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A happy child sitting on Santa's lap.

A New Holiday Tradition: See Santa in Gatlinburg TN on The Strip

If your kids are hoping to see Santa Claus this Christmas season, you won’t have to travel to the North Pole to snag a meet and greet with St. Nick! This December, the big man himself will be in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee to pose for photos with guests of all ages. Santa’s residency on The Strip is a brand new holiday tradition sponsored by the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce and Anakeesta, the city’s most-buzzed-about attraction. To help you plan your winter vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a handy guide to seeing Santa in Gatlinburg TN.

Anakeesta Parkway Plaza is Santa’s Village

During select days in December, the Anakeesta Parkway Plaza will be transformed into Santa’s Village. Filled with holiday decorations, Christmas characters, and plenty of good cheer, the plaza will be the most festive spot in the Smokies! Visitors to downtown Gatlinburg will find Anakeesta Plaza at 576 Parkway, across the street from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Anakeesta Plaza is the home of the attraction’s signature Chondola station. Offering both chairlift and gondola rides, the Chondola is the only way to get from downtown Gatlinburg to Anakeesta, which is located atop a mountain overlooking The Strip.

A happy child sitting on Santa's lap.What to Expect at Santa’s Village in Downtown Gatlinburg

Santa’s Village in downtown Gatlinburg will host a variety of holiday festivities. According to the Sevier News Messenger, guests will have the chance to enjoy the following fun activities:

• Sit with Santa Claus and let him know what you want for Christmas! Professional photos with St. Nick will be available for purchase, but meeting with Santa is completely free.

• Get to know Santa’s elves. These friendly North Pole natives will hand out candy canes and keep young visitors entertained.

• Listen to wonderful Christmas music from Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales. This Gatlinburg tradition brings local musicians to the Parkway for stirring renditions of all your favorite holiday tunes.

• Sample some sweet treats. Warm donuts, Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider will be available for purchase at the village’s concession stand.

Admission to Anakeesta Parkway Plaza is free, but a portion of the money spent on food or souvenir photos will benefit Wears Valley Ranch, a charity that provides homes, education, and counseling to children in crisis.

An illuminated snowman in downtown Gatlinburg for Christmas.When to See Santa in Gatlinburg TN at Anakeesta Plaza

Santa’s Village at Anakeesta Plaza will be up and running from 6:30 – 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Saturday, December 2
  • Friday, December 8
  • Saturday, December 9
  • Friday, December 15
  • Saturday, December 16

See Santa in Gatlinburg TN at Santa’s Claus-et

If you can’t make it to downtown Gatlinburg during the dates listed above, don’t worry! When Santa isn’t at Anakeesta Parkway Plaza he will likely be at his other Gatlinburg residence, Santa’s Claus-et. Located at 1350 East Parkway near the entrance to the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, Santa’s Claus-et is a fun shop where it is Christmas all year round. Visitors will find specialty foods, games, toys, ornaments, and other holiday-themed items.

St. Nick makes regular appearances at Santa’s Claus-et, where he gives out hot cocoa samples and takes photos with children. You can watch an interview with Santa at his “Claus-et” in the video below from WBIR:

More Christmas Fun in Gatlinburg

Looking for even more holiday activities in Gatlinburg? Check out our complete guide to seeing the Christmas lights in the Smoky Mountains!