Avoid the mistakes of last-minute planning by preparing your summer vacation early! To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of Smoky Mountain summer events for 2018. While a trip to the Smokies is certainly a year-round option, it’s always nice to visit when special festivities are taking place. From lively celebrations and entertaining parades to fun-loving fairs and fantastic festivals, make this summer the best one yet — in the Smokies. Plus, from June 16 – August 15 (prime summertime), you can ride the Parkway Trolley daily from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. for FREE! If that floats your boat, you’ll really like what else is in store for the Smoky Mountain summer.
Picnic Wine Trail | June 2
Picnicking along the Rocky Top Wine Trail is a delectable experience you won’t want to miss. This year, Mountain Valley Winery, Hillside Winery, and Sugarland Cellars will be participating in this delicious event. Enjoy a glass of wine paired with picnic foods at each location, and after visiting all 3, you’ll receive a FREE wine glass as a souvenir to commemorate your time spent on arguably the greatest trail in the Smoky Mountains. Snag your tickets for a mere $25 before April 30 or grab a couple later for only 5 bucks more.
Relay for Life | June 2
Spend part of your getaway giving back at the Relay for Life of Sevier County, a charitable event to help the American Cancer Society. Starting at 4 p.m., your heart will race with compassion as you begin your journey to help reach your team’s fundraising goal. Attend the opening ceremony, cheer for survivors and supporters, walk laps in determination and celebration, participate in various games and activities at team campsites, light luminarias in remembrance of loved ones lost, and end the night by pledging your continued effort to fight at the closing ceremonies.
Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales | June 22 – August 11
Listen to the energizing music and captivating stories at the 13th Annual Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales, a summer-long event on the streets of Gatlinburg. During this creative season, fun will follow you every evening starting at 6 p.m. Hear local tales of love as you head to your anniversary dinner for 2, witness characters from the 1800s before taking a cowboy photo with the kids at Old Tyme Photography inside the Gatlinburg Space Needle, or just hang out and groove to the local mountain beat!
First Independence Day Parade in the Nation | July 3-4
Starting at 12:01 a.m. — that’s right, just after midnight! – the First Independence Day Parade in the Nation will take place. Okay, so it’s not the first Independence Day parade ever, but it is the first one held every year, since it begins at the start of July 4th — literally. Featuring USA-themed floats, military marches, 100s of American flags, and red-white-and-blue costumes, this midnight parade has been promoting American pride for more than 40 years. With a potential crowd of 100,000 people, be sure to arrive early on July 3 to secure a good viewing spot between traffic light 1A on East Parkway and traffic light 10 at Ski Mountain Road.
Gatlinburg’s Fireworks Finale | July 4
After the midnight parade, sleep in until noon, eat a hearty meal, explore downtown Gatlinburg, and get ready for another nighttime treat: the Fireworks Finale! Yep, at 10 p.m. this popular 20-minute fireworks show — rated a Top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism Society — will commence. Watch as your little ones gasp at the brilliant colors, hold hands with your spouse under the brilliant night sky, and cheer for our incredible nation’s independence!
Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival | August 13-22
For a musical good time, attend the Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival in Gatlinburg. This sensational event was created to share the bluegrass and country roots of the Smokies with locals and visitors alike. From a songwriting workshop and friendly competition to epic concerts and festival merch, you and your friends will be talking about this exciting experience for many years to come!
Additional Summer Events
With an overflow of summertime excitement, the list of Smoky Mountain summer events just goes on and on…
Dollywood Summer Celebration | Mid-June – Early August
Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta | July 4
Gatlinburg’s Craftsmen’s Fair | July 13-22
Gatlinburg Gathering | August 15-18
Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion | August 24-25