Plenty of sparkle in East Tennessee Christmas displays
Throw yourself into the magic of holiday lights with larger-than-life displays of Santas, candy canes, toys and angels.
The winter holidays are when everyday routines give way to sparkle, glitter and fantasy. I love the way cities and towns light up. I love the energy. I love the excitement.
Whether it’s the annual display at Hardin Park in Greeneville, the giant Christmas tree in Jonesborough or the holiday illumination of downtown Rogersville, East Tennessee towns large and small love to light up storefront and lamp posts with the glow of Christmas.
Little wonder, because what happens here is nothing short of magic. To help you navigate the holiday dazzle, I’m highlighting some of my favorites.
The largest holiday light show in the South brightens the night sky at Bristol Motor Speedway. Cars can take a four-mile route through more than 2 million of lights.
The Speedway in Lights display has sensational features—from dancing snowflakes to skating rink and snowless Chill Hill tube slide. Especially cool is the Symphony of Lights which features 300,000 LED lights that are synchronized to music and cover the Darrell Waltrip grandstand. Santa holds court in the Christmas Village. The festivities are for good causes. Into its 17th season, more than $6.5 million have been raised for various children’s charities. Speedway in Lights continues through Jan. 4.
The minute you take Interstate 40’s Exit 407 onto Winfield Dunn Parkway (Highway 66) you will see the gazillion twinkling lights of the Smoky Mountain Winterfest celebration. The Smokies Stadium, located just north of the exit, is hosting an illuminated experience with children’s activities, camel rides, photos with Santa, and holiday foods. Going south toward Sevierville, both sides of the parkway feature exhilarating light displays to welcome you into the city. The Winterfest lights will shine until the end of February.
With your eyes focused on the 5 million shining lights in Pigeon Forge, you might want to let someone else do the driving. The Trolley Tour of Lights begins and ends at Patriot Park. A guide will greet you at the Winterfest Train Station. Tours run Monday through Friday, with a more limited schedule in January.
Trolley tours will guide you through Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic lighting displays, including forests of evergreens and frolicking snowmen. Lights form an arcade over the Parkway and sprinkle the hillsides. Trolleys depart from Ripley’s Aquarium Trolley Station at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30; you can book a seat by going online at www.gatlinburg.com/events.
Chattanooga’s downtown streets and waterfront are ablaze with colorful lights and holiday decorations. Resplendent in glistening lights, the Terminal Station at the Chattanooga Choo Choo overflows with holiday fun and games. High in the sky, Rock City will feature the Enchanted Garden of Lights. A stroll through the illuminated garden offers many joyous activities: visits with Santa and his elves, hot chocolate and gingerbread, toy soldier mime performances and musical entertainment.