Experience 12 Days of a Tennessee Christmas
Photo Credit: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Experience 12 Days of a Tennessee Christmas

Millions of lights illuminate the way in how to spend your Tennessee holidays.

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Spend your 12 days of Christmas (or longer) with these 13 ways to celebrate the season in Tennessee. From live reindeer to millions of lights, Tennessee is filled with holiday cheer.

*Dates reflect 2018 celebrations

Christmas at Elvis Presley's Graceland - Memphis 

Christmas at Graceland shows how Elvis Presley decorated Graceland during the season. The mansion, decorated with red velvet drapes and Christmas decorations from the Presley family, has hundreds of blue lights, a life-size Nativity scene, Santa, and lights indoor and out. The lights are turned on Nov. 15, 2018. The house and grounds sparkle with cheer through Jan. 8, 2019. Graceland Mansion only tour tickets are $38.75 for adults, $34.90 for 62 years old and older and children 13-18 years old, and $17 for children 7-12 years old. Children 6 years old and under are free. Elvis' Airplanes can be added for $5 additional. 

Deck the Hall at Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum - Nashville

Deck the Hall is a month filled with music and cheer is part of the annual Deck the Hall Concert Series at Country Music Hall of Fame. The museum will be packed with seasonal and free activities that blend music, art, education and even Santa Claus, offering fun for the entire family. Children of all ages can have a free photo taken with Santa Claus on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Enchanted Garden of Lights - Chattanooga 

Holiday dreams come true with one million lights during the Enchanted Garden of Lights Nov. 16-Dec. 31, 2018 at Rock City. Visitors can walk through 4-9 p.m. with the last ticket able to be sold at 9 p.m. The attraction is closed Christmas Eve night. Tickets are $21.95 for adults and $11.95 for children 3-12 years old Mondays to Thursdays and $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for children 3-12 years old Fridays to Sundays. 

Smoky Mountain Winterfest - Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge

The Great Smoky Mountains are your background for the annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest November through February that includes Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Millions of lights and displays line the roads for a magical experience made in Tennessee. In Sevierville, buy 3-D glasses and witness each light turn into a snowflake. In Pigeon Forge, all the attractions get festive, like The Old Mill with its two award-winning restaurants, shops filled with gifts, and tours of the 186-year-old working mill. In Gatlinburg, the Parkway is merry and bright with millions of lights and displays. Gatlinburg kicks off its leg of Smoky Mountain Winterfest with the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade Dec. 7, 2018. The award-winning parade has lighted floats, marching bands, giant balloons and Santa Claus for the more than 60,000 people who travel to see the parade each year. 

Christmas in Knoxville - Downtown Knoxville

Knoxville is teaming with holiday activities that'll delights kids and kids at heart. The Elf on the Shelf Adventure is back this season as the only community-wide The Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt in the U.S. Nov. 23-Jan. 6. Pick up your Elf on the Shelf North Pole Pass at any participating location to begin your journey filled with treats and prizes along the way. While scouting for The Elf on the Shelf, you may notice peppermints lining the sidewalks of downtown Knoxville. Spend a day (or three) following the Peppermint Trail to discover peppermint specials at downtown bakeries, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and boutiques Nov. 23-Jan. 6. Share the peppermint surprises you find on social media with the hashtag #knoxpeppermint. Complete your downtown adventure by taking a twirl on the open-air ice rink as part of Holidays on Ice presented by Home Federal Bank in Market Square. Glide hand-in-hand with loved ones and friends under twinkle lights Nov. 23-Jan. 6 while also enjoying music, photo fun and the ice rink mascot, Peppermint Panda. 

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas - Pigeon Forge 

Dollywood, Tennessee's No. 1 attraction, lights up like a Christmas tree with 4 million lights throughout the theme park in Pigeon Forge. A new addition that has brought even more holiday cheer is the Parade of Many Colors that makes its way down Showstreet. Charming floats, performers and quirky characters including happy peppermint sticks march their way into Christmas every night on operating days Nov. 10, 2018 through Jan. 5, 2019.

A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland & Resort - Nashville

A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort takes place Nov. 9, 2018-Jan. 1, 2019 and includes 3 million lights strung throughout the property inside and out; ICE! featuring Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas carved from 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and displays. Cirque Dreams Holidaze returns by popular demand with 50 performances including new acts, costumes and music; performances by Trace Adkins as he performs Christmas classics, country hits and Celtic songs; ice skating, carriage rides, an outdoor nativity and more. 

