When the pumpkins have been put away and the temperatures begin to drop in the Smokies, that only means one thing – Winterfest is on its way!
The Smoky Mountain Winterfest celebration is Sevier County’s annual city-wide festival that takes place during the holidays.
If you’ve never heard of Winterfest, well, tourist, you’re in for a treat.
Winterfest is a magical time in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
Each year, visitors flock to the mountains to view millions of twinkling lights blanketing the county and illuminating area streets, businesses and local attractions.
The event also includes special events, parades, shows and light tours.
The tradition began in 1989 in an effort to boost the slower winter tourism months in Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains.
It was a roaring success and has become one of the city’s most popular events. But of course, this also means you can expect to see many taillights as well. In other words, traffic is to be expected.
Without further ado, start up your Christmas music and let’s dive into the details of this year’s Winterfest celebration.
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How long does Winterfest last in Pigeon Forge?
The 2022-2023 Smoky Mountain Winterfest season is scheduled to run from Nov. 10, 2022 through Feb. 19, 2023.
This year, the city will be covered in 6 million lights.
The event promises to be bigger and better with new displays this year. On that note, here are some of the best ways to enjoy Winterfest and the holiday season around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in 2022:
14. Join Paula Deen at a Tree Lighting Celebration
On Nov. 26, 2022, Lumberjack Feud is having its first-ever Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration with a special visit from Paula Deen and the Deen family.
The event will be fun for the whole family with hot chocolate, cookie decorating, tacos and live performances from local bands and school teams.
Festivities begin at 5 pm. Paula Deen will light the 30-foot-tall tree at 6:45 pm, followed by a children’s choir performance from The Lift Church. Live music will be provided by band Misty River throughout the evening.
Last but not least, Santa Claus will be present for free photos in front of the tree and around Lumberjack Square. The Lumberjack Feud Show will be at 5 and 8 pm. The latter show will be attended by Paula Deen and her family.
For more information, visit the website.
13. Explore the new walking trail, village
This year, the city of Pigeon Forge is offering visitors brand-new experiences with the all-new Wonders of Light Walking Trail.
The new trail features the scenic Riverwalk nature trail, a paved walking trail that is pet-friendly and wheelchair-friendly. Pets must be on leashes.
The trail can be accessed from the city’s Municipal Parking Lot, between the LeConte Center and The Island. The trail continues to the intersection of Old Mill Avenue and Butler Street, near the Old Mill Historic Square.
The six-mile out-and-back trail has several access points. It will have new displays, including walk-thru arches, a colorful 52-foot-long caterpillar, larger-than-life flowers, snow people, a 20-foot-tall ice fountain and vibrant snowflakes.
Deer, bears, frogs and squirrels will also frolic alongside the path while lights shine bright above.
The city will also be introducing the Wonders of Light Christmas Village at Patriot Park, which will have booths that feature artisans and crafters with items for sale that will make perfect Christmas gifts.
The event is free and will run from Nov. 10-13, Nov. 18-20 and Nov. 25-27 from 5-9 pm.
12. Enjoy Christmas-themed mini golf
Beginning Nov. 10, Crave Golf Club is decking the halls in garland, wreaths and more lights than Willy Wonka would have ever approved.
There will be 100 trees, 20,000 ornaments and 30,000 lights decorating the indoor and outdoor mini golf courses.
Santa Claus will be visiting for free photo ops on Dec. 10 and 20 from 6-9 pm. The Grouch (not to be confused with the Grinch) will also be visiting for photo ops on Dec. 3 and 17 from 3-6 pm.
Save $3 when you purchase two courses online with promo code TSC at Crave Golf Club mini golf.
You may also redeem this coupon at the ticket counter using the barcode below.
PROMO CODE: TSC
At Crave Golf’s sister location, Toy Box Mini Golf is also being transformed into a winter wonderland. The larger-than-life decor will feature giant ornaments, presents and snowfall, no matter the weather.
At Toy Box Mini Golf, The Grouch will be visiting on Dec. 10 and 20 from 3-6 pm, and Santa will be visiting on Dec. 3 and 17 from 3-6 pm.
11. Join the Santa Hustle Smokies 5K and 10K
Each year, hundreds of “Santas” gather together to work off those milk and cookies in the Santa Hustle 5K and 10K.
This year’s event will take place Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022.
Runners will receive a swag bag including:
- Women’s or unisex hoodie
- Winter beanie
- Finisher medal
Registration starts at $44.99. The earlier you register, the more you save.
10. Listen to live music at Christmas in the Smokies Bluegrass Festival
Each year, bluegrass bands gather together in the Smokies for a multi-day music festival like no other.
This year, the event will run from Nov. 17-19, 2022.
One-day general admission is $40. A 3-day reserved ticket is $100.
This year, the event will be held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center at W.L. Mills Auditorium. Visit the website to learn more and see this year’s lineup of performers.
9. Attend Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees
The Gatlinburg Festival of Trees is back for 2022.
This year’s event will run from Nov. 23-26 from 10 am to 7 pm and Nov. 27 from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees features beautifully decorated Christmas trees and wreaths for sale.
Proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains and the Gatlinburg Chamber Foundation.
The event will be held at the W.L. Mills Conference Center. Parking is located at the city parking lot on Reagan Drive.
8. Go ice skating at Wilderness at the Smokies
Each year, Wilderness at the Smokies transforms into a winter wonderland complete with an outdoor ice skating rink, hot cocoa and s’mores.
The ice rink occupies 3,200 square feet of space where the resort’s outdoor wave pool normally resides.
The ice skating rink is available to both resort guests and to the general public.
The rink will be open from 10 am to 10:30 pm Saturday-Sunday, Thanksgiving week (Nov. 21-25) and Christmas break (Dec. 19-30); and 4 pm to 10:30 pm Monday – Friday.
