Smoky Mountain Christmas: 9 tips, things to do at Dollywood this winter

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas event lights up the theme park with more than 5 million lights (photo by Alaina O'Neal/
Category: , ,
Leave a comment

Disclosure: This site is sponsored by ads and affiliate programs. We may earn money from the companies mentioned in this post. As an Amazon, Tripster and CJ Affiliate we may earn from qualifying purchases.

Dollywood at Christmas brings together the very best of the holiday season – music, food, millions of Christmas lights and jolly people!

It’s truly a magical time of year for the whole family to visit the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event (presented by Humana), runs from Nov. 6, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022, featuring more than five million Christmas lights, seasonal food and plenty of holiday decor including miles of garland, wreaths and larger-than-life ornaments.

But be warned – it’s difficult for others in the Smoky Mountains to compete with country singer and entrepreneur Dolly Parton and her elves in the decoration department.

That’s why Dollywood can tend to get a little crowded this time of year. After all, who doesn’t want to get some Dolly-style Christmas magic this season?

With that in mind, to make sure you’re getting the most of of your trip, we’ve put together this list of nine things you should be sure not to miss at the Pigeon Forge theme park.

Santa's List
Kids (and the young at heart) can watch Santa make his famous naughty or nice list at Dollywood this year (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

9. Visit Santa in his Tennessee cabin

I bet you didn’t know that Santa has a cabin in the Smokies!

Returning for its second year, guests can visit Saint Nicholas in his Smoky Mountain cabin as he makes his famous Naughty or Nice list.

Of course, this feature is geared toward the little ones in the family, but even if you don’t have kids, this feature is so well-done that I think it’s worth visiting for any guest.

The elves in Santa’s cabin fully embrace the magic of the season to make this experience special for all.

This attraction is an immersive experience that will fill any heart with Christmas joy.

8. Ride a roller coaster (but bundle up)

If the weather permits, many of the rides and attractions are still operating throughout the day. And, it’s a great way to see some of the lights and decorations from a bird’s eye view.

My family (not me, my family) immensely enjoys riding the roller coasters day and night, even in the cold weather.

The lines may not seem short, but compared to spring or summer, it’s a much better wait time, and they do move quickly.

If you’re brave enough to opt for the coasters, wear warm clothing.

Read Also: Christmas at Dollywood 2021: Your guide to this year’s festival

Dollywood Tree
At night, the Christmas tree at Wilderness Pass becomes the site for a magical show (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

7. Catch the tree show at Wilderness Pass

Even if Christmas shows aren’t on your priority list, you won’t want to miss Dollywood’s 50-foot Christmas tree.

During the day, this 50-foot Christmas tree is a great place to take photographs with the family. In my opinion, this tree puts even the one at Rockefeller Center to shame.

At night, the tree is the home of the Wonderful Christmas tree show, an animated production that coordinates lights with Christmas songs and tells the story of two bears.

The storyline of this show follows the bear cousins who wish to spend Christmas together. Since it’s in Glacier Ridge, “snow” falls around the tree as part of the show’s grand finale.

I guarantee you that kids will go crazy for it.

The show usually plays each night, about every 30 minutes from 6-8:30 pm.

6. Enjoy the quality theme park food

Dollywood serves quality food throughout the park, even at the quick step-up-and-order kiosks.

There is also a variety of sit-down restaurants that serve everything from hamburgers to a big bowl of pinto beans and cornbread.

Remember, the dining options may be a bit more limited than usual in the era of 2021. Be patient with the staff, and get some delicious snacks to hold you over if wait times are long.

I recommend the Bear Country Apple Cinnamon Funnel Cake.

Dollywood will also be featuring treats such as Eggnog Cheesecake (Front Porch Cafe), the Hazlenut Churro (Sweets & Treats) and Peppermint Milkshakes (Showstreet Ice Cream).

Live music
Dollywood is bringing back many of its popular Christmas shows in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

5. Stay for the fireworks show

Dollywood Christmas shows are famous for their shows, live entertainers and of course, their music.

But there’s one family tradition we really look forward to each holiday season: The Merry & Bright Holiday Light Fireworks Show.

The fireworks show lights up the night sky each and every evening and is synced up to Christmas classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Up on the Rooftop”.

Show start times are subject to change.

4. Check out Dollywood’s arts and crafts

Dollywood is home to several noted craftsmen, and you can find great gift options here – many of which will be more affordable than you think.

The gifts are cute and tasteful, with many capitalizing on Dolly’s hit lyrics.

Who wouldn’t want a coffee cup labeled “Cup of Ambition”?

Dollywood Glacier Ridge
Glacier Ridge has an immersive tunnel of lights, a fan-favorite feature at Dollywood (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

3. Wear layers and good shoes

This is East Tennessee.

Translation … you might experience up to four seasons in one day.

It’s also hilly, so you’ll be walking quite a bit on uneven terrain.

Check the forecast and bring some warm layers to be safe, even if that means you end up renting a locker or making a quick trip back to the car.

2. Plan ahead

Tickets are the same price all year: $84 plus tax for a one-day pass for adults, at the time of this writing. Remember, you can also do a two-day pass for $99.

It’s best to purchase your ticket ahead of time for expedited entry to the park, skipping the line of folks purchasing tickets when they arrive.

Sometimes you can even save a couple of bucks by booking with Tripster.

Also, be sure to check the operating calendar. Dollywood may be closed on the day(s) you wish to visit. Verifying park hours before you make your plans is key.

Remember, Dollywood is very busy this time of year. Reservations are necessary this time of year to guarantee entry. Dated tickets act as your reservation.

1. Download the Dollywood app

Download the Dollywood app before you go.

It’s very user-friendly and helpful when planning your day.

When you have the app, you can easily access all the happenings of the park the day you are there.

Dollywood is located at 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863. Check Tripster when booking your tickets.

Did you start any new holiday traditions or create any new memories this Christmas season at Dollywood? What are your best tips for making the most of the Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration? Let us know in the comments below.

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 for questions or comments.


23 restaurants open on Christmas in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg TN 2021

How fast can a black bear run? The answer might surprise you


Leave a Comment