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Gatlinburg Christmas parade

Gatlinburg Christmas Parade Voted Third Best Holiday Parade in Nation

The Gatlinburg Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade has been named to a list of the best holiday parades in America! USA Today is let readers vote on their top 10 favorite holiday parades in the country, and the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade came in third place! We’ve got all the details on the recognition:

Third Best Holiday Parade in America

The USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for 2018 includes a category for the best holiday parade in the United States. A total of 20 holiday parades were nominated, and the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade made the cut! The nominees were chosen by 10Best editors and local experts and were voted on by readers. Other nominees included the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and the Hollywood Christmas Parade! The Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in Gatlinburg came in third place, behind Sparks Hometowne Christmas in Sparks, Nevada (2) and America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit (1).

Visit the USA Today 10Best website to see the full list of winners!

About the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade

A marching band at the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade in Gatlinburg.The Gatlinburg Christmas Parade is an incredible holiday celebration featuring marching bands, floats, helium balloons, and more. And of course Santa Claus himself makes an appearance! For over 40 years, the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade has wowed both visitors and locals and helped spread the holiday cheer. The parade begins at Baskins Creek Bypass and ends at Traffic Light #10, lasting for about an hour.

This year’s parade took place on December 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Where to Park for the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade

We recommend arriving early each year for the parade, not only to find a good spot along the Parkway to watch, but to find a place to park! If you arrive early, you might be lucky enough to find a parking spot along River Road. River Road parallels the Parkway and is free. If there aren’t any open spots, there are a number of privately owned parking lots along River Road, as well as 2 city-operated parking garages nearby — one at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and the other at Traffic Light #3.

Other Holiday Fun in the Smoky Mountains

While you’re in town to see one of the best holiday parades in the country, take some time to enjoy all of the other holiday fun in the Smoky Mountains! From incredible performances to millions of twinkling lights, nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit more than a visit to the Smokies. Here are some of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains during the holidays:

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

The Dollywood sign surrounded by flowers.Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas is full of gorgeous Christmas light displays, award-winning holiday performances, and fun for the whole family. Explore Glacier Ridge, which has 1 million Christmas lights, a 50-foot video motion Christmas tree, a re-creation of the northern lights, and more. During this Christmas festival, families can meet Rudolph and his friends, including Santa Claus, watch a parade, and see incredible Christmas shows.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland allows visitors to enjoy thousands of Christmas lights from the comfort of their cars! The visual displays are synced with holiday songs you can listen to in your car and feature a special North Pole theme. After you admire the lights, head inside to Santa’s Workshop to enjoy a photo and visit with Santa, pony rides, food vendors, and even a petting zoo!

Christmas Shows

Be sure to attend one of the holidays shows in the Smoky Mountains for an evening full of entertainment. Laugh the night away at the Hatfield & McCoy Christmas Dinner Disaster, which also includes a Southern homestyle feast! The show features stunts, singing and dancing, comedy, and more. For an unforgettable Christmas production, visit Country Tonite! This show-stopping performance features your favorite holiday hits and your favorite holiday characters, like Frosty the Snowman and Jolly Ol’ St. Nick!

Where to Stay

Cabin in the snowWhen you visit during the holiday season, there is no better place to stay than a Smoky Mountain cabin. Whether you’re in town for the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade or just to admire all the beautiful lights, you’ll be close to all the action in a cabin. Cabins provide the perfect home away from home nestled in the Smokies and come with everything you need for a comfortable stay.

Find out more things to do in the Smoky Mountains all throughout the year and plan your visit!