10 Top Places to See Smoky Mountain Christmas Lights This Season

Sep 28, 2021

10 Top Places to See Smoky Mountain Christmas Lights This Season
By Amble Smoker

10 Top Places to See Smoky Mountain Christmas Lights This Season

Searching for the top places to see Smoky Mountain Christmas lights? There’s nothing quite like the spectacular illumination of Christmas lights in the Great Smoky Mountains this holiday season. With so many things to do in Gatlinburg, the area is best known for the extravagant holiday celebration that inundates The Great Smoky Mountains. Each Winter, the region lights up with festive cheer during the festival of Christmas lights that is sure to excite every member of the family.

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Christmas Lights Smoky Mountains

Whether it’s a cheerful drive through the city streets or a trip around an iconic NASCAR speedway, Christmas lights in the Smokies are truly a sight to behold. Keep reading for 12 of the brightest breathtaking snap-worthy, Instaworthy shots you can only imagine!

1 | Pigeon Forge Parkway | The biggest Christmas celebration within the Great Smoky Mountains is the Pigeon Forge Winterfest along The Pigeon Forge Parkway. Located just an easy and tranquil 5-min drive from the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Waterpark, enter an exciting 5-mile strip of highway that is arguably the most exciting, family-friendly entertainment spot in America. Over 5-million Christmas lights adorn holiday displays, streetlamps, and buildings to place you inside the winter wonderland of the Great Smokies. Along your route, you will be surrounded by a string of unique gift shops, world-class entertainment attractions, and delicious downhome dining options with a southern charm. Come visit and see why The Great Smoky Mountains should be on your list of must-see places

2 | Gatlinburg Parkway | Whether it’s a balmy drive across town or a leisurely stroll through the downtown shopping strip, the Gatlinburg Parkway is your next destination to enjoy the holiday season and view some of the best Christmas lights Tennessee has to offer. When you book your stay at the Westgate River Terrace Resort and Convention Center, you are at the heart of Gatlinburg and just steps away from the Holiday celebration such as the Christmas lights and the annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade. Some notable events to visit include the Festival of Trees, Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales, The Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show, the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop & Fireworks, and of course, the millions of holiday lights that decorate the town.

3 | The Island in Pigeon Forge | On any given night, the 200-foot-high observation wheel lights up the Pigeon Forge skyline but if you look a tad lower during the holiday season, you will find East Tennessee’s newest shopping, dining, and entertainment option meticulously illuminated for an experience unlike any other in the Smokies. With Christmas trees aplenty and holiday garland festooned throughout, the Winterfest at The Island in Pigeon Forge provides visitors with an ambiance of fun and excitement while shopping for those one-of-a-kind gifts or dinner with the family. While shopping at fun and unique gift shops, be sure to visit the water lagoon where fountains are synchronized with lights and holiday music to bring joy to kids of all ages.

4 | Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas | Each year during the Holiday season, Dollywood turns into a winter wonderland during the Smoky Mountain Christmas in-park celebration. This specially ticketed event allows guests to walk among 5-million lights of illuminated paths, decorated buildings, and specially lit Christmas trees throughout the park. While here, visit the 7 unique areas that pay homage to the different elements of the holidays. From the vintage 1950s style, Christmas near Jukebox Junction to the traditional world at Craftsman’s Valley celebrating the birth of Jesus to the Country Fair adorned with peppermint infused decorations, Smoky Mountain Christmas is a must-see attraction during the holiday season.

5 | Gatlinburg’s Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade | Folks travel far and wide for this one-day holiday parade spectacular, and for good reason. Arguably the biggest and best parade in the Smokies, this celebration of the holiday season encompasses a litany of holiday-themed floats, one-of-a-kind LED light displays, large parade balloons, holiday characters, marching bands, dancers, and the main attraction, Santa Claus, who closes out the parade with his holly jolly cheer. As one of the biggest events of the year and an expected capacity crowd, visitors are encouraged to arrive early to find parking and locate the best viewing spot along the parade route. You can also take advantage of the prime location of Westgate River Terrace and Convention Center, which is located just steps away from the heart of the parade route where you can enjoy a plethora of dining and shopping options before and after the parade.

