Christmas is a magical time in the Smokies, and if you’re already in town, congratulations! It’s hard to go wrong from here.
But if you’re looking for something to do to put you in the Christmas spirit in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg this year, here are my top picks for holiday cheer:
6. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Each holiday season, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland takes over the large parking lot of the Tennessee Smokies minor league baseball team and creates a drive-thru Christmas event that literally lights up the holidays.
Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights – some crafted into entertaining scenes like a snow-boarding Santa – dance along to Christmas music to create a sensory experience that brings visitors from all over. It’s an orchestra of colored lights, all seen from the warmth of your car.
Shadrack’s is open now through Jan. 3, 2021. For more information, visit their website.
5. Go ice skating or snow tubing
Wilderness at the Smokies is bringing back their popular ice skating rink, which occupies 3,200 square feet of the resort’s outdoor wave pool. The admission fee is included with room rates if guests use code ICESKATE at checkout.
Guests who are not staying at the resort are also welcome to come skate for $17.99. There will also be a figure skating performance every Friday evening from 7:30-7:45 pm.
For more information, visit their website.
Further up the mountain in Gatlinburg, you can go ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg for around $8 per person. Ice skating is available at Ober year-round.
Ober Gatlinburg also offers snow tubing, if that’s more your thing. Ober Gatlinburg’s snow tubing attraction opens on Nov. 21, 2020. Ages 5 and up cost $30 on weekdays or $35 on weekends and holidays.
For more information, visit their website.
If you have little ones, they may enjoy the snow play area at Pigeon Forge Snow. Here, kids and big kids alike can also enjoy snow tubing year-round as well.
4. Visit Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park
Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park features the longest pedestrian bridge in North America, and it’s famous for offering some of the absolute best views of the Smokies, complete with a glass bottom at the highest point and heights at about 140 feet.
At Christmas, the park puts on the Lights Over Gatlinburg event, where thousands of lights illuminate the bridge. This year, SkyLift Park is promising even more lights to brighten your evenings.
Take a stroll through a mesmerizing tunnel of Christmas magic. Afterward, relax on the SkyDeck by the fire pit, sipping on hot chocolate or cider. The Lights Over Gatlinburg event starts on Nov. 13, 2020. For more information, visit their website.
3. Go to Anakeesta
Anakeesta is a great place to eat, shop and chill out. Their special event for the holidays is the Enchanted Winter Celebration, which features thousands of canopy lights, a walk-in snow globe and photos with Santa on select dates.
In Firefly Village you’ll find whimsical Christmas trees, each decorated with a unique theme. The Treetop Skywalk at night is illuminated to create a memorable experience for kids young and old. There’s enough here to keep you entertained all day, and it’s an experience that won’t be easily forgotten.
2. See Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Dollywood pulls out all the stops when decorating for Christmas. Throughout the park, you’ll find special crafts, holiday treats and a variety of shows.
This year, the park is shooting off fireworks on select nights that will blast off to in rhythm to holiday tunes. Most of the rides and roller coasters will continue to run through the cold, weather conditions permitting.
The park will be on a reduced holiday schedule with closures currently scheduled for most Mondays and Tuesdays from Nov. 9-Dec. 15.
However, Dollywood will be open the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, 2020. Dollywood is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
1. Rent a cabin
Last but certainly not least, rent a cabin. Relaxing in a rustic cabin with mountain scenery is one of my absolute favorite things to do all year, but especially in winter.
With the breathtaking tree-top views, cozy fireplaces, outdoor hot tubs contrasted with the crisp mountain air, it’s enough to keep you from wanting to venture anywhere else.
Merry Christmas and happy planning!