sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

4 Fun Events to Experience During the Gatlinburg Winterfest Celebration

gatlinburg christmas sign
November 14, 2023

The holiday season is an exciting time in Gatlinburg, as the town comes alive with all types of festive events during the annual Winterfest celebration! Whether you are planning Thanksgiving in the Smokies or a Christmas vacation to enjoy the holiday light displays, there is always something fun going on in Gatlinburg! All the action takes place just steps away from the Sidney James Mountain Lodge! Here are 4 fun events to experience during the Gatlinburg Winterfest celebration:

1. Festival of Trees

gatlinburg winterfest sign

The Festival of Trees is the perfect way to experience the magic of the holiday season and get yourself into the Christmas spirit! This event takes place during the week of Thanksgiving and features a room filled with ornately decorated Christmas trees you have to see to believe! While admission to the festival is free, donations to the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains are greatly appreciated! The Festival of Trees takes place at the W. L. Mills Conference Center, which is located at stoplight #8 at the Historic Nature Trail.

2. Winter Smoky Mountains Tunes and Tales

Another fun event to experience during the Gatlinburg Winterfest celebration is the Winter Smoky Mountains Tunes and Tales, where you can meet characters, storytellers and carolers all along the Gatlinburg Parkway! Just follow your ears as the holiday music fills the air with a sacred-secular mixture of Appalachia, Bluegrass and Country! This interactive program is a holiday favorite and takes place select Friday and Saturday evenings in December. This is your chance to learn some history about the Smokies and meet Santa’s Elves, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph and other beloved characters!

3. Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

gatlinburg parade

One of the highlights of the Gatlinburg Winterfest is undoubtedly the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade! This delightful parade kicks off during the evening on the first Friday in December and rolls through downtown Gatlinburg with nearly a dozen marching bands playing your favorite holiday tunes! The parade also features a spectacular line-up of balloons and floats decorated by local businesses and groups! The parade starts at the Baskins Creek Bypass and spans through downtown before ending at traffic light #10. Be sure to arrive early to get a great viewing spot along the Parkway!

4. New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show

Start your New Year with a bang by attending the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks Show in Gatlinburg! This event takes place at the Gatlinburg Space Needle, so you will find plenty of viewing areas all throughout the downtown area. However, it is suggested that you still arrive early to take advantage of the celebration specials taking place at many of the local Gatlinburg restaurants and businesses! This is the best way to kick off the New Year in the Smokies!

Are you ready to plan your visit to experience one of these exciting events? Check out all of the rooms at our hotel in downtown Gatlinburg today to enjoy our fabulous location near all the fun events of the Gatlinburg Winterfest! We look forward to seeing you soon at the Sidney James Mountain Lodge!