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: http://www.gatlinburg.com/!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: http://www.visitsevierville.com/vsevents.aspx
So, whether at night or in the daytime, come beat the drum with us and celebrate. Everyone needs a healthy dose of parade sometime!