Known as an optimal getaway location due to its proximity to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, also strives to keep Appalachian history and culture alive. The city features numerous annual events throughout the year, which offer unique and exciting experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. The Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales Event is one such experience, where visitors can not only shop, eat and enjoy the nightlife of downtown Gatlinburg, but also interact with a bit of Appalachian history and culture.
The Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales Event features a number of performers that turn downtown Gatlinburg into one big stage. At 6 p.m. each night during the summer, musicians, artists, and costumed storytellers arrive by horse-drawn wagons at the center of town, ready to perform and share their Appalachian culture. Visitors stroll down the walkable Great Smoky Mountains Parkway, stopping to enjoy short mini-performances throughout the night or even choosing to learn a few quick steps from professional costumed cloggers.
This free family-friendly event features musical performers that play music and sing songs from the early 1800s to the present day, and varies from bluegrass to barbershop. In many cases, the city may put benches or chairs in front of the stages so that visitors can sit and relax during the mini-performances. Acts include Hammer and Strings, a dulcimer duo who delight the crowd, and the Pea Pickin’ Hearts that take visitors back to the 1930s and 40s. Visitors can even discover how the instruments are made from demonstrations by local instrument makers.
The Back Porch Cloggers get the crowd directly involved by teaching willing participants a few of the old-fashioned moves and steps after putting on an unbelievable show. The dancers, whose ages range from eight to twenty, alternate between performing and mingling with the crowd, discussing the dance and answering questions when not on stage throughout the night. Costumed characters disperse throughout downtown Gatlinburg, telling tales of the past and educating visitors about living in the Smokies from the early 1800s to present day. Characters like Quiltin’ Annie, Ol’ Rowdy, Whitlin’ Joe, and Earl and Pearl each bring to life a little bit of Appalachian history through storytelling and singing.
The SSmoky Mountain Tunes and Tales is a free event that begins in April on Fridays and Saturdays. Starting June 14, the event continues every night from 6 pm. To 11 p.m. until August 10, and features a variety of rotating performances that offer a fun and unique experience for the entire family.