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Nowhere else in the United States celebrates Independence Day quite like Gatlinburg, TN! Each year, our Smoky Mountain city rings in the holiday with an incredible parade starting at midnight on July 4th. This annual event typically draws around 80,000 spectators and has been named one of the “Top Ten Parades to See in the U.S.” by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. To help you prepare for Independence Day, Visit My Smokies has put together a guide to everything you need to know about the Gatlinburg parade on the 4th of July.
Gatlinburg Parade Route
The festivities will begin in downtown Gatlinburg at 12:01 a.m. on July 4th. The parade will start at Traffic Light #1A on the East Parkway, near Hungry Bear BBQ and Flapjacks Pancake Cabin. Then, the procession will turn onto the Parkway at Traffic Light #3, near the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre and Doc Collier Moonshine. After turning onto The Strip, the parade will march through the heart of the city to Traffic Light # 10 at Ski Mountain Road, near Sugarland Cellars and Old Dad’s General Store.
What to Expect at the July 4th Parade
The Independence Day Parade in Gatlinburg truly pulls out all the stops. In years past, the parade has included numerous patriotic floats, enormous balloons, costumed characters, marching bands, bagpipe players, bluegrass music, horseback riders, and even more fun. Many attractions and dinner theaters from the area are represented in the parade with their very own floats. A highlight of the parade is the chance to cheer for members of the U.S. military as they make their way down the Parkway.
The July 4th parade in Gatlinburg seems to get bigger and better each year, and we can’t wait for this Independence Day! To get an idea of what the parade looks like, you can watch the below video of the event from a previous year. Please note that Gatlinburg’s fireworks celebration is held the evening following the parade.
Staking Out a Spot for the Gatlinburg Parade
As noted above, the Independence Day Parade in Gatlinburg is an extremely popular event that brings tens of thousands of people to the downtown Parkway. One strategy for getting a good spot along the parade route is to come down to The Strip on the morning of July 3rd to plant folding chairs where you would like to sit. Many people choose this method to “reserve” their spot for the evening. Of course, there is no mechanism for ensuring that no one moves or takes your chairs, but most people do follow the honor system.
If you don’t want to sit in a folding chair for the parade, you don’t have to scope out a spot during the day, but we do recommend arriving early. Be sure to leave plenty of time to find parking!
More July 4th Fun in Gatlinburg
In addition to the Gatlinburg parade, the Smoky Mountain area hosts a number of other fun Independence Day activities. For a complete guide to everything going on in the Smokies, check out our blog about all of the July 4th events in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!