A Little Vegas in Tennessee for New Year’s Eve

Want to end your year with a big and somewhat unusual bang? Something free and suitable for the whole family? With 26 years of celebration practice, Gatlinburg’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular is a popular tradition for many. The event is completely free, and is clustered around light #8 in Galtinburg, the intersection of Parkway and the Heritage Motor Nature Trail.

What is new this season is a free stage show, billed as “Witness the Impossible”, with a bit of glitz and sideshow flavor this year. Check out Superhuman Chad Netherland, who performs feats of impossible strength, that defy the laws of physics. These are man versus machine stunts, like the “Super Bike Hold”, keeping two motorcycles from speeding away with his bare hands. View a little of his ability at this link: http://www.youtube.com/chadnetherland

If brute strength doesn’t impress you, maybe matters of the mind will. Mentalist Bill Gladwell will also entertain with mind-bending twists and predictions. What he knows is sometimes beyond belief!  http://billgladwell.com/kwcm6tcazhiynncrwfk96spsblkkh3

This show is a fun addition to the live music and traditional countdown ball drop at midnight from the Space Needle. Let the kids stay up late with you to see the pyrotechnic spectacle of fireworks that rings in the coming year like nowhere else.

So leave that cozy Gatlinburg rental cabin for a short while, arrive early in town and have dinner, and then gear up for fun around 11 pm. Come enjoy the sights, crowds and festivities that are the annual New Year’s Eve Spectacular. Dust off those lyrics for Auld Lang Syne: singing it in the mountains with all of us is a great way to start the year!

Top Three Christmas Gifts to Buy on Vacation

So you are coming to vacation in a Smoky Mountains cabin rental, but feel guilty you aren’t already done with all your Christmas gift shopping? Help is right here. Here are some ideas for thoughtful gifts in small packages, that can be easily acquired while you are enjoying your vacation in our area.

1. Artisan Handmade Items-There are over 100 artists to choose from in the 8-mile loop that is the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. Don’t overlook this source for original holiday gift giving. Choose jewelry, accessories, clothing, pottery, artwork, decorative items and much more. Plan your targeted shopping pass through the area at this link:

Unique. One of a kind. So much better than the infinity scarf from that chain store.

2. Food or Food-Related Gifts-There are so many local purveyors of delectable treats, narrowing those selections down is purely by preferences. To get started, here are a few branded area landmarks for gifts:

The Old Mill Gristmill Complex in Pigeon Forge-all sorts of baking mixes, kitchen pantry items, simple and deliciously rustic items. Lots to choose from while you enjoy your own tour and meal in one of the two restaurants.  http://www.old-mill.com/old-mill-pantry

Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen, Gatlinburg-Located at 744 Parkway in downtown, this local institution has been a shrine to all things sugar for as long as I can remember. Chocolate turtles are called brown bears in this town. Wide selection to suite many tastes, and great for stocking stuffers. No website, but on Facebook, and really hard to miss at the entrance to the Village (another neat little shopping area).

Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store Complex, Sevierville-For all things  country and apple, but much more is available in the multiple restaurants and stores of this complex.

3. Experience Gifts-For those that live within a few hours of our area, and can visit for a quick trip, experience gifts are a welcome and much anticipated gift item. Some quick ideas for you to stop by and buy gifts for one or a group:

For everyone: Dollywood or Splash Country day or season passes
For kids: Wonderworks tickets
For the sports nut: Smokies baseball tickets
For a thrillseeker, Xtreme Racing or Alpine Coaster tickets.
For entertainment: theater tickets, to laugh at the Comedy Barn, for example.

So, while enjoying yourself in the Smokies, pick up a few good things in small packages. Don’t forget to tie them up with brown paper and string. Done.

Wishing you wonderful family holidays together from all of us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals.

6 Reasons to be Addicted to the Tennessee Smoky Mountains

So many have come here before, and many more will arrive for a first-time visit to the Great Smoky Mountains. Having lived here for many years, I still never tire of the blessing of being a local where so many come for vacation. That said, once the mountains are a part of your bloodstream, you just feel the need to keep returning. Here are some of the main reasons why:

1. Gorgeous Landscape-Nature, oh how I love you! Any season, in any weather, a discerning eye can find something glorious every day in Sevier County, if you just choose to look. Even this morning while driving my son to school, absolutely everything was outlined in glistening hoarfrost. This frozen dew is as beautiful as fine snow, and as fleeting as the misty ground fog, all of which will be gone by sunny noon today. But it is this type of unexpected beauty that can take your breath away when you least expect it: rounding a curve and seeing a rolling hills vista, the vivid shades of red and gold in autumn, the cheerful twinkling lights in winter darkness, that tiny wildflower by the trail. Such natural glory never grows old.

