Christmas in Gatlinburg: 13 festive things to do in the Smokies

christmas lights in gatlinburg tn with glowing reindeer

The entire town of Gatlinburg is filled with Christmas lights for the holidays (photo by Alejandro/stock.adobe.com)

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Fresh snow on mountains, moonshine with cinnamon; bright Christmas lights and warm homemade mittens … these are a few of my favorite things!

If you’re visiting the Great Smoky Mountains in the winter season, you’re in for a real treat. In my opinion, nobody does Christmas like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

November and December are some of the best months to visit, with the city’s lights shining so bright that Rudolph himself would approve.

If you’re looking for some of the best things to do for Christmas in Gatlinburg this year, here are some of my favorite things to do in city – and the surrounding areas – for the holidays.

kids sit on santa's lap at crave golf
Santa will be visiting Crave Mini Golf in Pigeon Forge on Dec. 10 and 20 from 6-9 pm (media photo courtesy of Crave Mini Golf)

13. Enjoy some festive mini golf

Whether or not the temperatures outside are looking a bit frightful, you can always enjoy a festive round of mini golf at the indoor/outdoor Crave Golf Club.

This year, the candy-themed course will deck the halls in garland, wreaths and 30,000 Christmas lights.

Santa will also be visiting on select days in December.

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santa in patriotic outfit during parade
Enjoy the annual Gatlinburg Christmas parade if you’re in town on Dec. 2 (archive photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

12. See a Christmas parade

One of the best ways to kick off the season is by catching one of the area’s Christmas parades.

The Fantasy of Lights Parade is scheduled for Dec. 2, 2022 at 7:30, beginning at the Baskins Creek Bypass on East Parkway.

The Sevierville Christmas Parade will be on Dec. 3 at 11 am at the Historic Downtown area.

Read Also: 14 things to do for Winterfest Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg 2022

ole smoky with christmas decor at night in gatlinburg
Try some new seasonal flavors at Ole Smoky (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

11. Sample some ‘shine and wine

This time of year, I love allowing myself a jar of seasonal ‘shine.

My personal favorite is the Ole Smoky Shine Nog. It goes great with nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.

Also, be sure to try to check out Banana Pudding and Pumpkin Pie.

If you’re in downtown Gatlinburg, expect to pay about $5 for samples.

You won’t have to try too hard to find wineries or distilleries. Just walk the strip, and you’re bound to bump into one.

You can also book a tour with a professional guide if there’s room in your budget.

If you venture down to the Sevierville or Pigeon Forge area, it’s also a fun time of year to visit the Apple Barn Winery.

The Apple Barn is free to visit, but I still recommend tipping your servers.

Tanger Outlets in Sevierville
Tanger Outlets offers some of the best shopping in Sevier County (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Do your holiday shopping

Whether you’re holiday shopping or trying to catch a few deals, winter is a great time to take advantage of area shopping centers.

In Gatlinburg, check out the unique shops around Baskins Square Mall and The Village Shops. There are plenty of specialty stores that are unique to the area.

Santa’s Claus-et is another great place to visit for the holiday season.

If you venture into Sevierville, you’ll find Tanger Outlets. It has several brand-name and designer outlet stores and has been one of my favorite places to shop in the area for years.

Be sure to pack your patience, though, because it can get a little crowded.

Of course, there’s also the Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, the South’s largest Christmas store, which has personalized items, trees and a wide variety of decor.

homemade wooden snowmen at a gatlinburg arts and crafts show
Shop from a selection of unique, homemade crafts in the Arts and Crafts Community (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Explore the Arts and Crafts Community

The Smoky Mountains are well-known for their arts and crafts.

The Arts and Crafts Community showcases the talent of local artisans featuring weaving, candle making, silversmithing, pottery, leather making and more.

Shop where you see The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community logo to explore local talent and homemade goods or explore their 8-mile loop of artists and craftsmen.

Watch as they work their holiday magic or create your own masterpiece.

During the Christmas season, you can catch the Great Smoky Thanksgiving and Christmas Crafts Show from Nov. 22-Dec. 4, 2022. The show is free to attend.

Get your Christmas shopping done in one stop by shopping for unique jewelry, baskets, ornaments and more.

The area’s shows also become festive during the holiday season. Pictured: Christmas at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge (media photo courtesy of Lumberjack Feud)

8. See a Christmas-themed show

If you’re in Pigeon Forge, catch one of the area’s many themed shows.

Shows in the Smokies offer a variety of entertainment options featuring comedians, live animals, singers, comedy, dancers and more. 

Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Pirate’s Voyage, The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud, Country Tonight and Lumberjack Feud offer Christmas-themed shows this time of year.

Note that the Stampede, Pirates and Hatfield and McCoy are dinner shows. Come prepared with either an empty or full tummy, as situations apply.

Lumberjack Feud Coupons

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A penguin at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
See what the penguins are up to at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (media photo courtesy of Ripley’s Aquarium)

7. Visit a museum attraction

Another way to stay warm is by visiting an indoor museum attraction.

