The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Between the fireworks, grilled foods over charcoal and the sweet apple pie, it’s a celebration I look forward to each year.
There are so many ways to celebrate the 4th of July in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas. Whether you want to eat some great food, watch some fireworks or even enjoy some outdoor activities, the possibilities are just about endless around the Great Smoky Mountains.
In honor of the big day, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest Fourth of July celebrations and most fun things to do in the Smokies.
Many of the following events are free, but some events require tickets and reservations. In those cases, book as early as possible. Space is often limited.
If you have an event that you’d like to add to our list, contact us.
Here are some of the best Fourth of July celebrations in Gatlinburg in 2023:
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1. Gatlinburg 4th of July Fireworks
As the sun goes down, the city of Gatlinburg will light up with a grand Independence Day fireworks display. The fireworks launch from the top of the Space Needle in downtown Gatlinburg on July 4th.
The spectacular show will begin at 11 pm. Guests can view the fireworks that will light up the night sky from any vantage point in Gatlinburg in the heart of downtown.
Admission is free, but be sure to claim your spot early for the best views.
2. Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival
The city of Pigeon Forge will celebrate Independence Day with live music, food and games on July 4 at Patriot Park.
You can bring your own blankets and lawn chairs, but umbrellas and coolers are not permitted.
This event will feature food, games and a fun evening that ends with live fireworks. Sara Evans and On The Border: Eagles Tribute will be performing.
Parking is free and available at the city parking area on Teaster Lane between the Island and the LeConte Center. A shuttle will be operating every 20 minutes to take guests to Patriot Park from the parking area.
Also, there will also be food vendors on site serving delicious American classics such as burgers and hot dogs.
3. Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta
This free, fun-filled July 4th celebration features an annual highly competitive race of unmanned floatables down the Little Pigeon River.
Contestants may register their floatable at the starting line at the former Christ in the Smokies Museum at 11 am to register.
The race kicks off at 1 pm and ends after all floatables cross the finish line at Ripley’s Aquarium plaza.
Contestants can also rent a rubber duck and enter it into the competition. Rubber ducky rentals start at $2 each, or 3 for $5 on-site. Alternatively, competitors may bring their own at no cost. Trophies will be given for those who finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the Treasure, Duck and Most Creative Float categories.
This event is a family-fun tradition in Gatlinburg that is enjoyed by visitors of all ages. Proceeds will go to the Gatlinburg Chamber Foundation.
For more information visit Gatlinburg.com.
4. Sunset in the Smokies at Anakeesta
While you’re waiting for fireworks to light up the night in Gatlinburg, spend a day surrounded by beautiful mountain views at Anakeesta.
The park Anakeesta will be continuing its Sunset in the Smokies celebration with extended park hours until 9 pm.
It’s the perfect way to spend the day before the parade and fireworks celebrations.
5. SkyBridge Fourth of July Celebration
Celebrate the 4th of July at the biggest fireworks viewing party in Gatlinburg at SkyLift Park’s SkyBridge.
The SkyBridge at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is located directly above the Gatlinburg Space Needle and offers one of the best views in town, far away from the crowds below. There isn’t a bad seat in the house at the SkyBridge.
It’s the best place to be to see the spectacular fireworks. This event often sells out, so buy now if you are interested in attending.
SkyLift Park also has a SkyDeck, SkyCenter and SkyTrail where guests can walk around iconic scenery and relax with scenic mountain views. Learn more at GatlinburgSkyLift.com.
6. Dollywood’s Summer Celebration
Dollywood’s Summer Celebration event isn’t a July 4th exclusive – BUT it’s still a great way to celebrate Independence Day.
If you’ve never been in the park after dark, having the opportunity to ride their award-winning roller coasters at night is a real treat.
During the celebration, Dollywood features a spectacular 3D drone and fireworks show. The park will be open until 9:30 pm.
Get tickets in advance with Tripster.
7. First Independence Day Parade
Show your American pride and be among the first in the nation to celebrate this year’s Independence Day.
The 4th of July Midnight Parade is back this year, kicking off at 12:01 am on July 4th.
The award-winning Gatlinburg 4th of July Midnight Parade has received national attention and recognition for its excellence. This year, the Harlem Globetrotters will lead the parade.
The parade steps off at the intersection of East Parkway and Baskins Creek Bypass at traffic light #3 and will continue traveling the length of downtown Gatlinburg.
For more information, visit the event page here.
8. Ole Red Midnight Parade Viewing Party
Ole Red will be offering visitors a great way to enjoy July 4th in Gatlinburg with live country music, seasonal food and special events.
Be sure to join Ole Red for the Patio Party during Gatlinburg’s Midnight Parade. It’s sure to be the perfect viewing area for the parade in the downtown area.
There will be a limited number of tickets for this event, so be sure to plan ahead.
Are you spending the 4th of July in Gatlinburg TN? Let us know in the comments.