DATE : December 7, 2015
New Year's Eve in the Smoky Mountains brings back the magic and awe of cherished holiday traditions. The New Year's Eve festivities take place in the middle of the incredible spectacle that is Smoky Mountains Winterfest, the celebration that begins in the late fall and continues through February. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville team up with Dollywood, Ripley's Aquarium and local restaurants and attractions to bring the spirit of the holidays to life.
All three of these mountain towns lie along the Smoky Mountain Parkway within a 25-mile radius of each other. Gatlinburg is well known as a vacation destination for family fun, and Pigeon Forge is the home of Dollywood, along with a concentration of Country & Western music venues. Sevierville, the newest Smoky Mountain destination, has brand name and boutique shopping available in addition to recreation and lodging. There's plenty of things to do in The Smoky Mountains for New Years.
This New Year's eve in Gatlinburg, the city will hold the 28th Annual Ball Drop. The celebration takes place where the Historic Nature Trail branches off from the Parkway at the Space Needle. The show includes a spectacular fireworks display that highlights the incredible Gatlinburg Space Needle as the fireworks are blasted off of the 400-foot-high building.
Choreographed music plays during the ball drop and rhythmic flashing LED lights stretch the entire length of the space needle. There is live musical entertainment throughout the evening as well. The New Year's Eve Ball Drop is free, and many local restaurants and Gatlinburg hotels offer celebration packages for New Year's Eve visitors.
Millions of colorful twinkling lights are on display in Gatlinburg this time of year. The winter light displays are part of winter in the Smokies for all of the cities that participate in Winterfest. These holiday light displays are the most festive sights in East Tennessee during the holidays, and the Trolley Tour of Lights is available to take visitors around the town to see all of them.
The city's $1.6 million investment in holiday fantasy lighting includes magical winter forests and all the usual holiday favorites. The displays are created from energy saving LED lights, with rippling waterfalls and indigenous mountain animals unique to the Great Smoky Mountains.
For a 360-degree view of the mountains, the Space Needle is the place to go. Two glass elevators carry up to 20 people at a time 400 feet high to the observation deck. The Space Needle also includes a 25,000-square-foot two-story playground and a theater. From the top of the space needle, you can see the beautiful winter sight of the snow-capped Smoky Mountains.
Sevierville is Dolly Parton's hometown and the newest destination in the area, with Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood within easy reach. All three of the mountain towns are minutes apart on the Smoky Mountain Parkway. Besides being adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is becoming the shopping capital of the Smokies with many new outlet malls and specialty boutiques.
Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland in Sevierville is billed as the world's largest drive-through Christmas light and music display. A lot of hard work and skillful programming goes into the fully synchronized LED lights and music each year. Visitors listen through their car radios as the dancing lights match the rhythm of the innovative music. You just might hear a disco version of Joy to the World or enjoy Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy performed with an electric guitar!
The outlet stores at Sevierville include high-end names like Coach, Polo and Ralph Lauren. There are over 140 major brand names represented as well as local stores that carry mountain crafts and local moonshine. Country Christmas & Collectibles offers take-home light displays of your very own. The history and traditions of the Smoky Mountains are on display in this town. A life-sized bronze statue of Dolly Parton, Sevierville's most famous native, sits on the front lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse.
In Sevierville, you can play miniature golf, race go-carts or go see a show at one of the town's two musical theaters. The family-friendly shows go on all day and into the evening, including comedy shows and country music. Kids will love Rainforest Adventures, billed as the world's largest reptile zoo with hundreds of reptiles in their natural habitats.
Pigeon Forge is the location of Dollywood, the much-loved attraction created by Dolly Parton. The theme park goes all out during the holidays with cookie decorating events, musical performances and delicious holiday food. Dolly's Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival includes 4 million holiday lights and holiday extravaganzas with energetic dancers and toe-tapping musicians.
Dollywood is by no means the only draw for spending New Year's Eve at Pigeon Forge, though. Country Tonite is a live music venue that provides entertainment year-round and has been voted 'Best Show in the Smokies'. The concert hall puts on a family-friendly holiday show starting at 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve. The festivities include party favors, noise makers and a non-alcoholic New Year's toast at midnight.
There are other musical shows in Pigeon Forge including Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Theater and the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show. Children will love mining for gems at the Pigeon Forge Gem Mine with its free Rock and Fossil Museum. Visitors can also visit the Smoky Mountain Car Museum, browse at the Antique Mall or go on a wine tasting tour.
The Island at Pigeon Forge is a new shopping and entertainment complex with boutiques, specialty shops, rides and games. It has a family style environment with something for everyone, no matter the age. If you get hungry, there are many themed restaurants and eateries to choose from. On New Year's Eve, the festivities will begin at 8 p.m. with an evening-long light and music display at the fountain and a ball drop at midnight.
Smoky Mountain Magic
The history, tradition and magic of the Smoky Mountains are on full display throughout the holiday season. One of the best things about Winterfest is the variety of attractions that cater to the whole family. If you're looking for a family-friendly place to celebrate, there's plenty of things to do in The Smoky Mountains for New Years.