Speedway in Lights at Bristol Motor Speedway - Bristol 

Speedway in Lights is the largest holiday light show in the region at Bristol Motor Speedway's Bristol Dragway Entrance on Highway 394 (not on Volunteer Parkway). Approximately four miles and 2 million lights captivate visitors Nov. 16, 2018-Jan. 5, 2019. Other activities include a ride on the BMS Express, a version of the Polar Express complete with hot chocolate and cookies, Santa's Speedway Sleigh which is an open air tram ride with blankets for cozying up and marshmallows for roasting as it makes a 30-minute stop in Christmas Village. Take a spin on the Ice Rink that's the only ice skating rink with a 90-minute driving radius of Bristol Motor Speedway. The rink draws more than 25,000 skaters, both beginners and seasoned pros, a year. 

Holiday in Lights at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens - Nashville

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is lit up with 1 million Christmas lights for Holiday Lights at Cheekwood 5-10 p.m. Nov. 23-Dec. 30 open every day of the week except Christmas Day. Tour the gardens, meet Santa's reindeer, visit the s'mores pits to create the favorite gooey snack, and enjoy music from carolers. 

Franktown Festival of Lights - Franklin

Franktown Festival of Lights
See this light show to help a cause.
Photo Credit Franktown

See a Christmas light show while helping a good cause. The FrankTown Festival of Lights features a mile of holiday illumination 6-10 p.m. daily now through Dec. 29 at the Williamson County Ag Center. Tickets are $25 and support FrankTown Open Hearts, a local organization serving inner city youth and their families. Currently working with more than 150 inner city youth ages 8-18, FrankTown Open Hearts extends academic assistance, mentoring, nutrition, recreation and  vocational training. Head to Festival of Lights to not only see gorgeous holiday displays but to help a local non-profit in this season of giving.

Dancing Lights of Christmas - Lebanon 

Christmas in Tennessee
Dancing Lights of Christmas in Lebanon, Tennessee

Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights are set to music in the Dancing Lights of Christmas event, held this year Nov. 17-Dec. 31 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon, Tennessee. It's Middle Tennessee's largest drive-thru holiday light and music shows. With the new location comes more than 1.5 million lights dancing to music, new displays, an extended route, an expanded Santa's village and new Christmas songs. 

Dickens of a Christmas - Franklin

Christmas in Tennessee
Dickens of a Christmas in Franklin

The annual tradition of Dickens of a Christmas, the largest outdoor Christmas festival in Middle Tennessee, comes to the streets of Franklin, located 30 minutes from Nashville, Dec. 8-9, 2018. Main Street is the site for 200 characters, dancers and entertainers and several Charles Dickens characters from Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim Cratchit. The smell of sugar plums, roasted chestnuts and English fare waft in the air as attendees join in a town sing and musical performances beckon passersby to stop for a while.

Christmas in Old Appalachia at Museum of Appalachia - Clinton 

How was Christmas celebrated in Appalachia during the pioneer days? Find out at Museum of Appalachia in Clinton as Christmas is recreated during Candlelight Christmas 3-9 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 2 with traditional trees, carols by the fire by some banjo, fiddle and guitar players, popcorn balls and paper chains, a live nativity scene, spinning and weaving demonstrations, Appalachian ornament making, sassafras tea-making, storytelling, candlelit cabin tours and more.  

The Nutcracker - Memphis

Christmas in Tennessee
"The Nutcracker" by Ballet Memphis
Photo Credit Ballet Memphis

"The Nutcracker" is performed around the world this time of year and Ballet Memphis brings together more than 100 professional dancers and children to help audience members travel to distant, magical lands with Clara and her Nutcracker Dec. 7-9, 2018 at The Orpheum Theatre.

The Nutcracker - Nashville 

The Nashville Ballet's rendition of "The Nutcracker," with Tennessee icons celebrates 11 years during its run Dec. 1-23, 2018 at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall. Clara visits local spots like the Parthenon, Belle Meade Mansion and Shelby Bottoms and meets magical characters along the way. A youth cast of 191 dancers joins the 57-member professional dance company, making it the largest youth cast in Nashville Ballet's history. Experience the magic of the season with special guests and surprises at this beloved event. 

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