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Admiring the snow covered mountains and downtown area is one of the best things to do in Gatlinburg TN in December.

8 of the Best Things to Do in Gatlinburg TN in December

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Many people call the holiday season the most wonderful time of the year and we’re inclined to agree with them! During the month of December, the city of Gatlinburg is transformed into a winter wonderland complete with festive decorations, special events, and, hopefully, some snow! Here are 8 of the best things to do in Gatlinburg TN in December:

1. Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade

A marching band at the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in Gatlinburg.

The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is one of Gatlinburg’s biggest annual events! This beloved tradition brings thousands of visitors to the downtown area to see beautiful floats, marching bands, whimsical balloons, musicians, dancers, and, of course, Santa Claus. Scheduled for December 4, 2020 at 7:30 pm, this year’s parade will begin at Baskins Creek Bypass on the East Parkway and end at Traffic Light #10 on the downtown Parkway. We recommend arriving early so you can find a great spot to watch all of the fun.

2. Christmas Shopping in Gatlinburg

Don’t worry if you’re a little behind with your Christmas shopping; there is still plenty of time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list in Gatlinburg! Our Smoky Mountain city is home to hundreds of stores that offer specialty items that you won’t find anywhere else. For some helpful information, check out our guide to Christmas shopping in Gatlinburg.    

3. Check Out Christmas Lights

A Christmas lights display in Gatlinburg depicting bear cubs.The city of Gatlinburg has some of the most spectacular Christmas lights in the Southeast! These $1.6 million LED light displays depict classic holiday scenes along with animals native to the Smoky Mountains, such as bears, deer, foxes, and rabbits. You’ll love driving down the Strip or walking down the sidewalk and looking at all the incredible lights this time of year.

4. Winter Sports at Ober Gatlinburg

December marks the beginning of the skiing and snowboarding season at Ober Gatlinburg. The slopes typically open around the middle of the month, but if you can’t wait until then, there are lots of other fun activities currently going on at Ober. Anyone over the age of three can enjoy snow tubing down the resort’s specially designated hill. Thrill seekers will love Ober’s Ski Mountain Coaster, an exhilarating ride with plenty of twists, turns, and corkscrews. Other exciting things to do in Gatlinburg TN in December at Ober include ice skating, an alpine slide, a scenic chairlift, and a snow tubing.

5. Enchanted Winter of Lights at Anakeesta

You definitely don’t want to miss out on Enchanted Winter of Lights at Anakeesta. You can get delicious hot chocolate or cider as you walk around and enjoy the incredible lights strung all around the park. Your whole family will enjoy seeing these lights, as well as sitting around the fire pits to stay warm while you enjoy being out.

6. Lights Over Gatlinburg at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park

During the entire month of December, Gatlinburg SkyLift Park will have Lights Over Gatlinburg going on. The entire park will be lit up with over 40,000 lights. It’s an incredible sight when the sun goes down to see the SkyBridge covered in beautiful lights. Plus, you’ll be able to look down at Gatlinburg below and see the lights from the top of the mountain!

7. Christmas in a Gatlinburg Cabin

living room of Mystic falls CabinA cabin in Gatlinburg provides an idyllic atmosphere for a Christmas celebration. With a toasty fireplace, fully furnished kitchen, and breathtaking views of the snow-covered mountains, you’ll have everything you need to relax and enjoy the holiday. Cabins come in a variety of sizes, so you can get away for a quiet Christmas with your immediate family in a two bedroom property or have a massive reunion with all of your aunts, uncles, and cousins in a 16 bedroom vacation rental! To see a convenient list of over 600 properties in the area, check out our Gatlinburg TN cabins page.

8. Gatlinburg Ball Drop and Fireworks Show

If you’re looking to start the new year off with a bang, you can’t beat the Gatlinburg Ball Drop and Fireworks Show!  On the night of December 31, the area around the Gatlinburg Space Needle will host a free party complete with fun entertainment and around 50,000 spectators. When the clock strikes midnight, the Space Needle will erupt with an incredible fireworks display unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Trust us, this New Year’s Eve celebration is one of the very best things to do in Gatlinburg TN in December!

To keep up with everything going on in the area throughout the year, check out our Gatlinburg Events Calendar!