Christmas in Gatlinburg
It's coming up on the most wonderful time of the year! The stores are decorated with Christmas trees, festive songs fill the air, and children eagerly ask about Santa.
A Gatlinburg Christmas is no exception. The sights, sounds, and colors of this jolly time of year fill the streets of this East Tennessee mountain town.
So what is there to do in Gatlinburg to get everyone singing carols and grabbing a cup of wassail? The answer's simple – a little bit of everything!
From twinkling Gatlinburg Christmas lights to quality arts and crafts perfect for gifts, Gatlinburg offers a wide range of activities to get vacationers in a festive mood. If you're looking to enjoy Christmas in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a wonderful spot to stay during this most joyous of seasons. While you can choose to do anything on your holiday Gatlinburg cabin vacation, here's our own version of "The 12 Days of Christmas in Gatlinburg" (We apologize in advance if it doesn't necessarily fit the tune)
1. Festival of Trees
While there may not be any partridges in pear trees, the Festival of Trees offers vacationers seeking a festive Christmas in the Smokies a chance to feel the holiday cheer in late November with plenty of decorated Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, and many locally made holiday decorations. Come enjoy the lights, sights, sounds, and smells of a Gatlinburg Christmas at this event that benefits the Smoky Mountain Area Rescue.
2. Winter Magic Trolley Ride
On the second day of your Gatlinburg Christmas, take a spin on the Winter Magic Trolley Ride! You can soak up the beautiful twinkling display of electric holiday cheer from the comfort of the trolleys, which travel through downtown. The trolleys leave at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 pm nightly. This one of a kind display of LED lighting features indigenous animals to region, enchanting snowmen, dancing fountains, a rocking horse, and other unique images for a true Smoky Mountain Christmas experience
The lights are up from mid-November to late-January and admission is only $5 dollars, making this a fun, affordable way to get into the holiday spirit!
3. The Great Smoky Mountain Railway's Polar Express
All aboard the Polar Express! Though not in Gatlinburg, a quick hour and a half drive places you at the Bryson City Depot where you and your family can step aboard the Polar Express and head to the North Pole to see the man in red himself – Santa!
The ride itself lasts an hour and quarter. The story of the Polar Express comes to life as music from the soundtrack plays. Passing by the scenery of the Smoky Mountains, you make your way to the North Pole while sipping on hot chocolate and eating sweets. Once arrived at the North Pole, Santa boards The Polar Express and greets each child with a gift and, just like the story, a silver sleigh bell.
For families planning a Christmas in the Smoky Mountains, this magical ride will bring bright smiles to kids faces and leave heart-warming memories for a lifetime.
4. Taste the Season
Christmas is a time to indulge in your visions of sugar plums and cravings for cookies, cakes, and all things sweet. There are plenty of sweets to treat yourself to during your Gatlinburg Christmas vacation. A trip to Aunt Mahalia's allows you to spoil yourself with everything from fudge and divinity to fruit jellies and caramel apples.
Why not step over to the Village Shops and enjoy a cup of coffee with a freshly made donut from the Donut Friar? There's nothing quite like walking into a coffee shop from the cold of winter and smelling freshly brewed coffee and baked good straight out the oven to get you the seasonal spirit.
5. Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show
Not sure what to get the person with 5 gold rings and anything they could want? This Gatlinburg Christmas arts and crafts show features hand-crafted goods that can only be found in this region. From quilts made with painstaking precision to old-fashioned straw brooms with hand-carved handles, the items here make for unique Christmas gifts. Find exquisite woven baskets, handmade jewelry, dulcimers, and more!
Enjoy these unique wares and crafts in early December and check off everyone on your Christmas list with one-of-kind gifts you won't find at department stores.
6. A Night-In at Your Gatlinburg Cabin
While there is plenty to do and see for Christmas in Gatlinburg, sometimes it's nice to just light a fire and take in the wintery beauty of the Smoky Mountains from the comfort of your cabin. Whether you're two turtledoves who want to spend a relaxing evening cuddled up by the fire or a family planning a huge holiday meal, Gatlinburg cabins allow you and your guests to spend quality time with each other.
Spacious kitchens allow you to cook a meal complete with turkey. Gather around the television or in the theater room to enjoy your favorite holiday movie with friends and family (So, hopefully, no one's going to judge you if you know ALL the words to the songs in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer).
7. Enjoy a Snowy Hike in the National Park
Bundle up and head out into the wilderness for a Gatlinburg Christmas adventure in the Great Smoky National Park. No one ever said that hikes are only for spring or summer. In fact, there's nothing more beautiful than a snow covered trail. From Clingman's Dome to Roaring Fork, do yourself a favor and explore the beauty of the mountains in the quiet of the winter season.
While the trails may be a little more challenging due to weather, the peace, quiet, and solitude that comes from walking on these trails through frosty winds and snow.
8. Christmas at Dollywood
Dollywood offers music, song, and dance to make your Christmas in the Smoky Mountains spectacular. This year guests can even meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friend Bumble!
There are several shows to see at Dollywood including an acoustic Christmas show, a Southern Gospel Christmas, a show filled with holiday favorites, and even a Christmas Carol musical!
Guests can also enjoy a trip to Santa's workshop, tons of Christmas lights, and plenty of Christmas trees for a wonderful family retreat in the Smoky Mountains.
9. The Nutcracker Sweet
Come see ladies dancing to the famous Nutcracker Suite! Usually on the last weekend of November vacationers on a Gatlinburg vacation can enjoy a production of this holiday classic presented by The Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theatre at the W.L. Mills Auditorium.
10. Christmas on Ice and a Trip to Ober Gatlinburg
Hit the slopes and enjoying some quality skiing, snowboarding, and maybe a few snowball fights. Ober Gatlinburg is the destination for outdoor sports in the Smokies.
Additionally, Ober Gatlinburg's "Christmas on Ice" offers a chance for vacationers to enjoy watching local ice dancers spin and twirl along with holiday classics. You can even try the ice yourself after the show!
11. Winter Magic Tunes & Tales
Hear pipers piping and the voices of carolers singing holiday favorites on Friday and Saturday evenings on the Parkway from Late November to Christmas. From 5-9:30 PM, musicians and singers provide quality holiday entertainment for free.
12. Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
For over 40 years this Gatlinburg Christmas tradition has brought Christmas joy to the Smokies! This parade starts at 7:30 PM on the first Friday of December. You'll hear more than 12 drummers in all the marching bands from Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. This parade invokes small town parades of yore with floats, singers, dancers, carriages, and, of course, Santa.
Have a Holly Jolly Gatlinburg Christmas!
Whether you decide to enjoy Ober Gatlinburg or a quiet night in front of the fireplace at your cabin, spending Christmas in the Smoky Mountains is sure to bright memory for your entire family.
Written by Brittany Tipton