6 | Shadrack’s Christmas Winter Wonderland | Located at the Smokies Baseball Stadium in Sevierville, TN, this immersive Christmas light show is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face during the holiday season. Visitors to this unique attraction drive their vehicles through a display of custom-built light displays and are encouraged to tune their car radio to a local station where music is synchronized with the light show around them. Hear your favorite holiday tunes as your group takes in the Christmas magic and majesty while you’re transported to your own winter wonderland. At the conclusion of the drive, you are invited to Santa’s Village where you can have your picture taken with Santa, visit the Little Ponderosa Zoo, buy concessions and shop for souvenirs. Tickets typically range from $25-$30 depending on the day and $50-$100 for larger vehicles that hold more guests.

7 | Sevierville’s Winterfest Celebration | At the north end of Hwy. 321, and just up the road from sister cities Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, is the hidden gem of Sevierville, TN. While not as renowned as its two counterparts, Sevierville’s Christmas celebration is equally impressive and rounds out the 25-mile trek of over 15 million lights between the three cities. Aside from the beautifully lit streets with holiday lights and displays along your drive, the city also hosts its own Christmas parade with plenty of colorful floats and unique sights to put a little jingle in your step. Be sure to include the drive to Sevierville in your itinerary when planning your next Christmas light viewing as the city’s celebration rounds out the trifecta of holiday cheer in Great Smokies.

8 | Pinnacle Speedway in Lights | Buckle up and take a spin around the grounds of this iconic speedway to witness some of the most colorful light exhibits that will truly take your breath away. Known as Thunder Valley, this usually high-octane facility takes a break from the pulse-pounding, break-neck speeds it’s accustomed to for a leisurely drive over the hollowed grounds filled with holiday magic and wonder. The 4-mile trek begins on the infamous Bristol Dragway where the NHRA dragsters race 4-wide at over 200mph and ends with a lap around “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” before visitors may have the opportunity to visit the Christmas Village located in the in-field pits. A $20-25 fee applies to cars and a $50 fee applies to vans with 9 or more passengers.

9 | Christmas at Anakeesta | Anakeesta, known as the place of high ground in the Cherokee language, is one of the newest experiences nestled 600-feet above downtown Gatlinburg and home to Enchanted Winter of Lights during the holiday season. Whether you choose to take an open-air chair lift or a gondola cabin to the summit of the mountain, the breathtaking view of your ascent is but a small sample of the sights you will witness on your trip up to Enchanted Winter. Once you arrive in the theme park in the sky, Christmas lights welcome you to lighted paths, cozy campfires, and Christmas trees before a stunning view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re looking for an evening of sipping hot cocoa around the campfire, Christmas shopping for gifts, or just looking at the beautiful scenery, Anakeesta is sure to awaken the Christmas spirit within.

10 | Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees | Ready to see the most personalized and unique Christmas trees of the season? Then it’s time to visit Gatlinburg’s Festival of Trees at WL Mills Conference Center where individuals and businesses decorate Christmas trees based on their own personalized themes. Other events at the Festival of Trees also include Gingerbread House Competition, Best Holiday Sweater Competition, Silent Auction, and Pictures with Santa. Admission is free, but donations are accepted with proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains. The Festival of Trees is a great way to kick off the holiday season at Gatlinburg.

Last Tips

Wherever you choose to spend your holiday season, Christmas in the Great Smoky Mountains should be at the top of your list. From luxurious accommodations at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Waterpark, with an indoor waterpark open year round, to the beautifully illuminated Christmas light celebration, there’s plenty of reasons to make the Smoky Mountains your home away from home this holiday season.


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* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.

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