Fireworks sizzle and pop across the star-filled sky in celebration of our nation’s independence on the 4th of July! While you could attend the same local event, friend’s party, or at-home festivities, why not change things up this year for an extra memorable holiday experience? The Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect place to liven up this Independence Day with 4 fantastic ways to celebrate: a top parade, river regatta, patriotic festival, and a cabin cookout plus pool party!
#1 | First Independence Day Parade in the Nation
Kicking the 4th of July party off promptly at midnight in Gatlinburg, the First Independence Day Parade in the Nation certainly lives up to its name — with 44 years behind it. Whimsical floats drive past as playful participants wave, sing, and dance. Military bands join in with fun beats that will have your tail feathers shaking and heads bopping. Horse hooves clippity clop as patriotic tunes fill the air. And the 100,000+ crowd smiles and cheers, waving mini American flags and clapping for our nation’s heroes. This 1+ mile parade — named in National Geographic Traveler’s list of top 10 parades to see in the USA — is a stupendous celebration you won’t want to miss!
- Arrive a few hours early on July 3 to snag the best viewing spot (stretching from Baskins Creek Bypass on East Parkway – traffic light 10 at Ski Mountain Road).
- Stay comfy with a foldable chair and calm with a few snacks and drinks.
- Snap tons of photos for your journal, family scrapbook, and social media!
#2 | Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta
After catching some Zzzs, awaken to another 4th of July favorite in the Smokies — the Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta! This family-friendly competition challenges racers’ creativity, style, and sheer luck on the Little Pigeon River with 3 racing categories. Craft the Most Creative raft, create a handmade Treasure, or compete with a rentable rubber Duck. Starting at the Christ in the Smokies Bridge on River Road at noon, launch your prize-winning (fingers crossed) float down the Little Pigeon River, where it will travel to the finish line at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Tip: register your crafty river raft for FREE or rubber duck for $1 by 10:00 a.m. on the lawn of Christ in the Smokies.
#3 | Patriot Festival in Pigeon Forge
Happy Birthday, USA! It’s time to celebrate our independence at the annual Patriot Festival in Pigeon Forge. Held at none other than Patriot Park on July 4, this FREE event is perfect for the whole family. Grab festival food favorites and set out picnic blankets and lawn chairs (umbrellas and coolers are not allowed) while the kiddos play games at the Kid’s Karnival. Listen to live performances, featuring Veterans Tribute, the Pigeon Forge Community Chorus, plus special guests — including cover artists Electric Avenue and headliner Marty Stuart! And be sure to stick around for the grand fireworks finale!
186 Old Mill Avenue
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
#4 | Cabins for YOU
Don’t forget about classic 4th of July pastimes at your cabin rental: a barbecue cookout, epic pool party, game tournaments, and holiday films! Choose from 340+ cabins across Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, featuring charcoal/gas grills, private indoor pools or community pool access, fully loaded rec rooms, and home theaters with surround sound. And that’s just the start… From 1 to 16 bedrooms and budget-friendly to luxury (and pet friendly!), we have the perfect cabin for your patriotic vacay in the Smokies! We’ve even got a few American-themed favs — like American Pride, American Bear Cabin, and Keaton’s Star Spangled Cabin.
- Mountain, river, or woodsy views
- FREE Wi-Fi
- Fully equipped kitchen
- King-size beds
- Outdoor hot tub
- Indoor jetted tub
- Rocking chairs
- Big screen TVs
Make this 4th of July one to remember with friends and family in the Great Smoky Mountains!