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 decorated for Christmas?
Anakeesta becomes a winter wonderland each Christmas season to celebrate Winterfest.
This year, the ever-popular Enchanted Winter celebration at Anakeesta is set to officially kick off Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 and run through Feb. 14, 2022.
But remember, Anakeesta runs on a very limited schedule in January and February. Please plan accordingly and check the operating calendar when planning your trip.
During the Enchanted Winter 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 new lighting experience in 2021 that simulates a winter storm.
Also new in 2021, Anakeesta will offer a Hot Chocolate Trail, which will offer creative, hot chocolate concoctions at every food and beverage location in the park.
This year, Anakeesta will feature a 40-ft tall Christmas tree at the Anakeesta plaza before guests take the scenic ride to the top of the mountain.
At the top, the Arctic Alley of lights will mesmerize guests with a pathway at the heart of the park lit by thousands of Christmas lights.
Live music will also be at the park most Fridays and Saturdays through November and December, including performers such as Liquid Velvet Duo, Monroeville and the Josh Gilbert Band.
Check the calendar for more information.
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.
Chances for seeing snow will always be greater in higher elevations.
And even if you miss the snow, you can still see the magical winter storm simulation inside Vista Gardens.
Will Santa be visiting Anakeesta in 2021?
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 for:
- Friday, Nov. 26: 11 am-3pm
- Saturday, Nov. 27: 11 am-3 pm
- Friday, Dec. 3: 11 am-3 pm
- Saturday, Dec. 4: 11 am-3 pm
- Friday, Dec. 10: 11 am-3 pm
- Saturday, Dec. 11: 11 am-3 pm
Guests can also book a special Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, 2021 from 7:30 am to 10 am.
Breakfast with Santa is $98.99 per adult, $84.99 per child (4-11) and $91.99 per senior (60 and up).
Children three and under are free. Tickets include general admission to the park. To learn more about this event, click here.
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 Chondala 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 Chondala 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 prices when making your purchase. It can usually save you a few dollars.
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 but operates on a very limited schedule in January and February.
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.
About Anakeesta in Gatlinburg
Anakeesta is an authentic outdoor mountain-top experience for all ages located on 70 acres of pristine forested land nestled in and above the heart of downtown Gatlinburg at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 (traffic light #5).
The attraction is famous for having the longest treetop skywalk in North America.
It is also home to the Vista Gardens, a garden that began as a clean canvas following the Chimney Top wildfires of 2016, as well as the all-new AnaVista Tower.
Anakeesta is a Cherokee Indian word referring to high ground, chosen to capture the authentic Smokies heritage that guests will experience.
At the time of this writing, an adult ticket is $28.99. Seniors are $21.99 and children (4-11) are $19.99.
Remember to look at Tripster for tickets when planning your trip for a discount.
Have you been to Anakeesta for the Enchanted Winter celebration? Let us know in the comments below.