2. Mountain Activities-No matter your family’s age or size, there is something for everyone to enjoy outdoors in the mountains. Whether you slowly drive the Cades Cove Loop, zipline through a treetop canopy, or hike the toughest trail in the park, you can choose your level of immersion into nature. Making your choices is always a prioritization problem, because there is no way to see everything in one vacation! You will also want to revisit your personal favorite found spots in different seasons.

3. Ideal Location for Special Occasions-A secluded Smoky Mountain cabin rental is a prime location for whatever you plan to celebrate. From a romantic engagement to the wedding ceremony to an anniversary trip, a just the girls weekend to a family reunion to a holiday celebration, a youth group trip to a corporate retreat. Your plans can be met and expectations exceeded in the Smoky Mountains. Every time.

4. Valley Activities-If you are not enjoying the local natural outdoor wonders, there is still no reason ever to claim boredom. Mighty fine shopping of all types, theater show hopping, healthy or fattening dining of every cuisine, theme park thrills and putt putt skills can all be exercised happily. Repeatedly.

5. Relaxation Defined-The dictionary says to relax is “To make less tense. To reduce or stop work or effort. To release or bring relief from the effects of worry.” How do you escape? Relax here in any season: sink a chair in the shallow stream and read a book, or choose a crackling fireplace with popcorn and a movie. Create your own definition of doing nothing. Over and over.

6. Always a Reason to Return-That’s the addiction part. While rocking on the deck of your Wears Valley cabin, it is easy to make a list of “Next time I come, I want to try that”. Even we locals have a few things on that sort of list. There is something habit forming about so many choices available. Just talk to our repeat customers, who love the Smokies as much as we do. You may find yourself becoming one of those regulars soon. Come stay with VCR and fulfill your “mountain getaway fix”.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals.

Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”: Smoky Mountain Style!

Must. Not. Miss. Of course, there are many activities on your list while here in town. Of course, you plan to attend Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival at Dollywood, and enjoy the merry holiday environment created throughout the themepark. But please, make sure and attend this year’s stage production of Dollywood’s “A Christmas Carol”. The show is the only version of this classic tale anywhere that uses holographic technology for “special effects cast members” throughout the production. It is a Broadway-style musical with extravagant Victorian sets and costumes, and an 8-song original score written by Dolly herself. Playing at the Celebrity Theater inside the park, this 45-minute delight occurs 4 times daily at 2:30, 4:15, 6:15, and 8:00 pm.

The technology: holograms are integrated into the show with live performers interacting with them. One quickly forgets how amazing this technology is, and accepts the images as equal players with the rest of the cast. Guess what hometown favorite daughter plays the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past? Yes, it’s a Dolly hologram, and my only joking critique is that Dolly’s British accent needs a little work!

The story: The presentation stays true to Dickens’ original story line, so you can foreshadow the ending, and enjoy the lovely details if you are familiar with the narrative. Children enjoy it just as much as adults.

The music: Dolly’s creative talent is evident from start to finish in the original, joyful music of this production. For those who don’t know, Dolly is far more than a country singer! She is also a prolific songwriter of musicals and movie scores along with many hit songs, all to her credit. She has composed over 5,000 songs in 60+ years of writing melodies!

Other great Christmas performances also occur throughout the park at scheduled times. Christmas in the Smokies, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and O Holy Night are all worth attending. There are 20 rides and attractions, holiday food and crafts, and shopping to enjoy along with all else mentioned. Please check the event schedule on Dollywood’s website, since operating hours and showtimes vary during this season.

All of us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals wish your family a joyous celebration together this blessed season, and hope that you will choose our Pigeon Forge rental cabins as your holiday home away from home.

Don’t let yourself be a Scrooge. Come see old Ebenezer be redeemed with hope with a new twist: there is zero chance you will be disappointed!