When the weather turns cooler and the days get shorter Gatlinburg gears up for Smoky Mountain Winterfest with a full slate of special events.  Gatlinburg Winter Magic welcomes in the holidays with special activities for the entire family.


“We have something for everybody to celebrate the holiday season in Gatlinburg,” said Darrell Manis, Special Events Director for the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Here is a summary of what is scheduled over the next several weeks in Gatlinburg:

The 24th Annual Chili Cookoff and Winter Magic Kickoff is on the downtown Parkway from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13. The event features the ceremonial lighting of more than 3 million lights that make Gatlinburg a winter wonderland.  There are animated displays throughout the city and the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, some as much as 40 feet tall.


The Chili Cookoff features teams from local businesses, service organizations and restaurants vying to win a trophies for cooking up the best batch of chili.  While the street event is free, tickets for unlimited chili tasting are $10. There is also a hot chili eating contest and live music featuring Nashville-based Natalie Stovall & the Drive at one end of the Parkway and the local band Tuatha Dea — a mixture of Celtic and rock — at the other end. A portion of the ticket sales goes to the Pi Beta Phi Elementary PTA.

Back by popular demand, Winter Magic Tunes and Tales features characters in costume singing, playing music and telling stories along the Parkway downtown. The characters will be out each Friday and Saturday from 5-9:30 p,m. November 29 through December 21.

“Tunes & Tales will be wonderful this year,” Manis said, “as it always is. This year we plan a little more emphasis on mountain culture.” The cast includes a dulcimer-guitar duo, Christmas music performers, a four-piece band, a Dickens-style storyteller and, each evening, elves, Frosty the Snowman and Mrs. Claus.

The award winning 38th Annual Christmas Fantasy of Lights Parade will step off at 7:30pm on Friday, December 6.  Thousands of people come to view the mile-long parade featuring lighted floats, marching bands, equestrian units, helium balloons and off course Santa Claus.

Also on the schedule:

— Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Show, with items made by members of the Gatlinburg Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community.  The free show runs November 26 through December 8 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

— The Festival of Trees, November 26-30, Mills Auditorium. Admission is free and the event, a benefit for Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries, includes more than 75 decorated trees, a Santa Store, a gingerbread house competition and more. A luncheon at noon November 26 kicks off the event.  Tickets are available through the SMARM office at 865-908-3153.

— Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights, with departures at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 each evening November 13 through December 30 for a guided tour of the lighting displays. Tickets are $5 and reservations are recommended.

— On Thanksgiving weekend, November 29 and 30, The Nutcracker “Sweet” is performed at the Gatlinburg Mills Auditorium. The Great Smoky Mountain Dance Theater performs their all-local production at 7 p.m.

To learn more about these and other events in Gatlinburg, call 800-568-4748 or find mountains of information at

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + ''; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();