6 Smoky Mountain Winterfest Events You Will Love

holiday lights during smoky mountain winterfest
November 9, 2022

In the Smoky Mountains, winter comes early – and that’s a good thing! The annual Winterfest celebration in the Smokies starts in November and runs through February, bringing a variety of exciting activities that the whole family will enjoy. Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals has put together a convenient guide to six Smoky Mountain Winterfest events we know that you will love:

1. Winter Magic Kickoff & Chili Cookoff

Celebrate the start of Smoky Mountain Winterfest with the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cookoff on early November each year! This event features a variety of delicious chili recipes from local restaurants, businesses, and vendors. After enjoying live entertainment and delicious food, guests can watch the ceremonial lighting of millions of lights throughout Gatlinburg!

2. Driving Tour of Lights

smoky mountain winterfest lights

Each year, the Smoky Mountains come alive with beautiful holiday displays featuring over 5 million LED lights! Visitors can enjoy a self-guided tour through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg to look at these scenes, including the 12 Days of Christmas! There are also Smoky Mountain themed light displays with bears, as well as welcome signs for each town. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as looking out the window at dazzling lights while listening to holiday music! If you don't feel like driving yourselves, just hop on the Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg Trolley!

3. Festival of Trees

The Festival of Trees in Gatlinburg is a wonderful holiday tradition of Smoky Mountain Winterfest with beautifully decorated Christmas trees, a craft area, live entertainment, and pictures with Santa Claus! People get to walk around and make bids on the trees, wreaths, and other decorations. The Festival of Trees includes fun for all family members, especially the kids. There's a children’s craft a play area and a photo opportunity with Santa Claus! Admission to the event is free, and all donations and purchases benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains.

4. Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Show

jewelry craft show

The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Show is a fantastic opportunity to browse and purchase unique handcrafted gifts produced by members of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Visitors will be delighted to find all types of handmade crafts, such as quilts, jewelry, pottery, hand-dipped scented candles, local art, stuffed bears, and much more! The show takes place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center and admission is free. This is the perfect opportunity to get your loved ones a special holiday gift!

5. Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

The annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade occurs the first Friday in December each year at 7:30 p.m. in downtown Gatlinburg. During this popular mile-long parade, visitors will enjoy lighted floats, huge balloons, equestrian units, marching bands, and even an appearance by Santa Claus himself! It is free to view the parade, so come out early with your family to get a great spot.

6. Shackrack’s Christmas Wonderland

christmas lights

One of the most popular events for Smoky Mountain Winterfest is Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland. This is a drive-through light show, and it is unlike any other event you’ve ever experienced! You drive through the show in your car and set the radio to a certain station. As you watch the lights, they will dance and move to the music! People of all ages love making their way through, and you’ll want to make it a tradition! You can also get out and explore Snowy Mountain Village, which has crafts, treats, games, rides, and more.

No matter how you decide to welcome the holiday season, you’ll have a blast at these Smoky Mountain Winterfest events! Want to know what else you should do when you’re here for the holidays? Here are some other fun things to do in Gatlinburg during this time of the year!