Fall in the Smokies: Moonshine, Music & More in Gatlinburg

Fall is my favorite season. There is nothing quite like drinking coffee on the back porch of a cabin in the cool September morning air. Beyond the wood railing, a sea of red, orange, and yellow cascades up and over each mountain. Paired with the cool white glow of the sunrise, this is pretty close to heaven, I’m convinced. Just like me, the Appalachian areas of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg get in the spirit of autumn, and it’s truly an adventure to be had. Fall vacationing in the Smoky Mountains is an annual trip for many, but if you have not experienced a fall cabin trip, you certainly need to add this to your list this year!

Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg really come alive when the cool mornings roll in and the perfect temperatures settle into the mountains. Experience all kinds of events for every person in the family, or pack a romantic getaway with a whole lot of fun. One of my favorite fall events is Oktoberfest, and Gatlinburg is one of my favorite Oktoberfest celebrations to date! I love biking, and if there was ever perfect weather to participate in a cycling event, it’s certainly in the clean mountain air. In true Southern tradition, there are lots of fall events that call you to get out and be an active participant in all the fun. So, here are my top 3 favorite events because…fall in the Smokies is here!

Sugarlands Mountain Fest September 28 – October 1, 2017
Want to pack as much Smoky Mountain variety into a single event as you possibly can? The Sugarlands Mountain Fest brings the best of the Smokies together, with 4 days of music, mountains, moonshine, and more. Over the course of the festival, experience:

  • Over 30 live musical performances
  • A slew of the best food trucks from around the mountain region
  • Cycling, fishing, and running events and competitions
  • A huge artisans market putting Southern craftsmen on display
  • Meet and greets with the “Moonshiners” from the Discovery Channel Show
  • Tours of the Sugarlands Distillery
  • This music and outdoor festival is one-of-a-kind; it’s as if the culture of the Smokies is flexing for everyone to gawk at. There is literally something for everyone. Each of the outdoor events has different competitions for each age group and thousands of dollars in prizes. There is also an Outdoor Exchange where, both well-known or locally owned, outdoor companies bring the new-to-the-market gear and apparel. They demonstrate and discuss equipment in the ever-growing market of the outdoor enthusiasts.

    The Appalachian Artisan Market is practically downtown Gatlinburg amplified. Gatlinburg is home to an impressive number of unique shops for handcrafted work, and at the Sugarlands Mountain Fest, attendees not only get the chance to meet and buy from the local artists, but also watch them showcase their talents!

    Fancy yourself a whiskey or moonshine connoisseur? This is the festival you’ve been waiting for. Sugarlands Distillery offers numerous tours and tastings. Plus, the distillery offers patrons the opportunity to get in on the fun. The “Distiller for a Day” pass allows guests to partake in the process of moonshining firsthand, from start to finish! Long story short, if you want a real taste of all the Smokies has to offer, plan a trip to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area during the Sugarlands Mountain Festival!

    35th Annual Shades of the Past Rod Run
    I grew up in the South near a park that hosted car shows for pretty much any reason the town could make up, and even if you aren’t a big car enthusiast, these events are a ton of fun. The cars are beautiful pieces of historical art, and the atmosphere is filled with roaring engines, proud car parents, the smell of funnel cake, and the excitement of experiencing history come back to life. Now, where I’m from, the car shows were usually the size of a high school football field. But Dolly Parton doesn’t do anything on a small scale. If her theme park is going to host something, well…let’s just say it complements her big personality!

    Dollywood’s Splash Country is hosting the Shades of the Past Rod Run for its 35th year, an event that is so big the grand prize is a 1932 Ford Hi-Boy Roadster and 2nd place is $10,000! This is a great time to mosey on through the aisles of rare automotive history with your kids (who get in free). Or maybe your special someone will finally have more people to talk to about car stuff who are actually super interested…Either way, coming from someone whose car knowledge extends to changing oil or tires, car shows are fun and Shades of the Past is sure to be bigger and more awesome than any other car show you’ve ever seen!

    OktOBERfest at Ober Gatlinburg September 22-October 29, 2017
    The U.S. adopts and borrows from many international holidays and festivals, and when it comes to Oktoberfest, I am so glad we do. It is a boisterous German festival pivoted on food, beer, and music, arguably my 3 favorite things behind my family and YouTube pug videos. Ober Gatlinburg goes all out, too, so you won’t want to miss this 38-day German festival if you’re in the area!

    Daily, Ober Gatlinburg brings the Munich, Germany, fall festival across the pond to the Smoky Mountains. Enjoy schnitzels, featured German breweries and beer samples, live authentic music, dancing, and all the other fun theme park attractions Ober Gatlinburg has to offer. Among the beautiful stone structures and people dressed in authentic lederhosen, you’ll forget you are still in Tennessee. Personally, if I’m given half a reason to wear a costume, I do. Plus, this festival is all about participating, but have fun watching, too! Saturdays also include FREE face painting for the little ones. No matter how you want to celebrate this annual international tradition or partake in your very first, Ober Gatlinburg pulls out all the stops for this German seasonal merriment to give you an OktOBERfest to remember!

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