In addition, a DJ will be onsite Fridays and Saturdays beginning Nov. 11 from 7 to 10 pm. For a detailed calendar visit their website.
Wilderness at the Smokies Resort at 190 Gists Creek Rd in Sevierville, TN.
7. Enjoy the lights at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Shadrack’s is a drive-through light display, taking place from 6 pm until 10 pm nightly at the Smokies Stadium and at the Soaky Mountain Waterpark.
New this year, Shadrack’s is offering two different experiences. According to Shadrack’s, this is the final and biggest season ever at the Smokies Stadium. But, they say, it isn’t a final goodbye, but a “see you somewhere new”.
The first offering is the Christmas Wonderland show you know and love at the stadium.
Their last show at Smokies Stadium will feature a new gigantic RGB field of lights and a 50-foot Christmas tree of lights in the center. Of course, they will be bringing back classic displays and traditional scenes.
At the Soaky Mountain Waterpark location, Shadrack’s is bringing a drive thru Christmas entertainment show like “never before”.
In this adventure, Santa’s shrink ray accidentally hits your car, plunging you and your family into a world of super-sized toys and animals. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and spots are limited. We strongly advise you to get tickets early.
Discounted combo tickets are available for guests who wish to visit both shows.
Learn more about both shows on the website.
6. Visit Anakeesta for Enchanted Christmas
Immerse yourself in a canopy of lights and enjoy Christmas trees, fire pits and a brand new night walk experience at Anakeesta’s Enchanted Christmas winter celebration.
Santa will also be landing his sleigh there on select dates. Kids can also have the opportunity to eat breakfast with the jolly man himself!
Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN.
5. Check out Winterfest at The Island in Pigeon Forge
The Island in Pigeon Forge is a beautiful place to visit in the Smokies, and even more so at Christmas time.
The Island comes to life with millions of Winterfest lights to create a holiday ambiance that’s perfect for holiday festivities, shopping and photo ops.
Admission is free if you just want to walk around and soak up the holiday cheer. There is an additional cost for rides, restaurants and shops.
The Island in Pigeon Forge is located 131 The Island Dr in Pigeon Forge, TN. Free parking is available on site.
The special tree lighting celebration will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 pm.
4. Check out Lights Over Gatlinburg at SkyLift Park
Immerse yourself in a winter wonderland and celebrate the holidays at SkyLift Park, home of the famous SkyBridge.
Each winter, SkyLift Park lights up the night sky with thousands of holiday lights, decorations and spectacular views.
This year, SkyLift Park promises even more lights that will brighten your winter evenings.
Guests can soak it all in while sipping on hot chocolate or cider around the fire pit. Lights Over Gatlinburg will run from Nov. 14 through Jan. 31.
SkyLift Park is located at 765 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN.
Save $5 when you book online with promo code TSC at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud.
You may also redeem this coupon at the ticket counter using the barcode below.
PROMO CODE: TSC
3. Attend an area Christmas show
Area shows also get into the spirit of Christmas with a variety of holiday-themed performances at theaters throughout the months of November and December. Here are a few of our favorites:
Hatfield and McCoy Christmas Disaster Dinner Show
Join the Hatfield and McCoy families as they have their Christmas Disaster Dinner Feud.
This holiday take on this classic feud is guaranteed to make you feel better about spending the holidays with your in-laws. The Christmas Disaster Dinner Feud is one of the area’s most popular holiday shows.
Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Show
During the Christmas extravaganza, Dolly Parton’s Stampede features fun, games and a friendly North Pole vs. South Pole rivalry.
Country Tonite Theatre Christmas Show
Christmas comes together with choreography, holiday sets and colorful costumes … and of course, country music.
The Comedy Barn Christmas Show
Christmas at the Comedy Barn features a lighthearted and clean comedy act with costumes, music and special Christmas acts.
“Jack” up your holiday spirit with a show that features sporting competitions like speed climbing, sawing, log rolling and more. Sip on some hot chocolate, unwrap your inner flannel, and cheer on the Dawsons and McGraws to see which family will spend Christmas at Santa’s favorite logging camp.
Santa himself will be making appearances on select dates in December for free photo ops in Lumberjack Square. The dates will be Dec. 4, Dec. 11 and Dec. 23.
2. Attend a Winterfest parade
There will also be a variety of parades taking place throughout the season.
Gatlinburg Fantasy of Lights Parade 2022
The 47th annual Fantasy of Lights Parade is scheduled to take place on Dec. 2, 2022. The event begins at 7:30 pm at the Baskins Creek Bypass on East Parkway and rolls through downtown Gatlinburg.
The parade will feature marching bands, balloons, dancers, musicians and more.
Sevierville Christmas Parade 2022
The Sevierville Christmas Parade will take place on Dec. 3, 2022 at the Historic Downtown area at 11 am.
Townsend Christmas Parade 2022
The Townsend Christmas Parade is currently set for Dec. 4, 2022 and will run from 2:30 pm-4 pm. The parade will start at IGA and end at Nawger Nob Village.
1. Check out Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration
And of course, our favorite Winterfest event will always be Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration features millions of lights, holiday-themed shows and seasonal culinary treats.
This year, Old Saint Nick will be returning for an interactive experience that your kids will love.
The Merry & Bright fireworks show will also be returning this year. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas event is the perfect occasion to visit the beloved Tennessee theme park.
The festival will run from Nov. 5 2022-Jan. 1, 2023.
Pigeon Forge is a Great Smoky Mountains gateway city located in the heart of Tennessee.
What are your favorite Winterfest activities in the Smokies? Tell us what gets you in the spirit of the season in the comments below.