Specifically, the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge is beautiful to visit this time of year since they get all decked out (pun intended) for the holidays.

I also enjoy visiting Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg this time of year. And, if you buy combo tickets, you can make your vacation dollars go even further and visit multiple attractions.

Lift at Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Mountain offers the only skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Tennessee (photo by Jaclyn Torrente/shutterstock.com)

6. Go snow tubing, ice skating or skiing

While the mountains can be quite cold in the winter, snow can be hit or miss. However, for those hoping to see some of the fluffy white stuff, you still have a few options.

Ober Mountain (formerly Ober Gatlinburg) is also a popular place to visit in the winter months. Ober has traditional snow tubing, year-round indoor ice skating, and most notably, Tennessee’s only ski and snowboard slopes.

If you hope to go snow tubing at Ober, be sure to book online in advance. Slots fill up quickly.

Don’t forget to take a scenic ride on the Aerial Tramway while you’re there.

Venturing further down into Pigeon Forge and Sevierville will also offer some more options.

Pigeon Forge Snow is an indoor snow park where you are guaranteed to see snow each and every day. The snow is 100% pure snow, made fresh every day of the year.

Also, Wilderness at the Smokies is offering ice skating from their converted outdoor wave pool for both resort guests and the general public.

Rowdy Bear Ridge is also offering snow tubing this year at its Pigeon Forge location.

gatlinburg skybridge with christmas lights
The SkyBridge is stunning this time of year at SkyLift Park (media photo courtesy of SkyLift Park)

5. Visit the SkyBridge at SkyLift Park

The Lights Over Gatlinburg event at SkyLift Park is one of the most breathtaking sights to see in the Smokies.

The event runs through Jan. 31 and features decorated Christmas trees and a 300-ft tunnel of lights.

It’s a truly magical experience. Learn more on the website.

santa and mrs claus review the nice list at anakeesta
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be visiting Anakeesta this season on select dates (media photo courtesy of Anakeesta)

4. Enjoy Anakeesta’s Enchanted Christmas

Anakeesta is one of the top attractions in downtown Gatlinburg.

It is stunningly beautiful this time of year with its Christmas decorations and offers brilliant views of the city below from high elevations.

Anakeesta’s Enchanted Winter celebration features a village of twinkling arctic lights around Firefly Village, Vista Gardens and throughout the 70-acre outdoor mountain-top park.

Santa’s sleigh will also be landing on Anakeesta Mountain on select dates throughout November and December. 

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a lighted photo op christmas wreath at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event provides several photo ops for the family (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

3. Visit Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

Dollywood pulls out all the stops when decorating for the holidays, with the park completely covered in lights.

Glacier Ridge, one of Dollywood’s newer expansions, returns with its Northern Lights display, a 50-ft Christmas tree and a symphony of lights in the plaza.

Throughout the park, you’ll find special crafts, holiday favorites (I recommend the cinnamon bread) and a variety of holiday shows.

The Dollywood Express is also a fun way to enjoy the sights in the park. (Be sure to bundle up — it does get cold in East Tennessee.)

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a christmas fountain with a lit tree
Christmas lights and holiday decor will be featured throughout the city of Gatlinburg (photo by MoneyTy/shutterstock.com)

2. See the Christmas lights in Gatlinburg

The Great Smoky Mountains become a true winter wonderland during the Winterfest Celebration, a Smoky Mountain tradition featuring more than 6 million holiday lights throughout Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Take a driving tour or walking tour around the city of Gatlinburg.

For even more lights, be sure to check out Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland further down in Sevierville.

christmas tree inside cabin in gatlinburg
One of the best ways to celebrate the season is cozying up in a warm cabin with the family (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

1. Rent a Smoky Mountain cabin

Renting a large cabin in the Smokies has become a Christmas tradition in my family.

We invite our friends and family and all go in together on a huge cabin, where we enjoy board games, drinks, each other’s company and amazing sights as we sip hot cocoa.

With the breathtaking tree-top views, cozy fireplaces and hot tubs contrasted with the crisp mountain air, it’s enough to keep you from wanting to venture anywhere else.

Enjoy amenities the whole family will enjoy. For example, play “It’s a Wonderful Life” in your theater room.

Are you celebrating Christmas in Gatlinburg or the surrounding areas this year? What are your plans this holiday season in TN?

Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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5 thoughts on “Christmas in Gatlinburg: 13 festive things to do in the Smokies”

  1. I would love to be able to come to pigeon forge and Gatlinburg for Christmas this year one last time before I leave this world but don’t have the finances to do it

  2. All the attractions sound so fun a and interesting. The hardest part will be narrowing down what to do in a few days.
    Sincerely,
    Monique Jackson

  3. They to make a trip for Christmas happen for my kids this is all they want they dont want any gifts but I can’t get anything in order

  4. My daughter wants to come to see Dollywood and the Christmas parade she hadn’t been since she’s a small girl and she said that’s her one wish for Christmas this year

  5. We will be in Gatlinburg Dec 26th thru Jan.2nd. I’ve never been during this time of year.

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