Gatlinburg is one of the best cities in America for holiday festivals and events. But what if you aren’t sure where to start? How can you make the most of your trip to Gatlinburg with so many trees to admire and so much eggnog to drink? Here are just nine ways to experience Gatlinburg Christmas lights.
1. Gatlinburg Winter Magic
As one of the biggest events of the year, Gatlinburg Winter Magic lasts for more than 100 days as a spectacular city-wide arrangement of lights, trees, wreaths, ornaments and festive displays. Colored lights hang from every branch; bells and garlands decorate restaurants and shopfronts; tinsel gleams as far as the eye can see. It’s even rumored that you can spot Santa’s reindeer flying around on Christmas Eve! If you’re looking for a magical way to spend the holidays, join the thousands of visitors that pour into Gatlinburg each year to see Gatlinburg Winter Magic.
2. Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights
If you’re dying to see the lights but lack the transportation to do so, don’t worry. Gatlinburg has you covered! The Trolley Ride of Lights will take you on a one-mile journey through the full extent of Gatlinburg’s $1.6 million light show. You’ll ride through white forests of LED lights and colorful collections of elves, presents and stockings. You’ll see amazingly detailed nativity scenes. You’ll marvel at the sheer amount of snowmen that one city can fit on top of a roof. If you’re looking for an amazing trip into the heart of Gatlinburg’s festivities, take the Trolley Ride of Lights!
3. The Village
The Village is a popular shopping destination filled with stores, cafes, bistros, bakeries and boutiques. During the holiday season, it’s also transformed into a winter wonderland of beauty and commerce. Fountains twinkle when the sun goes down; garlands hang from doors, lampposts and shop signs; crowds bundle together against the cold. It’s a great place to see Gatlinburg Christmas lights and a great place to find souvenirs for the folks back home.
4. Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees is an annual five-day event that combines holiday cheer with charitable giving. Offering everything from silent auctions to breakfasts with Santa, it also boasts an amazing collection of decorated Christmas trees that you have to see to believe. It’s a memorable way to revel in the festivities while not losing sight of the true meaning of Christmas. All proceeds from the Festival of Trees go to the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, an organization where children benefit from the life lessons and character building of organized activities.
5. The Gatlinburg Space Needle
At more than 400 feet tall, the Gatlinburg Space Needle is one of the highest man-made points in the entire state of Tennessee. It also offers breathtaking aerial views of the entire city in all possible directions. You can ride straight to the top and see all of the sparkling, shimmering and glittering Gatlinburg Christmas lights. As a bonus, the Gatlinburg Space Needle often has a giant tree of their own on the observation deck. You can never have too many Gatlinburg Christmas lights!
6. Winter Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales
The Tunes and Tales characters are a year-round fixture in Gatlinburg. In the summertime, they stage outdoor performances to teach children about Appalachian history; in the winter, they stroll the streets and provide songs, stories and snacks to children who want to know more about Santa and his elves. All of this is against the backdrop of the city’s amazing lights, of course, so you’ll get to experience those too. If you’re looking for a way to give your children a little culture along with their candy canes, look no further than the Tunes and Tales characters.
7. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas
Just a few miles outside of Gatlinburg, Dollywood offers amazing sights, sounds and experiences when it’s time to roll out the red carpet for Santa. Its trees boast more than four million lights in total, and its activities include everything from 3D holiday movies to elaborate figure skating performances. There’s also an amazing light show held every year where the lights are synchronized with music and visuals. All things considered, there’s so much to see and do at Dollywood that it’s practically impossible to cram it all into a single trip, so be prepared to come back to Dollywood next year as well!
8. Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade
Held at the beginning of December, the annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is one of Gatlinburg’s premiere holiday events. It attracts more than 60,000 visitors a year because of its marching bands, gigantic balloons and larger-than-life floats, and it’s always an exhilarating source of holiday spirit. It even has an equestrian unit for the horse lovers out there! The city’s lights are on full display, too, since the parade is held in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. Take your kids; take your fiancee; take yourself. Visitors of all ages will have a blast during the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade.
9. Downtown Gatlinburg
Are you looking for a quiet Christmas experience without the razzle-dazzle of big holiday productions? Then forget all of the events listed here. If you want to enjoy a calm, peaceful evening, take a stroll through downtown Gatlinburg either by yourself or with a loved one. The lights will twinkle like stars from hundreds of trees; the air will be full of the smells of gingerbread and spice; the distant songs of carolers will remind you that life is a treasure to be enjoyed. You don’t need crazy attractions to have fun at Christmas. You just need a trip to Gatlinburg and the wonders of Gatlinburg Christmas lights.
These are just a few ways to enjoy yourself the next time you’re in Gatlinburg for the holidays. Whether you’re looking for solo entertainment or memorable experiences for the whole family, Gatlinburg is one of the most festive cities in America, so you’re sure to have a blast when you visit at Christmas time.