How to Soak Yourself in Holiday Cheer at the 2013 Gatlinburg Christmas Parade

Have you always wanted to experience the New York Macy’s parade, but not the hassle? Of course not as large, but certainly much to enjoy: join us at the Fantasy of Lights Gatlinburg Christmas Parade along the streets of downtown Gatlinburg! This year is our 38th celebration of this tradition in our mountain town. The rum-pah-pum-pum begins on Friday, December 6th, at 7:30 pm. The 2013 parade has 100-plus entries, with a dozen marching bands, inflatable characters interacting with spectators, decorated floats, animals, 6 flying helium balloons, and much more entertainment throughout the hour-long march.

Some ideas to make your experience enjoyable:
1. Park early and claim your viewing location curbside.
The parade route begins at light #1A on Highway 321 (Roaring Fork Road intersection) and ends at light #10 on Parkway 441 (Ski Mountain Road/National Park Entrance intersection).
There are plenty of great locations along the way to view the parade; the heart of the city falls between lights #5-8, so that area is most congested. Curbside viewing is less competitive on either end of downtown. There are multilevel parking garages located at lights #3 (where Highway 321 meets 441) and light #5 at Ripley’s Aquarium. There are also almost 20 fee parking lots throughout downtown. Remember that the parade main artery will be closed shortly prior to the event, which will hamper your navigation should you arrive during the ongoing festivities.
For help in choosing your spot, a map of Gatlinburg is provided here:!userfiles/editor/docs/GatlinburgMap_wadvertisers2012N.pdf

2. Come early AND stay late: make it a family event tradition.
After checking into your Gatlinburg cabin, make your way downtown to enjoy unique shopping throughout the city, and then have dinner or a diet-busting treat. Take a stroll to enjoy the Gatlinburg Winter Magic lights display at dusk, which this year has an additional $1.5+ million infusion of LED displays to its already impressive decorations. You will be sharing the evening joy with an expected crowd to exceed 80,000, so it’s a rousing street party!
For a taste of the view from the sidewalk, here’s a city video of the parade from the past: 

Should you somehow miss the party in Gatlinburg, all hope is not lost. Sevierville’s 51st annual hometown Christmas parade is the next morning on Saturday, December 7, beginning at 11 am. Best view is from Court Avenue downtown. But that’s another story, found here:

So, whether at night or in the daytime, come beat the drum with us and celebrate. Everyone needs a healthy dose of parade sometime!

Lights, Music, Action! Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

After checking into your Sevierville, Tn cabin rental, you might decide to venture out in the evening. Does the neighbor’s overdone Griswold house down the street make you smile? Then choose to get an overflowing dose of Christmas spirit at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. Not just blinking colorful lights, this is a computerized, synchronized to music, LED light extravaganza like none other. An award-winning, nationally recognized event, this year’s theme is “Santa’s Beach Party”, with annual new display additions and a longer driving route through the hundreds of thousands of lights.

Admission is $20 per family vehicle, payable from the car at the entrance. There is an additional upcharge for group vehicles and buses. The display opens at dusk until 10pm (in all weather) until January 5, 2014. Car radios are tuned to a music station, which allows you a personal concert of lights visually dancing to holiday favorites, as you drive through the marked route. The event is located at Tennessee Smokies Stadium, easily accessible from I-40 at the exit 407 interchange. Trust me, you can locate Shadrack’s display from the interstate if you arrive after dark!

Also available onsite is Santa’s Village, with concessions, photos with Santa, and a small carnival area with camel and pony rides, and a small petting zoo (some items are an additional small fee). So if the children are a little restless, this makes a nice diversion either before or after your lights tour. My best tip is to not rush driving through the displays, but pull over and park along the route. Enjoy the jumping, elaborate choreography to an upbeat song, or soak up the peaceful beauty of an arcing, illuminated “Silent Night”.

Even better, Christmas Wonderland donates a portion of its proceeds to local community charities. So make it a family tradition to load the car and visit, since your entertainment experience also benefits others in need. Shadrack’s truly works hard to spread joy to others during the holidays!

Snow Fans Alert: Ober Gatlinburg Rail Jam and Snow Tubing Opportunities

Snow fans should slap the board rack on the car, and head to the Back in Blue Rail Jam at Ober Gatlinburg, next Friday, November 22. A great event to partcipate in or even to just watch, Ober turns its snow tubing area into a contest celebration for those wanting to show off their snowboarding skills. The event is open to all willing participants and free to spectators, with prizes to be awarded based on performance.

This festive Rail Jam event kicks off the winter season at Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort, which also opens to the public on November 23 for snow tubing runs. Resort spokespeople state they hope to open the rest of the ski slopes in early December, with vigorous snowmaking ongoing. Besides traditional snowmaking equipment, the resort also uses an interesting Japanese technology known as Snow Magic, which converts crushed ice into a snow substitute. The equipment converts up to 25 tons of ice daily, and allows for creation of frozen precipitation even when the sky and temperatures don’t naturally cooperate. Snow is guaranteed, since outdoor temperatures do not matter, and the output is environmentally friendly, with no chemicals used in production.

Hope you are planning to visit here for the Thanksgiving holiday week! We at Volunteer Cabin Rentals are glad to assist you with your Gatlinburg, TN cabin. Hope you can join us to watch the skilled and crazy ones next weekend, and then also bring the whole family for snow tubing! Ages 3 and up are allowed to participate with an adult, and over 6 years old can tube individually. We are thankful to have a ski facilitiy so close and easily accessible. So pack your snow pants too, and get started on downhill winter fun early this year!

‘Tis the Season for Smoky Mountain Winterfest!

Sevier County is celebrating its twenty-fourth year of Smoky Mountain Winterfest, which begins on November 12 and lasts through February 28, 2014. Here are the upcoming kickoff events in each city:

Pigeon Forge begins their celebration on Tuesday, November 12, after a Veteran’s Day parade. Action is centered at Patriot Park, with live music, celebrity appearances and more before illuminating over 4 million holiday lights.

Sevierville also begins on November 12 at the Sevierville Community Center, with live music and dancing. All Christmas lights in the city provide a 100% LED glow, shining both bright and environmentally green.

Gatlinburg actually starts its events on Monday, November 11 at Ripley’s Plaza at the Aquarium, with a ceremony honoring our military, including music and a flyover salute. Then the Winter Magic street fair begins Wednesday, November 13 on the Parkway in the center of town, from 5-8 pm. Enjoy live entertainment and vote in the chili cook-off contest before over 3 million lights ignite the season with brightness.

Multiple local businesses add to the festivities throughout the holiday season. Just a few to consider are Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, and several local theater holiday shows are available. Ober Gatlinburg Winter Resort offers snow skiing and tubing, along with ice skating and other activities. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at Smokies Stadium is a stunning drive-thru lights display with synchronized lights and music. Shopping season is already in full swing, with multiple opportunities for bargains and special sale events.

The weather has crisply cooperated with an appropriate chill! So light the fireplace in your Smoky Mountain cabin rental, and settle in for another great season of pleasure in our Tennessee home. See you soon at Smoky Mountain Winterfest!