Three Days at Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Three Days at Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Find inspiration on how to spend a few days enjoying holidays in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The holiday season in the Smoky Mountains holds a sense of wonder. From the crisp mountain air to the Christmas lights lining businesses in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, the holidays are made even more special in these mountain communities. The pancakes are fluffy, the entertainment is world-class and the enthusiasm with which the community embraces the season will forever influence your idea of the perfect holiday experience. Plan your magical stay in the heart of the Tennessee mountains this winter.

Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are currently hosting the 29th Annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest Celebration through Feb. 18 which encompasses live shows, entertainment, indoor and outdoor activities, millions of lights and loads of themed local attractions.

Black Fox Lodge in Pigeon Forge
Stop 1 of 10

Black Fox Lodge Pigeon Forge, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

Day 1 of Smoky Mountain Winterfest

The Black Fox Lodge is a beautiful hotel found just off the main parkway of downtown Pigeon Forge and centrally located between all your destinations thus guaranteeing that none of your subsequent drives are longer than 20 minutes total. Every morning at the lodge’s central hall, a hot breakfast is served with coffee to fuel you for your day ahead, and every evening you return to a roaring fire and festive decor that makes you feel welcome and at home.

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Dolly Parton's Celebration! Dinner Theater, Pigeon Forge
Stop 2 of 10

Dolly Parton’s Celebration! Dinner Theater

The best way to do a Smoky Mountain Christmas is to embrace the local enthusiasm and bring back the child-like wonder. Five minutes from the Black Fox Lodge you can find Dolly Parton’s Celebration! Dinner Theater, which has just launched a special Christmas production with multiple showings most nights. Enjoy an all-you-can-eat dinner served while you’re entertained by acrobats, skating, storytelling and even a Smoky Mountain adaptation of the Nutcracker. One of the highlights is the audience participation led by the mischievous elf, Mr. Jingles.

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Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland, Sevierville TN
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Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland - Sevierville

Afterwards, drive a few minutes down the road to scope out the Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, which is one of the best drive-through light displays you’ve ever seen. If you get the chance to visit, make sure to take your time and tune your radio to the correct station to see the lights sync up with the music.

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Pigeon Forge Snow, Pigeon Forge, TN
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Pigeon Forge Snow

Day 2 of Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Your second day can be filled with snow tubing! A stone’s throw away from the Black Fox Lodge, you’ll find Pigeon Forge Snow, a year-round, indoor snow park with a whole hillside of snow tubing lanes. No need to bring all your cold-weather gear to Pigeon Forge Snow; it’s always around 60 degrees inside. But the snow is real and so is the fun!  Within minutes of arriving, you’ll ride to the top of the freshly powdered lanes and barrel down the hills at up to 30 and 40 mph speeds. This indoor wintery fun can also be had at any time of year – even during the hottest southern summer days!

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Ober Gatlinburg
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Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area

Next, head to Ober Gatlinburg, the mountaintop amusement park and ski area. Begin your experience by boarding the Ober Aerial Tramway in downtown Gatlinburg and enjoying a view-filled two mile ride up the mountain - over 2,000 feet above the town below. There, you are greeted with your pastime of choice, be it testing out the indoor ice skating rink, shopping or heading outside for the best snowboarding, snow-tubing and skiing that the Smokies has to offer (Gear is available for rent onsite). When it’s time to thaw out, go inside to enjoy the rustic vibes of Seasons at Ober Lodge for some lunch and drinks. Yes, they have two fireplaces to aid the thawing process, so you can stay until you're nice and recharged for the next leg of your trip.

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The Island in Pigeon Forge
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The Island in Pigeon Forge

Spend some time exploring The Island in Pigeon Forge, a shopping and entertainment district. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to stop by the Ole Smoky Moonshine store where you can sample their wares any time including their seasonal “Shine Nog” which is what happens when you combine Tennessee moonshine with eggnog! 

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Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas lights
Stop 7 of 10

Dollywood

After browsing the shops and fun at The Island in Pigeon Forge, head to Dollywood. You can’t miss the chance to ride rides, see the view of the Smoky Mountains from the top of a roller coaster, catch a live show, eat some delicious food or simply roam around and shop the impressive handmade crafts. Make time to check out their new winter additions including a theater adaption of the beloved story It’s a Wonderful Life, a newly-themed and decorated area called Glacier Ridge that brings Dollywood’s Christmas light count up to a whopping 5 million lights, and multiple red velvet funnel cakes stands. While you take in the sights, order a caramel hot chocolate to keep you warm as you wait for the Parade of Many Colors to pass you by before calling it a night.

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Stack of pancakes at Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg
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Pancake Pantry

Day 3 of Smoky Mountain Winterfest

Give your trip a grand finish with a visit to the legendary, original 1960s Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg. Note: This picturesque place is seriously popular, so if you’re going on a weekend, be ready to stand in line. The wait is worth it, though, as you’ll soon be up to your ears in fluffy stacks of flapjacks with whipped butter, maple syrup and country sausage.

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The Village in Gatlinburg
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Gatlinburg Village Shops

Right next door to the Pancake Pantry is The Village at Gatlinburg, where you can step off the main parkway and travel back in time to the old world atmosphere that only cobbled streets and lamp lit storefronts can deliver. Take a few magical pictures, stop into a few shops to start or finish your holiday shopping and take in the cheery Christmas atmosphere.

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Wilderness at the Smokies Santa Village
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Wilderness At The Smokies Hotel & WaterPark Resort

Lastly, experience how Christmas is done at Wilderness at the Smokies Resort and Family Adventure Center. Home to Tennessee’s largest indoor waterpark, this place can be a whole destination in and of itself. This season they have converted one of their waterparks into a wintery playground with an outdoor skating rink and Santa’s Village, once again proving everyone likes to join in the Smoky Mountain Winterfest celebration with their best foot forward.

Don’t miss your chance to get away in the mountains this Christmas season! Start planning your own Tennessee holiday getaway today.

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