Dollywood at Christmas, Your Guide to This Year’s Festival [2023]

dollywood entrance at christmas

The Smoky Mountain Christmas event at Dollywood will kick off on Nov. 5, 2022 (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event is a favorite for Dolly Parton, who enjoys bringing families together for a magical holiday celebration each year. The Dollywood crew traditionally works behind the scenes beginning mid-June, stringing lights on days when the park is closed, overnights and early mornings. The park usually closes for about a week after the Great Pumpkin LumiNights and Harvest Festival event to transition into a winter wonderland overflowing with holiday lights. It’s certainly no easy feat hanging up over 6 million Christmas lights while simultaneously preparing for other seasonal events and offering park-goers an uninterrupted experience. The process takes almost 5 months from start to finish each year.

building and hung christmas lights at dollywood
Dollywood is illuminated with millions of Christmas lights (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is Dollywood open on Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Dollywood reopened on Nov. 4, 2023, to kick off the Christmas season with its Smoky Mountain Christmas event, presented by Humana.

Dollywood is usually open the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. This year in December, the park is open Dec. 1-23, Dec. 26-31 and Jan. 1-6. Notably, Dollywood is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On operating days, the park will be open from 11 am until 9 pm during the festival. The last operating day of the season will be Jan. 6, 2024. 

We encourage all guests to double-check the operating calendar when making plans to visit the Dollywood theme park in the Smokies.

dollywood christmas tree at night with snow falling around guests
Dollywood’s Plaza Tree, which features a 50-ft. tall animated tree (media photo by Curtis Hilbun/Dollywood)

What’s new at Dollywood this Christmas?

This year, Dollywood is featuring a brand new nightly Christmas Drone Show, Joyful Season of Lights. This new element will replace the fireworks show.

Dollywood’s Holiday Feast and Sweets

For those looking to celebrate the holidays with the perfect family meal, Dollywood’s chefs have a menu full of culinary surprises. Guests can also purchase a tasting pass for $36.99 + tax for a taste of up to five festival foods.

hidden hollow at dollywood with christmas lights
Hidden Hollow in Wildwood Grove also gets decked out for the holidays (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is Dollywood good at Christmas?

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival is one of the most beloved traditions in the Smoky Mountains. In fact, it is the 14-time winner of the Best Theme Park Christmas Event award. Throughout the park, you’ll see several Christmas trees, decorations and holiday cheer throughout Timber Canyon, Wildwood Grove and Craftsman’s Valley. Also, did you know Santa Claus himself has a Smoky Mountain cabin? Kids of all ages can take an immersive trip to visit the North Pole at the “Santa’s List … Naughty or Nice” interactive experience.

Dollywood also brings a wide variety of live entertainment to the Dollywood Christmas event. Dollywood’s family favorite shows light up both indoor and outdoor stages. The festival’s headline show, “Christmas in the Smokies”, has been a must-see for families every Christmas season since it began in 1990. Many other Dollywood Christmas classics return including:

  • “Twas the Night Before Christmas”
  • “O’ Holy Night”
  • “Christmas with the Kingdom Heirs”
  • “Appalachian Christmas with the Smoky Mountain String Band”
  • “Holiday Wild Roots”
Dollywood train at Christmas
The Dollywood train will also be decorated for Christmas (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Are rides open during Christmas at Dollywood?

Rides do traditionally continue to run throughout the winter season at Dollywood. However, operations are dependent upon the weather. For example, each ride has a temperature at which it must close. Most rides will close if temperatures reach about 36 degrees or below. View the weather guidelines for each attraction or ride here.

the northern lights at Dollywood at Christmas
The Northern Lights at Glacier Ridge is a fan-favorite feature (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Tips for going to Dollywood for Christmas

First things first, make sure the park is open when you plan to make your visit. The Park is closed for most of January. Also, remember to wear layers if you plan to visit Dollywood during the Christmas celebration. Even though daytime temperatures may be pleasant and sunny, temperatures cool down quickly at night in the mountains of Tennessee.

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How much does it cost to go to Dollywood at Christmas?

