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Gatlinburg Events Throughout The Seasons

Every season, the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge region of the Great Smoky Mountains offers guests and locals an array of exciting events. From music and food festivals to holiday fun, there is something to do whether you plan ahead or need something spur of the moment to fill your itinerary. Below we break down a few Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg events you can’t miss. 

WINTER

Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

Winter is a magical time in the Great Smoky Mountains. One of the top Gatlinburg events to attend in December is the Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade that moves through the downtown area. Kicking off the beginning of Gatlinburg Winter Magic, the parade features decorative floats, matching bands, holiday balloons, celebrity guests, and the big man himself, Santa Claus.

The free event is open to the public, but guests are encouraged to arrive early for seating and parking. There is also Grandstand VIP seats for $50 that includes a spot on the bleachers and a commemorative Santa Hat. In addition to the gorgeously illuminated parade, the city holds a tree light ceremony just before the parade’s kick off at traffic light #3. 

Gatlinburg events

image provided by Gatlinburg Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

Lights Over Gatlinburg

Another popular holiday event is the Lights Over Gatlinburg. Running from the beginning of November through the end of January and included in your SkyPass, the event begins at 9 am and runs through 9 pm daily at the SkyPark where thousands of Christmas lights cover nearly every area. There is also a massive 38-foot Christmas Tree, a tunnel of lights on the SkyBridge, and plenty of photo ops. Santa Claus is known to make a few appearances, too!

New Year’s Eve Lights of Wonder

Another illuminated Gatlinburg events is the New Year’s Eve Lights of Wonder at the SkyPark on December 31 from 10 pm to 12:30 am. Your ticket gets you an exclusive look at an impressive fireworks display over the Gatlinburg Space Needle. The event planners have also added a huge dance floor, turning the SkyDeck into an exclusive dance party.

SPRING 

When the fresh, warm mountain air starts to roll in, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge come alive. While hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains during the spring is highly recommended to see the gorgeous flowers blooming, there are a few special events during this time of year to check out. 

Gatlinburg events`

image provided by Visit Gatlinburg

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

The biggest one is in the early part of the season when the region holds its St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. The entire week of the holiday is filled with fun, family-friendly things to see and do, such as Celtic music and concerts, specialty foods and drinks from local restaurants, and a fully decked-out SkyLift featuring green lights, shamrocks, and more. Make sure to stop by the nearby eateries for mint chocolate chip milkshakes or green beer at the pubs. 

SUMMER

Summertime in the mountains means more than beautiful hikes and exciting sports like rafting and horseback riding. Independence Day is a big deal in the Smoky Mountain region, with plenty of festivities to help you celebrate Fourth of July.

Gatlinburg Events

image provided by Smoky Mountain Jeep Club

Midnight Parade

One of the biggest events is the Midnight Parade that has been running since 1975 every 12:01 am on July 4th. The mile-long route has been named one of the “Top 10 Parades to see in the US” by National Geographic Traveler Magazine and features glittering floats, massive balloons, and even guests like the Harlem Globetrotters.

River Raft Regatta

Another event on July 4th at 11 am is located at River Raft Regatta where guests decorate boats before sailing on the Pigeon River until they cross the finish line at Ripley’s Aquarium.

Gatlinburg’s Fireworks Finale

Another must-see Fourth of July event is Gatlinburg’s Fireworks Finale where the sky lights up in a free fireworks display. 

FALL

Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival

What better backdrop for the fall than the gorgeous foliage of the mountains? The area is also home to the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, which features craft shows, special events, delicious food, and so much more. There is even a contest of the best autumn decorations. 

image provided by Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair

Another one of Gatlinburg events is The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair runs from mid to late October at the Gatlinburg Convention Center (a similar event also takes place in July). Artisans and craftsmen from all over the country adorn two hundred booths with unique handmade products. The crafters will also show how they create in live demonstrations of their skills and artistry.

GatlinBurger Week

Love burgers? Travel to Tennessee in September for GatlinBURGER Week. Running in the middle of the month, the local restaurants up their burger game to create special, unique patties to win prizes and bragging rights. Test out their one-of-a-kind burgers, vote for your favorite, and see if your choice wins.

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