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Seeing the fall colors in Cades Cove is one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg in November.

7 of the Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg in November

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The month of November is a very exciting time to visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee! As fall gives way to winter, the Smoky Mountains usher in the holiday season with a variety of special events and traditions. To help you plan your getaway, Visit My Smokies has put together a convenient guide to all of the best things to do in Gatlinburg in November:

1. Gatlinburg Veterans Day CelebrationRows of small American flags in the grass.

Patriotism runs deep in Gatlinburg, so when it comes to honoring the troops, our Smoky Mountain city is second to none. On November 11, Gatlinburg will commemorate Veterans Day with a moving ceremony at Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza. This free event starts at 11 a.m. and is open to the public. The Gatlinburg Veterans Day Celebration is a can’t-miss event for anyone with a personal connection to the U.S. armed forces.

2. Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cookoff

What better way to celebrate the start of winter than with a piping hot bowl of chili? Gatlinburg officially kicks off its annual Winterfest with an old-fashioned chili cookoff. Come to downtown Gatlinburg from 5 – 8 p.m. on November 8 to see the city’s holiday lights turn on for the season and to sample some stick-to-your-ribs chili. Guests will also enjoy live music from the popular Journey tribute band “Departure” and a few local groups. The event is free to attend, but tickets for chili tasting are $10. Don’t forget to cast your vote for your favorite recipe! 

Photo of a Christmas lights display in Gatlinburg.3. See the Gatlinburg Christmas Lights

If you think your neighbors have a lot of Christmas lights, wait until you come to Gatlinburg! With over 3 million LED lights throughout the city, Gatlinburg is transformed into a winter wonderland from November 8 – January 31. These twinkling light displays celebrate the Gatlinburg area, with depictions of bears, deer, rabbits, foxes, squirrels, and traditional Christmas scenes.

The very best way to see the displays is on the Trolley Ride of Lights. For $5 per person, you can enjoy a guided tour of the Christmas lights from the comfort of one of Gatlinburg’s signature trolleys. Tours depart from the Gatlinburg Welcome Center (near traffic light #5) at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m. Children under 3 years old are free if they sit on a parent’s lap. For reservations, call the Gatlinburg Welcome Center at 865-436-0535. Tickets will be available starting on October 15. The Trolley Ride of Lights is one of the most popular things to do in Gatlinburg in November, so it’s always smart to book your trip in advance!

4. Snow Tubing at Ober Gatlinburg

Although the skiing and snowboarding season doesn’t start until December, November is a great time to go snow tubing at Ober Gatlinburg! With their powerful snow machines, the slopes at Ober are expected to open for tubing starting on November 18. Unlike other winter sports, snow tubing requires no prior experience – as long as you can sit, you can enjoy a thrilling ride down the mountain. Snow tubing is fun for anyone ages 3 and up.

5. Celebrate Thanksgiving in a CabinA family at a dining room table eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Getting away to Gatlinburg for Thanksgiving is one of the best ways to celebrate Turkey Day! Rather than dealing with the hassle of hosting the entire family at your house, you can relax in one of the area’s beautiful cabins. Virtually all of the cabin rentals in Gatlinburg come with fully equipped kitchens, so you’ll have everything you need to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. If you would rather take the day off from cooking, the Gatlinburg area offers a wide variety of restaurants ready to whip up a delicious meal for your family. For a complete guide to holiday dining in the Smokies, check out our list of Gatlinburg Restaurants Open on Thanksgiving.

6. Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show

Anyone looking for some unique Christmas gifts will love shopping at the Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show. Visitors will find handcrafted items made by the artisans who belong to Gatlinburg’s famous Arts and Crafts Community, including pottery, jewelry, paintings, quilts, candles, brooms, baskets, dulcimers, and so much more. The crafts show will be held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center from November 21 – 26. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

A Christmas tree decorated with hearts, stars, and Santas.7. The Festival of Trees

The Festival of Trees is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit! Elaborately decorated Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes will line the Gatlinburg Convention Center from November 22 – 27 to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains. In addition to the incredible variety of trees, there will be fun activities and a chance to have your photo taken with Santa Claus himself. It’s easy to see why the Festival of Trees is one of the most beloved things to do in Gatlinburg in November!

For an up-to-date guide to everything going on in the Gatlinburg area throughout the year, check out our Smoky Mountain Events Calendar!