At the time of this writing, a day pass for Dollywood is $92. Two-day passes are also available for $119. Of course, you get the most out of your dollar if you visit for two days. You can also book with Tripster and save time in line before your arrival. We encourage all guests to check the daily schedule on the Dollywood website for the latest information on showtimes and other updates. Double down on your Dollywood experience and stay in Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa and truly treat yourself. The resort’s halls are also decked in beautiful décor inspired by warm, rich memories of Christmas in the Smoky Mountains. Interested in a season pass? Diamond or Gold season passes purchased during Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas provide admission to this year’s Christmas festival along with admission for Dollywood’s big 2024 operating season.

Guests can purchase their 2024 season pass online now or upgrade their paid one-day admission ticket on the day of their visit. Ticket purchasers receive credit for the value of a regular one-day ticket toward the purchase of a 2024 season pass. Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Have you been to Dollywood for the Christmas celebration? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

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Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.

17 thoughts on “Dollywood at Christmas, Your Guide to This Year’s Festival [2023]”

  1. I am in a wheelchair all day from a above knee amputation i
    Do you still offer electric wheelchairs do i have to pay an extra fee than entry fee

    Reply
    • A limited number of wheelchairs are available for rent at Dollywood for $12 per day. Discounts are available on wheelchair rentals for Gold and Super Gold Passholders. Available on a first-come first-serve basis.

      A limited number of Electric Convenience Vehicles (ECVs) are available for rent at Dollywood only. ECVs are $41 for a full day. Discounts are available on wheelchair and ECV rentals for Dollywood Gold and Super Gold Passholders.

      Reply
  2. It is the best place to go at Christmas 🎄 I feel like a princess. Thanks Dolly an all your workers. They are very nice.

    Reply
  3. Best place to go at Christmas time. I feel like a princess. Thanks Dolly an all your helpers. They are very nice. Merry Christmas ya’ll

    Reply
  4. As a Season Pass holder, how do I find out what days in December are full, with regard to making reservations? I would like to know before going through the entire reservation process. Thank you! We love Dollywood…especially during the Christmas season@

    Reply
    • Hi Marsha! That’s a good question. Dollywood used to post about capacity on Twitter, but they haven’t been doing it much lately. You can go online as if you’re buying a ticket to see if any days are blocked out (at capacity), or drive by and see if people are parking out in Splash Country. Haha! We just try to stick to weekdays as much as possible. Weekends during the holidays are almost always crowded. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  5. We would like to plan a Xmas family reunion for next Christmas 2022 there would be 13 teen of us is there a large house we could rent with 7 bedrooms and a kitchen to accommodate also would it possible to have a chief for some evening meals we would like to spend 5 to7 days

    Reply
  6. We have been doing a Dollywood Christmas for about six years now. This year, do we need to make reservations to get into the shows; if so, how do we make them?

    Reply
    • Hi Elaine, theater seats are typically first come, first served (unless you have a time saver pass, which can help you skip lines). You DO need a reservation to enter the park. Hope that helps!

      Reply
    • Hi Debbie! Unfortunately, I don’t have any great answers here if they are sold out. Dollywood’s blog recommends that if you aren’t able to get a reservation, it’s possible to get in after dark (assuming you’re reading this during Smoky Mountain Christmas festival). Some people leave early in the afternoon. You could always try to contact customer service to see if there’s anything they could do. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  7. Hi! Can you tell me when they will bring back the Christmas Prade at Dollywood? The fireworks are not a Christmas event like the parade. I was a season ticket holder and do not think it’s worth the price without the Christmas Prade.
    Thanks

    Reply
  8. are there any special deals for after 5pm during middle of November?/ asking for a friend coming and bringing her elderly mother to see the lights

    Reply
    • Hi Carolyn,

      They run a special like that for the fall event, but not for Christmas. However, if you are a local, they do Sevier County Days where people who live or work in Sevier County can visit the park for a $5 donation. The dates are Nov. 5-6, 2022, Nov. 9, 2022 and Nov. 10-13, 2022. Hope that helps!

      Reply

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