The Christmas season is a very popular time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, due in large part to the area’s popular Winterfest event.
Many attractions also get into the Christmas spirit with decorations and seasonal treats, and Anakeesta is no exception.
Here’s what you should know about spending Christmas at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg.
Is Anakeesta open in December?
Yes, Anakeesta is open throughout most of December, but hours will vary. The park is also closed on Christmas Day.
Otherwise, Anakeesta will be open daily through the holiday season, including on Thanksgiving Day.
Anakeesta is usually open until 8 or 9 pm during the winter. Overall, hours may vary. Check the calendar for a detailed schedule.
Closing time reflects the time that the last ticket is sold. The last chair goes down the mountain one hour following the posted closing time.
Is Anakeesta decorated for Christmas?
Anakeesta becomes a winter wonderland each Christmas season to celebrate Winterfest.
This year, the ever-popular Enchanted Christmas celebration at Anakeesta is set to officially kick off Nov. 14, 2022 and run through Jan. 1, 2023.
If you’re planning a visit this winter, remember that Anakeesta runs on a very limited schedule in January and February. Please plan accordingly and check the operating calendar when planning your trip.
What to expect at this year’s Enchanted Christmas event
To start, the name has changed from Enchanted Winter to Enchanted Christmas. Additionally, the event is shorter this year, only running through Jan. 1 instead of through February.
But other fan favorite features are expected to return.
During the Enchanted Christmas event, guests will discover a village of twinkling arctic lights as they stroll through Firefly Village, Vista Gardens and the rest of Anakeesta’s 70-acre outdoor mountain-top park.
Vista Gardens will have a sensory walk filled with the sights and sounds of nature.
Arctic Alley is returning with tens of thousands of winter lights, programmed to a seasonal soundtrack.
Additionally, live music will be featured at the mountain on select evenings in Black Bear Village, including performances by Monroeville, the Warman Family Trio and Hendry Bombat.
Guests will also be able to climb to the tallest point in downtown Gatlinburg, the AnaVista Tower, and enjoy a breathtaking view of snow-capped mountains as far as the eye can see.
Does Anakeesta have snow?
While we can’t necessarily guarantee snow, visiting Anakeesta offers a better chance of seeing some snow-capped mountains due to its higher elevation.
The chances for seeing snow will always be greater in higher elevations.
Will Santa be visiting Anakeesta in 2022?
Santa’s sleigh will also be landing on Anakeesta Mountain on select dates throughout November and December.
Santa’s current schedule is as follows, but do note these dates are subject to change – Santa is a busy man. The dates are currently scheduled from 11 am to 3 pm for:
- Friday, Nov. 25
- Saturday, Nov. 26
- Friday, Dec. 2
- Saturday, Dec. 3
- Friday, Dec. 9
- Saturday, Dec. 10
- Friday, Dec. 16
- Saturday, Dec. 17
- Thursday, Dec. 22
- Friday, Dec. 23
Guests can also book a special Breakfast with Santa on Nov. 26, Dec. 3-4, Dec. 10, Dec. 17 and Dec. 23.
Breakfast with Santa is $104.99 per adult, $87.99 per child (4-11) and $97.99 per senior (60 and up).
Children three and under are free. Tickets include general admission to the park and breakfast served at Cliff Top.
Tips for visiting Anakeesta at Christmas
Anakeesta can be an extremely popular destination around Christmas time. It may take longer to find your way up (and sometimes down) the mountain when Chondola lines are long.
Plan ahead and wear layers. Don’t let that Tennessee mountain weather fool you.
Just because it was a sunny 70 degrees when you made your way up the mountain doesn’t mean you won’t be freezing your buns off in an hour-long wait to get back down the mountain by nightfall.
I speak from experience.
Also, if the Chondola line is long, you may want to consider taking the Ridge Rambler instead.
The queue for the Ridge Rambler begins at the rear entrance of the park near Vista Gardens.
Purchasing your tickets in advance can save you some time upon arrival. Check Tripster for discounts and save time in line by booking in advance.
What else is new at Anakeesta this winter season?
Want even more light experiences? There are plenty of things to explore at Anakeesta.
For example, the brand new Astra Lumina, a night walk experience, is now open. The walk consists of a one-mile nature trail with lighting effects, fog, lasers and more.
The idea of the experience is to “connect visitors with the stars” as they begin exploration through a Smoky Mountain forest.
The experience is an add-on to your general admission ticket. It’s the 15th experience in the Moment Factory series and the very first in the United States.
Booking in advance is highly recommended as tickets may sell out. Get tickets on Anakeesta’s website here.
What else can you do at Anakeesta?
Anakeesta is an award-winning family entertainment venue in downtown Gatlinburg.
For adventurous guests, Anakeesta offers a Rail Runner mountain coaster and a Dueling Zipline Adventure Course.
But what is Anakeesta best known for? Its beautiful views of the majestic Smoky Mountains.
Visitors begin their experience on a scenic chairlift ride to the top of the mountain. From there, they are free to walk through the Vista Gardens and visit the AnaVista Tower.
The attraction is also well known for having the nation’s longest treetop SkyWalk, which is included in the price of general admission.
There are multiple places to wine and dine and shop and relax at the theme park.
For the little ones in the family, Anakeesta offers play areas like the TreeVenture Challenge Course and BearVenture.
Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway in Gatlinburg near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the heart of Tennessee.
Have you visited Anakeesta in the Smokies during its winter celebration? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.