The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
The holiday season is upon us once again, and Smoky Mountain Winterfest is committed to embracing the most intimate aspects of the winter months. After pouring hours of work into our lives each week, the holidays give us a chance to unwind and truly appreciate all that family, friends, communities and nature have to offer. The Smoky Mountain region is rich in history and culture and it has an excellent reputation for hospitality. Do not wait; grab your favorite mug, book a hotel, and surprise your family with a new opportunity for winter memory-making.
History of the Great Smoky Mountain Range
The Smokies have always been excellent hosts; for thousands of years, humans have inhabited its monumental peaks and farmlands. Early settlements depended on its natural resources and landscape to develop advanced societies. The Cherokee tribe residing there for centuries created sophisticated communities until being forced to move to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears in the 19th century. Luckily, a few ancestors remained, and their descendants reside just over the border in North Carolina. Many industries initiated by European settlers, particularly in logging, kickstarted more robust settlements until 1934, when it was determined that a portion of the range needed to be preserved as a National Park. Now, the Smokies are a place to gather, find solitude, breathe in clean air and appreciate what human beings have created from some of Mother Nature’s finest gifts.
What is Smoky Mountain Winterfest?
Smoky Mountain Winterfest bands together three towns in East Tennessee who host thrilling activities from late fall to the beginning of March (depending on location). Each year, vacationers have the opportunity to visit any or all three locations. As darkness falls, enjoy walking or driving through millions of Christmas lights and hundreds of displays. Nip downtown to a savory meal and traditional holiday concert at one of many dinner theaters. Or, simply be. Find yourself in that pure, crisp winter air as it catches between the branches of spruce trees and shakes snowflakes from the boughs of frozen silverbells. Find love, peace, and serenity.
In a Nutshell: Where to Go
Smoky Mountain Winterfest sits near the southeastern border of Tennessee and spans three towns: Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. Each town has something unique to appreciate and all provide that cozy environment we fancy when we adventure in the mountains. In addition to town attractions, Winterfest partners with Dollywood, Ripley’s Aquarium, and more so that you can get the best and most out of your stay in the Smokies, no matter how short. Each location is the perfect balance between remote and close-to-comfort so that you have an opportunity to enjoy solitary scenery and find civilization when you need it.
Located the farthest north, Sevierville boasts activities specifically geared for kids and families. The lights glow particularly brightly here, and they are truly everywhere. As soon as the sun disappears, kids are treated to a wonderland of their favorite holiday characters formed by millions of twinkling lights. Sevierville is also proud to announce Santa’s Safari, which makes its debut this coming season, as the newest part of its 1.5-mile journey through glittering bliss! Apart from lights, shopping, food and fun, Sevierville’s Smoky Stadium hosts Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, an attraction of stunning lights choreographed to our favorite Christmas tunes and carols. Sevierville is certainly a good place to start with your little ones as you dive deeper and deeper into the Great Smoky Mountains.
That cozy environment we imagine every time we pick up a brand-new flannel could be yours when you spend your winter season in Pigeon Forge. The atmosphere built here allows you to truly establish yourself as part of a frosty community. Get immersed in the culture of Pigeon Forge by mounting a Fun Time Trolley to see the lights. Dip into the Old Mill Historic Center for family activities and savory Southern treats. Or, take a day-trip to Dollywood for special Christmas attractions! Like Sevierville, Pigeon Forge also hosts many holiday shows, great dining options, and a variety of shops. If you’re feeling glitzy, consider checking out the Christmas Pageant—or even participating in it!
Located closest to the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg provides, perhaps, the most traditional celebration of the winter season. Thaw out those frozen toes after a day of skiing and tubing, find inspiration at the Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show, or wend your way between dazzling handmade Christmas Trees. Of course, when evening falls and you’ve had a chance to warm yourself by your Bearskin Lodge room fireplace, bundle up and enjoy the light displays that also find a home in Gatlinburg. This town is the best place to simply be; to find inexplicable joy in the purity of the chill, silence, and fresh life of the winter season.
Make it a Tradition!
Winterfest in the Great Smoky Mountains is a place to visit for years to come. Several lodging companies offer great deals for families big and small, and often those deals encourage you to sneak in a few extra days for cheap (or nothing at all!). Imagine bringing your kids year after year to the place that made their childhood glow with precious memories. The community of towns provides the comforting, intimate, and joyous environment where families and friends find togetherness, simplicity, and pure winter splendor. Whether you are visiting for the Christmas and New Year's Eve holidays or celebrating unity on Valentine’s Day, each time you breathe in a fresh dumping of snow or a note of spruce, your heart will return to the Great Smoky Mountains and the joy of the winter season!