a whole new way. As your heart fills with endless holiday cheer, you can keep the experience going with hot cocoa by the firepit if you wish.
Bluegrass Christmas In The Smokies Music Festival
From November 17th through the 19th, Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies Music Festival will get everyone in the mood for the holidays. Set at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, this festival welcomes all the greats to play their best jams for the crowds, including:
- Billy Lee Cox
- Caroline and Company
- Nick Chandler and Delivered
- Nothin Fancy
- The Family Sowell
- The King James Boys
To enjoy the show, you just have to get your tickets before they sell out and take the trolly to the front door each day. The music will keep playing from morning to night, treating you to all the best sounds of the season.
Gatlinburg’s Festival Of Trees
Now in its 48th year running, the Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees never fails to kick off the holiday season just right. For 2022, the event will run from November 22nd through the 27th at the WL Mills Conference Center. During that time, everyone is welcome to come meet Santa Claus, enjoy arts and crafts, and enjoy live entertainment.
You’ll also want to check out all the beautifully decorated Christmas trees in anticipation of the silent auction. If you want to snag one of the trees for yourself, you’ll need to sign up to participate and then try your luck at putting in the winning bid.
Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Show
Do you want to get a jump on all your holiday shopping? If so, come check out the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts show from November 28th through December 4th. You just need to swing by the Gatlinburg Convention Center from 10 am onward to shop all the wares offered by the artisans onsite.
As you shop around, you’ll find tons of amazing gifts, including jewelry, holiday décor, paintings, pottery, hand-dipped candles, and stuffed animals. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a chance to chat with the artisans about their inspirations and process to get a good story to go with your gifts.
Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
A time-honored local tradition, the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade serves as a great way to ring in the holiday season. Planned for December 2nd in 2022, this parade will fill downtown Gatlinburg with the sights and sounds of holidays.
The festivities start at 7:25 pm with the grand illumination ceremony for the town Christmas tree at the Parkway Plaza. The floats, marching bands, dance troupes, and more will start their route through town at the Baskins Creek By-Pass. They’ll come on down the Parkway as well, giving all the onlookers a chance to enjoy the show.
To enjoy all the festivities to the fullest, nab your spot along the parade route early in the day. Just put your chair, blanket, or other items in your preferred spot. Then, explore the town while your items do the heavy lifting. With that move, you’ll get to sit at the front of the pack and enjoy the best seat in the house.
New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show
As the holiday season winds to a close, you can end all the festivities with a bang by attending the annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show. Leading up to the final moments of the year, you’ll get to enjoy free music performances, fireworks shows, and so much more.
As the clock nears midnight, everyone will gather around the Gatlinburg Space Needle for the main event. At that point, you can join the crowd in counting down the last 10 seconds as you watch the ball descend to mark the year’s end.
Now that you know just where to spend the Christmas season in Gatlinburg, it’s time to start planning your trip. You can come through any time from November through February for a chance to enjoy all the holiday happenings on the calendar.