If you think that your neighbors go all out with their Christmas lights, wait until you visit Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains! As part of the annual Winterfest celebration, the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are decked out with millions of stunning LED light displays. Visitors come from all around the country to see these breathtaking holiday decorations.
The Smoky Mountain Christmas lights recently received some national attention from Business Insider. The popular news website released a list of “17 of the most outrageous Christmas light displays across America”, and we’re pleased to report that the Smokies took the #2 spot on the list. Business Insider noted that Winterfest starts around the beginning of November, “proving that it’s never too early to start celebrating the holidays.”
To help you make the most of your next vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a convenient guide to seeing all of the beautiful Christmas lights in the Smoky Mountains.
Gatlinburg Christmas Lights
Gatlinburg’s Christmas lights have been wowing vacationers for nearly a quarter century! These beautiful displays depict traditional holiday scenes along with critters native to the Smoky Mountains, like bears, deer, foxes, rabbits, and squirrels. The best way to see the decorations is via the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights. For just $5 per person, guests can take a scenic trolley tour of all the lovely lights in the downtown area. Trolleys leave from the Gatlinburg Mass Transit Center near Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m. The Trolley Ride of Lights is offered until the end of January.
Pigeon Forge Christmas Lights
During Winterfest, Pigeon Forge is aglow with over 5 million Smoky Mountain Christmas lights! As you make your way down the Parkway, your kids will love seeing light displays of all their favorite nursery rhyme characters, including Humpty Dumpty, Mother Goose, the Cat and the Fiddle, and the giant clock from Hickory Dickory Dock. The heart of the Winterfest lights is at Patriot Park, which features LED displays depicting the flag being raised at Iwo Jima and other patriotic scenes.
While Pigeon Forge does not offer a trolley ride of lights, visitors can pick up a map for the Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights at the Pigeon Forge Welcome Center or Pigeon Forge Trolley Office. The Winterfest lights remain up until the end of February, so there are lots of chances to see all of the incredible displays!
Sevierville Christmas Lights
Just up the road from Pigeon Forge, visitors will find even more gorgeous Christmas lights in Sevierville. Lining Winfield Dunn Parkway and other roads in the downtown area, Sevierville’s lights depict a variety of festive designs, including Old Man Winter, bears fishing in a creek, snowmen, and a riverboat. If you make a purchase at the Sevierville Visitor Center, you’ll receive a free pair of “Winterfest in 3D glasses”, which transform every point of light into a snowflake! Sevierville’s Christmas lights stay on through the end of February.
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Sevierville is also home to Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, a fun drive-through attraction located at Smokies Stadium. Guests at Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland tune their car radios to a special station and watch as thousands of enchanting holiday lights sync up with the music. A visit to Shadrack’s includes admission to Santa’s Workshop, which features a petting zoo, pony rides, food vendors, and Jolly Old Saint Nick himself.
Dollywood Christmas Lights
The Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival at Dollywood brings four million dazzling lights to the theme park! Located all around the park, the lights give Dollywood a truly magical atmosphere. Visitors can see even more spectacular Smoky Mountain Christmas lights during the park’s nightly Parade of Many Colors. Held each evening at 8:15 p.m., this amazing parade features glittering floats, holiday characters, and classic Christmas music.
Looking for even more fun activities to enjoy during your next vacation? Check out our complete listing of things to do in the Smoky Mountains!