Smoky Mountains in January: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge [2023]

Smoky Mountains in January
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January is a peaceful time to visit the Smoky Mountains and the surrounding areas of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville in Tennessee. Especially after the New Year and Christmas crowds have dissipated.

You can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Smoky Mountain Winterfest sans the traffic (at least on the weekdays).

But be warned, because January is one of our slowest months of the year, some area attractions, theaters and restaurants may revert to a limited winter schedule or close entirely in early January, like Dollywood and Shadrack’s, for the remainder of the season.

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Things to do in the Smoky Mountains in January

Below, you will find a list of local events happening throughout the area. Cities covered include Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Kodak, Sevierville and Townsend.

Some of our personal recommendations include sightseeing at Anakeesta (but be aware of Anakeesta’s limited operating hours in January), skiing and ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg and visiting with the penguins at Ripley’s Aquarium.

Suggested activities inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park include seeing some wildlife at the drivable Cades Cove Loop and hiking either Laurel Falls or Grotto Falls (by way of Trillium Gap Trail), both of which feature beautiful waterfalls.

Also, be sure to take in a bit of bluegrass at one of our many live music venues (available on select nights). You can usually find live music at the local Hard Rock Cafe, Ole Red, Puckett’s, The Listening Room and Smoky Mountain Brewery (schedules may vary).

Be sure to click on the “details” button for additional information about each event.

Smoky Mountain Pink Jeep Tours
If you’re looking for a creative way to explore nature in January without suffering through the cold, try a heated Pink Jeep Tour (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

Weather in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in January

We won’t beat around the bush here – January is typically the coldest month of the year in the Smokies.

Temperatures usually range from the mid-40s to the high-20s. Ice and snow flurries are probable, especially in the higher elevations.

Average snowfall in January is usually between 2-4 inches.

If you’re planning on renting a cabin, bring a front- or all-wheel drive vehicle if possible and be sure to stash some emergency groceries, bottled water and snacks just in case you get snowed in.

And don’t forget – it tends to rain quite a bit in the Smokies. In fact, you’ll probably see more rain than snow during your trip. Pack an umbrella and warm ponchos for good measure.

What should you wear in the Smoky Mountains in January?

You’ll want to wear plenty of layers and pack warm clothes when visiting the Smokies in January. The air is cold. The wind can be harsh and rain can feel piercing.

Bring long rain-friendly winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves, thick socks and shoes with decent tread in case of ice.

The fire pits at Anakeesta are a popular feature during the cold winter months (photo by Morgan Overholt/

How busy is Gatlinburg in January? Crowd sizes in the Smokies

The Smokies and the surrounding areas are popular tourist attractions pretty much year-round.

However, January is one of our lesser crowded months, largely due to the Dollywood being closed in January and February and the sometimes uncomfortably cold temperatures.

Even Anakeesta, another popular area theme park, switches to a limited operating schedule during the months of January and February.

In fact, weekdays in January are probably the only time you can really walk through downtown Gatlinburg mid-week without feeling claustrophobic, or drive down the Parkway at the posted speed limit.

But weekends are another story entirely. Weekends will still draw plenty of visitors and crowds. Albeit, slightly smaller crowds than you might experience during the summer.

Martin Luther King Day in Gatlinburg, the Smokies

MLK Day, aside from New Year’s Day, is one of the most popular holidays in the Smokies in January.

Each year, marchers gather in downtown Sevierville to honor the civil rights leader and his legacy. And the annual MLK Day Parade can be seen making its way down Court Avenue, Bruce and Commerce Streets in Sevierville.

Most major attractions, even those otherwise operating on weekend-only schedules, usually remain open for the long weekend.

Are you planning an upcoming trip to the Smokies in January? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re a local attraction that would like to add an event to our calendar, please contact our editorial team.

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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Smoky Mountains in February: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge [2023]

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9 thoughts on “Smoky Mountains in January: Events in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge [2023]”

  1. We are suprising our 3 teenagers to with a trip to Gatlinburg Jan 13-17th 2022!
    First time for all of us. We live in Orlando & are hoping to see some snow! Any must do must sees please pass along! Thanks for the info! See you soon.

  2. my granddaughter and I are coming January 29th-30th, It is her 18th birthday and wants to come to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. What fun things can we enjoy

  3. My son and I will be coming to the are January 3 through the 7. Looking forward to a great trip

  4. My husband and me are coming for our 45th Anniversary January 15 to 17th. We’re are doing the Hat fields and Mccoy dinner show. Hope it’s not to crowded. Anything we should know and look for we haven’t been In a long while.

  5. I am going to pigeon forge January 28-31 with a large group of people. Is is safe to drive regular vehicles and what are some nice attractions to visit during this time?

  6. My boyfriend and I are planning on coming Jan 28 – 30th for our 6 year anniversary. I’d like to make an itinerary to get the most attractions possible in such a short time. Are there any discounts available and how can I get help planning a personalized itinerary to help with openings, show showtime, best route to follow without backtracking.
    Some of the things we’d like to do is…
    Sky Wheel
    Drive thru Lights in gatlinburg
    Snow tubing at ober
    Possibly comedy show
    Sky lift park

  7. My daughter in law and I and my 3 granddaughters are coming January 28th-30th for my birth! What fun things can we do?

  8. Hi Nancy! Certainly, check out either Anakeesta or SkyLift Park (or both!) around downtown Gatlinburg – you also may enjoy shopping around The Island in Pigeon Forge or listening to some live music at The Listening Room Cafe! There are several options, it just depends on what you’re interested in! Remember that Dollywood is closed for the season and some dinner shows are running on a limited schedule. Hope that helps! Happy birthday!

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