For the locals who regularly drive the main Parkway arteries, Winterfest actually starts early in the fall, when local municipalities begin to erect all the structures that create the magical, intricate lighting displays throughout the county. This illuminated holiday cheer then extends until late February, before evenings grow dark again, and disassembly begins.
Please join us for the official city kickoffs for this year’s 25th anniversary Winterfest celebration season! Here are links for the lighting ceremonies in each city:
Gatlinburg Winter Magic: http://www.gatlinburg.com/events/details.aspx?id=12
Pigeon Forge Annual Winterfest Kick Off and Veteran’s Parade:
Sevierville Music, Lights and Magic: https://www.facebook.com/SeviervilleWinterfest
Gatlinburg starts the season with a chili cook-off and street fair. Pigeon Forge has a patriotic veteran’s parade and lighting ceremony. Sevierville’s “Music, Lights and Magic” festival offers live local performers, fun food, fireworks, and other family friendly activities in a town fair format before the lights are turned on. Don’t worry: the municipalities coordinate dates so that you can attend all three celebrations, if you desire to do so. These November events are just the beginning of the season that stretches through Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day.
So what’s Winterfest all about? It really is a blanket celebration term applied to our four month winter tourist season in the Smoky Mountains area, and means different things depending on your perspective. Let’s categorize a few highlights here, but know that there are “and even more” statements applied to every discussion, since multiple businesses throughout the county add their own special events to our cheerful season.
Lights! Shows! Events! In addition to the many beautiful lights throughout the area (over 5 million and growing), many local businesses compete with seasonal decorations and festive lighting displays of their own. Each year notes growth and change; no season is ever the same.
One venue you must visit while here is Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, located in the parking area of the Tennessee Smokies Baseball Stadium in Sevierville, at the exit 407 interchange. You literally can’t miss it, just load everyone together and visit! This huge, 10-acre drive-through LED lighting display, is programmed and synchronized to holiday music, and also has Christmas Village family activities adjacent. The show changes and grows yearly. Here’s a video link (a partial aerial view from a few years back) and website information:
Shows! Want to be entertained to soak up some holiday spirit? Many area theaters offer Christmas versions of their shows, including the largest dinner show, Dixie Stampede.
Events! Too many to be all inclusive here, but don’t miss Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas (that will be another blog in the near future all its own), the natural winter splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Cades Cove Loop, and even local church musical events. Think about coming to our area after your own holiday celebration at home. The week leading up to New Year’s Day is still “holidays in full swing” here in the Smokies. So many choices! If you want to know our favorite traditions locally, just ask any of our employees.
Let’s finish with a great gift idea. Think of Valentine’s Day for a Christmas gift! What better way to celebrate? Gift to your significant other a romantic weekend in February, to come back to the the mountains, for just the two of you to recover from the holidays together. We’ll be glad to reserve a Gatlinburg rental cabin for you to enjoy in early 2015! This is a guaranteed winner for an experience gift.
Come early or late, but please come and celebrate this most loved and precious season with us in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Let the festivities begin!