Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge become winter wonderlands in November and December, and they become even more bustling with festive, family-friendly events for the holidays. If you’re planning a holiday getaway with family or friends, you’ll find there is plenty to do during winter in the Smokies!
Come warm up with a favorite comfort food while becoming a judge and picking your favorite bowl at the Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff, get swept up in the magic of the season with a trolley ride during Gatlinburg Winter Magic, pay tribute to our nation’s heroes at the Veterans Day celebration, and kick off Christmas with the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
…and everything in between.
These classic Smoky Mountain events will seamlessly transition you from fall to winter, Thanksgiving to Christmas, offering you delicious foods, live music, local art, and so much more. So spend some time cuddled up in the cabin, check out our blog to decide what you’re going to do, and then head into town to have some fun!
Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff
Nothing says fall like a hot and hearty bowl of chili while strolling the Parkway with the colors of autumn in the background. For the 29th year, Gatlinburg will usher in thoughts of winter – and a host of local chili makers – at downtown’s Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff. Get a chili sampling ticket ($10+online fee) and get ready to taste the savory, spicy, and everything in between from food vendors, restaurants, and local businesses. Plus, enjoy live music and food and drinks from 20+ vendors!
Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights
Checking out the glittering holiday lights along a whimsical trolley ride through Gatlinburg is one of those classic Smoky Mountain experiences. You’ll get swept up in the magic of the season as you ride along and see the many unique lighting displays, with candles, Christmas trees, dancing fountains, Santa, reindeer, and more.
Veterans Day Celebration
Each year, those of the Great Smoky Mountains pay tribute to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms and country. Make your way to the plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies for a service honoring veterans, patriotic music, and words from service members.
Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show
November 20 – 25
Want to do some early holiday shopping, find a family heirloom, or get that perfect piece of art for your Smoky Mountain souvenir? Meet the local artisans at the Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show, watch them at work, and choose one of their homemade pieces to take home. Along with great gifts, the show will feature lots of beautiful seasonal items for fall and Thanksgiving.
Festival of Trees
Held at the W.L. Mills Conference Center on Historic Nature Trail, the Festival of Trees is a favorite annual tradition for families. As you stroll the hall and browse the many decorated Christmas trees, you’ll hear the sounds of carolers and catch a glimpse of Santa!
Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show
November 26 – December 2
Visit the Gatlinburg Convention Center this fall for a showcase of the incredible work done by the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. This holiday favorite is the place for baskets, candles, holiday décor, Santa everything, seasonal foods, leather goods, Christmas ornaments, and so much more.
Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
Get in the holiday spirit at the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, marching down the Parkway this December 7 at 7:30 p.m. at traffic light #10. Bundle up, bring a mug of hot cocoa, and watch the procession of marching bands, floats, and your favorite holiday characters with the backdrop of the mountains and holiday lights along the streets.
You won’t run out of things to do in town, but if you want to stay in the cabin, you certainly won’t be bored. Need a few ideas? How about…
- Cuddle up with a good book in front of a wood-burning fireplace.
- Make some fresh-baked cookies in your full kitchen and decorate them for the holidays.
- Bring your favorite holiday movies to watch in the cabin.
- Climb into the soothing hot tub on your deck.
- Bundle up and toss around a football outside.
- Stay warm while playing games in your rec room.
- Take a swim in your private indoor pool.